Find a Club

MCF member clubs welcome new members of all levels. Here are just a few.
Speedfix Racing
Contact:  Andy Kruse
Website:  www.speedfixracing.com
 
Omnium Racing
Contact:  Megan Kelly
Website:  Omnium Racing
 
Sweet 'n Salty Cycling
Contact:  Terra James
Website:  Coming Soon
 

Road Racing Video

Feature Video

More Road Racing Videos

- Licensing

- Teams

- Choosing a Race Bike

- Road Bike to Race Bike

- Starting a Race

- Cornering

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Road Racing Skills

Road Racing SkillsThough the objective of a race is quite simple - to be the first rider to cross the line - a number of tactics are employed. They are based on the benefit of riding in the slipstream of another rider and thus making it possible to save a considerable amount of energy. A group that breaks away (break) from the main field, bunch or peloton, has more space and freedom and can therefore be at an advantage in certain situations. A small group of riders can work together smoothly and efficiently to maintain a higher speed than the peloton, where the remaining riders may not be as motivated or organized to chase effectively. Usually a rider or group of riders will try to break from the peloton by attacking and riding ahead to reduce the number of riders competing for the win. If the break doesn't succeed, and the body of cyclists comes back together, the winner will often be a sprinter. Teamwork between riders (both pre-arranged and ad-hoc) is important in many aspects: to prevent a break from getting away, helping riders in a break get clear of the bunch, and sometimes in delivering a sprinter to the front of the field.

Races often feature difficult sections such as tough climbs, fast descents, and sometimes technical surfaces to make the course more selective. Stronger riders will be able to drop weaker riders during such sections to reduce the number of direct competitors able to take the win. In order to be successful, riders must develop excellent bike handling skills in order to be able ride at high speeds in close quarters with other riders. Individual riders can approach speeds of 70 mph while descending winding mountain roads and may reach speeds of 40-50 mph during the final sprint to the finish line.

Drafting

In all road racing, drafting is a very important concept whereby one rider can save a lot of effort by closely following the rider in front in order to stay in his slipstream. Riding in a peloton can save as much as 40% of the energy employed in forward motion when compared to riding in the wind.  Some teams will designate a leader, while the rest of the team is charged with keeping that rider out of the wind and in a good position until a critical section of the race.. This can be used as a strength or a weakness by competitors; riders can cooperate and draft each other to ride at high speed (a paceline or echelon), or one rider can sit on a competitor's wheel, forcing him to do a greater share of the work to maintain the pace and potentially tiring earlier. Drafting may not be employed in a time trial, unless it is a team time trial.

Teams

While the principle remains of the winner being the first to cross the line, many of the riders are grouped together in teams, usually with commercial sponsors. On professional and semi-professional teams, names are typically synonymous with the primary sponsors. The size of the team varies, from three in an amateur event for club riders to a dozen in professional races. Team riders decide among themselves, before and during the race, which has the best chance of winning. The choice will depend on hills, the chances that the whole field will finish together in a sprint, and other factors. The rest of the team will devote itself to promoting its leader's chances, taking turns into the wind for him or her, refusing to chase with the peloton when he or she escapes, and so on.
 
Riding in the rain

 

Rainy Race

 

Sadly, the sun doesn’t always shine on race day.  But with a few simple steps, every race can be safe and fast, no matter how wet the course is.

  1. Plan your line in corners.  Avoid sharp turns.  Smooth, sweeping turns are less prone to skids.
  2. Relax!  The tighter your grip and arm tension, the more likely you are to crash.  A little give in your arms will help you ride out a skid.
  3. Press hard on the outside pedal as you enter the turn.  This will help improve your traction.
  4. Avoid the spray by staying close and a bit to one side of the wheel you’re following.  

Get Comfortable In The Rain


  • Ride in the rain.  You can’t fake these conditions.  Saddle up and get wet!
  • Don’t ride your good bike!
  • Practice bike handling with some obstacles set up for a slalom course.
  • Skid!  Practice sideways skids like you did on your Stingray or your Huffy when you were a kid.  Unclip one foot to catch yourself.
  • Ride with some buddies to get used to the spray.
 
Avoiding crashes

At some point, all racers crash.  No matter how diligently you try to avoid them, someone will go down in front of you, you'll hit a pothole wrong or you'll get bumped hard in a sprint.  Having said that, it is possible to find ways to minimize your risk of crashing.  Keep these simple tips in mind and you'll learn to read the peloton and reduce the chances of a crash.

  • Watch for riders that aren't fully comfortable on their bike.  These riders can be particularly challenging in citizen or Category 4/5 races.  They will be unpredicatable and wobbly.  Stay well in front or behind these riders.
  • Watch for narrow bridges, oncoming cars, potholes, gravel or other road challenges.  Previewing the course will help.
  • Keep your head up.  Tired riders often drop their heads.  It's very difficult to see the road ahead or the front of the peloton if you're looking at your pedals.
  • Watch rider behavior.  Riders taking a drink may slow down in front of you.  Mechanicals like slipped gears and punctures will also abruptly change a rider's pace. If this happens to you, put your arm up and carefully move to the rear of the peloton.
 
Learn From The Pros

How To Watch A Bike Race

The Nature Valley Grand Prix comes to the Upper Midwest every year.  This event, like other pro stage races, provides a perfect opportunity to learn strategy, tactics and bike skills from the best athletes in the sport.  The Nature Valley Grand Prix includes a Time Trial, Criteriums and Road Races making it a perfect classroom for new racers.

Read more...
 
Criterium Cornering

Good cornering technique can save a LOT of energy and put you in the proper winning position in the final straight. Knowing how to corner properly can also give you “free speed“. 

Read more...
 
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