Kelly Roche House,
619 North Circular Road,
Bicycle moto cross (BMX) has caught the spirit of a generation as BMX bikes swept across Europe and the USA. As part of the extreme sports hungry generation, BMX has exploded and from small beginnings become a huge sport.
In April 1981, the International BMX Federation was founded, and the first World Championships were held in 1982. BMX rapidly developed as a unique sporting entity, and after several years clearly had more in common with cycling than motorcycling codes. Thus, since January 1993 BMX has been fully integrated into the International Cycling Union (UCI).
On 29 June 2003, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to include BMX in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Based on Moto-Cross, BMX races have thrills and excitement aplenty as riders cut in and leap through the air as they race around a circuit of around 350 metres, including jumps, banked corners and other obstacles. Eight riders compete in each heat (qualifying rounds, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals), with the top four qualifying for the next round.
In comparison to road racing and mountain biking, track cycling is an incredibly specialised indoor event, with a number of disciplines that place as much emphasis on strategy and subtle technique as on physical fitness, power and stamina.
Races take place on an indoor velodrome – a 250 to 300m wooden oval, with straights banked at 12 degrees and the corners banked at a steep 42 degree angle. The bikes and equipment used by the riders are also highly specialised, and bear little semblance to road-going machinery.
Events include short-distance sprints, time trials and long-distance endurance races for both teams and individuals. Depending on the discipline, the result is judged by time, by victory over an opponent, or by completion of a distance.
Indoor track racing takes place on an 250 to 300m-long elliptical indoor velodrome, constructed of wood or concrete. The straights are banked at 12 degrees, while the steep curves can be banked as much as 42 degrees. Lanes are marked for riders to use in the sprint and endurance events, as well as for building up speed or slowing down.
The bikes used in track events are highly sophisticated machines designed specifically for indoor track racing. Upright bikes with conventional drop-down handlebars are used for the sprint events, while low-profile bikes with triathlon-style handlebars are used for the endurance events as they allow the riders to adopt a more aerodynamic posture.
Both bikes are designed and built using lightweight materials, such as carbon fibre and sophisticated metal alloys so that they are as light as possible to help the riders’ speed and endurance. Solid wheels are often used to help the aerodynamics. They don’t use gears or brakes, as speeds in the races are fairly constant and riders control their velocity through the pressure they put on the pedals.
Mountain biking covers three different disciplines, Downhill, Four Cross and Cross Country/Marathon. For the Olympics the only event that is included is Cross-country.
The key to Cross-country success is fitness as well as great skill. The riders all start together and race over a course with each lap between three and six kilometres. The course is marked and covers a wide variety of terrain with constant changes of elevation and difficulty. The race lasts roughly between 2h 00m and 2h30m.
The sport of Mountain biking was initially seen as an organised event about 30 years ago when a group of enthusiasts from the Velo Club Mount Tamalpais outside San Francisco started the Repack Downhill Race. This began in 1976 and ran for three years and pulled in riders from all across the US.
The sport had taken a foothold and becamse seena s a truly cool event in the extreme sports calendar.
By 1990 the sport had become professional and now included a full World Championship
Road racing is the form of competitive cycling most analogous to that done by the general public, with riders competing against each other on conventional roads to complete the course in the fastest time possible.
It has been part of the modern Olympics since the inaugural Summer Games in Athens, Greece in 1896. That year, competitors rode for two laps of the marathon route from Athens to Marathon and back – a distance of 87 kilometres.
Now, road races take place over 239km for men and 120km for women, with shorter time trials taking place over 46.8km for men and 31.2km for women.