Surrey League

Surrey League Safer Racing Initiative


Surrey League Safer Racing Initiative


Glyn Durrant


Surrey League Safer Racing Initiative


With the exponential growth British cycling has seen over the past few years, a lot more people are taking the step from sportives to racing. In fact, race entries are going like hot cakes, and you need to be quick on the draw to even get a place in some of the more popular events. The Surrey League, which provides racing for over 1300 riders in more than 150 races per year, has come up with an initiative to help people make the transition to racing as safely and as easily as possible.


By its very nature, cycling is a potentially dangerous game of high speed chess, and when a wrong move is made at speed it can result in expensive damage to kit and equipment, or worse yet, broken bones. Of course you could say that crashing is part of the sport (hardly a televised Pro Tour race goes by without a crash causing the commentators to go into a frenzied number spotting game, searching for any big names that have been caught up), but nobody wants to crash. When you throw together a bunch of 30 or 40 riders who are relatively new to the sport (4th category riders), the risk of a crash is higher.
To reduce the risk of crashes caused by rider error, the Surrey League has introduced Novice & 4th Category training days.  All novice and 4th Cat riders (both men & women) must attend two of these training sessions before they will be allowed to ride any Surrey League events (the only exception being time trials). On completion of the training, the riders will be issued a card to show event organisers when signing on before a race.
Surrey League
The training is required regardless of how many events you have raced as a 4th Cat in the past. This is to make sure that everyone is brought up to speed with the coaching on offer from the League. There may be dispensation granted to riders returning to the sport after an extended absence, if they have previously attained 2nd Cat status or above. This will be evaluated on a case by case basis. 
To cater for the amount of riders who would need to attend these training days, there will be sessions held throughout the year, at various locations within the Surrey League area. This is no mean feat, as the League attracts a lot of riders every year, and the numbers are only increasing. Training days will be announced as and when suitable venues are secured for the desired dates. To keep up to date with these developments, those interested can check the Surrey League website or Facebook group.
To make sure that the training provided is of the highest standard, Surrey League training sessions will be run by qualified British Cycling coaches, assisted by a number of experienced riders, who will be on hand to ride alongside those attending the course, offering advice and tips throughout the day. Chatting to these riders is a great way to learn about the sport, because you can learn something in two minutes from an experienced rider that may have taken you months to figure out the hard way. This is essentially what the training days are about, as they offer a condensed syllabus of competitive riding that would usually take years for a rider to gain from riding without more experienced mentors. Riders attending the training will be coached on everything from safe riding to training methods and race winning tactics.
Below is an outline of the training day itinerary, although this is not set in stone, as factors like the group dynamic and weather conditions may influence the session content or the amount of time spent covering each training objective.
General circuit session: 
In this session riders will be taught about adopting safe and stable riding positions, aerodynamic racing positions and the appropriate riding positions for various race scenarios. Pedalling technique and cadence drills will also be covered.
Group riding skills (Basic): 
This lesson will aim to teach riders how to ride safely and efficiently in a bunch. This will include tips on maintaining a good position in a bunch, changing position in a bunch and moving from the front to the back of a bunch. Riders will also learn about positioning for attacks, breaks and final lap sprints. Safely switching lines when responding to developing race scenarios, cornering line choice, gear selection, corner entry and exit speed, body position on the bike and awareness of your surroundings will be some of the lessons that can make riding safer for everyone in the race. Optimum line selection is important, but dealing with an enforced change of line due to another rider is where you can either cause or prevent a crash.
Group riding skills (Advanced): 
Moving on from the basics, this section looks at working efficiently in smaller groups, break aways, chases, etc. Team Time Trials and through and off will be explained, along with pace lines and chain-gangs. This involves close wheel-to-wheel riding, which is a vital skill to acquire for competitive racing.  
Good sprinting technique will be taught, including the importance of holding a predictable line. Riders attending the course will be given sprint training drills to take away and practice. The virtue of strength vs speed will be explored, with a discussion of the significance of high cadence vs low, hard gears.
Other areas covered are the rights and wrongs for circuit racing and road racing, practical drills and how to improve. There will also be advice on warming up before a race; why it is important and what the appropriate warm up protocol for short/long races or TTs are. The ODPs World Class warm up will be completed and explained at the start of the session.
Coach-led races: 
The circuit element will conclude with mock race scenarios to practice the coaching points from the session and discuss race scenarios and tactics.
Classroom session: 
If conditions allow, there will be video analysis of certain elements covered during the session. This will be followed by a presentation on training and preparing for racing, covering components of fitness and principles of conditioning. This will give the riders a very clear idea of WHAT to do and HOW to train to enhance their racing. Finally a Q&A session will be held to cover any issues riders have regarding local events, BC licenses, points structures and more.
Dates & Venues:
A full list of dates and venues and how to book will be listed on the Surrey League web site at Surrey League
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