Starting and building a professional cycling team can be a hugely rewarding, yet extremely challenging experience for cyclists who want to train, race, and compete at a higher level. Before you begin, you’ll need to be aware of the main differences between cycling teams and clubs, determine your team’s professional and competitive objectives, and register your team and individual members with USA cycling in order to compete as a team. Read on for our step-by-step guide to taking your cycling career to the next level.
Step #1. Determine Competitive Objectives:
The first step that you’ll need to take is deciding on the competitive objectives for your team. For example, you’ll need to decide on the type of races you’ll be competing in – road races, downhill, off-road, criterium races, time trials, or a combination of all of these. To make the best decisions for your team, you’ll need to be familiar with all your riders, their experience and skill levels, and their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these factors will make it easier for you to plan your training rides and put together the winning race schedule for your team.
Step #2. Register:
Before you are going to be able to start competing in races as a team, you’ll need to register both the team as a whole and each individual member with USA Cycling. Once registered, you will then be able to compete as a team in sanctioned races. There are several organizations within USA Cycling; depending on the events in which your team plans to compete, you will be affiliated with one of them. They include United States Cycling Federation, United States Professional Racing Organization, National Off-Road Bicycle Association, BMX Association, and the National Collegiate Cycling Association.
Step #3. Arrange Your Team:
Once registered and ready to start working towards competing, it’s time to arrange your team. The first decision that you’ll need to make is who is going to be the team captain or leader. Bear in mind that your team leader or captain will be a critical member; it’s usually the strongest or most experienced rider, and it’s their responsibility to set the race pace and strategies. During road races, other members of the team typically serve to ensure that the team leader gains the victory. They will usually ride in front and are known as domestiques.
Step #4. Team Branding:
If you’re planning to take your cycling team to national or even international races and competitions, you’ll need to have a strong, recognizable brand for your fans. A strong brand can help to increase the popularity of your team and make it easier for you to gain support from all around the world. Start with a team logo – you can use DIY Logo sports logos to create one – and colors that represent your town, city, state, or country. Use your branding online to come up with a team website and social media profiles, where you can get to know your fans and help them get to know you better.
Step #5. Put Together a Training Schedule:
Riding as a professional cyclist is no easy feat, so it’s important that every member of your team is willing to put in the large amount of training necessary to get the desired results. You’ll need to come up with training and practice schedules not only for the team but also for individuals. Individuals can practice riding alone to perfect techniques and work on any weaknesses. However, riding together as a team for training is the best way to practice strategies that you can use in competitions. Communication and signaling between other riders on the team should also be perfected before you compete.
Step #6. Get Equipment:
Before you can compete professionally, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to pay for and share out essential cycling equipment, such as jerseys, gloves, and helmets for team races. In general, most new team members will pay for their own kit and equipment themselves at the beginning. However, once your team has competed and started to make a bigger name for itself, you may wish to seek brand sponsorship to help offset the cost of equipment and more. Being sponsored by a well-known brand can also help your team gain more exposure and grow in popularity.
Step #7. Strengthen Relationships:
Since cycling is often very much an individual sport, it can be difficult for many riders to make the transition into riding together as a team. This is particularly noticeable in road racing, where it can be hugely difficult for a rider to put their own ego aside and focus on supporting the team leader for a win. To ensure that your cycling team works well together when competing and racing, it’s a good idea to set aside time to spend with one another to strengthen friendship bonds between team members. Teammates that get on well off their bikes will always perform better when riding.
Step #8. Collaborate with Your Local Bike Shop:
Lastly, don’t underestimate your local bike shop when it comes to getting everything that you need to put your new cycling team back together. For example, if you’re ordering team race kits, you may be able to negotiate a discount with the shop if you’re willing to display their logo on your uniform. In addition, a local bike shop can be one of the best places to find new, fresh and motivated members for your team. Ask about placing advertisements in the window or leaving a stack of business cards at the check-out desk for anybody who is interested. Being open to everybody is key to expanding your team or club, particularly if you’re in the early stages.
Whether you have a group of people who’re all ready to compete professionally or have a lot of work and training to put in before your first race will be possible, putting together a professional cycling team can help you get one step further to achieving your sporting dreams. If this article helped, we’d love to hear from you!