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How can my Child Compete in Cycle Races?

18 February 2023

Competing in a cycle race is thrilling for kids. Whether on a road or track, setting off in a group and making it to the end will give them a sense of achievement and buzz.

There are youth road races that take place on tarmac and are traffic-free. Races are listed on British Cycling's Event database. You will need a British Cycling Road Race licence which members of Go-Ride Clubs can get for free the first year.

Join a Local Club

Joining a local club helps children gain the level of fitness they will need to stay the course. They can ride alongside kids of their own age with supervising coaches who teach techniques and encourage them. Kids experience how fast you can go in a group and learn to go faster than they otherwise would. The sense of speed in a group is quite different to cycling by yourself. The coaches know when and where the competitions are and can prepare riders for them. They will probably organise a race themselves. They can help with gear restrictions and rollouts.

What Age Should My Child Be?

Children can compete as young as 7 but it is usually not until the age of 10 that they start to take the sport seriously. Until then it can be daunting to join the start line. Between 10 and 12 is a crucial time for learning BMX skills and mountain biking. They start to be aware of other riders in groups. They need to choose a line through bends taking other riders into consideration. They can keep working on pedalling techniques.

Races are separated into age groups: Under 8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and Junior U18.

Other Tips

  • If there isn’t a local club, mentoring them yourself and arranging local races will give them experience. The point is to ride with peers so they can encourage each other and learn to ride in a group.

  • Going to watch a cycle race is an amazing experience for a kid and will inspire them. 

  • The internet can also help encourage children with numerous things to watch on YouTube and clubs listed on Facebook.

  • There are weekly competitions as part of the national series which take place locally.

  • Kids should keep up other sports like running and swimming to help with their cycling fitness.

  • By the age of 14 children should be training about 9 hours per week. Turbo trainers are useful and stretching is important. Races might be of one hour or endurance races 3 or 4 hours.

What Happens at a Cycle Race?

When arriving at a cycle race, find the HQ and show your licence. You will be issued with a number and a start time. You can walk the course beforehand. Make sure you are at the start line in plenty of time. If there are laps the officials will wave a red and yellow chequered flag when the leader is going to start the last lap. The race is still timed so the number of laps depends on the leader’s time. Everyone finishes when this lap is complete. 

Photo by Arturo Añez

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