How to Succeed at Your First Road Race

Dos and Don'ts of Race Safety


  • Hold a steady line through corners
  • Communicate road hazards to riders nearby
  • Watch body language to anticipate where other riders might go


  • Slow abruptly or jam on the brakes
  • Make erratic movements (but you should always expect others to do so)
  • Stop or swerve after the finish line

More: Pacing Strategy: Flat Out or Even Steven?

License to Race

A USA Cycling license costs $60 for a year or $10 for a day. Cyclists are divided into categories according to ability and experience, with separate races for each group. All racers begin in Category 5, and results count toward upgrades all the way to Category 1, the highly competitive top of the amateur food chain.

More: Do I Need a USA Cycling Racing License?

10 Race day Faux Pas To Avoid

  1. Sloppy number-pinning. Use at least six pins to secure it to your jersey to prevent flapping or tugging.
  2. Racing with a saddle bag, pump, or reflectors--anything that's associated with training or commuting.
  3. Yelling "Hold your line!" at everybody who gets in your way. Don't be that person.
  4. Tossing empty food wrappers onto the course.
  5. Wearing another team's clothing. Save the BMC kit for your training ride.
  6. Listening to music while riding. It's against the rules, unsafe, and violates the social nature of bike racing.
  7. Leaving a chainring mark on your calf (especially if said calf is unshaven).
  8. Continuing to race after you get dropped. If the main group leaves you behind, it's game over.
  9. Sprinting for a nonresult. Etiquette dictates that you coast in if you're outside the top 10, or the points or prize list.
  10. 10 Posting a victory salute for any result other than the win, including midrace sprints.

More: Bike Racing 101

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