WHAT IS BMX RACING
BMX racing is an action packed, sprint sport where racers compete against each other on purpose-built outdoor and indoor tracks of around 400m long, beginning with a Start Hill and are littered with jumps and obstacles.
BMX race meetings are relentless, all-day action, which begin with qualifying heats, called ‘motos’. Up to eight riders contest each moto, before moving on through further knockout rounds until the final, which decides the overall winner. Races usually last well under a minute and are run off in quick succession, meaning that it’s an exciting non-stop day for riders and spectators alike.
It’s not necessarily a cycle sport that requires membership of a club, BMX riding is often learnt in gardens, local parks and on the streets before the riders feel confident to start BMX racing with a local club for real.
With its origins in southern Californian dirt track racing, BMX exploded in popularity in the early 1980s. The first BMX world championships were held in 1982 but it wasn’t until 1993 that the UCI integrated the discipline. The sport made its debut at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, which catapulted it onto a global stage.
London 2012 promised a lasting legacy for the sport of BMX and it has not disappointed. New clubs, tracks and competitions have sprung up over the country, as children and adults alike have been inspired to take to the dirt tracks.
In Britain, there are regional racing leagues, HSBC UK BMX National Series and HSBC UK National BMX Championships. Racing takes place throughout the year.
The Olympic discipline of Supercross is raced over a 350-400m dirt track. The eight riders launch off of a start ramp up to 8m tall and a race over the varied terrain, which sometimes requires sprinter-style flat speed or metres of height reached off the range of jumps.
BMX racing bikes are simple and strong, with a single gear and usually just a rear brake. They are much smaller than a mountain, road or track bike and might feel strange if you are used to any of these already.
Standard BMXs have 20-inch wheels and there are micro and mini and junior sized bikes for younger riders.
There are also a larger 24-inch wheel cruiser class, which is popular with larger or older riders. Although top-class bikes are high tech and expensive, entry level racing machines are more affordable than many other bike types.
Most clubs in East Anglia run a Summer Race Series, usually one evening per week. Club racing is a great opportunity for new racers to dip their toe into the sport. For Club racing you do not need to be a member of British Cycling.
The East Anglia Region runs both Summer and Winter Series as well as a number of individual events such as the East Anglia Championships that traditionally close the series. For Regional Racing you will need to be a Silver or Gold Race member of British Cycling but do not need to have a race licence.
There is usually a series of 10-12 National race events run as “Double Headers” over 5-6 weekends between March and September. To qualify to race these events, riders who have not raced at national level before must complete at least five Summer Regional level races in the preceding year. For National Racing you will need to be a Silver or Gold Race member of British Cycling and have a race licence.
Many recreational riders across the country ride in skateparks, learning tricks. A boundless imagination and sense of creativity are assets of any rider and there are no boundaries to what may be possible on a bike. Freestyle BMX is the newest cycling discipline to be deemed an Olympic sport. The competition takes place on a “skate park” where riders perform tricks on the ramps and obstacles within a given time period of around a minute which constitutes their “run”.
Freestyle bikes are designed to withstand heavier use than race bikes and may be run brakeless or have “stunt pegs” attached to the wheel axles for riders to perform tricks known as “grinds”.
OUR SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RACING
The most important thing to remember is HAVE FUN – this is a competitive discipline and yes, it’s an Olympic discipline, but above all it is about a community of people enjoying riding little bikes around tracks.
JOIN A CLUB – clubs are where you’ll find friends, advice and support and you’ll also sit/pit with the club at races.
BE PATIENT – whether it’s as a rider or parent, BMX Racing can take a while to master on and off the track. Give it time. You’re never too old, too unfit, too slow or anything else. GIVE IT A GO.
BE REALISTIC – Not everyone will make it to the top, but racing will still challenge you, give you opportunities to push yourself and to shine no matter if you win or never make it out of motos.
BE A GOOD SPORT – you’ll lose more often than you’ll win and how you handle it will get noticed. Racers shake hands after crossing the line.
RESPECT – Race Officials, they’re volunteers, they do it for the love of the sport, we couldn’t race without them.
REMEMBER – Expensive parts make the bike better, not the rider.
RIDE LOTS – – The best way to get good at riding a BMX around a track is to ride a BMX around a track.