I feel the need, the need for speed!
Road racing is probably most visible of the competitive cycling activities, mainly because the Tour de France and the other Grand Tours are so accessible in the media. Competitors start ‘en-masse’ in pre-arranged categories depending on ability or age. Many races carry ranking points, which are sought after by riders hoping to progress to the next ability category. The first rider to cross the line is the race winner. Road Races that are contested over several days and several stages are called stage races or tours. These often feature prizes for each stage winner, plus others for the best sprinter in the race, the best climber (King or Queen 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.
In the UK, events range from Junior (16-18) and Youth (under16) races of 20km or less, through to club level events for adults of between 40km and 100km, to Elite-level one day or multiple day (stage) races of 200km or more. Adult racing may take place on public roads, roads closed to other traffic or on specially constructed circuits. All under-16 racing is on traffic-free closed circuits. Adult beginners to this discipline can take part in BC Go-Ride or category 4 events and there are plenty of events to choose from, just follow the links below to find out more.
To compete in a road race competitors must hold a racing licence which can be obtained from British Cycling, The League International (TLI) or British Masters Cycle Racing (BMCR) depending on age and type of event. For occasional racers, or for those who just want a ‘taster’, day licences are available for some events. Each of the above organisations has a calendar of events on their respective website. Their rules and age ranges differ slightly; the websites explain the categories and requirements.
Southend Wheelers holds its own club road race championships each year with awards for youth, junior, senior, veteran, women and novice categories, this year for the first time at the new Colchester Northern Gateway Circuit on Sunday 26 June. The club promotes the Andrews Trophy Elite Road Race each year. This year's date is Sunday 31 July.
Circuit racing - We are fortunate to have five closed circuits within an hour or so of Southend (traffic permitting!) These are:
Ford Dunton Test Track (used by Ford Cycling Club and BMCR)
Lee Valley Velo Park (at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford)
Redbridge Cycle Circuit (Hog Hill)
Open Circuit race leagues (may be a league format, or individual meetings) are held at these circuits. Racing may be under BC, BMCR or TLI rules and regulations. (Separate yearly membership required). Entries for BMCR & TLI events may be through Rider HQ.
The Eastern Road Race League, formerly known as the Essex Road Race League, is the premier organisation for club-level road racing in the East of England. Currently, the league consists of 35 member clubs, each of whom promote one or more road races during the season. Members of ERRL clubs are given preferential entry to these races and compete a season-long competition to be the top club or team and individual at the end of the year. The Club were founder members of ERRL. You need to be a BC Gold or Silver member and have a race licence. Enter online via BC