ICA and xXx Racing Summer Practice Series
In the city of Chicago
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Cyclists in America are organized into a hierarchy of numbered categories designating experience and skill level. Beginner cyclists will start out as Category 5 racers and progress up to 4, 3, 2, and 1. Upgrades are earned through a combination of starts and points awarded to the top finishers of a race. Each race's points will differ according to the size of the starting field and the length of the event. Upgrades are submitted electronically to USACycling.org and reviewed by local officials. More information can be found on USACycling.org's category upgrade page
Road races are team-oriented, mass-start events. Road races generally take place on public roads and can be point-to-point races or multiple circuits of a loop anywhere from 5 to 25 miles in length.
During a road race, team members work together to gain an advantage over other riders, usually designating one person as its team leader. The team leader is determined prior to the race and can be based on several factors including the course’s terrain, a rider’s fitness level and the competition. The leader’s teammates will help in any way possible from fetching food and water to giving up a wheel or their bicycle in the event of a crash or mechanical failure. Throughout most of the race, a team’s leader will ride in the draft of a teammate, never facing the wind head-on unless absolutely necessary.
Individual Time Trials
Often called “The Race of Truth”, the time trial pits individuals against the clock instead of each other. It’s the most basic form of competitive cycling and the rules are simple: the athlete with the fastest time over a given distance is the winner.
Like road races, the time trial usually takes place on public roads and can be a point-to-point race or multiple laps of a circuit. In a race against the clock, results are often determined by fractions of a second. And since there are no team tactics and riders don’t have the benefit of drafting off another rider, riders seek out every aerodynamic advantage they can. The time trial will feature the most technologically-advanced equipment such as carbon fiber disc wheels, lightweight components, teardrop-shaped aerodynamic helmets, one-piece skinsuits and special handlebars which allow a rider to get into a more aerodynamic position.
Stage races are multi-day races that string together several “stages”. The rider with the lowest cumulative time after all the stages are complete is declared the winner. The most popular example of a stage race is the Tour de France – a 21-day race every July that is considered to be the most prestigious competitive cycling event in the world.
Because time trials and mountain stages are typically the deciding factors in major stage races, riders who excel at those two specialties are often times considered major contenders for overall victories in stage races. For riders who aren’t all-around specialists or particularly strong at climbing or time trials, an individual stage win is also a prestigious accomplishment.
Because the overall winner is determined solely by cumulative time, it’s possible to win a stage race without actually winning an individual stage.
Although not an internationally-recognized discipline, criterium racing is purely American and one of the most common forms of competitive cycling in the United States. Designed for spectators, criteriums are races held on short circuits, typically in an urban setting.
These fast-paced events are usually 25-60 miles in length and last between one and two hours. The relatively short, closed course features several corners and gives spectators the opportunity to view most of the race.
In criteriums, the pace is fast from the gun as riders can average up to 30 miles per hour for the duration of the race. Quick acceleration and keen bike handling skills are paramount to success in a criterium. Typically a sprinter with the fastest finishing kick will win in a race that often ends in a mass field sprint.
In a criterium, if a rider crashes, suffers a flat tire or other mechanical failure, he or she can enter the pit area where a team mechanic has one lap to make a quick repair. After the fix, the rider is reinserted into the same position he or she was before the mishap.
In a criterium, it’s important for a rider to remain near the front of the peloton as the first few riders can take a corner with little or no braking. Those further back jockey for position into the turn, brake and then sprint to catch back up. The resulting “accordion” effect takes its toll on riders who navigate hundreds of turns throughout the course of a race.
Omniums are similar to stage races but instead recognize an overall winner based on the accumulation of points instead of lowest cumulative time. Following each stage, a rider is awarded points corresponding to his of her stage finish. Following the completion of the last stage, the rider with the most points is declared the winner.
A circuit race is a general term used for road races that are contested over several laps of a predetermined course. The term “circuit race” is generally used to describe a race that covers laps of a circuit that is more than a mile, but less than five. The course is longer than that of a criterium, but shorter than loops used in a road race.
Team Time Trials
Like the individual time trial, the team time trial is simply a race against the clock, but with one slight difference. Instead, teams race one at a time and work together to complete the course in the fastest possible time. In a team time trial, the science of drafting plays a major role as teammates take turns at the front of the paceline. When a rider “takes a pull”, the rest of his or her teammates fall in behind and expend up to 30% less energy to achieve the same speed. When the lead rider is unable to maintain the same pace, he or she rotates to the back of the paceline as a “fresh” rider takes over the pacesetting. When executed properly, the well-oiled machine of a team time trial is considered to be one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of sport.
ICA and xXx Racing Summer Practice Series
Thursday night race series that runs throughout the summer at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook
Friday Night Beginners/Cat 5 Racing night at the Track
Wonder Lake Criterium
Junior Track Championships