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Track cycling

Track cycling is a form of bicycle racing usually held on specially-built banked tracks or velodromes (but many events are held at older velodromes where the track banking is relatively shallow).

Track racing is also done on grass tracks marked out on flat sportsfields. Such events are particularly common during the summer in Scotland at Highland Games gatherings, but there are also regular summer events in England.

Table of contents
1 Track cycle design
2 Riding position
3 Main centres
4 Race formats
5 External Link

Track cycle design

Bicycles used for track cycling are specially designed for the purpose. Unlike bicycles used for road riding, they lack multiple gears and brakes, having a single 'fixed' wheel (ie, no free-wheel). They usually have lightweight frames, sometimes constructed from expensive materials with high strength-to-mass ratios like carbon fibre. Tyres and wheels are narrow, with the tyres generally inflated to pressures well beyond those used in road cycling in an effort to minimise the "rolling resistance" caused by friction. (For grass-track events, the tyres would have 'nobbles' intended to minimise the potential for skidding.)

Riding position

The bicycles are designed to reduce aerodynamic drag caused by the machine itself and the rider's racing position. Handlebars can differ signficantly from the familiar drop bars found on road bicycles. Often riders will use triathlon bars designed to allow the rider to extend their arms in front of their body which leans forward almost to the horizontal so as to present the minimum frontal area and thus reducing drag. These triathlon bars or 'aerobars' are often bolted on to traditional drop bars or more aerodynamic bull horn bars.

Formats of track cycle races are also heavily influenced by aerodynamics. If one rider closely follows, "drafts" or "slipstreams" another, because the leading rider pushes air around themselves, any rider closely following has to push out less air than the lead rider and thus can travel at the same speed while expending less effort. This fact has led to a variety of racing styles that allow clever riders or teams to exploit this tactical advantage, as well as formats that simply test strength, speed and endurance.

During the early 1990s in individual pursuit events, some riders adopted a straight-armed Superman-like position with their arms fully extended, but this position was subsequently outlawed by the sport's ruling body (the UCI based in Switzerland). Recumbent bicycles can actually be ridden faster, but are banned from competition.

Main centres

Track cycling is particularly popular in Europe, notably Belgium, France and Germany where it is often used as off-season training by road racers (professional six-day 'Madison' events were often entered by two-man teams comprising a leading road racer and a track specialist).

The sport also has significant followings in Japan and Australia. It is part of the Summer Olympic Games, and there are world championships as well as circuits of professional events in many areas.

Race formats

Some of the most common race formats include:

External Link