Question: I’ve been riding centuries and double centuries for several years. Now I’d like to do some racing. I appreciate the danger to myself and others that I’d pose as a beginner. How do I learn to race safely? Do I need to join a club? — Sean O.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: There are 2 factors to consider if you want to start racing.
The first is whether you have the horsepower to be competitive. Club rides with local racers is the best way to find out. A club time trial is another good method. Just compare your time to see how you stack up.
You are correct to be concerned about the second important point — bike-handling skills.
Again, club rides or regular hard, fast group rides are the best way to learn. You can master some techniques by riding with just one or two other experienced cyclists, but nothing prepares you for a racing pack like actually riding in a big group.
The best (worst?) aspect of it is that if you make mistakes, you’ll receive some rather pointed feedback from other riders. But you have to learn somehow, right?