Fancy a race in France?

One of the biggest problems I had when I wanted to do some road racing in France was I that I could find absolutely no information on how to go about doing it. So hopefully the below will provide a useful guide if you fancy having a go yourself.

First up, I got a full race licence from British Cycling. I looked into getting a licence from the French Federation, but it appears you have to be affiliated to a French club in order to get a full race licence in order to race in anything 3rd category and above (and the BC one was cheaper!). I then asked for a letter of authority to race in France from BC, who also asked the FFC to add them to add me to the list of authorised foreign riders on their website – which took just under 2 weeks.

Next, I had to find some races. I found some races on the FFC website, but a bit of Googling later, I came across a website that has a far more comprehensive list of races from pro level right down to junior races: www.cyclisme-amateur.com. Helpfully, it lets you search by region and department, so it was easy to find races in Brittany within easy reach of base camp. It also provided the name and phone number of the race commissaire but, if your GCSE French is a bit rusty like mine, I found it easier to send an email (which was easy enough to find by doing an internet search on the commissaire’s name and organising club).

I normally start by explaining who I am, attaching my BC letter of authority and a link to my name on the FFC website, and asking if they can add my name on the list of riders. If there’s space left, I’ll ask for details of the race – length, laps, sign-on time, start, cost etc. and then try and find the course profile on Strava (“circuit de <insert name of village here>”). Come race day, I rock up in the village and try and work out where sign on is. I’ll take my BC licence and a copy of the letter of authority with me, and I’ll either get a nod and a handshake or have to sign various insurance forms and waivers before they let me sign-on and take my number, but I’ve never had a problem (other than forgetting to bring any safety pins with me!).

The start/finish line is normally pretty easy to find – just head for the noise from the tannoys, and I normally do a course recce. There’s normally directional arrows painted on the road to follow if turns aren’t obvious from barriers, and then it’s the usual turn up at the start line 5 minutes before the chaos starts.