New to cycling: Questions about races

  • Home
  • New to cycling: Questions about races
6 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Hello all, I am brand new to cycling. I got my bike in January mainly because I wanted to lose some weight, and I thought maybe it would help train my legs for hockey (I play once a week at Chelsea Piers). I enjoyed it so much I decided to get a bit more involvded.

I did the C-SIG self-classification ride last Saturday (my time was 1.18, no idea if that's good or bad, but at least it was better than my target time of 1.30). It was the first time I've been on a bike outside in over 20 years! And the weather was great - looking at the nasty winds so far this week, I'm happy I don't have to do the ride this Saturday...

Anyway, I am pretty competitive by nature, and know that I'll train better and stay way more motivated if I have some races in mind.

However - despite a lot of reading on the web etc., I am still a bit confused about the riding classifications. I think I have a handle on Cat. 1-5 (start out in five until you have 10 races under your belt, then upgrade to higher levels as you get points/# of races). But how do these fit in with the age classifications? And what is this 'masters' and 'elite' categories? Would appreciate some help.

I've been looking at race listings on the web, but could anyone point me towards some races that would be good for a beginner? I want the first few races to be challenging, but neither do I want to be left completely in the dust. They don't necessarily have to be in NY; I can travel around a bit.

I am planning on doing some of the CRCA races in Central Park this summer - is this a good idea?

Thanks very much in advance for any advice and suggestions.


Anonymous's picture
Rob M (not verified)

The CRCA is going to run a clinic (practice race) on June 4. It might be a good intro for you and anyone else that wants to race.

If you have any questions about it the head of rider development is Craig Cook. His email is on the CRCA website under 'Coaching'.

If you want to know about speed, check the lap times on the results page. Last week was a bit unusual, don't expect the 5's to trundle round the park doing 17-18 min laps.

Anonymous's picture
Carol (not verified)
C-SIG is only 3 laps

So 1:18 for 3 laps is :26/lap.

Anonymous's picture
surista (not verified)

Thanks for the info - I was wondering what the 'men's clinic' race was. I'll definitely put that date on my calendar.

Related question - the CRCA races have 'A' 'B' and 'C' fields. I'm assuming A would be Cat. 1-2, B would be 3-4, and C would be 5? (on further thought I should just ask the CRCA people directly...)

I was also looking at the lap times - for the 11 March race, the C field lap times were: 17:44, 17:45, 16:42, 15:51. A) are these the lap times for the winner/fastest person each lap?, and B) what would _average_ Central Park lap times be for Cat 5 racers? I mean, my avg time was :26 - I'm pretty sure I can go a bit faster then that, because I wasn't going all out, and especially for the first lap I took it pretty slow because I didn't know the course at all. But I don't think I'd average under :20 per lap, not at this point just starting out...

Anonymous's picture
Fast rider (not verified)

Give yourself a year (The neuromuscular demands of biking are very specific). You must also acquire all the skills needed not to cause a spill (first riding with the NYCC groups, then racing). When you are fast enough (17' lap by yourself), join the CRCA and have fun.
You can watch next CRCA race in CP on March 25 at 6 am before riding with the NYCC.

Anonymous's picture
john grandits (not verified)
welcome to cycling

hi, i read your post and wanted to share some thoughts with you. you picked a great sport to get your legs in shape and lose some lbs. NYCC is a great club and the SIGS can help advance through the learning curve of the sport more quickly. the club has rides for all abilites. you will learn a lot from the experienced riders, ask them lots of questions. eventually you may advance to an A-SIG or the STS series, which will be more competitive and strnuous rides.
in terms of racing it can be a lot fun, but it's not easy. racing bikes is not like most other recreational endurance sports. for example, say you do 5K road runners race there will be lots of people at your ability, some below, some above. you kind of run your race and always have people around to motivate you. bike racing is not like this. the pack obviously tries to stay together for the most part, you want to be in the group for drafting benefits. if you can't keep you will get dropped, have no chance in the race, and not much fun either. keeping that in mind, right now you should concentrate on slowly increasing your riding. you will get in better shape and faster. work your way up through NYCC rides, C,B,A, etc. if you get to the point where you can ride well in a group and have fitness to do well on fast A rides you might consider racing. until then don't worrry about it and put pressure on yourself to race ASAP. if this is something you want to do this summer go on some A20 NYCC rides and see if you can keep up. CRCA races are fast. 14-15 minutes loops in central park are not unusual. go to the park, ride a loop as fast as you can to get an idea.
good luck and feel free to msg me with ?'s.

Anonymous's picture
Matt P. (not verified)

"my teammate john put it very well. being able to ride hard around the park by yourself has little to do with mass-start races. if you have not ridden outside in 20 years, i would advise spending at least three months working on your pack riding skills before you try racing.

(if you just love riding solo but want to race, sign up for a time trial. but fyi 26 minutes per lap isn't even close. as someone wrote, you'll need to be able to do three laps in 17 minutes per lap to have a chance in beginner racing.)

start with simple paceline skills, then gradually work your way up to uncontrolled pack rides. a good goal for you would be to really increase your fitness with a few months of hard work and pacelining, then try the gimbels ride out of yonkers. hang off the back and watch how the pack works the first time. then get in there and mix it up.

also, visit and read the ""racing and training"" board. great info there. see you in crca someday soon. good luck and ride safely."

cycling trips