The ECCC puts special attention toward ensuring competitive, fun, safe racing for riders of all abilities. At the center of those efforts are its Introduction to Bicycle Racing categories and Beginner's Clinics. We are proud to say that since the ECCC began pioneering these events in 2006, a number of riders have gone from Intro riders to ECCC and even national championship title winners in just a few years.
Beginners Clinics are held at every ECCC road race weekend. Both men and women (separated if the numbers warrant it) participate in at least 1-hour on-course (30 min) and off-course (30 min) clinic. This might be doing corners in an empty parking lot, race start practices, bumping drills in nearby grass, or simply walking the course and talking through the mechanics of bike racing. In road and circuit races the whole group usually rides in one or two groups, focusing on pace lining and getting acquainted with tight group riding. In criteriums the field breaks up into small groups with coaches each guiding a handful of riders around the course, working on cornering and other handling skills. Either way, our veteran coaches have a lot of knowledge that they're happy to share.
As best as possible, the coaches ensure everyone is looked after and receives some guidance on group and race riding. Keeping the pace controlled and groups together ensures everyone gains at least some experience, even if they can't quite keep up in a race.
Upon completion of the clinic, the riders will then start the Men/Women Intro race. The coaches remaining sprinkled throughout the field simply to ensure safety and provide additional tips and guidance.
This format ensures a safe racing environment with a reduced learning curve in which even the newest riders can begin learning and enjoying bicycle racing. Compared to slightly more experienced riders who move directly into the other beginner categories, are experiences are that many Intro riders gain skills, speed, and confidence and commitment much faster, progressing more rapidly through the ranks.
There are no requirements or limitations on riders entering the clinic. Similarly, riders are free to skip the clinic and race the Men's/Women's C field. However, the clinic is strongly recommended for riders with no group riding experience or criterium racing experience.
In addition, all clinics are open to non-collegiate, new racers! Any rider, student or not, who are new racers (1-day or first year Cat 5 license holders) are welcome to come out and participate in the clinic, and upon completion of the clinic participate in the Men/Women Intro race. This is a great opportunity to bring out friends, school staff and alumni, non-collegiate club mates, and any other riders who want to try bicycle racing in a safe, educational setting where they're guaranteed to get some group riding experience and instruction.
ECCC MTB races do not have separate Intro categories due to the nature of mountain bike racing. However, before every XC and STXC race begins there is an Intro clinic open to all interested riders. These feature drills, exercises, and instruction to help new riders pick up a few more skills and improve their racing. Look for these by the starting line of each endurance event half an hour before racing starts for the day