Bike racing is unlike other sports where if you truly want to get better, racing is necessary to gain fitness, learn tactics, and get results. And nobody has to tell a bike racer how hard it is to compete, let alone win bike races. It's a tremendous accomplishment to win a race! So you've paid your dues, you've earned your upgrade points through some combination of consistent results and victories. It's time to go to the next level of the sport. It can be a difficult move, so here are some tips as you "reward" your hard work and dedication.
Should You Upgrade?
We hear this question all the time, should I upgrade? It's a difficult question to answer, because each athlete represents a unique case.
We like to take this approach: Ultimately, your long-term goals should be the driving force as to whether an upgrade should be done. For example, you know you want to progress to higher levels of the sport. You achieve your upgrade towards the latter part of the race season (August/September.) We suggest you upgrade at that time (versus waiting until next season), as it gives you a "taste" of what to expect as you go into the following year. The alternative is waiting through the offseason, and being a bit nervous about what to expect in your first races of the new year.
The opposite example is a rider who feels that they will not compete at the higher level and are happy where they are in terms of competition. They take the approach of why would I ever want to go up in category, when I know I don't have the time or dedication to be able to compete? Well, our answer to that is don't sell yourself short in terms of your ability. You may surprise yourself and you never want to look back and wish you had done something that you didn't even want to try!
Ultimately, we are in this sport to improve and we always favor (eventually) upgrading versus not doing so. You've earned your stripes, right? So go for it!