Once you’ve decided that you want to try bike racing, stop by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association’s Calendar (shortened as OBRA) and find a race that piques your interest. You can filter by type of bike racing. Items on the calendar are linked to the race flyers. In some instances, they are not, which means the promoter has not submitted their paperwork yet!
Types of races:
Road race– A mass start race where all the riders in each category start from the same place and at the same time for a designated distance.
Circuit race– the same as a road race except on a circuit with multiple laps.
Criterium– a road race held on a small course usually closed to traffic.
Time Trial– a race against the clock. Can be individual or team based. The team or individual starts at a pre-assigned time and ranking is based on the time it takes to cover the course.
Stage Race– a series of events that are run on consecutive days. There are placings for individual events and an overall that is determined by cumulative time or points. You must complete each stage to continue on.
Omnium– a series of events that are run on consecutive days. As with stage races there are placings for individual events and an overall that is determined by cumulative points. You do not have to complete each event to continue to participate in subsequent events.
Track racing is a type of race that happens on a closed, banked oval. Traditional events include the pursuit, scratch race, points race, madison and omnium. Check out OBRA’s velodrome page for more information.
Cross Country (XC)– A mass start event that has riders competing over varying terrain that can include technical singletrack, fire roads, climbs, descents, rocks and other challenging ground. Marathon racing is cross country
Short Track Cross Country (STXC)– similar to a criterium, riders take multiple circuits around a closed loop.
Downhill/Enduro/Super D– Riders start one at a time and are ranked according to how quickly they finish the course. Courses may uphill, flat and downhill sections. In Enduro, only the downhill sections are timed.
Cyclocross is a hybrid of a criterium and short track race. Racers compete for between 30 minutes to an hour based on category. Courses are usually 1.5-2 mile long circuits with obstacles such as barriers, stairs or logs. Most racers dismount and run over these obstacles. You race over varied terrain that can include pavement, mud, sand, dirt and grass.
Once you’ve selected your race, read the flyer! You’ll find out the date, location, race times, categories, a description of the course, entry fees and contact info for the promoter. Find out when registration closes. Some events require pre-registration, some increase the race entry fee after a certain date, some offer online registration, some only offer day of registration. If you decide to pay at the event not all events take credit cards so take a checkbook or cash.
To race an OBRA event you will have to have an OBRA license. You can purchase an annual license or an event license. You can see the pricing schedule below. Remember to bring enough money to cover the day of race entry fee and your membership if you decide to register at the race! If you register online through OBRA, you can purchase your membership at the same time as your race entry. Not all events use the OBRA registration system so you may need to purchase a license at the event or through the OBRA website. If you buy an annual online (preferred), make sure to do it about 2+ weeks in advance of the event to give adequate time for your membership materials to get to you.
If you’re getting close to race day and you haven’t received your membership materials, OBRA accepts the following as proof of membership:
E-mail receipt showing the purchase of the OBRA membership.
https://obra.org/people showing your license as current.
Your OBRA membership expires December 31st of the current year.
Why do you need a license/membership? Here’s what OBRA does.
Choosing a category
Choosing a category can seem to be super confusing! For road and track, you must choose Category 5. Even if you are a world champion triathlete, you’ll still need to start here. We’ve had pro mountain bikers start out as a Cat 5 (true story) in track. Needless to say, this person upgraded quite quickly.
For mountain biking, categories are self-selected except for the Elite category. For cyclocross, categories are self- selected except for the A category. However, we do recommend you start out as a Cat 3 on mountain bike and beginner in cyclocross until you get a feel for the racing.
Juniors and Masters
So how about masters and juniors categories? And what’s racing age?
Racing age is your age as of December 31st of the current year. Juniors are racers with a racing age of 10-18 years old. They can still race categorized races if they qualify (subject to certain restrictions- see racing rules or race flyers for special rules)
Masters are racers with a racing age of 30 and higher. If an age range isn’t noted on the race flyer, the default is age 40 and higher. Most races put the age range in their flyer. For example, if the flyer says Masters 50+, that means that racers with a racing age of 50 and higher can enter. If for example the race says Masters 40+/50+ scored separately that means that racers 40+ and 50+ will race together. But, the results will be broken out between those 40-49 (40+) years of age and 50+.
Sometimes Masters categories are modified by categories. For example, you may see Master’s 40+ 4/5. That means that the only racers that can race are those who are Category 4/5 AND have a racing age of over 40.
Time to sign up for your race! You know your category, you know you need to have a membership- time to sign up!
Remember to check the OBRA website and social media for any changes prior to race day. If you’re racing a Time Trial (TT), promoters will often publish a start list with start times. Check the race flyer to see if, when and where a start-list will be published.