You turn on your television and a news story pops up about the Tour de France. You get inspired and want emulate them and race the bike. Where do you start? How do you find races?
The best place to start is to ensure you are ready for the commitment: financially, physically, and emotionally. Before you do anything exercise related you should always get checked out by a doctor. There are rare instances where the prospective athlete has a hidden heart disorder or ailment that could be worsened through exercise. Play it safe. After you get the green light from the doctor you need to start spending some money.
Necessary Equipment: What is the absolute minimum amount of equipment you need to race?
Once you have the equipment (the expensive part) you need to get a USAC license. USAC or United States of America Cycling is the governing body for all licensed cycling events in America. Every race you do will be licensed under USAC which means the event has met certain safety, support, and course requirements. If you have never raced before you can purchase a 1 day license during registration or on location at the event. If you pre-register make sure you bring a copy of your one day license or annual license. Speaking of annual license. The other option, if you plan to race more than a couple of times, is to purchase an annual license. This opens the door to a couple more benefits like product discounts and roadside assistance.
Finally, you are ready to register for an event. There are a couple of styles of racing. You have your short but intense Criterium, longer more open road race, to an open category gran fondo. There are also other disciplines like track racing, cyclocross, mountain bike, BMX… Either way, the best place to look for certified races is on USACycling.org. If events have yet to receive their USAC permit or just aren’t listed on USAC you can check out one of these other websites: