Do I need racing experience?
No, anybody who likes to ride a bike can become a bike racer.
What kind of bike do I need?
For road racing, you'll need a road bike. If your bike is a
mountain or BMX bike, several clubs and shops have loaner bikes
that you can use to see if you like the sport. Contact the NJBA
Junior Development Committee Chairman, Dan Coleman, at
email@example.com, who can direct you to a team or shop that
provides loaner bikes.
Do I need to join a club or team to enter a bike
You don't have to join a club or team, but that's the best way to
learn the skills and develop the fitness you'll need to enjoy
bike racing. Teams and clubs all have regular group training
rides. During these rides, you'll make friends and learn group
riding skills. See the Participating Clubs link on this site for
a list of New Jersey clubs with U19 racing programs. For help in
finding a club near you, contact NJBA Junior Recruitment and
Development Coordinator Joe Saling, U19@njbikeracing.com..
How do I find a race?
There are lots of racing opportunities in New Jersey and the
surrounding areas. Look at the Racing Opportunites link on this
site for races with age grouped fields, or use the dropdown
calendar menu on the www.njbikeracing.com homepage. There are also
several internet bike racing calendars, including
www.bikereg.com, www.racelistings.com and
www.cyclingcalendar.com. Each race has a flier, which contains
start times, entry fees, and other important information. It is a
good idea to print the flier and bring it to the race with
How old do I have to be to enter a junior race?
There are different age categories at different events. You must
be at least 10 years old (racing age) to obtain a USCF license.
The most common age groups are 10-12, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18.
Sometimes, these groups are combined.
How do I know what my racing age is?
Your racing age for the racing season is whatever age you will be
on December 31st of that year. For instance, if your birthday is
on December 31, and you will turn 15 that day, your racing age
will be 15 for that entire year (January 1st on). Your USCF
racing license will have your racing age printed on it.
What do I need for my first junior race?
You will need a road bike in good condition, a USCF racing
license & a helmet.
How do I obtain a USCF racing license?
A USCF racing license can be obtained through the USA Cycling
website, www.usacycling.org. You can order your license on-line
and be racing the next day! (Make sure you print a
receipt/authorization to bring to the race.) Your USCF license
will arrive via mail, in a few days. If you are not sure if you
will like racing, you can get a one day license at the race for
How do I know if my bike is suitable?
Your bicycle must be in good, safe mechanical condition. Your
bike must not have aero bars (except for time trial events). Your
bike must have working brakes on both wheels. You must have
"junior gears" on your bike.
What are "junior gears"?
Junior racers (aged 10 - 18yrs) are restricted to certain gears.
On a bike with 700c wheels this is usually a chainring of 52 and
a smallest cog of 14. Another commonly used combination is a 45
tooth chainring and a 12 tooth cog in the rear. Gearing should
always be checked using the rollout method--with the bike in the
highest gear combination, the bike must travel no more than 26
feet in one revolution of the cranks. If you have smaller wheels,
the gear sizes are different. Bikes do not usually come factory
equipped for junior racing, so some modification is needed. Your
front chain ring may have 53 teeth, your rear cassette might have
a 12 tooth cog. Obtaining the correct gear can be accomplished by
"blocking out" some of the larger gears. If you are not sure how
to block off your gears, ask an official before the race, and
they will help you.
What is "roll-out"?
At the race, the official will check the gearing by putting the
bike in the largest gear (big chainring/smallest cog) and rolling
the bike backwards for one complete revolution of the pedals. The
bike must not travel more than a distance of 26 feet (7.93
meters). Racing with a bigger gear or not showing up for
'roll-out' immediately after the finish is considered cheating
and you will be disqualified. Generally, a gear of 52x14 will
How do I register for a race?
What kind of races are there?
For lots of races you can register online, following the
directions on the race flyer. You can also register for most
races on the day of the race at the registration desk, check the
race flyer. A very few races require you to mail in your
registration form. As a junior (under 18 yrs) you will need a
parent to sign your registration form at the race.
The most common type of road race in New Jersey is the criterium.
This is a fast race on a short course closed to traffic,
involving lots of laps, each lap is usually under a mile. To do
well in this race you will need to develop cornering skills and
quick acceleration. Most U19 criteriums are 15 miles or less.
Road Race/Circuit Race
Another type of race is the road race, often held on a circuit.
This type of race is held on a longer course than the criterium
so it involves fewer laps and less tight corners. Road races are
often held on open roads where a "yellow line rule" is in effect
(don't cross the yellow line in the middle of the road or you
will be disqualified). There are marshals at the corners, telling
you where to turn. Road races are often between 15 and 30
A completely different race is the Time Trial. This is a race
where each rider starts at one minute intervals and races against
the clock for the best time over the full distance. Usually these
races are out and back with a turn around at the half way point.
These races are often held on roads also open to traffic. The
marshals manage traffic, but you still need to be aware! It is
illegal to draft another rider during a time
Do I need a coach?
Working with a coach or a mentor allows you to benefit from all
of their experience and education. Structured training programs
can be a little daunting at first but with a licensed cycling
coach to get you started and give you professional advice you
will quickly begin to see the rewards. The NJBA maintains a list
of cycling clubs that have volunteer coaches and mentors. These
dedicated people offer their valuable time because they love the
sport so much and want you to feel the same way.
Is Bike Racing a Team Sport?
Yes, bicycle racing is a team sport. Although to the casual
observer it might look like everyone is just racing around as
fast as they can. The successful racer has a strong team to
support him/her. A successful team can control a race, protect
their riders and deliver their chosen leader to the front of the
race in time to win. A team will celebrate their victory
together. All this is accomplished through "drafting" or riding
close to the rider in front of you. It takes some experience to
get comfortable riding that close to other riders, but it is a
For more information, please contact the NJBA Junior
Development Committee Chairman, Dan Coleman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.