How long does it take to move down race categories in the UK?

I want to start racing in the new year, and I was wondering how long it takes most people to move from cat 4 to cat 3 ect?

Depends on how fit you are, learning a bit of race tactics and where you live. It took me 3 months, racing most weekends. I was definitely fit enough but always spent too much time on the front at first.

Pick your battles if your goal is to move up. Forget 3/4 races, only do 4s. Race no matter what, easy points are there on miserable days. Just stick with it, don’t get disheartened and you’ll be there in no time.


Thanks, cant wait to get started!!

No worries, good luck!

Same as below. Look for some 4thCat only races, the speed is often a fair bit more manageable. but don’t discount 3/4s as well, they’re great training and if you can hang on in those you’ll get some great confidence for when you move up.

Ok that sounds great and about what I had planned, thanks for the advice!

You could get lucky and get your 12 points in two races, all depends who turns up on the day! Remember everyone has to start at Cat 4 so you’re more than likely to get plenty of fast guys looking to move up. Most people who are racing are pretty fit in my experience, unless you’re young, fast and quick enough to mix it with cat 1 and 2 boys don’t expect to walk cat 4 races.

Right, that all sounds good, hopefully it wont take me too long to move down!

I’d say go for the 3/4 races if they’re short easy looking circuits. I never progressed from cat 4 last year but I found them more enjoyable. More likely to have experienced riders and a less stressful race and would have secured more points if it wasn’t for a crash.
Beware though, at the start of the season particularly you can have some big hitters who haven’t raced for a while sent back to cat 3 and looking to smash their way back up

4th cat can be more brutal than 3/4s up here in Scotland! Don’t be disheartened if you don’t progress quickly! As said above, it all depends on who shows up and who is in your area. Up here I feel the 4th cat pool is so big it’s pretty hard to get results. Everyone trains hard!

Guess it depends on you. Age, genetics, hunger. There is a local kid to me that first picked up a road bike in August 2015 and is now a Cat 1.

Thanks guys! Really useful advice :grinning:
Another quick question, I have a compact on right now should I change this out to a semi-compact or standard chain rings?

There is definitely a postcode lottery of sorts with regards to how easy it is to move from cat 4 to 3, however I believe its a bit more even moving 3 to 2.

With regards to chainring - i can happy do a short technical crit course on my compact (50T) gearing but on a course with longer straights I’m wishing for more top end - I’m not spinning out but I’m mainly on the smaller cogs at the rear so not a straight chainline. My frame isn’t the best so I get a bit of front mech chain rub if I put the power down in this combo - if it wasn’t for that i’d probably be happy with a compact all the time.

OK thanks for the advice! I’ll see how it goes running with a compact

I’ve always thought about moving up categories rather than down…but now I think about it, down makes more sense: 4, 3, 2, 1. I was expecting a thread about how long it takes to lapse categories after not racing for a while. Sorry…that comment didn’t really add much :slight_smile:

On the gearing, depends on the race, but there was a young guy up here on junior gearing a couple of years ago, who was an absolute machine and was winning 2/3/4 crits against senior racers so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

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If you’re racing crits and it’s a relatively flat course then you’ll be fine (as long as the cassette has an 11T). Hog Hill in London has a downhill where you’d risk spinning out and losing the pack with a compact big ring, but it’s very much the exception!

I’ve raced a few crits over the past couple of years. I’ve still to hit cat 3 but I’ve not really trained specifically for it. I’d advise to tune your training specifically for it, get some practice sprinting if you can. Sprint drills would be great. I think that’s what I neglected.
I would definitely not discount 3/4s. I’ve found Cat 4 races to be a bit of a grab bag. You could end up riding next to some scarily inexperienced riders to elite/Olympic triathletes. I found some 3/4s to be easier than some 4s.
And don’t get discouraged if you don’t accumulate points immediately, there’s a massive amount or race craft to be accumulated in each race.


This is my first year in bike racing cat4, few crashes, few scars and few scores, but not enough to move up. Few things I learned may help you perhaps…

It often, if not common, that strong guys do most of work in cat4s, yet they don’t always win. Many advise to sit in the group until time comes for a sprint or form a breakaway. It is close to impossible to finish well if you are far too behind in the group before the finish. Examine finishes well, know when to move up or stay upfront - too early and one gets swallowed or too late, may get “boxed in”. It will take couple of races to acclimatize and understand what is going on - there will be a lot of moving around you, front, left and right, it is overwhelming and chaotic. Always protect your front wheel, look ahead of a rider in front or further. People will talk, shout and show strange signs, that you may not understand and you don’t have to. Learn to ride aero - everything you save will matter in the end. Find food that is easily digestible. Learn to hydrate and eat while in group, under pressure or heart and lungs jumping out of chest. Contacts with other riders happens a lot. The tail of the cat4 appears to be where the most crashes happen, but it doesn’t mean you need to be at the front. Bike skills are important, but if you really want to put them to test, enter a crit, it was eye opening and shocking experience to me.

As for the the chain ring, most cat4 races appear to average 37-39 kph, this is plenty enough for compact. In odd occasions you may require ride downhills above comfortable speeds, therefore, as someone mentioned, understand the race course you are entering. It is perfectly fine to change setup from race to race, that includes fitting, tyres, gearing, you name it. Race puts it all to test.

Good luck


You can do it in two races, if your on the money. 12 points is what you’re shooting for.

I wouldn’t worry to much about your gearing. Downhill, draft smart and you won’t even have to put pressure through the cranks. You need to make sure you can stand on something when it pitches up. If it goes up (e.g Milton Keynes Bowl), that’s where the breaks happen.

As has been mentioned throughout this thread, there are a lot of good riders in Cat 4. Some are on their way to Cat 2 in a season and others are riders who just don’t care about rankings and just want a good tear up.