Getting Started with ACA Races

This information is provided for first time racers and those new to racing with the Allegheny Cycling Association. This information is in the form of (Frequently Asked) Questions and Answers.

Q: What type of racing does the ACA offer?

A: The ACA offers a series of group-start (everyone starts the race together) road races that are categorized as criteriums or simply crits. Crits are held on relatively short courses (0.5 mile to 2.0 miles) that are closed to vehicular traffic. Multiple laps are run by everyone in a particular race at the same time, hence the term group-start. In crit races, the first person to cross the finish line after the designated number of laps is the winner.

Q: What categories of racers compete the the ACA Crits?

A: The ACA races are run under the auspices of a national cycling governing body...USA Cycling or USAC for short. All racers in USAC events are categorized regardless of gender and/or age from categories 1-5 with 1 being the most experienced and 5 being the least. (There is also a Pro category). All racers begin at cat 5 and may progress up through the categories based on experience and/or results. The ACA races are designated as open A, B or C. There are also competitions for racers 40 and older, an open womens-only category and a limited juniors (ages 10-15) series. ACA classes correspond to USAC categories thusly:

  • Class A - USAC cats 1,2,3 (men and women)
  • Class B - USAC cats 3,4 (men and women)
  • Class C - USAC cats 4,5 (men and women)
  • Masters (40+) - USAC cats 1,2,3,4(men), 1,2,3 (women)
  • Women - USAC cats 1,2,3,4,5
  • Junior (10-15) - USAC cats 4,5

Q: How long and how fast are the races?

A: The length, duration and speed of races depends on the ACA race class and the amount of daylight available for racing. The ACA venue is a dedicated bike track, in the form of a banked oval and is always closed to motor vehicles, that is 0.5 miles in length. Typical mid-season lengths, times and speeds are:

  • Class A - 21 miles, 45:26, 27.7 mph avg
  • Class B - 16 miles, 36:00, 26.7 mph avg
  • Class C - 12.5 miles, 29:39, 25.3 mph avg
  • Masters (40+) - 20 miles, 45:24, 26.4 mph avg
  • Women - 16.5 miles, 40:20, 24.5 mph avg
  • Junior (10-15) - 7.5 miles, 20:30, 22 mph avg

Q: Where and when are races held?

A: All races are held at the Bud Harris Cycling Park, 1401 Washington Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. Class M (40+), W and C are held Tuesday evenings from April 9, 2019 through August 20, 2019. Class B and A are held Wednesday evenings from April 10, 2019 through August 21, 2019. Races start around 6:15PM. Registration begins at 5:15PM. See Tuesday Schedule and Wednesday Schedule for details. All cat 5 men are required to race the class C races on Tuesday evenings. All cat 5 women are required to race the class C or the class W races on Tuesday evenings

Q: What are the P course and the bullet course?

A:

  • Most races are run in the counter-clockwise direction on the oval course, which is a 0.5 mile loop.
  • On the second Wednesday in May, June, July and August the B's and A's race on the p course.
  • On the first Wednesday in May, June, July and August the B's and A's race on the bullet course.
  • On the third Tuesday in May, June, July and August the Masters 40 and Women race on the bullet course.
  • The C's always race on the oval course.

Q: Are prizes offered to the winners?

A: Yes. Nightly cash prizes and occasional merchandise prizes are offered for all race classes. Payout per race depends on the number of entries in that race. In addition to the overall winners per race, a cash prize is also offered to the racer who wins the most number of laps per race, i.e. the most aggressive rider. On occasion a cash or merchandise "prime" prize is offered to the racer who wins the next announced lap. From June through August, each race in each category except Jrs, offers series points to the top 8 finishers who are ACA members. Season series points are totaled and series cash prizes are offered at the end of the season. See Tuesday Schedule and Wednesday Schedule for details.

Q: Do I have to be a member of the USAC to race?

A: Yes. A valid USAC license is required in order to race, or a "one day" license may be purchased at registration for $10 for cat 5 racers only. An annual USAC license may be purchased at usacycling.org. The cost is around $80 for an annual license.

Q: Do I have to be a member of the ACA to race?

A: No. However, a $5 discount per race ($10 vs. $15 per race) is offered to all ACA members. In addition only ACA members are eligible for year-end series cash prizes. The cost for an ACA membership is $35 for an individual or $50 for a family membership. Go to Join the ACA for details. Also, the ACA offers a season pass for entry into all races for the current season. The cost of a season pass also includes an ACA membership. Go to 2019 ACA season pass for details.

Q: What experience do I need to race?

A: None. However it's recommended that you are able to ride in fast paced groups and in fairly tight conditions. Racers in crits typically form pacelines...lines of racers directly behind and next to one another. Positive racing experiences are enhanced by increased fitness and increased comfort levels riding in larger groups.

Q: What equipment do I need to start racing?

A:

  • Road bike in good working condition including properly inflated tires
  • Bike must have brakes (no fixed gear track bikes are allowed)
  • No tri or time trial aero bars allowed
  • Clip-in bike pedals or pedals with toe straps
  • Cycling helmet
  • No loose clothing

Q: As a cat 5 beginner woman, is it better for me to do the C race or the Women's race?

A: As a cat 5 racer, you are eligible to do either or both races. The C race tends to be faster with mostly beginning men racers, while the Women's race has beginner and experienced intermediate and advanced racers, which may make the Women's race feel a little more safe. However, in order to make the C race safer, experienced racers ride along with the C group as non-competing marshalls.

Q: Bottom line...what is the up front cost to race?

A:

  • If you have a valid USAC license and you are an ACA member, $10 per race
  • If you have a valid USAC license and you are not an ACA member, $15 per race
  • If you do not a valid USAC license, are a cat 5 racer and you are an ACA member, $10 for a one-day license + $10 per race=$20
  • If you do not a valid USAC license, are a cat 5 racer and you are not an ACA member, $10 for a one-day license + $15 per race=$25

 

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