In Australia, we (mostly!) race road in the winter, and then track and criteriums in the summer.
Road races are held in and around the Adelaide hills at places like Lobethal, Gumeracha, Williamstown, Kangarilla and Willunga.
Road racing is a mixture of Graded Scratch Races (GSR) where kids are graded on ability and age group racing. Junior GSR's run in 3 grades, A Grade, B Grade and C Grade.
- A grade is mostly the U17 men and some strong U15 men and U17 women.
- B grade is mostly U17 women, U15 men and some strong U15 women and the U17 Men who are starting out.
- C graders are the U13s, some U15 women and the U15 men who are starting out.
Championship events are run in age groups. In cycling the age groups can be a bit confusing because if you are an U17 it means you have to be U17 as of the 1st of January that year (ie. turning 15 or 16 between the 1st January and the 31st December that year). If your son or daughter turns 13 this year then he/she is an U15 and he/she will still be an U15 next year. From the 1st of October any licence purchased is actually for the next year and so you will in the age group that you would be for the next year. For example you can be 14, turning 15 in the next year and for Cycling purposes your licence and age group from the 1st of October would have you as an U17.
See the Cycling Australia website for current membership categories.
During the road season some events are handicaps where all the age groups and grades compete against each other and will start at different times, slowest first, fastest last usually over a 25-40 km course and the first across the line wins. Handicaps are very different to GSR's as each bunch needs to work together to stay ahead of the faster bunch behind them and catch the slower bunch ahead.
There are also several time trials during the road season, which involves individuals starting at 1-minute intervals and riding against the clock.
In summer we also race Criteriums at several venues across Adelaide, again over 3 grades. Crits are short sharp events on Road bikes where you ride for a certain time over a 1-2 km circuit. Typically C graders ride for say 15 minutes plus two laps. A grade might ride for 30 minutes plus two laps.
Most of the top juniors also ride track and most coaches will recommend that track gives you the best basis for all your cycling. There is a Junior track training session every Wednesday at the Adelaide Superdrome run by Cycling SA. Track riding uses a different bike with no brakes and a fixed gear. Track bikes are simple, fairly cheap and Cycling SA has some very basic ones that you can hire for a small fee when you first start out.
Track racing runs over summer at Edwardstown on Fridays, and some racing at the Superdrome as well as at Mt Gambier and Whyalla tracks. Track racing is great for Juniors, its all about leg speed, the races are fairly short and there are no cars to worry about. Track is also quite social for the kids as they are all in one place and get to know each other well. The track training sessions for juniors run all year round.
Note that junior bike racing runs on restricted gearing. Depending on what age group you are only allowed to run a certain maximum gear. For example, U15's are restricted to a maximum gear that gives a 6.0m roll out from one crank revolution. Also juniors are not allowed to use carbon wheels (so no Zipp 404's!) or singles (glue on tyres). Aero bars can be used for time trials only but no full on time trial bikes are allowed until you graduate from junior ranks.
To race you will need to get a Cycling Australia race licence for insurance purposes, but to start off with you can get a silver ride licence which is cheaper and will give you 24/7 insurance coverage on the bike for all recreational riding and training, you can upgrade to a race licence when you are ready to race.
There are many different ways a new junior can become involved in cycling and racing, and a visit to the Adelaide SuperDrome on a Wednesday evening is a great place to start.
Wednesday Night - Junior Skills Session
Skills Session - 6:00pm - 8/8:30pm
The aim of this night is to invite all experienced Juniors to come along and be taught specific skills and tactics in a systematic and structured approach.
All coaching will be provided by SASI/CSA coaches in conjunction with invitational development coaches.
Cost: Juniors: $15 per session or $20 incl bike hire
Norwood Cycling Club are currently running junior criteriums at Vic Park. See NCC website for details: http://www.norwoodcc.com.au/
Information can be found via the Cycling Australia website.
The Roma Mitchell Secondary College has a Specialist Sport Cycling Program. Further information on their website or call the school on (08) 8161 4600.
View the Cycling SA Event Calendar
Clubs across SA run junior events. See our club finder and contact a club to find out more information.