What’s BMX Racing
BMX racing takes place on specially designed ‘motocross’ style tracks, and involves up to 8 riders competing to be the first to cross the finish line after completing one lap of the track. It’s a test of skill, speed, tactics and fitness, but above all it’s great fun whilst also being very exciting to watch and participate in.
BMX racing has been around for many years, and has recently started to receive renewed attention due to its inclusion in the 2008 Olympic Games. Most racing that occurs is organised by BMX clubs who are affiliated to British Cycling; the national governing body for BMX in the UK. The sport is very family oriented and is open to all ages – it’s not uncommon to find Dads and sometimes Mums competing at the same event as their children! There are various different levels of racing (see below), catering for novices and experienced riders alike. Each rider competes against other riders of a similar age.
Racing takes place on off-road tracks which are normally 300-400 metres in length. Rather than being flat, the tracks are covered in a variety of different obstacles which riders must negotiate on their way from the start to the finish. The obstacles are designed with varying ages in mind; expert riders may choose to jump the obstacles whilst younger novice riders can safely ride over them. The layout and design of the obstacles varies greatly from one track to another, so riders are guaranteed a different experience at every location.
During a race there will be up to 8 riders competing on the track at once. They line up on an automated starting gate at the top of a starting slope/hill. When the gate is released the riders must sprint around the track to try and cross the finish line in first place. Riders must compete firstly in 3 moto races and their placings in these decide whether or not they will progress to further final races. Depending on the number of riders, there may also be quarter-final and semi-final races for riders to compete on the way to making the main final.
Before competing on a track it advisable to take a walk round to examine the jumps and obstacles so that you can see what you will come up against when riding the track. It is also a good idea to take time to watch more experience riders on the track, and try and pick up some tips on how they ride different sections. Always remember to ride within your limits; do not try and jump the obstacles unless you’re sure of your ability to easily clear them. At each race meeting there are always a couple of hours prior to racing which are allocated as practice time. This is your chance to get the track dialled in, and to also practice your starts on the gate. It’s a good idea to learn the starting sequence of the gate so that you know when it is going to drop. If you can manage to get out of the gate in front of the other riders, there’s a good chance you’ll lead most of the race and not have to work your way back to the front of the pack. Don’t forget, most tracks are open to the public at all other times, so it’s a good idea to get down there and practice your skills on a regular basis.
Chances are you won’t win your first race, but keep practicing and racing and gradually you’ll see an improvement in your skills.
Levels Of Racing
Open/Club Races: Open or Club Races are put on by clubs around the country and are open to any rider. There will usually be novice classes for those new to the sport and expert classes for the more established riders. These races may present trophies or prizes to the winners of each class.
Regional Races: Regional Races are a series of races held across a specific region. The country is split into several different regions and each of them would usually hold a winter and a summer series, with the summer series acting as qualification for the British Championships, held at the end of the season in September. Regional races also have novice classes for the newcomers, who will receive trophies for winning their class, but the expert classes usually receive trophies at the end of the series for those who have competed in the correct amount of events.
National Races: National Races are races held around the country between April and September, which decide the National Champion of each age group. Riders compete in their own specific age group; this is determined by subtracting the year of birth from the current year – i.e. 2006-1997 = 9, with double age groups being combined from the age of 11. Novice riders are also catered for at National level and expert riders need to compete in 5 rounds to qualify for a National ranking and end of season trophy. These awards are presented at the British Championships Full details of the National Championships can be found by visiting the British Cycling Website.
International/World Events: International and World events are also held for those wanting the very top level of competition.