Ready to get into the saddle?
There's a cycling discipline to suit everyone, including you. If you are excited about the possibilities of sport on two-wheels, check out the following to get involved.
How do I find my local cycling club or team?
In the UK, racing is governed by British Cycling - note that this is simply the rebranded version of the British Cycling Federation, though many people still use the old name for the organisation. In turn, British Cycling reports to the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the world governing body for cycle sports.
There are three national bodies you can contact depending on where you live in the UK. If you're in Wales, get in touch with the Welsh Cycling Union. In Scotland, contact Scottish Cycling and, in Ireland, check out the website of Cycling Ireland. Meanwhile Cycling England is responsible for the development of cycling in England.
Each of these bodies will be able to put you in touch with your local club. British Cycling also has an online http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/web/site/BC/clu/cluClubFinder.asp/ search facility, so you can easily locate your nearest club, and filter by discipline as well. Alternatively, you can call British Cycling on 0870 871 2000.
If you are under 18 years of age, the Go-Ride scheme will be of interest Go-Ride clubs are particularly suitable for young riders - this is the British Cycling youth development programme, providing youngsters with access to proper facilities and coaching. The project is designed to encourage young people to take up and enjoy cycling, and to foster a new generation of world-class athletes. If you are already a cyclist, and want to get involved with helping youngsters, there are opportunities with Go-Ride and the British Schools Cycling Association.
Will I need to spend a lot of money on kit?
Happily, the cost of bicycles continues to fall, so you do not need to spend a fortune to start cycling. BMX is a particularly inexpensive option as the bikes are pretty basic, and robust. A basic MTB or road bike is also cheap, and, because you can ride almost anywherem you have no fees to pay for using facilities. Track cycling uses more specialised cycling equipment, the cost of which may be prohibitive to newcomers. However, many track clubs and indoor cycle tracks (velodromes) offer bike hire and coaching, so you can experience the discipline without having to commit too much financially. Helmets, cycling shorts and shoes are all relatively inexpensive and. again. some of these items can be hired if you can't afford your own.
Obviously, once you get more involved you may want to buy your own bike, and spend more money on higher-performance equipment. Funding is available from British Cycling and the National Federations to support promising athletes, so you may be eligible for financial assistance if you are doing well!
Is my age and/or ability important?
Most forms of cycling are organised into categories, so you compete with riders of similar ability. Categories are defined by age, sex and ability