Monday, May 17, 2010

The World of Cycling I | Cycle Speedway

Heard of road racing? You know, the Tour de France, the Paris-Roubaix, Tour de Somerville? Cyclo-cross? Track? Sprint ... Madison ... Keirin? Okay it's getting weirder now, but these are all forms of cycling competition well established in the USA.
I'm going to look at some other cycling sports found outside the Fifty One including Indoor Artistic Cycling, CycleBall, Grasstrack and Bicycle Polo. But today I'm starting with Cycle Speedway.
Cycle Speedway is based in the old industrial towns and cities spread throughout the UK and Europe.
In fact, I used to live within a five minute bike ride of a speedway track situated in the middle of a working class area of Bristol.
Most of the participants tend to be youths, although there are adult leagues as well.
A track consists of a short cinder oval and the number of laps depends on the age of the riders. The bikes are single speed with freewheels and no brakes. Unlike motorised speedway, the object isn't to skid around the corners, but since the surface can be rather loose riders will dab to maintain their balance.
The US is a member of the International Cycle Speedway Federation but has found it hard to survive and is currently moribund.
Elsewhere, Cycle Speedway is going through a bit of a resurgence along with other more obscure cycle sports. The compact track is relatively inexpensive to provide and maintain and it also serves as an alternative to BMX competition for younger riders.
Maybe it will the next big thing after Cyclo-cross in the USA.