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New to road racing & have questions!(11 posts)

New to road racing & have questions!jesse1
Jan 1, 2003 7:01 AM
I've raced mtn bikes for about 4 years now and want to get into time trials and possibly some road races. I've been fairly competitive in my age bracket (I'm 53 next May).
Do I need (or is it recomended) a USCF license?
What Cat level should I start at? (I don't consider myself a "beginer".)
Are the Cat levels further divided by age? (Would I be competing with others 20 yrs younger?)
What's the best way to find out about competions in my area (Central Maryland)? (My local bike shop owner is more into competitive Bass fishing than bikes!)
Thanks for any advice!
5 or MastersDougSloan
Jan 1, 2003 7:49 AM
The USCF divides racers several ways; one is by Category, and everyone starts as a 5 (men); you then move up based upon the number of mass start races you do, the by points/results. Getting to a 4 is simple: just do 10 mass start events; time trials don't count.

They also divide by age. Generally, there are Masters 30+, 40+, 50+, or at particular events they might divide at 5 year increments. In the Masters races, except for maybe championship events, they are open to any category within the age group; BEWARE, though -- the "open" masters groups are very, very competitive; you'll get "retired" pros and cat 1's who will absolutely kick your butt. I know. I've tried this.

Some events break down the masters groups by cat, too, if they expect many entrants. You might find a masters 35+ 1-3 race and a masters 4-5 race run separately. I'm very comfortable in the Masters 35+ 4-5 races, and I'm 42. By comfortable, I don't mean it's easy; I mean they are well controlled and not as dangerous as the Senior 4's and 5's.

You may well have to enter some 4-5's combined or even 5's races once in a while to avoid the open masters races. It's no big deal. I've seen guys from all ages do well there. Actually, the older, smarter, guys tend to lurk in the pack and then pull away on some big hill well into the race.

The internet is a good place to start to find info. Do some Google searches for organizations in your area.

You don't need a USCF annual license to get started, but you'll need at least a 1 day license to race. If you plan to do more than about 5 races, it would pay to go ahead and get the annual. If you get a 1 day, though, I think you are restricted to Cat 5 races.

There are other race organizations in certain regions, too. Check around. They may be more low key. Often, too, some bike clubs put on informal time trials.

The best way to get started is to find a local racing group, then ride with them and ask some questions as you go. You'll get some good info, plus sort of find out how you can hang with the group. Good for group riding skills, too, which might be lacking a bit if you primarily mountain bike ride.

I'd be happy to help more if you have ??'s.

5 or Mastersnexter
Jan 1, 2003 3:41 PM
Excellent response by Doug. I did what you want to do 2 yrs ago. I was/am an Expert Master Mountain biker. Everyone starts as a Cat 5.I starting racing in the 50+ Masters class. Between New York City and Southern Virginia, there are some of the best 50+ Masters in the country. Many of the races will have several current or former national champs, former Olympic athletes, and several that are in the Top 5 on a World class basis.

They are very fit and fast however they are a great group of people to race with. They were very helpful to me. Yes, I still get my butt kicked but I am looking forward to the 2003 season. In several weeks, access for RR events. Being in Central Maryland, there are several excellent cycling clubs to join. You can get their names from the above Web site after the races are posted. Joining a club will get you access to training rides, a lot of knowledge/experience from the members, you will be expected to help at their races and other events. Also, being affiliated with a USCF club will save you $5.00 at most events. When you get the club names, ask if they have many 50+ racers and how active are they.
Jan 2, 2003 9:15 AM
Up here in New England they don't allow 5s in the Masters races, and without upgrading to 4 (10 mass start races with a 5 licence or one-day) you are still a 5.
5 or Mastersjfuria
Jan 4, 2003 8:31 AM

Great response regarding new racing. I am also relatively new to racing, been at it for one year. I am about to upgrade to CAT 4 and I"m trying to decide what type of new bike to purchase. I'm presently riding a Giant TCR1 and it rides well. The weather in PA can get harsh and I would like a second bike. Prior suggestions from members of this discussion group were aluminum frame with a good wheel set. This makes great sense to me, but what type? I'm more of a climber than sprinter (actually I'm very poor at sprinting)and weigh 143 pounds. Apprectiate any advice you or others could provide.
re: New to road racing & have questions!MR_GRUMPY
Jan 1, 2003 5:01 PM
If you've been racing mtn bike for 4 years, you know how much racing can hurt. Mtn bike racing and time trials have much in common. You just go until you're eyes pop out of your head. Mass start racing is completely different. It's all tactics, and knowing when to go hard. Every race is different. One may start easy, but the next will take off at 30mph, in order to shake off riders who aren't ready. You have to be ready for anything. Masters 50 races are scarce unless you live where you are, the west coast, or the midwest.

Start out with time trials, and then move into road races. If you're doing fair, jump into crits. Don't feel bad if you are blown out in you're first mass start races. The secret is .............. Don't quit.
Go get um' tiger!REPO42
Jan 1, 2003 6:36 PM
Depends on how you faired Mtn bike racing. If you did really well, then you might want to try your luck at masters. They will not be as squirly as a group of Cat 5's. As far as tactics in cat 5 road racing, yeah right, what tactics? Here let me give them to you. Unless it is a well organized team who regularly trains together and has some clue of what it's doing, then there might be some good tactics. As far as the other 99% of cat 5 races, well it's every man for themselves.................but we chase down every break..... hope this helps
here's some calendar and team infoEric Marshall
Jan 2, 2003 6:18 AM
Bill Luecke keeps the D20 race schedule online at An initial calendar for 2003 is already available.

I'm the web geek for a racing club in northern Virginia, Whole Wheel Velo club, and I have links to 20 other teams in the area at Perhaps one of them will tickle your fancy.
Try TuckahoeJimena
Jan 2, 2003 12:48 PM
That's great that you're interested in making the transition to road -- I wish more MTBers would. We have a race on April 5th at Tuckahoe State Park in NE MD. Check out

The 50+ races would probably be good for you -- a lot of them get run together with the women around here. A USCF license is recommended, and you'll be Cat. 5 by default with no experience. Anyway, come out to our Snow Valley race in April -- it was one of my first road races, the course is flat and fun. Another good way is to try some group rides. We will be holding easy training rides in Ellicott city and in the Poolsville and DC area on Sundays in Jan & Feb. Come on out and spin around with us! I'll be posting the ride times on, and putting them on the hotline -- the phone number is on the website.
cheap guy point...shawndoggy
Jan 3, 2003 9:17 AM
I would advise against buying a USCF license right away. You can race cat 5 on a one day for $5, meaning that you'll have to do 10 races to break even on your $50 USCF license. WHen you are ready to cat up, you'll need a USCF license (can't race above 5 without one), but lots of places 4s and 5s are run together anyway, so you might not even feel the need until you want to go to cat 3.
Thank you all!jesse1
Jan 2, 2003 4:20 PM
I really appreciate all the good advice and I'm looking forward to racing, even if I get my butt kicked every time I go out there. I just want to avoid integrating flesh with asphalt! Take care!