endurance trials. Stage races can last for days, with team riders or individual riders. Some
stage races may combine different races such as track and road racing. Today, there are
three main types of races: road racing, track racing, and mountain bike racing.
Road racing takes place on open roads that follow the natural terrain of the area. Many
riders begin the race together, and the winner is the first rider to finish the course. Road
racing started in 1892, with the Tour de France established in 1903, and is a now a popular
sport in America and Europe. Races may involve long distance courses over 60 kilometers
or short courses under 5 kilometers. Stage races are several races ridden consecutively,
and the winner is the racer with the lowest time to complete all of the stages of the race.
Track racing takes place on banked tracks or velodrome arenas built for cycle racing.
Racers ride track cycles that do not have brakes or freewheels. Speeds may exceed 52
mph, and tracks vary in incline and length. Two main categories of track racing are sprint
races and endurance races. Sprint races are 3-8 laps, while endurance races are 12-16 laps.
Track racing became popular in the 1930’s when Madison Square Garden held six-day
races, and today the Madison can reach up to 200 laps with team riders alternating
different laps of the race.
Mountain bike racing is the newest type of cycle race made popular in the 1990’s. The
two main race types are the cross-country and the downhill. Cross-country races cover
rugged terrain and trails, emphasizing endurance with races that are 30 minutes to 24
hours. Downhill races take place on steep, downhill terrain with high speeds and obstacle
jumps sending riders into the air. Mountain bikes are lightweight, but built to withstand a
rugged ride, and racers wear body protection and helmets.