Introduction to Bicycle Racing
The ECCC puts special attention toward ensuring competitive, fun, safe racing for riders of all abilities. At the center of those efforts are its Introduction to Bicycle Racing categories. We are proud to say that since the ECCC began pioneering these events in 2006, a number of riders have gone from Intro riders to ECCC and even national championship title winners in just a few years.
Men's and Women's Intro races are held at every ECCC road race weekend. The events have three parts:
- Before each race, both men and women, a half hour off-course clinic is held. This might be doing corners in an empty parking lot, race start practices, bumping drills in nearby grass, or simply walking the course and talking through the mechanics of bike racing. Either way, our veteran coaches have a lot of knowledge that they're happy to share.
- The first half of each race is held in a coached, controlled format. As best as possible, no one gets dropped, and coaches ensure everyone is looked after and receives some guidance on group and race riding. Keeping the pace controlled and groups together ensures everyone gains at least some experience, even if they can't quite keep up in a race. In road and circuit races the whole group usually rides in one or two groups, focusing on pacelining and getting acquainted with tight group riding. In criteriums the field breaks up into small groups with coaches each guiding a handful of riders around the course, working on cornering and other handling skills.
- For the second half of the race the field stops, regroups, and begins its race in earnest. This section is a straight-up, standard race, and often very competitive and dynamic, with coaches remaining sprinkled throughout the field simply to ensure safety and provide additional tips and guidance.
Ian Sullivan, Jess Kutz, and other coaches run the pre-race Men's Intro clinic at the 2010 Rutgers Season Opener. (photo: Joe Kopena)
This format ensures a safe racing environment with a reduced learning curve in which even the newest riders can begin learning and enjoying bicycle racing. Compared to slightly more experienced riders who move directly into the other beginner categories, are experiences are that many Intro riders gain skills, speed, and confidence and commitment much faster, progressing more rapidly through the ranks.
There are no requirements or limitations on riders entering the Intro category. Intro riders may do as few or as many races as they like before upgrading into the other categories. Similarly, riders are free to skip the Intro category and begin as Men's D or C or Women's B or C racers. However, the Intro category is strongly recommended for riders with no group riding experience. Note that Intro races do not count toward any upgrades.
In addition, all ECCC Women's Intro races are open to non-collegiate, new women racers! Any women, student or not, who are new racers (1-day or first year Cat 4 license holders) are welcome to come out and race in the Women's Intro race. This is a great opportunity to bring out friends, school staff and alumni, non-collegiate clubmates, and any other women who want to try bicycle racing in a safe, educational setting where they're guaranteed to get some group riding experience and instruction.
Mountain Bike Racing
ECCC MTB races do not have separate Intro categories due to the nature of mountain bike racing. However, before every XC and STXC race begins there is an Intro clinic open to all interested riders. These feature drills, exercises, and instruction to help new riders pick up a few more skills and improve their racing. Look for these by the starting line of each endurance event half an hour before racing starts for the day.