There are three main forms of competitive cycling, and millions of active cyclists all over the globe are currently addicted to the rush of competing. If you are in the process of falling in love with the sport of cycling and are interested in testing your skills against the skills of other cyclists, there are a few things you should know about the competitive landscape. Here is a breakdown of the three basic types of races, and what you’ll need to have in each one in order to be successful and have an enjoyable time.
This is probably the most common form of competitive cycling, and certainly the one that gets the most attention and publicity outside of the Summer Olympic Games. Road races take place in sprawling metropolises as well as small country towns all over the world, and they are typically conducted using road racing bikes which are thin and light 10-speed bicycles that are geared to reach downhill speeds that rival freeway traffic.
The crowd of racers is usually dense at the starting line, but a few miles into the event the recreational racers will be left behind by those with intentions of winning. It is important to decide which group you fit into well before the start of a road race in order to maximize your pleasure. Typically, these races are won by folks with many years of experience and the most expensive and innovative equipment that money can buy, so there is absolutely no shame in hanging near the back of the pack in a road race until you get your bearings.
Mountain bike racing has become increasingly popular since the inception of the modern day mountain bike in the 1980s, and many off-road courses await racers of all levels. The race is more gruelling on the body than road racing because of the inconsistency of the terrain and the psychological aspects involved with essentially being alone in the middle of nowhere while racing for hours on end. Any mountain bike racer also needs to be covered with the proper protection from head to toe, including pads for the elbows and knees.
This type of race is popular for folks that prefer connecting with nature and the solitude it provides. As a result of the narrow pathways of many mountain bike courses, they are typically run in timed stages, where the starting times of individual participants are staggered throughout the day. Thus, a mountain bike race can be a good beginning point for a person with some apprehension about jumping right into a large crowd.
These types of races are often seen in the Olympics and during other International competitions, and they are widely considered to be the most exclusive. Dating back to the final decade of the 19th century, track racing mixes elements of strategy and pure athleticism. Athletes that compete in this category often do so with a feverish passion, so if you are the type of person that actively seeks out adventure, competition and challenge, then you just might want to take up track cycling.