Intro to Racing

We travel to a lot of events and races. Here are some things to know to get you up to speed.

Cycling Disciplines for our juniors:

  • Cross-country has several subdivisions and most events are sanctioned by OBRA or USA Cycling
    • Categories begin at “Cat 3” and go up to “Cat 1” or Pro / Elite; and races are further divided by age.
    • XCO – “Olympic” is usually multiple laps on a longer circuit for 60 – 120 minutes depending on category. Sometimes there is a pit or feed zone.
    • STXC – short track is a very short circuit, mass start event, typically 20 – 40 minutes in length. There is sometimes a pit or feed zone.
    • Marathon – events that take 2 – 4 hours or run 30 – 50 miles fall into this category even if they don’t have marathon in the name — most cross-country races in Oregon fall within this range for cat 1/2. Feed zones can be neutral (provided by the race) or team (we provide the support at the location)
    • Ultra Endurance – events over 5 hours or 60+ miles fall into this category, these take special preparation for juniors to participate
  • Enduro has a range of categories and formats. Usually not sanctioned by OBRA or USA Cycling except for Nationals. The Enduro World Series is the international standard.
    • Practice days are usually allowed the day prior to start; but some races are “blind” and courses are kept secret until race day to level the playing field.
    • Riders typically use mid to long-travel full suspension bikes, recommended full face helmet & pads but those are not always mandatory
    • Stage-race format so racers must finish all stages to continue or be scored.
    • Single-day or multi-day events
    • Sport / U17 / U21 is usually the category for our racers to start in
    • Junior Expert or PRO are options for more advanced and experienced riders at certain events
    • Because most races are not sanctioned you can often select your category per race
    • Cascadia Dirt Cup is our main series; also California Enduro Series and Big Mountain Enduro Series.
  • Cyclocross can be sanctioned by USA Cycling, OBRA (Oregon Bicycle Racing Association) or the UCI (international cycling federation).
    • Categories begin with “Cat 5” and go up to “Cat 1” and are further divided by age.
    • Races are on a short 8 – 10 minute course for 20 – 40 minutes for juniors and 45 – 60 minutes for adults.
    • “Open” category means any gender is allowed in that field
    • Riders can change bikes and receive technical support in the pit zones
    • Rider racing age is “age at end of next year” due to world champs being in Feb, so it’s +1 from your racing age in other disciplines
    • Riders may have to be certain category to do Nationals and are ranked by either USAC or UCI points for start-position
    • Points are ranked differently by OBRA, USAC and UCI
    • OBRA points are used for upgrades but not rankings. USAC points are used for start-grid positions at national events; except for 17-18 or older where there’s a UCI category and those points supersede USAC points for start-grid. UCI points are very hard to get and only important for national or international competitions for age 17+ / U23 / Elite.
    • Upgrade in OBRA first, then the USAC reciprocity agreement allows recognition of same category
    • Race for fun your first 1 – 3 seasons, don’t worry about points until you want a better start spot at Nationals.
    • There are multiple race series like Crusade and Harvest CX that have series prizes.
  • Gravel racing is becoming more popular and we have several local events that are appropriate for juniors.
    • Courses can vary from easy to very challenging and distances from moderate to very long.
    • Can be sanctioned or not; usually on open roads mixed with adults so they’re best for experienced riders with a background in XC / Cyclocross / Road.
  • Downhill races in the PNW are usually not sanctioned.
    • Bend’s trails are not great for true downhill racing or training, so we take a more hybrid approach where we focus on those skills where we can but are still on bikes that pedal anywhere.
    • NW Cup is the main series and uses a traditional category / qualifying structure
    • Mt Bachelor Gravity Series is less structured and easier for beginners to try
    • Most modern trail / enduro bikes are OK for these races so a dedicated DH bike is not needed to get started; but riders must wear full protective gear.
  • Road racing is a very small small part of what we do with CJC.
    • Criteriums or circuit races on closed courses are excellent to build skills, tactics and fitness (PIR, Tabor, local crit series, etc.)
    • Time trials sometimes pop up locally and we’ll go participate
    • Road races have declined a lot in the PNW and they require specific training so it’s not a focus for our team.
    • Stage races or omniums might be secondary goals for some of our XC / Cyclocross riders.
  • Other races are great!
    • CJC encourages juniors to try other sports from baseball & basketball to alpine & Nordic skiing.
    • Work with your coaches to make sure you’re having fun and learning a lot!

Governing Bodies

OBRA – Oregon Bicycle Racing Association

Our local bike racing organization, they sanction or produce local events and rank riders in several disciplines through various race series competitions with individual & team rankings.

  • Become an annual OBRA member if your events require it — road / cx / xc
  • OBRA “State Championships” are good events to target
  • Sometimes they have junior-specific points competitions or race series
  • Use this OBRA Google group to post items for sale or post a “want to buy” message
  • Request an upgrade to OBRA before asking USA Cycling. Review their Upgrades page then send an email to to and cc

USA Cycling

This is our national governing body. They produce National Championships, rank riders in several disciplines, and have several resources for their members.

  • Become an annual USAC member if your events require it (Nationals). Technically you’re only allowed a single 1-day license per year.
  • Member Well Being Resources for things like mental health, nutrition, concussions, etc.
  • USAC points are structured so “lower is better”
  • Upgrades are reciprocal so once you get your OBRA category set then request the change to USAC through your account. This can take 1 day to 3 weeks depending on their staffing.
  • Each national championship has its own specific qualifications, rankings and call-up procedures. Check their site to learn more.


National interscholastic racing league, now in Oregon, check them out for middle & high school mountain bike racing in the fall.

UCI – Union Cycliste Internationale

  • World governing body.
  • Riders with a racing age of 17+ may need a UCI waiver or ID to race at USAC Nationals — this is usually free but involves verifying citizenship with paperwork. If you decide to race in another country then you might actually need a true UCI license, which is a larger fee.
  • UCI points are awarded in UCI events (category 1 & 2, C1 / C2) structured as “more points is better” and are only available at the highest level races in the USA.

Non-Competitive Events

Sea Otter is a huge bicycle festival with an expo and tons of riding opportunities and optional races. We use it as a training camp and season-openers for quality, national-level competition.

Skills & Training Camps are events we attend or host with the goal of building fitness, endurance, knowledge while having fun in a cool riding location.