Racing Definitions

New to racing and don’t know the lingo? Have a look at the definitions below…they should give you a starting point for what’s up and what you might be interested in. Be sure to check out Hop On…a great site dedicated to biking. Lots more information about racing, bikes, etc.


Inspired now? Want to get involved? Visit our calendar of events to find out what races are coming up next. Even more excited? Sign up for a racing license and join a strong, fun, and growing community!


** All definitions are from http://breakingmuscle.com/cycling/a-glossary-of-cycling-events-road-off-road-and-track-racing **

Road Events


Time Trial: A race against the clock that may be solo or in small teams.


Each team or person sets off at intervals and is required to complete a measured distance as fast as possible. The events usually take place on public roads. Time trialists have to reduce air resistance as much as possible and generate sustained power for the duration of their event. Hence, the streamlined helmets, bikes, and position on the cycle. Events usually range from 10-50kms.


Hill Climb: A type of time trial up a hill.


The hill is usually quite steep, but a short distance such as one to two miles. Each competitor takes approximately five minutes to reach the finish at this distance, requiring an all-out effort. Sometimes a hill sprint is included within another type of competition.


AMP_Race_2014Road Race: A mass start race on private or public roads.


Race distances vary from a few kilometers to more than 200km. Courses may run from place to place or comprise one or more laps of a circuit. Some courses combine both, i.e. taking the riders from a starting place and then finishing with several laps of a circuit (usually to ensure a good spectacle for the audience at the finish). Races over short circuits, often in town or city centers, are known as criteriums or crits.


Some road races, known as handicaps, are designed to match riders of different abilities or ages. Groups of slower riders start first, with the fastest riders starting last and so having to race harder and faster to catch other competitors


Road Stage Race: Consists of several races, or stages, ridden consecutively.


The competitor with the lowest cumulative time to complete all stages is declared the overall, or general classification (GC), winner. Stage races may also have other classifications and awards, such as individual stage winners, sprint points classification, and the “King of the Mountains” (or mountains classification) winner. Stages may also include individual or team time trials. Races can be held over several days.


IMG_1516Road Criterium: Several laps on a short course, often on closed city streets.


A criterium, or crit, is a race of several laps of a 1-2kms course, often run on closed-off city streets. Race length can be determined by a number of laps or total time, in which case the number of remaining laps is calculated as the race progresses. The event’s duration is typically an hour and is shorter than that of a traditional road race. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been lapped. There are sometimes awards for winning individual laps or age group categories.


Sportive: A longer duration event over typically 40-100 miles.


Cyclists can choose whether to pace themselves against the clock or enjoy these as a pleasure ride. These are not formal races, although often timing is provided and riders can be grouped into different speed bands such a bronze, silver, or gold. These are rarely closed road events and often take smaller and quieter lanes. For the larger and longer events there is sometimes a time limit so that riders have to complete within a certain time – or be picked up by the sweeper wagon.

Off-Road Events


downhillMountain Bike – Downhill: One at a time on a downhill off-road course.


The courses often include technical challenges such as jumps and tight corners. Rough sections and gaps have to be negotiated at high speed, using gravity to assist. Riders race one at a time and the winner is the one with the fastest time.


Mountain Bike – XC: Cross-country race.


This is a mass start event. Sometimes riders are arranged into age groups or categories and set off at different times. The course is a mixture of technical sections, climbs, descents, grass, trails, and rock gardens. Courses are usually arranged around a circuit and the winners are based upon the fastest time to complete the total distance required. These races usually last between 1/2 – 2hrs in length.


4crossMountain Bike – 4X: Four cross riders compete at the same time.


In this race, riders start in a group of four on a specially designed highly challenging downhill course. The races are short and can last between 25 seconds and one minute. Obstacles include a series of bumps, table tops, steps up, steps down (drop offs), moguls, cambered (bermed) or off-camber corners, and gap jumps. This race is an elimination format.


Mountain Bike – Short Track 


 A fun, fast paced mountain bike race format for riders of all ages (6 and up) and abilities. See how many laps you can get in a set amount of time: 20 minutes plus one lap for youth and 30 minutes plus one lap for adults.


BMX: Sprint races on purpose-built off-road single-lap racetracks.


The track usually has a small starting gate for up to eight riders, a serpentine dirt racecourse made of various jumps and rollers, and a finish line. The course is usually flat, about fifteen-foot wide (4.6m) and has large banked corners that help the riders maintain speed and includes various jumps. BMX racing rewards strength, quickness, and bike handling.


cyclo crossCyclo-Cross: Many short laps on a variety of challenging surfaces.


Races usually take place in the autumn and winter (the international or World Cup season is September to January) and consist of many laps of a short (2.5-3.5km or 1.5-2 mile) course. The course can feature pavement, wooded trails, grass, sand, mud, steep hills, and obstacles. The riders are required to quickly dismount, carry the bike over obstructions, run while carrying the cycle, and then remount and continue. Races are usually thirty to sixty minutes long, with the distance varying depending on the ground conditions. The emphasis is on the rider’s endurance and bike-handling skills.

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