A large percentage of riders out there have no interest or desire to race. Theyíre perfectly happy riding solo or going on club organized group rides and charity events, but the thought of entering an actual race doesnít much interest them.
If thatís simply a personal preference, then so be it, but for many, the lack of interest in racing boils down to not knowing how to get started. The good news is itís not nearly as difficult as you might think.
If youíre into mountain biking, becoming involved in racing is a relatively easy task. Across the country, there are literally dozens of annual races that encourage first-timers to get involved.
Most provincially-sanctioned cross-country mountain bike races have categories ranging from beginner to expert. If youíve never done a race, start in the beginner category unless youíre very confident of your fitness and bike-handling abilities. But remember, riding on your own is much different from riding in a big race. Chances are, youíll have groups of riders behind you and ahead of you at all times, which can be intimidating to first-timers.
Many of the classic one-day mountain bike races are run in one open division, but organizers split up the field into waves based on ability. With more than a dozen waves in some races, itís easy to find yourself competing against riders with similar abilities, even if youíre well back from the overall winners.
The next step is to look at the weekly racing events hosted by cycling clubs and shops across the country. Like the group rides, the weekly events are typically less formal then the more organized once-a-year races, but usually offer divisions or categories for novice riders. Take the time in these races to ask questions and get tips from the more experienced riders.
Whichever cycling discipline youíre into, getting into racing is a fairly easy task. Your first stop should be the website of your provincial governing body [Sask Cycling (SCA)]. It will have a schedule for just about every bike race offered, as well as links and contact information for the organizers of each event. Looking at an overall season schedule will allow you to hand pick which race you think would be a good place to start.
If youíve spent a lot of time in the gym or on a trainer over the winter, perhaps an earlier season race would be ideal. If you feel you need some more time on the road or the trails to get more comfortable on your bike before you race, focus on a later season event.
When race day comes for your first bike race, just remember to stay relaxed. Keep in mind, this is a hobby. Nobody is being paid to race novice-level events, so just have fun and try not to take the race, or yourself, too seriously.