Determine the type of race or event you want to participate in.

Consider what kind of riding you enjoy or would like to attempt. There are a variety of sports for each type of bike; for example, road bikes offer criteriums, road races, time trials, hill climbs, and more.

Remember that you aren’t restricted to the types of riding in which you excel! Racing is designed to expand your horizons and help you attain your full potential. Learn about the various racing disciplines listed below, as well as some fundamental guidelines to get you started.

Once you’ve decided what kind of riding you want to do, you should…

Locate your community’s support system.

Consider contacting your USA Cycling Local Association if you’re interested in getting down to the nitty-gritty or learning more effectively through hands-on experience (LA). To discover your local LA, click here. They know everything there is to know about bike racing in your area. Your local elected official can answer your questions on how to get engaged and perhaps refer you to local bicycle clubs. Clubs frequently arrange group rides and provide a wealth of local knowledge. Click here to identify local cycling groups, and be sure to tell them about your cycling experience to guarantee a good fit.

You’re ready to… after you’ve gathered information about the local scene and found individuals to train with.

Choose an occasion (or a few)

Each year, USA Cycling sanctioned almost 3,000 competitive and non-competitive cycling events across the country. Whether it’s affordable entry fees, a thriving social scene, or precise distances or technical information, your LA should be able to provide guidance and insight about the finest local events for newbies. You may also use the event calendar to look up events in your region and around the country.

However, before you can toe the starting line, you must…

Obtain a racing licence.

From national results and rankings to event insurance coverage, USA Cycling exists in part to provide exceptional event assistance. You’ll need a race licence to compete in any USA Cycling-sanctioned event. There are two options for getting a race licence:

Purchase an annual racing licence that covers you in all USA Cycling races and expires on December 31 of the year in which it was purchased.
Purchase a one-day licence to cover a single event. Riders in the beginning category pay a cheaper one-day licencing charge than experienced riders, who are encouraged to buy an annual licence and support the sport we all love.
Visit the Race License page to purchase a licence and learn about the many benefits of an annual membership, or contact our membership department at 719-434-4200 or

You may require an international licence and a Foreign Permission Letter if you plan to race outside of the United States. For further information, contact the event organiser.

Now that you’ve been officially recognised, it’s time to…

Prepare your equipment.

Now that you’ve decided on a race, it’s time to make sure your stuff is in order. Make careful to dress, hydrate, and protect yourself from the sun in accordance with the weather. You’ll learn more about the tools you want in your arsenal, your unique dietary demands, and “nice to haves” as you gain race experience. The items listed below are vital for every race (or ride), although race-specific gear recommendations can be found in the sections below.

  • Jersey, shorts/bibs with chamois, warmers, jacket or rain jacket, socks, gloves, hat) Bike Helmet Race Apparel (jersey, shorts/bibs with chamois, warmers, jacket or rain jacket, socks, gloves, hat)
    Mountain bikers should wear body protection.
    After the race, change of clothes
    Footwear (clipless or non-clipless)
    Sunglasses/eye protection
    USA Cycling permit (or money for one-day licence if race allows same-day registration)
    Proof of participation in the race (or money for entry fees if race allows same-day registration)
    Nutrition and hydration (before, during, and after race)
    Your toolkit, which includes tubes and a pump as well as spare parts.
    Wet clothing should be placed in plastic bags, and towels should be used to dry off or change clothes.

A good frame of mind!

Making sure your equipment can withstand the rigours of racing is a critical part of racing that is sometimes disregarded by inexperienced racers. The last thing you want is a mechanical during a race that might have been readily identified and repaired. In criteriums, if you get a flat tyre, but not inside the last 3 to 5 laps of the race, you’ll get a free lap; however, you won’t get a free lap if you have a mechanical that might have been identified before the race. It’s a good idea to have your bike checked out by a reliable local bike shop or technician at least a week before the event. Check everything from your helmet to your shoes’ cleats to be sure nothing is broken or on the edge of breaking.

The Bicycle Doctor