There are several different types of bicycle races. Mountain bike racing is one of the newest forms of bike racing, first becoming popular in the nineties. It is a type of off-road racing that requires quite a bit of technical skill. It can be either cross-country or downhill mountain bike racing, and there are several other variants. The bikes used for this type of racing must have wide wheels with deep treads.
BMX is another form of off-road racing. It is a bicycle sprint over a purpose-made single-lap track. The course usually involves jumps, and flat and banked turns. The bikes used usually only have one gear.
Road races may be either team or individual races. They are conducted in many different ways. They could be one day races, time trials, or multi-stage events. The Tour de France is the most prestigious of all road races, and is one of the most widely known bike races in the world.
Cyclo-cross is probably the most varied of bicycle race types. It usually consists of several laps over a course consisting of various terrains, including grass, pavement, wooded trails, obstacles requiring the rider to dismount and carry the bike, and steep hills. It was originally a sport developed to help road racers to mix-up their bicycle training a bit during the colder winter months.
Track racing takes places on banked tracks or velodromes. The curve of the track allows the riders to make the turns without slowing down their pace. There are many different events that fall under the track racing category. One of the fastest paced track racing events are the Madison races, which involve tag-teams of two ‘slinging’ their teammates forward, which keeps the speed high in alternating sprints.
Bike trials are courses where riders navigate over either natural or manmade obstacles, or a mix of the two, without putting their foot down for balance at any time. Points are given for skill in bike handling.
Motor paced races, like Keirin races, use motorcycles to set the pace of the cyclists, so that they maintain higher speeds.
Cycle speedway takes place on a short outdoor dirt track, usually only 70 to 90 meters in length. It has been around since the 1920’s but gained popularity in post war Britain, influenced, in large part, by the popularity of motorcycle speedway. Tracks were often cleared through the rubble of buildings and racers used bikes that were not exactly roadworthy.
Different bike races are more popular in some parts of the world than they are in others. Most races take place from spring to autumn, due to the conditions which make it hard for racers to race during the winter months. Many cyclists from cold countries move to warmer climates during these months, to compete in other races or continue their training. Recently though there have been some concerns about cyclists venturing into dangerous areas of the world. For instance, last year there were several reports of cyclists in Egypt contracting the West Nile Virus after failing to take the proper precautions. If you do decide to explore more extreme areas of the world, then make sure you are properly prepared. One good resource is this site which offers useful information on what injections you need for specific areas of the world.
In the end, although biking can be one of the hardest sports, with the long distances and physical strain, the people who have dedicated their lives to this sport continue to strive for better, faster times, and more efficient cycling techniques.