The Complete Guide to Bike Racing in NYC
As much as NYC bike racers complain about the weather and the boredom of training on 9W, the City is also home to perhaps the best race calendar anywhere in the country. Skim below for information on the leading organizations in the local scene and the various race series. If you have any questions just drop us a note at team [at] tobedetermined.cc. And for information on Cyclocross Racing in New York City visit our Complete Guide to Cyclocross in NYC
How to Start Racing
If you’re new to bike racing making the leap into categorized racing can be intimidating. Between the licenses, the club membership, and race registration there is a whole plethora of jargon inherent to the sport. But fear not, in addition to a massive race calendar that is probably unmatched anywhere in the country, New York City is home to some great organizations that can help guide you through the process. For a great ‘How To’ we also recommend checking out ‘How to Start Racing Bikes’ on the TBD Journal.
The Racing Community
Century Road Club Association (CRCA)
The largest single organization in New York City bike racing is the Century Road Club Association, or CRCA. Founded way back in 1898, CRCA has over 800 members in New York City who participate in the famous Club Series in Central Park - 12 races that are only open to CRCA members. Thankfully joining the Club is relatively affordable - at early registration prices its just $100 to participate in the full 12 race series ($8.33 per race!) plus serving two volunteer ‘marshal’ dates to support the race calendar.
To Be Determined is one of the many ‘sub-teams’ - there are several dozen that you’ll see on registration sheets as “CRCA/Sub-team name” - that operate under the CRCA umbrella, fulfilling team duties to help support the club. In addition to the Club Series, CRCA also runs a season long coaching program that is free to members and a number of the biggest races in New York City. For the Club these are known as ‘Open Races’ because they’re open to non-members. CRCA Open Races include the Grant’s Tomb Criterium, the Orchard Beach Criterium, the Bear Mountain Classic, the Dave Jordan Central Park Classic and the Mengoni Grand Prix, among others.
We love being part of CRCA - it is a great, volunteer run community that we believe has value for riders and racers of all skill levels, from Cat 5 racers first getting into the sport and looking for coaching to some of the fastest Cat 1’s in the city that show up for the Club Series. For more on CRCA head over to their website at CRCA.net
Other NYC Cycling Organizations
There are also a plethora of other organizations involved in bike racing in New York City:
Brooklyn’s Kissena Cycling Club is one of the largest and plays a role in hosting three key race series: the L&C Cup in Prospect Park, the Castelli Series in Prospect Park and FBF Tuesdays at Floyd Bennett Field (more on each of these below). Famous for their white and orange kit, Kissena has a long and important history in NYC bike racing. Head over to their website for more information.
And while they are not a racing focused entity, New York Cycle Club may actually be the largest cycling organization in the City. In addition to running a terrific SIG instructional program, and a plethora of group ride opportunities, NYCC has contributed countless riders to the racing community.
Coaching and Development
While there is no single development program similar to Wednesday Night CX Practice, one of the best (in our opinion) development programs in the city is CRCA’s Coaching Program. Free to all CRCA members (that’s tough to beat on price!), the CRCA Coaching program runs for most of the year, starting in February and continuing through August with select CX focused sessions in the fall. Topics range from bike handling skills to sprinting technique and generally take place in small group settings with a handful of fellow club members. For more information head over to CRCA.net and consider joining the club while you’re over there.
Have another organization or program that should be listed here? Drop us a note at team [at] tobedetermined.cc
An Introduction to NYC Bike Race Series
CRCA Club Series
The Century Road Club Association Club Series is a members-only race series held from March until August in Central Park. There are twelve (or thirteen depending on the calendar construction) races per season. Races start early - typically at or around sunrise to maximize race duration in the context of strict finish times required by NYC Parks. The community is generally welcoming and combined with the CRCA Coaching program this is a great series to get introduced to bike racing and hopefully move through the ranks to higher categories.
CRCA Open Races
CRCA also hosts some of the biggest and best races in the City as part of their ‘Open Racing’ calendar - that is CRCA promoted races that are eligible to non-CRCA members. The CRCA Season starts in early March with the CRCA Grant’s Tomb Criterium, perhaps the largest race in New York City today. From there early May features both the Orchard Beach Criterium, a small almost velodrome-like race in the Bronx, and the Bear Mountain Classic, the area’s most prestigious road race, held at Harriman State Park approximately one hour north of the city. From there the CRCA Open Race calendar is rounded out by three races held in Central Park: the Dave Jordan Central Park Classic, the Lou Maltese Memorial, and the Mengoni Grand Prix.
Prospect Park Series
There are current two major series in Prospect Park, both run by Kissena’s Charlie Issendorf:
The Lucarelli & Castaldi Series is a long-standing season long race series that brings out some of the city’s top riders. The Series is also notable for featuring both a points based GC competition as well as Sprinter and KOM Jerseys. The L&C Series currently features three fields: P/1/2/3, Category 4, and Category 5.
The Castelli Series has evolved and rebranded in recent years but generally mirrors the structure of the L&C Series with GC/Sprint/KOM competitions. The main difference is simply in field structure where the Castelli Series features Category 2/3, Masters 40+, and Category 5 fields.
Floyd Bennett Field
The fractured concrete of Floyd Bennett Field is home to the famous Tuesday Night Series. Starting at the beginning of May and running until the end of August, Tuesdays at Floyd’s are a hard fought affair where the wind can play a big role in the outcomes. Racing on a 2.3 mile lap, the imagery of bike racing at FBF is hard to forget. Current categories at Floyd are P/1/2/3, Category 3/4 (Cat 3’s younger than 40 must race the P/1/2/3), and Category 5.
There is also a new team hosting races on Thursday evenings at Floyd with a unique rotating Masters-focused field structure. We haven’t heard anything about the 2019 edition of this series, but information should come via the H&H Race Series Facebook page. UPDATE: we are told this series is changing hands for 2019. We don’t have any confirm details but it seems that Thursday nights at FBF will be different in some form or fashion this year.
Rockleigh Criterium Series
Thursdays at Rockleigh remain some of our favorite races on the entire New York City calendar. Held on a short and straight-forward one mile loop, Rockleigh features fast and friendly action. And the ride to and from New York City means that you can get in around ~70 miles on the bike all in (not bad for a Thursday night!). Depending on the time of year bringing a light for the return trip is essential - particularly for the second field of the day. The current race structure for Rockleigh is: P/1/2/3 and Category 4/5.
Kissena Velodrome Track Series
Kissena Velodrome in Queens is home to New York City’s track scene, with more serious races also making the trek to the Velodrome in Texlertown, Pennsyvanlia or up North to Canada. There are two major Track Series held at Kissena throughout the year. The Lucarelli & Castaldi Six Days of Kissena series covers six early season weekend races dates while the Kissena Twilight Series takes place on Wednesday evenings in the summer.
Local Bike Shops
We will be updating this over time - have a favorite shop that you want to be featured? Drop us a note at team [at] tobedetermined.cc.
ACME Bicycle Co - based in Gowanus, ACME is TBD’s official bike fitting and shop sponsor. Whether you are a recreational cyclist or a racer, we cannot recommend their bike fits highly enough. If you need a perfect bike fit we recommend checking out some of the many articles we have written about ACME Bicycle Co.
TBD Race Calendar - we maintain a year round race calendar (for road / gravel / MTB / CX). Head here for a complete listing of all regional events.
Racing on the TBD Journal
See all Racing on the TBD Journal