How to get started with crit racing?

What’s the best resource for learning all about crit races in my area or in my state? I want to train this year and start racing next year but would love to see some crit races in person this year if i can.

What do I need to start racing (besides gear)? Do i need a license?

Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

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Try searching a site like bikereg to see events in your areas of interest. May be useful to also ask at local shops, and also see what clubs are around (you can get a quick feel for the clubs by looking to see which ones the registrants to events are affiliated with).


Might help to say where you’re located, too.

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USAC license need for any USA Cycling sanctioned event. is one place to search.

USA Cycling also has an event finder.

There are also often local weeknight circuit or crit races. The local circuit race near me is a bit longer than a crit course, but it’s quite flat so functions very similarly. This kind of thing will probably be listed on your state’s cycling association calendar page, even if it’s not a sanctioned event through USAC.


To add to the above, scope out what bike clubs there are in your area. Go do those clubs’ group rides if possible.

I’d also recommend that you go and spectate at some races now. That will give you a feel for things.


There’s one day licenses and annual from USAC.

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2nd the recommendation to find and join a local club. It is the number 1 thing on your list. Do group rides AND talk to people on the rides! FTP = Friends To Play with and that is the real secret to racing. Fast group rides will develop race skills and making friends will get you into the local race scene.

When it comes time to start, look for training races/series. They are real races but also with some instruction too.

The noted registration and schedule websites are great but keep in mind that most locals are still not back to a full schedule in 2021. If you can, looking at 2019 events/results will give you a better picture of what should be going on locally in 2022.


Group riding will teach you a lot about surviving a crit racing. You can do a USAC single day license, as pointed above, to enter your first race. As STP said, people in these groups likely race, so they’ll be able to get you in the fold.

Training series / races are a good way to go, but no less serious. Our local Wedneday night training series is selling out Cat4/5 at 75 riders and almost selling out Cat1-3. Lots of heavy hitters and teams in all of them. The front peloton in last night’s Cat4/5 was averaging 27-28mph on a rolling course with 10mph cross / head winds in spots. Group skills will teach you a lot how to ride in that environment because when you’re going that fast, with that wind, there is no coming back if you get caught out in the open. Also, not matter how good of shape you think you are, racing is still humbling… people are baller. Just keep at it and you’ll be up in the mix eventually. There are skills (mental, reading the group, etc) that you just don’t get anywhere but racing, so that’s a learning curve too.


I’m located in the bay area, specifically San Francisco.

Thanks everyone, lots of great info here. I’m going to check out my first crit race next weekend! thanks!

My best advice, is to just get out there, try it, and meet people.

Everyone is usually really open and friendly if you come in with a good attitude and a “I’m here to learn and get better” mindset.

It means putting yourself out there and feeling embarrassed at times, but that’s okay, as almost everyone there has been through it before.


You are located in the Northern California/Nevada district. The website for your district is (Incidentally, this is the same district as the TrainerRoad guys. And me. :slight_smile: ) On that site is the calendar for upcoming races. There’s a crit this Saturday, the Land Park Crit. Next weekend is Watsonville, and then the following weekend is a Sky Express crit in Livermore. So, there are certainly races this year for you to jump into. As others have mentioned, you will need a license for these, but you can do a one-day license, or purchase an annual one.

I highly second the recommendation to find a club/team. There’s a list of clubs on the NCNCA website, but I’d probably go to the races and talk with people. Do you do group rides? Feel free to PM me with any questions.

There is a Tuesday crit series over in Chico. Great group to get your feet wet with.

One theme that you’re seeing in a lot of these posts is to just get out there and do it

I would second this notion - thinking that you have to train for a year and then try racing next season is going to put a ton of mental pressure on yourself to perform in that race and if it doesn’t go to plan you’re going to be in a tough spot

I think its more important to just get out and try a local drop ride, training series, even a sanctioned race instead of feeling like you have to train for 9 months before you’re ready to race.

So…follow the tips above on how to find a local thing and go hit a race later this month, who cares how you do? Just go out to learn and have fun

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Also be prepared to get dropped in your first crit. I got dropped in my first, and won my 4th. Watch and listen to all the videos that Pete, Amber, and Jon do about positioning and conserving energy.

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Check out NorCal Cycling on youtube. Plenty of coverage of races in your part of the world and a great place to learn the ropes (Jeff’s commentary and race tips are second-to-none, #dontchaseyourteammates).

And I’ll second trpnhntr’s comment: just go do one! Even if you’re dropped after a lap, at least you’ve got the first one out of the way - coming back for the next one and the next one will only get easier.

Good old CSP. I was there and part of a large team. We had a few goals but certainly did not control the end of the race as well as we would have liked.

All god points here. Just get out there and try it. You may love it, you may hate it. But you never know until you get out there.

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I can take a guess as to which team. You probably lapped me then :rofl:

I got caught out by someone blowing up in front of me and ended up on the wrong side in the crosswind, and burned my matches trying to get back on. :hot_face:

Just turned the rest of it into a solo threshold workout.

For sure - if you get dropped 10 seconds into your first race you will still have learned a lot of valuable stuff in that first race. Just the process of getting from your house to the starting line on time ready to go is full of stuff to learn and experiment with.

People will bend your ear for hours on how to position for the last lap. But before you get there you - literally - have to pin on a number. When was the last time you messed around with safety pins? :slight_smile: Lots of stuff to learn and not all of it is on course in the pack.

There’s a lot of very good info out there, especially Youtube. However, don’t treat it as gospel and don’t feel pressured to perform a certain way or get a result within a certain amount of time.

It’s easy for a Cat 1 to tell you how closely you need to a follow a wheel, or how you should never burn any 1000w matches early in a race. But following that advice religiously in a Cat 5 race is easier said than done, as it can be a bit of minefield with the highly mixed abilities of the field. Follow the wrong wheel and you either eat sh*t or get gapped. Try to save too much energy when a big gap is opening, and you get dropped.

Learning how to race is all part of the fun and you’ll end up figuring out a lot of things on your own. The advice given by higher level athletes are like pieces of a puzzle that will come together over time, but you’ll need to come up with the missing pieces for that to happen.