Feature: TLI Cycling (Part 1)

A look at TLI Cycling who provide age related racing that doesn’t break the bank and with an emphasis on events being safe

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Feature: TLI Cycling (Part 1)

The TLI Cycling Website Here ….

In Britain, there are four major membership organisations for those who enjoy cycle racing; Cycling Time Trials, the LVRC, British Cycling and TLI Cycling.

TLI Cycling has been around for many years and I can remember a good 15 years ago hearing about GB riders doing The League International (TLI) events in the North West and these days, the new TLI Cycling has a growing membership and growing number of events.

Whilst British Cycling increasingly distances itself from the racing membership, as it concentrates on meeting targets from its sponsors focused on numbers rather than racing itself, other organisations are benefiting from that.

In the last month, I’ve been to two TLI Cycling events organised by different people and both have had oversubscribed fields from the membership and very much appear on the surface to be like any other cycling event on the road; lead cars, a motorcycle escort, and importantly a finish line for the winners to race to. I say “winners” because the racing age related, so there is not just winner one on the day, but age category winners too.

To find out more about the TLI Cycling I spoke to Nigel Harrop (above), the volunteer national secretary of the organisation. Nigel was present at the recent TLI Cycling National Championships, judging and briefing riders before the start. IE, very hands on and part of the sport just how cyclists like to see their governing body.

TLI Cycling is a limited company which has evolved out of The League International, formed in 1982 from an idea conceived by the late Peter Duker and Roy Cottingham. The ambition was to bring to Britain racing for age related categories, as practised by the European based International Cycling Federation who use this system to cater for riders of whatever age.

Nigel explained that TLI Cycling’s remit is to provide age related (for all) cycling in an enjoyable environment with safety a priority concern. “We’re not a points based organisation (like British Cycling is), or an elite based organisation. What we aim to do is to give people who may be starting cycling, returning to cycling, or just enjoying their racing, the opportunity to take part in friendly, well organised events in a safe environment”.

One aspect of cycle racing that has hit the membership of British Cycling is the cost of entering events. TLI Cycling are keen to keep costs down. “It isn’t expensive to race with TLI Cycling (licence is just £12, (free to under 18 year olds) because no-one in the organisation takes in any remuneration apart from basic expenses. So, because the insurance is reasonably priced, as we have an exemplary safety record, and because the organisers work for free, we aim to keep the costs down as much as possible”. Anyone who organises is expected to re-invest any surplus funds for the benefit of cycle sport in general.

Nigel then explained how, year on year, membership has risen (around 3,000 now, with over a thousand additional Day Members) and with that comes a need for more events for the members to compete in. “Because we are members based organisation, we rely on clubs to take a turn in organising events, and the more we can get to do that, the more events we can have for the membership.”

“Our aim is to be helpful to those wanting to organise events and there is a step by step Promoters Pack on the website to help guide them, as well as willing phone support.

A race is a race is a race so why not considering stop the chasing of points and race for racing sake? 

One aspect of racing that has become a priority for organisers, whatever the governing body they work under, is safety. At the two events I have been to in the North West, both have had ‘Bike Marshals” escorting the races on the road.

Nigel explained how they came about. “When we were refused access to the NEG through British Cycling, we wanted to find another way of enabling the race to take part in an enclosed safety bubble. The Bike Marshals were doing that occasionally for charity bike rides and sportives. When we met these advanced skills motorcyclists who are first aid trained, there was an obvious relationship there.”

“We have become firm partners which enables our events to have similar cover to that provided by the NEG. The Bike Marshals have embraced us as ‘their’ organisation.

How TLI Cycling Has Changed
When asked how TLI Cycling has changed in recent years, Nigel replied “since we became a limited company, even though we are still volunteers, we have tightened up on everything from insurance to safety, the guidance we give members, the way people join, the website enables people to join and enter events online. Because of the efforts of the National Management Committee members we are becoming a much more modern organisation”..

“We now have a set of Insurance Brokers (Integro Doodson), who are specialists in sport. Their advice, and the help they have given us in relation to event insurance and other aspects of the organisation, has been second to none.”

Sign on just like any other race I’ve seen ….  no stress.

TLI Cycling, says Nigel, is strongest across the North of the country, including Scotland and the Isle of Man, The organisation is growing nationally too, and becoming increasingly stronger in the south. We are also trying ways to encourage women members to compete.

TLI Cycling are open equally to male and female competitors and until such a time when there are enough female members to have women only races, female riders are aided by being allowed to compete in an age group three age categories above their chronological age (see the table below for examples).

TLI Cycling is also embracing other disciplines as well, so while road racing is the primary discipline, the organisation also supports organisers wanting to put on time trials, for example. However TLI Cycling do encourage non standard distances and the use of road bikes. They also have on their calendar MTB events as well as well as Track racing and Cyclo-Cross.

So for those who are not OCD on gathering points for their racing licence in cycling, and just want to get back to enjoying racing, it is certainly worth looking at joining and racing in TLI Cycling events. In part 2, we’ll talk to some who do just that.

The craic before everyone becomes rivals … except your teammates ;-)

End of Part 1 – In Part 2, we talk to some riders who race TLI Events

Age Category Bands for TLI Cycling
                                            Men Women
Riders aged 16 or 17 on the day of the race  J    J
Riders aged 18 - 29 on the day of the race   S    B
Riders aged 30 - 39 on the day of the race   M    C
Riders aged 40 - 44 on the day of the race   A    D
Riders aged 45 - 49 on the day of the race   B    E
Riders aged 50 - 54 on the day of the race   C    F
Riders aged 55 - 59 on the day of the race   D    G
Riders aged 60 - 64 on the day of the race   E    H
Riders aged 65 - 69 on the day of the race   F    H
Riders aged 70 - 74 on the day of the race   G    H
Riders aged 75 plus on the day of the race   H    H





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