News: It doesn’t have to cost a lot to race

The time for racing on the road is not far away and for newcomers, or even old hands, it’s time to think about getting that racing licence …

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Okay, racing bikes is expensive by the very nature bikes are not cheap but that doesn’t mean you can’t look at your options for the year ahead and maybe save a little money when it comes to getting a licence to race.

A quick check with British Cycling and a Gold membership package and licence will set a senior rider back £96 or a Silver membership and licence, £68 pounds. That will seem like good value to some with plenty of expendable income and a lot of money to others but if riders want to race in BC events for whatever reason, then it’s something they have to put up with.

But, if you just want to race, there are many cheaper options. One option that doesn’t cost anything is to get out with your local chaingang and rip it up that way with only the odd town sign as a finish line. Certainly, when I followed the Rotherham chaingang a while ago, I thought I was following a race there were so many riders having their legs ripped off by pro riders such as Russell and Dean Downing and Ben Swift. Good fun, brownie points to be won against some world class riders and a great social element when you get to the café.


If however you want to get involved in racing bikes with a ‘proper’ finish line, there are other options.

The time trial is a specialist race that has a rich history in this country and is also cheap to do. Entry fees for less than a tenner and all you need is to be a member of a club affiliated with Cycling Time Trials.  Cost of such memberships will vary but will be a fraction of the £96 for the BC licence. Time trials are also spread out through England and Wales and you’ll never be far from one if you fancy pinning a number on and putting yourself through the pain barrier all on your own some.

But, time trials can be a lonely pursuit unless it’s a team time trial and there will be those who hanker for a bunch race and for those, you could choose to race in events run under either or both the LVRC and TLI rules. Joining them is both uncomplicated and relatively cheap as Jim Golden explained to VeloUK.

Although the two organisations overlap, they both have their own unique characterships. LVRC provides racing exclusively for the over 40’s. In fact there are still over 80’s competing regularly explained Jim!

While the TLI also offers veterans racing, it’s most important contribution to cycle racing in the areas of the country where it operates, is providing the kind of grassroots road racing which riders can find nowhere else. Under 16’s, restricted to closed circuits in BC races, get the chance to compete on the road with the TLI, sometimes alongside their idols, which gives them a head start when they move on.

Just ask youngsters in the Isle of Man says Jim. The powers that be on the ‘Rock’ switched to organising their road racing through the TLI and they’re record of contributing some of the most outstanding riders in the history of the sport is second to none …

Schoolboy riders on the Island going on to be professionals and winning at the highest level possible; riders such as Mark Cavendish, Jonny Bellis and Peter Kennaugh to name but three.

To compete under either flag (TLI or LVRC) riders do not have to be club members which differs to the CTT. To race LVRC, you only need to join the organisation. No club membership is required, just a £16 fee which buys membership and a licence. Event entry will be £10 in 2012 to cover increased insurance costs. For those dipping a toe in the water for the first time, like in Belgium, you can race in whichever age category you are most comfortable with.

The racing is competitive, plenty of cut and thrust, but the changing room ‘craich’ is second to none, truly racing with a smile…. and at most events the after race cake is pretty good!  Riders are affiliated to the LVRC, rather than clubs and lets face it, BC and those that organise races under its regs & insurance, haven’t really provided much racing for the vets for many years now.

I remember the ‘good old days’ in the late 90’s when events in the Peter Fryer National series were  worth training and traveling round the country for. Now, for over 40 riders, it’s the Percy Stallard series sponsored by Onimpex (Bioracer) and run by the LVRC. This year, Category A was won by Giles Pidock who rides TLI and BC events as well organises races too. It shows that riders can race events across all organisations if they so wish and you won’t be banned by one or the other organisations for doing so!

Clubs can also affiliate to the TLI for those with TLI racing in their region where membership fees have actually gone down. For 2012 it will be £15 for those aged 19 and under 60, with youth and junior fees remaining at just £5. While over 60’s pay £10.

They have also eliminated event levies to organisers altogether which makes races financially attractive to organise but also reduces admin. This has enabled one of the TLI’s long established race series, the Tuesday evening Cheshire road races series to contemplate increasing its prize list.

Their public liability insurance has been increased to £10,000,000 for all members competing in the more than 300 age related events they run.

So, there you have it trendsetters… if you want to race, getting the bit of paper that allows you to race in Britain doesn’t have to cost a lot. Sure, it won’t only be the cost of the licence that dictates which organisation you race with but also what races are near you and what level you race at.

VeloUK however does find it ironic that British Cycling charges the most when it is the one that gets all the government’s millions and races are organised by volunteers. Despite that money, I haven’t noticed a great deal of difference at races although some changes like powers for accredited marshals may well make a significant difference.

But as organisers like Ken Jones (Onimpex-Bioracer) will prove, a race doesn’t have to be under the banner of BC for it to be a race like any other (including NEG) because the organisers are the ones that create the race and they, in many respects will work with all the above organisations.

Choosing who you decide to race with isn’t always that simple though because everyone is different and will have different needs whether it’s the type of insurance on offer or the type of racing. The above is food for thought however and you can do your own research by visiting the websites of the organisation and making your own comparisons as to which will offer what you need to get racing in 2012.

British Cycling | Cycling Time Trials | TLI | League of Veteran Racing Cyclists