Is it necessary to pre-register?
A reader writes: Is it necessary to pre-register for races? Do they all tend to fill up?
Two related trends bode well for our sport: More and more races are providing online pre-registration, and more and more races are reaching capacity, especially in the Cat 5’s. (USA Cycling limits Cat 5 fields to 50 riders, and Cat 4/5 fields to 75.)
The risk of pre-registering is that it may rain, or something may come up to conflict with the race and you’ll be on the hook for your $25. (Curse those loved ones with the gall to wed at the height of racing season!) Promoters usually don’t often provide refunds, and few will go through the hassle of transferring registration to your teammates.
But the risk is worth it if it’s a race you have your heart set on and there’s a possibility it will fill. Alas, I know of no women’s races to have filled up, nor P/1/2’s or 3’s, but the Tour of Elk Grove, Downers Grove and the Chicago Criterium are all local races where we can expect the Cat 5 and Cat 4 fields to fill. Last the local Superweek races filled their 4/5 fields, starting with Evanston, and Wisconsin’s Spring Prairie Road Race has in the past filled its 4/5 fields.
Finally, Hillsboro-Roubaix will fill up the quickest of any race, as we discovered this year, and Snake Alley is a race for which it’s essential to pre-register, not because it will fill up but because start position is so crucial.
For most other races, however, one can safely count on registering on the day of, but you never know: Even this year’s Spring Super Criterium, an untested race two hours from the city with no money on the line, filled several of its fields, to its promoters’ credit. Better to be safe than to drive 100 miles to be a spectator.