Mountain bike racing is relatively new in comparison to the grand heritage of cycling in general, with pedal-powered antics making an impact on both sport and transportation for well over 100 years. The often thought of and close relatives of MTB sport are road, cyclocross, and BMX, but there are plenty of other genres of two-wheeled competition that one can partake in. Whether you're into riding tandems, acrobatic cycling, or mountain biking, we're all connected at the core.
So, with all of the options for competing on two wheels, what other cycling disciplines are you most interested in giving a go? Or are you happy to keep your competitions on the singletrack?
Road bikes have a huge role in bicycle sport as we know it today. Road bike racing has been around for longer than any of us have been alive and garners huge audiences each year for events such as the Giro d'Italia, Paris Roubaix, and the Tour de France, to name a few. Click here
for some highlights from the 2019 Giro d'Italia.Cyclocross:
Cyclocross is considered the steeplechase of cycling. Racers ride drop bar bikes with knobby tires and lap a spectator-friendly course that requires a good amount of handling skills along with fitness. There are obstacles such as sand/mud pits, stairs, and barriers that require running or jumping the bike over. There's some cross over from cyclocross to road racing and mountain biking, as Mathieu Van Der Poel has shown in the last few years. Click here
to see what cyclocross World Champs look like.Track:
Track Cycling is an Olympic sport and, like cyclocross and road, utilizes a drop-bar bike. However, track bikes have a fixed gear, so the pedals never stop turning, and the bikes are raced on an oval track called a velodrome. There are different events in track racing, including the madison, team sprint, match sprint, keirin, omnium, and team pursuit. These events fall into either the sprint or endurance category. If you've never seen it, it's worth a watch. Yesterday, Team USA overthrew Britain
at the 2020 World Champs in the Women's Team Pursuit category.Observed Trials:
Trials riding conjures up images of Danny Macaskill doing ridiculous tricks, but observed trials has always been a judged sport. The sport of trials has a World Cup circuit where riders compete on 20" or 26" wheeled bikes on a predetermined course where they have to negotiate sections of obstacles multiple times with the goal of not putting a foot down. At the end of the competition, the rider who has the fewest penalties wins. The 2001 Trials World Championships
were held Vail/Beaver Creek and offer a perfect picture of the sport.
Flatland BMX falls under the umbrella of freestyle BMX, but it's quite a bit different. Blending aspects of artistic cycling with a BMX bike, riders use specially designed 20" wheeled bikes that have short wheelbases, zero-offset forks, freecoaster hubs, and pegs to do tricks while spinning and balancing the bike in varying positions. Unsure what that looks like? Check out the 2019 Flatland World Champs
As it's such a broad category, we're going to lump the rest of freestyle BMX together even though it has some very different aspects. Vert is the biggest outlier in this segment, a competition where riders air out of a
10-15 foot tall halfpipe while performing tricks - it's most often seen in competitions like the X-Games or on the Dew Tour
. Street competition
is also a huge player in the X-Games. While there are competitions in this segment, there's also simply riding street and using cityscapes as a canvas for tricks and dirt jumping that fall into this category. There's also a lot of crossover between BMX and MTB with this segment of riding.BMX Racing:
BMX racing is another segment of 20" wheeled sport that started in the 1970s with kids taking bikes to motocross tracks when they weren't in use. It's turned into an Olympic sport where riders compete in a similar head-to-head fashion to motocross racing. Courses are filled with jumps and banked turns. Many excellent mountain bike racers have raced both MTB and BMX. The 2013 World Champs for BMX
is a good example of racing.Indoor Artistic Cycling:
Indoor artistic cycling is a competitive event. Riders perform exercises on fixed gear bikes in what looks to be a cross between gymnastics, flatland BMX, and ballet. It's strange, but there's certainly a ton of skill required. The exercises are done in five-minute-long rounds and graded by a panel of judges. Believe it or not, it's also UCI sanctioned. If you don't check out any of the other videos, this one of the 2016 UCI World Champs is worth a watch
if you want to see something a bit different.