The start of the cyclocross season brings all sorts of excitement. New gear to test, new courses to ride, and for many, a new license to buy. For those such as myself that don’t race on the road, the licence doesn’t become a necessity until late August when the cross season starts to ramp up. All races in BC require a licence, but when purchasing mine this year, I found the choice of which to buy a little unclear.
Cycling BC offers up two licence options for racing cyclocross: Citizen and UCI, both at distinctly different price points. The Citizen licence costs $45 while the annual UCI licence runs $140, which is discounted to $99 for a late season cyclocross only licence.
So which one to choose? Lets look a the descriptions for the two (taken from the Cycling BC website).
Purchase a Provincial (Citizen) Race Licence if the following statements are true:
- You wish to only race in BC.
- You want to participate in Citizen level sanctioned races.
- You want to race in a Beginner Category.
and for UCI:
Purchase a UCI Race Licence if any of the following statements are true:
- You will be racing in BC sanctioned races and/or UCI sanctioned races outside of the province.
- You wish to race in a category that requires a UCI Licence.
- You wish to collect provincial series and upgrade points.
- You will be racing as part of an affiliated Private Team.
On the surface this seems pretty straightforward. Beginner? Citizen licence. Anything else? UCI licence. But hang on. What exactly is a “Citizen level sanctioned race”? On the UCI side, what does “BC sanctioned race” mean? Isn’t that all races? Which category requires a UCI license?
Well, Cycling BC outlines what categories will be available for racing in BC. The verbiage here seems geared towards road riding, but it is taken directly from the cyclocross info page:
In BC, there are 4 different ability category (cat) levels for male and female road riders. Most races offer all of these categories, though some may be combined together for the purposes of racing.
- Cat. 1: Professional riders, who are members of National, Continental, or Professional teams
- Cat. 2: Highly skilled amateur riders
- Cat. 3: Intermediate level amateur riders
- Cat. 4: Novice level amateur riders
Prior to the 2014-2015 season this was indeed true. Categories were grouped together by Cat 1/2 and Cat 3/4 both with corresponding masters categories. Since then, however, the grouping has changed to the more broad Beginner, Intermediate, Masters, and Elite categories. Amongst all of the BC series, I can’t find one that still uses the Cat 1/2/3/4 grouping, which then makes the next explanation of which to register for fairly irrelevant, at least for racing in BC.
Riders without a UCI licence in the last 5 years must register for Cat 4; otherwise, you must register with the category that you had on your last UCI licence, unless you are applying for an upgrade.
This doesn’t really help clear up which licence to purchase. Furthermore, each series maintains their own points structure, so the portion about the UCI license allowing you to “collect provincial series and upgrade points” doesn’t seem to apply.
So when do you really need the $99 UCI Cyclocross licence? Lets look at the requirements from the various series.
Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition (info)
- Riders are eligible to race Beginner and Intermediate categories with a Cycling BC citizen licence.
- Elite riders must hold a UCI race licence.
-note: UCI for Elite, Citizen for Beginner and Intermediate. Masters race in the same time slot as Elite, so I believe are under the same grouping
Cross On the Rock (info)
- Riders must posses a current Cycling BC licence or pay for a one day Cycling BC licence ($10 at our events). Beginners exempt.
-note: Citizen licence good enough for all categories – no explicit mention of a UCI licence requirement, even at the Elite level
BC Premier Cyclocross Series (info)
- Riders are eligible to race Beginner, Intermediate, Master, and Single Speed categories with a Cycling BC citizen licence.
- Elite (A) riders must hold a UCI race licence.
-note: UCI for Elite, Citizen for everything else including Masters – this seems pretty clear cut but does differ from the VCXC requirements
Interior Cross (info)
- All races are $20 for Cycling BC licence holders.
-no explicit mention of UCI license requirements
BC Provincials (info)
- All cyclocross championship categories can be raced with a Citizen license.
-looks like a UCI licence is not required for any category
Which License to Buy
The answer somewhat depends on where you are racing and how often. Since day of licences cost $10, if you only plan on racing a few times, the most cost efficient option is to just purchase a licence on race day. Race 4 times or less and you are still ahead.
If you plan to race frequently, buying a licence is a better bet. But do you need the $99 UCI license? If racing Elite or Masters in the lower mainland, or if planning on attending Nationals, then yes. For all other categories, the citizen licence should suffice. Unfortunately for a newcomer, or even an experienced racer, navigating these options is not entirely clear on the Cycling BC website. I purchased the UCI licence assuming that I would need it for the Premier series or for Provincials (details on the series were not out at that point), but this doesn’t seem to be the case. I think that it might be helpful if the Cycling BC cyclocross site was updated to reflect the current categories that are offered in BC and have a clearer outline of which licence is needed .