If you’re looking to take your riding to the next level, but aren’t quite ready to put it all out on the line, consider searching the  for gran fondos or fun rides. Typically these rides are mass start (everyone takes off together), or are divided by age group.

Fondos and fun rides are a bit different than racing in pacing, route, and organization. At USA Cycling races, riders typically start at the beginner level (category 5) and work their way up the ranks with upgrade points. Sometimes multiple categories toe the line together but are ranked separately. Check each event flyer or website for more information, regardless of the event type.

So what do you say? Are you all in? If so, you’ll want to:

1. Identify the type of race or event you want to do

Consider what type of riding you like to do, or what you want to try. Each type of bike has a multitude of sports – road bikes alone have criteriums, road races, time trials, hills climbs, and more.

Remember that you’re not limited to the types of riding at which you’re most skilled! Racing is meant to broaden your horizons and realize your potential. Check out the various racing disciplines below to learn about the types of races, and basic pointers to get you started.

Once you know what type of riding you’re most interested in, you should…

2. Find your local support system

If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty, or learn better with hands-on experience, consider reaching out to your USA Cycling Local Association (LA). Click here to find your local LA. They have the ins and outs of everything bike racing in your area. Your LA can answer your questions about how to get involved and can even recommend area cycling clubs for you to contact. Clubs typically host group rides and offer loads of local know-how. Click here to find clubs in your area, and be sure to discuss your level of cycling with them to ensure a good fit.

After you’ve gathered info on the local scene and found people to train with, you’re ready to…

3. Pick an event (or a few)

USA Cycling sanctions nearly 3,000 competitive and non-competitive cycling events each year in the United States. Your LA should have advice on and insight into the best local events for newcomers, whether that’s low entry fees, a vibrant social scene, or specific distances or technical details. You can also explore the events in your area and nationwide using the event calendar here.

But before you can toe the start line, you’ll need to…

4. Purchase a racing license

USA Cycling exists in part to provide excellent event support, from national results and rankings to event insurance coverage. Any USA Cycling-sanctioned event you plan on racing in will require a race license. There are two ways to obtain race license coverage:

  • Purchase an annual racing license, which covers you in all USA Cycling races and expires on December 31 of the year you purchased it.
  • Purchase a one-day license for single event coverage. Beginning category riders have a lower one-day license fee than experienced riders, who are encouraged to purchase an annual license and support the sport we love.

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