Road Racing is massed-start cycle racing on roads or
circuits. First rider over the finish line wins, with anything from twenty to almost 200 competitors, depending on the event. In the UK, events range from short Youth and
Juvenile (under16) races of 20km or less, through club level events for adults of between 40km and 100km, to Elite-level one day races of 200km or more. The majority of Junior (16-18) racing takes place on public roads, though there are an increasing number of circuit events, either on roads closed to other traffic or on specially constructed circuits, some which are shared with other sports like motor racing and kart racing, others are purpose built for cycling.
All under-16 racing takes place on traffic-free closed circuits.
"Circuit racing is a good starting point for Road racers. Races are shorter in length than road races & attract big fields as most racing takes place on airfields or motor racing circuits such as Castle Combe"
The classic Road Race is a test of stamina, fitness and tactical acumen. Team tactics often come into play. Riders often have particular strengths: some can climb hills and mountains very quickly; others have a devastating turn of speed or sprint; other have the ability to ride very well against the clock in Time Trials (which often form part of multi day or stage races). The art is to restrict your rival's gains in the areas where they are strong and maximise your gains in your preferred terrain.
Some Road Races are contested over several days and several stages. These "Stage" Races or Tours often feature prizes for each stage winner, plus others for the best sprinter in the race, the best climber (aka King of the Mountains), the leading team and, of course, the overall winner, who is the rider with the best aggregate time. The Tour de France is the world's most prestigious Stage Race and lasts for three weeks.
All top Road Racers need to be able to stay in the saddle for hours at a time (endurance). Some are exceptionally good at going uphill and target wins in hilly terrain: these are known as Climbers. Others have a big 'kick' or ability to accelerate and are known as Sprinters. They often win races where the finish is contested by a number of riders - a bunch or sprint finish. Few riders can win, however, if they are not tactically very aware and at pro level team tactics and strategy can be very complex.
As a key discipline for BCDS regular sessions run in the Summer with riding skills and training taking place. All dates appear on the BCDS website.