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With two years of road riding under my belt (more mtb) I have been thinking about trying some type of race. So far, I have watched a cyclocross race at Coyote Point and that is about the extent of my race knowledge. I live in the mid-pen so I was excited that there was a crit this wekeend in Burlingame. But, there was no category 5 race. Having not see a criterium I went and checked out the Cat 4s. I was pretty surprised how serious and fast they were. I dont think I could have hung with them. So, are there any cat 5/beginner races to try? and how competative are they?
 

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I think you'll be surprised at how fast/competitive the Cat 5 races are. At least I was. I was in a very similar position as you last year. I've done a handful of Cat 5 races over the last year and they can be pretty fast. But, you can't know how you'll do until you jump in!

Check NCNCA for list of local races. http://www.ncnca.org/
 

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At the beginning of every year (in January) there is the Early Birds Crits which are practice races and skills clinic. You can check the NCNCA Road calendar and see what Cat 5 events there are. I would say the cat 5 category is fairly competitive, about the same as cat 4 and because they are limited to 50 spots, races usually fill up.

http://www.ncnca.org/road/

Also SJBC has their twilight crits. I've never gone but I hear its good training. You have to be a member of SJBC, their an open club so anyone can join.

http://www.teamsanjose.org/twilights/

Lastly if you have some cash to lay out, you may consider Racing Skills Fundamentals. A good investment since it will teach you how to race and some important skills like bumping, wheels touching, cornering, etc. The same sort of stuff which is taught at the Early Birds.

http://www.cyclingsystems.com/clinics.html
 
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