What equipment do I need?

Obviously a bike suitable for your chosen discipline, preferably one that is a good fit.  A mountain bike can cater for most disciplines (Downhill, Enduro, cross country, dual slalom, road racing, time trials, criterium racing).  So if you are intending to be a multi-disciplined cyclist on a tight budget I suggest you go for a Mountain Bike.  You can change your tyres to slicks for the road.

Your bike needs to be road worthy, ie working brakes, tyres in good condition – not split or too worn.

Other items you will need are:-
Helmet- you cannot race mountain biking or road without one.
Mitts/gloves – for handlebar grip.
Pump – a hand pump will get you by for your first few months of racing but you will probably opt for a “track” pump (ie a stand up pump).  A track pump is far easier and certainly much better for the high pressure needed for road events and time trials.
Tyre levers
Spare inner tubes

As you get more into your racing, you can add to these items but the above are the essentials.

So what should I bring along my first race?

The above items.  Plus some drink and perhaps some food.  Some warm clothing to get changed into straight after your race.  A hat or cap also for after your race – most of your heat gets lost from your head.  

If your looking to compete in a Cross Country event then you will need the addition of a race transponder, more information on this can be found in the FaQ below  

Perhaps a £1 for a tea or coffee after your race too.

Do I need to have toe clips or cleats?

No - you don’t need these.  However, once you feel more confident I would certainly recommend that you invest in some cleats as they improve your pedaling efficiency both on and off road.  Try them in training and get used to them before you race with them.

Do I need an Aerodynamic Helmet for time trials?

No – again this is an item of equipment that you can buy at a later date.

How old do I have to be to race?

You can race from as young as 6.  Riders cannot compete in road races until they are 16.  All riders under the age of 18 years will need to have their gears restricted for road events. Downhill is restricted to over 12's only due to the technical aspect of the courses

Riders under 18 years of age must get their parents to consent to them joining the Velo Club and racing.

There is no upper age limit, we have members still racing at over 60 years of age and doing particularly well. 

Signing On

You need to sign on before each race.  This is just to confirm that you agree to race under our regulations.

Sign on times for each event can be found on the calendar page, news page or our facebook page

How long before a race should I turn up?

Always turn up at least 25 minutes before the start of the race.  I would recommend that you get there in plenty of time to view the course and perhaps see how you are going to tackle the more technical aspects of the course.

Please note that you should not be on the course whilst others are racing!

How much air pressure should I put in my tyres?

This will depend on personal preference, type of tyre and your weight.  As a guide – I suggest:-

Mountain bike - 30 psi – perhaps less in very wet conditions (even less for downhill).
Road/Time Trials - 100-110 psi – keep to nearer 100 in wet conditions – for more grip.

Where do I put my race number?

You cable tie this onto your handlebars so the marshals can see it as you come through.

Road/Time Trials etc
This is pinned onto your lower back.

Do I need suspension for MTB?

Again, this is preference related but nearly all mountain bike riders use at least front suspension.  Full suspension bikes are coming more popular these days due to the technology making them lighter and with the ability to lock out both suspension units makes them just as quick up hill.


You can race in ordinary t-shirt and shorts or jog pants to start with but over time you will probably purchase the following:-

  • Lycra shorts with chamois
  • Short & Long Sleeved racing jerseys
  • Overshoes (fantastic for keeping your feet warm in the winter)
  • Skull caps (fit under helmets to keep head warm)
  • Thermal tops
  • Arm & leg warmers
  • Skinsuit (for time trials)

Do I need to warm up before a race?

Without a doubt – the answer is yes.  The shorter the race, the longer the warm up is required.  Generally, I would recommend at least a 20 minute warm up, start off at a comfortable pace then as you feel warm put in a couple of short efforts at a higher intensity.

Do I need to warm down?

Yes, some people call this cooling down. At least 10 – 15 minutes of warm down at a gentle pace is recommended. This will aid your recovery.

What is a criterium (crit) race?

This is where a group of cyclists race on a short tarmac track.  The race is usually fairly short in duration, up to 30 minutes and can be very exciting.

Where do the Velo Club do their criterium racing?

At Delancey on a purpose built track.  This is where the youngsters (and adults) can race on tarmac in safety at organised events.  They can also race in age group.

How do the categories in road racing work?

We fit you into a category that suits your ability.  If you are new, then you will most likely be put into category 3.  This means you will race against riders of similar ability so you shouldn’t feel out of your depth.  As you improve, you can progress through the ranks.

What are the Mountain Biking categories?

Firstly, you can race in age group up until the age of 16.  Then you can race in any of the following categories:-

  • Sport/ Novice, Ladies, Under 14 and Under 16 (approx 35 mins + 1 lap)
  • Advanced, Veterans & Elite (approx 1 hr + 1 lap)

What is a Time Trial?

This is where you set off at 1 minute intervals (usually).  It’s you against the clock – the ‘race of truth’.  We tend to time trial over 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 miles.  Why not give a 5 mile time trial a go?

You are not allowed any outside assistance whilst you are riding.  That is you cannot sit (draft) behind another rider or vehicle.  If overtaken you must drop back at least 10 metres.  Further rules are included in the Velo Club handbook.

We have standards – bronze, silver, gold and elite - based on age group in our handbook so everyone has something to go for.  We also have separate standards for riding a mountainbike.

Sometimes we have team time trials where you ride with other people against the clock.  These are good fun