I’m new to Road Racing, what do I need to know?

Boulder Junior Cycling — Road Devo

Hello road cyclists and parents, welcome to BJC. Have a look through the attached material at your leisure for ideas to work with your kids on their racing. This is just advice in response to frequently asked questions — like how much time should my kid ride a day, how should they warm up for a race, etc. We want parents and kids to avoid obsessing about race routines and training schedules,etc and hope that everyone’s focus is more on fun, community and building self-esteem, but this may be helpful for general guidelines.


Junior gearing:

Juniors must use “junior gears” which means the hardest gear on your bike is limited. (This applies to all riders 18 and under, in both adult and junior categories, no exceptions.) Juniors have a maximum allowed gear for races, it comes out to 7.93m or 26ft. This is calculated by figuring out the distance the bike travels with one rotation of the cranks. A lot of factors influence this, such as the size of the tire and the gears on your bike.

This rule puts the riders on equal footing and prevents the biggest and strongest lids from just stomping in a big gear and riding away from the others.

The best set-up is a road bike with a 52 tooth chainring, a 14 tooth cog at the back and 25mm tires.

Single rings are fine to use and will not hamper you since junior gearing rules limit your top gear anyways. A 40 tooth front chainring and an 11 tooth at the back meets the rules and will put you on the same gear as kids on road bikes.

If you have a road bike but don’t have a junior specific cassette, you can block some gears out. (but test this first since it doesn’t always result in a legal gear)

Use this Gear Calculator: https://www.bikecalc.com/gear_meters_of_development

Here’s a really good resource.

USAC info on Junior Gearing

Types of races:

Road races:

Road races are mass-start races in which the finish is pre-decided based on distance. They may be a pre-determined number of laps of a circuit, point-to-point or a loop. Many road races enforce the rule that you cannot cross the center line. This information can be found on the race flyer, and the officials will announce rules like these on the start line. Some road races have feed zones, but even if they are neutral they will often run out of spare water bottles. You forfeit your own bottles by tossing them, and they will often be recycled in the neutral feed.


A criterium, or crit, is a timed mass-start circuit race, in which the winner is determined by who is the first to complete the most laps in the time limit. There should always be a lap counter at the start/finish area and the number of laps to complete will be determined once racers have completed some and officials have an estimate of how long one lap takes for the category, although in junior races they often say at the start how many laps the leaders will complete. If the leaders are a lap ahead of a rider on course, the slower rider is considered “lapped” and will sometimes be pulled before he or she has completed the prescribed number of laps. This is true even when older riders and riders from different categories on course at the same time pass riders, and sometimes riders who have fallen behind but are not yet lapped will also be pulled. Leaders coming up on lapped riders may not draft off the lapped riders. You can get spare wheels from the wheel pit during the race. You cannot take feeds during criteriums.

Time trials:

This is an individual race against the clock. Riders may not draft off other riders and, unless they are passing, must leave 80ft between riders. Give as much space as possible when passing without crossing the center line. You may only ride side-by-side when passing, and once a rider is next to you, you must let them pass fully within 500m, which may require dropping back. Often there will be a full U-turn in an out-and-back time trial. Racers are assigned a start time and will not be allowed to compete if they miss it, so always arrive early.

Pack list for race day:

Do not leave home without:



-transponder (if required)

-Race license

Secondary importance:

-kit or skinsuit


-1-2 FULL water bottles and a jug of water to drink from before and after

-post-race food

-pre- and post-race dry clothes


May also want:


-chamois cream

-checkbook if paying for entry onsite



-spare wheels/tires/tubes



-hand towel

-baby wipes to wipe down after the race (helps avoid a chill)

-watch/computer so you know time

-arm/leg warmers/gloves/shoe covers



-race flyer/schedule if you need to know when you’re up

Organizing practice:

It is as important to build rest into riding as it is to develop fitness. Kids that are racing weekly should have at least one day off the bike early in the week and one day easy spinning two days before a big race. The day before a race should be easy with a few short (like 15-second) sprints. The middle of the week should be longer and harder efforts. We will be doing some harder rides on Tuesdays. If you ride with your kid, it’s fun to sprint each other for deer crossing signs or mile markers or elevation markers.

The day before a race:

There is no need to “carb load” for these races — it is for ultra-endurance and multi-day races. Any healthy dinner is good, and extra hydration. Clean your chain and give it some lube, make sure to ride at least enough to check that brakes and shifting both work well and nothing else is wrong with the bike.

The day of a race:

For short races with intense efforts like time trials and criteriums, avoid solid foods right before the race. If it’s possible to have a normal breakfast a few hours before the start and then banana, applesauce, honey or gel before the start, that’s great.

Go immediately to registration and pick up the number, and always make sure to ask which side the number goes on that day. Pin the jersey or skinsuit right away, top off tires and bottles.

Especially if it’s a cold day, leave plenty of time for warming up, because stripping layers before the start always takes more time than you think. Try to get in a good 20 minutes of spinning EASY with a few short, strong efforts to get the muscles nice and warm and ready for action. Save heavy stretching for later. Get to the start 10 minutes early, but stay warm by spinning around and/or wearing a jacket and warmers until lining up.

The race:

Ride safely, don’t start too hard (unless the alternative is riding alone), work together, try to find a few other riders at a similar level and take turns taking pulls.


After the race keep spinning the legs easy for at least 5 minutes and eat and get dry and warm right away! These things are as important to an athlete as training. I like a milk or almond milk box and a juice box or smoothie right after racing until my stomach can handle food.

Homemade nutrition ideas:

Electrolyte drink:

Ice tea or lemon juice

Honey, agave (works well because it dissolves well) or maple syrup

Sea salt

You can find recipes for Allen Lim’s rice cakes online. It is hard to get them to stick together sometimes, but they are yummy, you can make them with whatever your kid likes and are great to bring on longer rides to mix it up from just eating bars and gels.

Mac and cheese snack can be made from a box and divided it into muffin tins and baked with some extra cheese so it sticks together nicely and then wrapped in cellophane. It fits nicely in a jersey pocket. The same can be done with cornbread or real muffins.

You can easily make all sorts of bars by melting chocolate with nut butter and honey and mixing it with any kind of cereal (I like puffed rice) and dried fruit or nuts.

Fruit leather, gorp or rice cracker mixes can be nice ride food for longer rides.