Are you a parent of a young cycling enthusiast who dreams of competing? If so look no further than our ultimate guide to introducing your child to competitive cycling!
From choosing the right bike to finding local races and fostering a positive mindset, we've got you covered.
Join us as we explore training, race preparation, safety measures, and valuable tips for parents. Read on to learn about navigating the exciting world of competitive road cycling for kids.
What is Competitive Junior Road Racing?
Simply put, competitive junior road racing involves young riders competing on the road in organised races.
It’s great for allowing children and teenagers to showcase their skills and compete against their peers.
These races take place on public roads or closed circuits, challenging participants with different terrains, distances, and race dynamics.
As with adult road racing, young riders must navigate courses, strategically position themselves within the peloton, and demonstrate tactical acumen.
British Cycling is currently the largest junior road racing organization in the UK. They offer a comprehensive program for junior riders, providing structured training, coaching, and competitive opportunities at different levels.
Junior Road Bikes – The Perfect Fit
Before embarking on their competitive cycling career, your child of course needs a road bike. There is a spectrum of bike brands out there offering children's road bikes at different price points and of varying quality.
For competitive cycling, Bike Club offers premium junior road bikes on a convenient subscription basis. Our carefully curated selection includes the highly acclaimed Frog Road 58, 67, and 70 models, amongst others.
These bikes are specifically designed for young cyclists, featuring lightweight frames, responsive handling, and reliable components. We work with brands that specialise in kids bikes. This means they are made to fit the proportions of children and are not just scaled-down adult bikes.
So whether you need a bike for a 6 year old or a bike for an 11 year old or older, we will have a good option for your child.
Choosing the Right Size
Unsure what size your child needs? To get the best fit, we recommend using their inside leg measurement. You can read our kids bike sizing guide for information on this.
Once you have their measurement, input it into our Interactive Bike Finder, or into the filters on our kids road bike collection page. Each product page also shows the recommended inside leg measurement for the bike and a rough age range.
Features and Components
Road bikes stand out from regular hybrid bikes in a number of ways. They come with features aimed to maximise speed on the road and minimise drag. These include:
- Lightweight construction: Road bikes are designed to be lightweight, typically made from materials such as carbon fibre, aluminium, or titanium.
- Drop handlebars: These provide multiple hand positions, promoting aerodynamics and allowing riders to achieve a more streamlined position.
- Narrow, high-pressure tyres: Typically ranging from 23mm to 28mm in width, these high-pressure tyres reduce rolling resistance.
- Gear range and drivetrain: Road bikes often have a wide range of gears, allowing riders to maintain pace in various conditions.
- Stiff and responsive frame geometry: Their frames are designed with a responsive geometry, prioritising efficient power transfer and precise handling.
- Aerodynamic features: Many road bikes incorporate aerodynamic features. These can include aerodynamically shaped tubes, integrated cockpit systems, and streamlined components, to reduce drag.
Road bikes are expensive due to the precision required in their construction. Kids road bikes are cheaper, however you are still looking at an upfront cost of £400 - £600. Some can cost as much as £900!
At Bike Club we understand the importance of finding the right bike that offers both performance and comfort for young riders. We also want cycling to be more accessible, which is why we offer our quality bikes at an affordable monthly rate.
This helps get your little one on the road without you having to worry about a huge upfront price tag.
Encouraging Proper Training and Development
Encouraging proper training is a big help for kids looking to get into road cycling. It can be a gruelling sport so some training will boost their fitness and endurance, and hone technical skills.
Go-Ride clubs play a crucial role in offering comprehensive training for young road cyclists. These clubs provide a structured and supportive environment where children can learn and develop their road cycling skills.
They offer coaching sessions specifically tailored to young riders, focusing on essential techniques such as bike handling, cornering, group riding, and tactical awareness.
Through a progressive training program, young road cyclists can build endurance, improve their fitness levels, and enhance their overall performance.
With qualified coaches and mentors, Go-Ride clubs provide the guidance needed to develop the next generation of road cyclists in a fun environment.
Go-Ride clubs often organise mock races, allowing riders to gain experience in a competitive setting and practice tactics.
Setting Realistic Goals
It's important to remember that young athletes are still developing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Setting achievable and age-appropriate goals helps to foster a positive mindset and maintain their love for the sport.
Encourage young road racers to focus on personal improvement, skill development, and enjoying the process rather than solely on winning.
Setting goals based on effort, such as completing races or improving lap times, can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivation.
Cross-training can significantly benefit kids involved in road racing by enhancing their overall performance and reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
Engaging in other forms of physical activities, such as swimming, running, or even team sports, can help young road racers develop well-rounded athleticism.
Promoting Safety & Sportsmanship
Promoting safety and sportsmanship is important in nurturing young road racers and fostering a positive racing environment.
When participating in road racing, children can prioritise safety by wearing appropriate gear.
This includes a well-fitted helmet, padded gloves, cycling shoes for proper foot support, and brightly coloured, reflective clothing for visibility. Additionally, knee and elbow pads can offer extra protection in case of falls or collisions.
Road safety is paramount when it comes to cycling, and it is especially important for children who are less experienced.
They should be taught essential safety measures, such as obeying traffic rules, signalling their intentions, and staying alert to their surroundings. You can read our bike safety guide for more information.
Hydration & Nutrition
Hydration and nutrition play a vital role in the performance and well-being of young road racers. Staying properly hydrated is essential to maintain optimal physical function and prevent fatigue. Encourage children to drink water regularly before, during, and after rides, especially in hot weather conditions.
Electrolyte-rich sports drinks can also replenish essential minerals lost through sweat. In terms of nutrition, emphasise the importance of meals and snacks that provide a balanced diet.
Sportsmanship & Respect
Sportsmanship and respect are fundamental values that should be instilled in young road racers. Encouraging a culture of sportsmanship teaches children the importance of fair play and respect for their fellow competitors.
Explore Competitive Opportunities
When it comes to exploring competitive opportunities in road cycling, there are various avenues available for young riders.
Local races are a great way for young road cyclists to get started in racing. They are typically shorter and less competitive than larger races, which makes them a less daunting prospect for beginners.
There are many different organisations that organize local races for young cyclists. Some of the most well-known organizations include British Cycling, Go-Ride, and British Cycling Clubs. These organisations can provide cyclists with information about local races, including those appropriate for their skill level.
British Cycling Youth Circuit Series
The British Cycling Youth Circuit Series is a series of races for young cyclists aged 8-16 years old. The series is designed to provide young cyclists with a fun and competitive racing environment. The races are held on closed roads, and there are different categories for different age groups and abilities.
With different age categories, the Youth Circuit Series caters to a wide range of abilities and fosters healthy competition. The series is well-organized, adhering to British Cycling's rules and regulations, ensuring fair and safe racing for all participants. The Youth Circuit Series plays a key role in developing young talent, contributing to the future success of UK road cycling.
National Youth Championships
The National Youth Championships (NYC) is the premier cycling event for young riders in the UK. The NYC is held annually and consists of a series of races for riders aged 12-16 years old. The races are held on closed roads and are open to riders who are members of a British Cycling affiliated club.
The NYC is a great opportunity for young riders to test their skills against the best riders in the country. The races are also a great way for riders to gain experience racing in a competitive environment. In addition to the racing the NYC also features a number of other events, like skills challenges and trade shows.
The NYC is a challenging but rewarding experience for young riders. It is a great opportunity for riders to improve their skills and have fun.
Celebrating Achievements & Supporting Progression
Celebrating achievements and supporting progression is essential for kids who are involved in road cycling.
When kids achieve something, no matter how small, it is important to celebrate their success. This can help them build confidence and motivation, which are essential for continued progress.
It is also important to support kids as they progress in their cycling. This can involve providing them with the right equipment, training, and opportunities. It can also involve being there to offer encouragement and support when they need it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Competitive Junior Road Cycling
At what age can my child start competitive cycling?
Children can start competitive cycling as early as the age of 6 or 7, depending on their development. However, it's important to focus on their enjoyment and skill development rather than solely on competition at such a young age. Introducing them to local races, events, and supportive cycling clubs can provide a positive entry into the world of competitive cycling.
How do I choose the right junior road bike for my child?
To choose the right junior road bike for your child, there are several factors to consider. You want a bike that fits their height, has a lightweight design, appropriate gearing, reliable brakes, and comfortable handlebars. Also, we advise getting a bike from a reputable brand that is known for making great kids bikes.
What are the costs involved in getting my child involved in competitive cycling?
The costs involved in getting your child involved in competitive cycling can vary. Typical costs include equipment such as a bike, helmet, and clothing, club memberships, race entry fees, coaching/training expenses, travel, and maintenance/repairs. Costs can depend on factors like the quality of equipment and level of competition.
At Bike Club we want to reduce the barrier to entry by offering children's bikes at an affordable monthly rate. We also offer a range of bikes for other disciplines, such as mountain bikes and BMX bikes.