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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of riding does the club do?

HCC is primarily a racing club. We have tried to cater to other interests - but to be honest to date  we have not had  a lot to offer recreational riders or off road aficionados.

What types of races do you run?

We run road events. This includes actual road racing, criteriums & time trials. We have also run track events some years as well as the Valley Park Cyclocross event

Can you explain these type of events?

A road race occurs usually on a loop though a one way race or point to point can be run (we don't). Most of our loops are 8km or more though they need only be over 2km. Distances range from 40km - 160km. So for a 48km road race on  6km loop or circuit there would be 8 laps. Most road races are designed to occur with a hill or two to offer the opportunity for some of the pack to break away. Average speed on our races usually run 35 -40kph. Bike riding skills including a good comfort level with riding in the pack are necessary. Club rides are the way to get that familiarity.

A criterium is a road race run on a 2km or shorter loop or circuit. Quite often they are run in a downtown city block.  As a result there are lots of laps and four or more corners to deal with on each lap! The corners stretch the bunch like an elastic band and woe betide he or she who gets dropped or gets to the tail of the bunch. Criteriums are usually fast (40kph with sprints to 60kph) and call for excellent bike handling skills. Distances are usually under 80km.

A Time Trial is a race "against yourself". Each rider is on their own. The objective is to see in how little time you can complete the course. We run 15km, 40km & 80km time trials. The first two have each rider set off at one minute intervals the 80km has a two minute interval. Riders cannot ride near another rider except to pass. Course are usually relatively flat and designed on an out & back basis. Our very best riders exceed 40kph average - however quite a few come out just for the exercise and probably do around 30kph or less.

Track events are run on a banked track measured in metres not kilometres! At the very least participants need a bike with a fixed gear i.e. sans brakes. Preferably they will use a track bike.  Track racing is ALL about positioning - the advantage usually but not always going to the rider that comes off the lead wheel. Riders use the banking to swoop pass etc.

Cyclocross is essentially cross country racing. Courses are set up to test bike handling and strength/endurance. Our Garrett course is typical. The course is approx 3km. Much of it is across short cut grass leading to a variety of obstacles such as extreme albeit short hills which force a dismount, narrow passages, boxes to jump  (the daring bunny hop most dismount) barns to run through etc. Traditionally cyclocross has its own lightweight version of a road bike with a raised bottom bracket, cantilever brakes etc. However many participants now enter using lightweight mountain bikes.

What's a sportif event?

Its a recreational ride with a bit of oomph! Usual speed is 28 - 35kph. 

What's a recreational ride?

The objective is a pleasurable ride with a minimum of pain! Speeds are geared to the group which either slows to the speed of the slowest or if someone gets dropped variously waits for them to catch up slows up a bit and dispatches one or more riders to help the dropped rider get back on. Great way to get into the sport. Distances are 40-50km early season stretching to 70-100km in summer.

What type of bike should I bring to one of your events?

For our races a light road bike. For recreational rides we recommend the same however a better quality mountain bike  or better still a hybrid would be ok. Mountain bikes generally have nobbly tires to get you over rough ground. These and the weight of cheaper models makes for tough slogging on paved roads. Road bikes should preferably be built of light alloy steel, aluminum or carbon fibre. They should have drop bars and better quality brakes and gears. Such bikes range in price from $500 - 5,000.

Where should I buy my bike?

Always buy from a bike shop. Dept stores, tire stores etc have limited knowledge, poor assembly and generally poor quality bikes to sell. There probably ok for trips to the corner store or 10km down a bike path or even to get to work. You will find a better quality bike uses your energy more efficiently, is more responsive and safer to ride. Better bikes have a high tensile frame, light wheels, machined alloy cranks and chain rings. Gear systems come from makes such as Shimano (105 or better), Campagnolo or Mavic. None of these parts are made to flex too much thus translating your energy to the wheels so you "fly"! Check out our links page for some local bike shops. A couple offer club discounts on parts and accessories.

What do I need to do to race?

If you have never raced before don't jump in at the deep end. Join your local club i.e. join Hamilton CC. Start with our recreational rides then get into our club races. The fields are smaller than sanctioned events and hence less intimidating. Persevere, ask questions, train! If you are in your teens or twenties you'll learn fast and build up strength fast. If your in your 40's + it definitely takes longer! If you are into triathlons focus on our time trials.

Once you feel comfortable (usually after at least one season) apply for an OCA (Ontario Cycling Association) license. Our racing secretary or President can help. Now a days you are looking at over $100 for that license. Now you can enter sanctioned races (such as our Good Friday race) anywhere in Ontario and usually will have little difficulty riding in events elsewhere in Canada & the US. You will ride in your own category i.e. seniors, juniors, vets ladies etc. If you are still not sure you can get a Citizen's Permit good for three races or a "One Day. Latter is about $5-10 depending on event.

For details on categories check out the OCA on our links.

More to follow!

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