I'm coming from a BMX background, so risers are very comfortable for me. I haven't been in a race yet, but would certainly like to start this season. I've built up a decent single speed bike with risers and I love it. But I'm new to the whole racing thing and am very excited to participate in my first one.
Do most races require drops? If it helps, I'm located in the SF Bay Area. Any recommendations for a first race to participate in?
you're in our backyard. race with what you've got is my humble opinion - if you think you'd like something different, you can always swap out later. 'cross (at least it should) welcomes all-comers. show up with flat pedals if you're not sure you want to invest in a whole system. try a c-race, or better yet, a clinic or underground race and get acclimated. there's a clinic in the east bay in a few weeks that's open to anyone I think. drop bars are not required except in uci-sanctioned races in the top categories. just don't have bar-ends on your flat or riser bars.
I do think clipless pedals and shoes will be a big help long-term. dismounting and mounting may get a bit more complicated but the handling and pedaling efficiency gained from being attached will really help.
I'm hoping you still have the BMX skills so we can all ooh as you hop the barriers! That's always a crowd pleaser.
So I should be clear to run flat bars in most of the races in the bay? This is pretty much all I was worried about, I don't want to be unable to participate in a race because my bars are flat. Other than that, I had all these plans for my bike, but honestly, I'm having a ton of fun with my bike the way it is now.. especially with the risers.
With that being said.. I'm guessing you followed along from my thread at RBR forums. I ended up spending the dough on SIDI Dominators and Candy SL's. Once these get here, I'll be pretty satisfied with my bike. Though, that usually doesn't last long. ;)
I read about that clinic coming up.. but it's soo soon. I don't even know how to clip in and out of pedals yet! (haven't gotten them yet) But we'll see.
as for the bars, we don't have any UCI races in the bay, so you're all set! for license - if you plan to race a bunch - cheaper to get the year license, but the one-day is available at the races. the clinic - that's the best time to learn - with other newbies. you'll all have a blast learning this crazy sport. I highly encourage attending one... doesn't have to be that one if you can't make it...
pedals - shoes - one hour at a grassy park and you should be good. once you figure out how to get in/out, try riding as slow as possible on the grass - that will force you to learn how to get out urgently, plus helps you stay upright when the race jams up in the first corner (i'm sure with bmx you're fine in this area).
you could always do this for an easy conversion if you want to try drops. no idea where you'd get them. you could leave your brake/shifters on and maybe even put dummy tandem brake levers on them so you could ride the hoods and drops.