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To many, the marathon is regarded as the ultimate test of endurance. However, cycling tends to displace this theory. Typical cycle races cover distances upwards of 10 miles, with some covering in excess of a hundred. Some races are run for a set duration, the winner being the person who covers the greatest distance. These can last up to 24 hours. Although endurance and strength are critical factors in cycle racing, equipment and tactics also help decide who is the winner.
Cycle racing on the road is split into 2 different types; namely road racing and time trials. The former is characterised by a massed start, where everyone starts at the same time, and the latter where riders are set off alone at intervals.
And just to complicate things there are stage races. These take place over several days or even weeks and comprise mostly road races with the occasional time-trial stage.

Road Racing
A road race takes the form of a conventional race - everyone starts at the same time, and the first to finish is the winner. Road races are generally long, covering 40 plus miles and last several hours. In Grampian this usually entails covering a circuit a few times, where as abroad place to place races are popular e.g. the 250km Paris-Roubaix.
Obviously the type of terrain covered will influence the outcome of the race. Powerful muscular riders are favoured in flattish events, whereas the lighter riders tend to excel in hillier events. This is recognised in stage races where prizes are often offered to stage winners, best sprinter in the race, the best climber and overall winner.
Road racing is not a natural spectator sport. However "criteriums" do provide good entertainment from the roadside. These are shorter races, maybe of an hour duration, on a tight circuit of about a mile or less in length with lots of corners. These are a definite test of bike handling and sprinting skills. Unfortunately criteriums are few and far between in Grampian.
Another form of road racing is the Australian Pursuit Race (APR). This is in effect a handicap race. Here small groups of riders start at different times. Riders are assigned to a group based on their recent performances. If the handicapping goes to plan, then all groups will come together just before the finish line. This type of race is popular in Grampian, with a few of the local clubs organising them.
See our page on Aberdeenshire Cycling Clubs for a list of clubs that can help you get started in road racing.

Time Trialling
Time trialling is where riders race against the clock, with the fastest rider over a predetermined distance being the winner.
Time Trialling is by far the most popular form of cycle racing in Grampian, with most local clubs organising time trialls throughout the season. In fact, some have season long leagues of time trials with points being awarded to riders based on their finishing position, the league winner being the rider with the most points at the end of the season.
Time trials are generally of a standard distance of 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles on a very accurately measured course. Generally these are of the "out and back" type course where the rider races to a roundabout, or similar pre-determined spot, where they turn and follow the same route back to the finish. Riders set off at intervals, of usually one minute, alone. During the race they are not allowed to slipstream, so if they are "caught" they must let the rider pass them and likewise if they catch their "minute man" they must pass him without sitting in their slipstream.
Special forms of time trial are held over specific time lengths of 12 hour or 24 hour. In these events the winner is the rider who covers the greatest distance within the time period.
See our page on Aberdeenshire Cycling Clubs for a list of clubs that can help you get started in time trialling, and then check out the courses that they race over on our Race Course page.


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