Sussex Cycle Racing League
Wednesday night track league takes place at Preston Park track on Wednesdays from April to mid-August each year for ages U8 through to U16. Racing is on track bikes and both adult and youth riders alike must have achieved track accreditation in order to race. PPYCC runs track accreditation sessions each April for interested riders.
Each evening there are a number of different races for each age category. The evenings typically start with a race for the youngest riders and end with a distance race for the seniors. Riders acquire league points for being placed in races and at the end of the season the riders with the most points win the prizes.
Regional circuit races
There are circuit races at Goodwood motor racing circuit, Hillingdon, Cyclopark and Redbridge cycle circuits on weekday evenings and weekends from spring and across the summer.
In the Regional Omniums, riders compete in a series of events hosted by Britsh Cycling registered clubs, with the top four riders overall in each group in the youth A boys, youth A girls, youth B boys and youth B girls categories qualifying to enter the national final. PPYCC are always well represented at these events and host at least one event per season.
Once it gets to September the Cyclocross season starts. London and South East Cyclcross League always features 3 or 4 races in Sussex, at least 1 of which is usually in Brighton.
Indoor track racing leagues
During the winter there are indoor track racing leagues – Calshot near Southampton is good for beginners and once experienced if you want to gain indoor velodrome accreditation you can then race London Youth Track League at the Lee Valley Velodrome – quite a few of the 2nd year U12, U14 and U16 PPYCC riders compete in this league.
All these events are on the British Cycling website. Use the filters to find the correct age category and different types of events.
What to expect
Paul Goodwill, Luke and Alex’s dad and PPYCC coach, wrote up an excellent introduction for parents and youth riders on what to expect when racing at regional level.
“The races we’ve attended vary in formality and the level of competition, from Go-Ride racing for beginners to top level Regional competition, but are always friendly. You’ll need your child’s racing licence, which comes free with their British Cycling membership.
Before travelling to a race ensure that you have checked their bike and that it’s ready to race – there are no mechanical services offered at races so you need to be self-sufficient.
When you arrive at a venue find the ‘sign on’ desk and have your licence to hand. You’ll then need to sign in and collect the race number. The main technical considerations are the British Cycling gear restrictions which are there for good reason and are enforced at all races. The race organisers may have a ‘gear check’ for all riders before sign on or sometimes the top 3 riders are gear checked after the race. Details of the different gear restrictions per age group are on the British Cycling website. This normally just requires adjustment using a screw driver of the rear derailleur to limit use of the biggest gears, referred to as ‘locking off gears’. Don’t be put off, there are lots of videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to do this. If you’re unsure please ask one of the coaches and we’ll be happy to explain.
Make sure you take at least a multi-tool, pump, spare tube and tyre levers with you to races along with correct clothing. I always check the weather before setting off and take extra clothing as the Met Office forecasts are often wrong. Double check the tires to make sure there are no serious cuts or embedded bits of stone/glass in the tires before travelling to the race. Luke and some other riders have punctured whilst warming up before races so this is an essential check to avoid a stressful 5 minutes before a race or even missing the race completely.
U8 and U10 (Cat E & D) races are normally 15-20 mins, U12 (Cat C) 20-30 mins, U14 (Cat B) 30-40 mins and U16 (Cat A) races up to 1 hour. Usually there is an opportunity to warm up on the circuit before the race but not always. Once they reach U12 it’s useful to take either a set of rollers or turbo trainer to get the children warmed up in case there are no warm up laps – U10s and 12s tend to have no concept of pacing and set off for a 20 minute race like they’re doing 200m TT!
Overall the main thing is to keep the racing fun and varied at U10 and U12 level. I’ve always tried to avoid putting pressure on my kids, as competitive children can pile enough pressure on themselves as they want to do well. It’s also a good age for them to find out what they enjoy – road, track, cyclocross, mountain bike. So if you can vary the racing this keeps things fresh and also helps them find out what their strengths are.”