We asked Cycling Weekly readers to impart their wisdom to anyone wishing to delve into the world of cycle racing

Getting started in the world of bike racing can be a daunting prospect. Obviously, you need to be fit and you need to be fast – but beyond that, what else do you need to know before you line up for your first race?

We recently asked Cycling Weekly readers what advice they would give to someone who wants to start racing, and a selection of their replies are below.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start racing? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Forget about the actual racing part of racing for the first year or two. You’re not good enough yet, unless you happened to win the genetic lottery. It’s fine. You could kill yourself trying to stay with the front group, or you can learn to read a race instead.

Drop off when you know you’ve lost. Get into a small group. Treat them as though it were a breakaway off the front. Use this time to learn observation, patience, and tenacity.

You win by being smarter than other riders, not by being faster than them. Worry about winning after you’ve learned to get to the end. By the time you’re strong enough, you’ll already have learned to read the race by racing against the back markers.

As you get older, this works less well, mind – it’s mostly teenagers and people in their early 20s that are actually willing to race for the difference between last, and second to last.
Thomas Willingham

I recently returned to racing after a 15-year absence. To be honest, I found it easier than I thought for a few reasons. Firstly, knowledge and experience. Secondly, muscle memory. Thirdly, my selection of handicap races and distance that won’t destroy morale and cause training to go back. This is different from the new racer starting out, I know, but I would encourage anyone to give it a go. Age is only a number.
John O’Halloran

Get a proper coach. Don’t expect too much. Race and learn.
Bryan Ives

One step at a time, you’ll do it. Some practical advice: buy a used bike and choose the right frame size. Don’t bother buying on the web. Buy it from your local bike shop, because you’re likely to get a bike fit that will save you from injuries. And deals on clothing, parts and spares. Wait before giving up. You’ll think about it eventually. Cry if you need to, but remember how hungry you are and how much you want it.
Max Vemon

Strong legs, big heart and most of all deep pockets.
Martin Hughes

Be prepared to crash! Fourth category races are notoriously dicey and if you damage your pride and joy racing her then you will need to be able to afford to fix her! You will get dropped – don’t worry with each race you will learn and slowly get better. Follow the racing line, everyone is taking the corner like that for a reason (it’s the fastest, safest route). Be vocal, sneaking up on other riders will result in half-wheeling-type crashes.
Matthew Boylan

Don’t bother starting when you’re 50. I tried it and its chuffing hard work. First criterium I got dropped at the first corner. I’ve come last in all five races I’ve entered.
Dominic Chatfield

Don’t! It’s a trap. The better you get the more it hurts.
Ross Holland

  • Chris Olley

    People these days think crashing is normal – never used to be so many crashes so don’t enter a race unless you have trained properly and are serious. The number of times my chances of doing well in a race have been ruined by a crash!!!!

  • J1

    Get insurance, just incase you get taken out/take somebody else out.

  • J1

    Mate, it was the 3 pints I had the night before honest…..I’m the most tested athlete in cat 4 racing.

  • highrouleur

    Only race what you can afford to crash. Hold your line

  • Matt Hallett

    Accept that you’re going to (get) crash(ed into) and then get on with it. And pray to the gods of cycling on every start line that you’ll make it to the finish line in one piece.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    1) Grit your teeth! You will suffer, you might hear unpleasant comments – learn to brush it all off and start again.
    2) Ask for advice (people are often experienced, but not great tutors), learn to eke out that advice and thank those people for their help.
    3) Learn technique: moving up in a bunch, holding your place, cornering.
    4) Understand the importance of a training program AND recovery.

  • Steve Tucker

    Find a good club, learn to ride in a fast group, then find a good chain gang and learn to ride that, if you can get round with the faster riders then you will be OK in a race.
    Forget what somebody said about forgetting the racing part of racing for 2 years it should not take more than a few races if you are fit enough and that bit is down to you.
    If possible avoid circuit races and go straight for road races, less corners equals less crashes and hills split the bunch so less crashes. Try and ride in the front third of the bunch, less crashes. Crashing is not inevitable if you learn how to postion yourself and ride smart. Then again I have never done short circuit races.

    Do start racing if you are over 50, of course it is hard work. Try LVRC races, good quality riders and good road races but dont think it is going to be easy.

  • Tony Short

    Take loads of drugs then come up with a crap excuse when you get caught, it seems to work for a lot of them. I’m being ironic by the way before the usual suspects wade in.

  • Altimis Nuel

    Learn to corner properly

    Learn to do pace line properly (also, make sure your fitness level is suitable too)

    And you’re ready to race