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All about Cycling

Updated on December 6, 2010


Cycling is a sport based on human powered vehicle riding: called bicycle or bike, which is one of the most environment-friendly ride based sports ever! Cycles can be classified as unicycles, tricycles or quadricycles, but these are rather considered to be unpopular as compared to bicycles.

Cycle is a multi-dimensional mode of transportation. It can be used for utility, shopping, as a work tool, for recreational purposes, for military objectives (as it was used in the ancient times) or for racing purposes. It is an affordable and convenient ride, which is be beneficial for all walks of life, provided if it is properly utilized.

Here we shall emphasize the sports advantage of this vehicle.


The history of cycling is as old as the invention of wheel, which was invented in c. 3500 at Masopotamia. In 1878, Bicycle Union was formed, which joined with the Tricycle Association and was reorganized as the National Cyclists' Union (NCU). The formation of British League of Racing Cyclists took place in 1942. In 1959, it became British Cycling Federation. The British Cycling primarily administers BMX, Cycle Speedway, Cyclo-Cross, Mountain Bike, Road and Track in the UK. 

General Rules

The rules and regulations of cycling at international level are governed by, The International Union of Cycling (UCI). Different committees or governing bodies exist on the national level to advice on discipline-specific rules and competitions.


Bicycles can be classified on the basis of:

  •  Function
  •  Number of riders
  •  General construction
  •  Gearing
  •  Means of propulsion

Racing Bicycle:

A bicycle stays upright, while moving forward. It is steered so as to keep the combined center of mass of a bicycle. The rider must counter-steer or lean balancing the handle of a cycle to hold center of gravity to the wheels.

A racing bicycle is used for road cycling only, the most important features being weight and stiffness and thin tires. Also, the comfort in speedy bikes is sacrificed, for the aerodynamic posture, which facilitates pedaling to its optimum for the rider. Like most other sports, health & fitness is a crucial factor in cycling. In fact, it requires some extra effort and stamina as compared to other sports.

According to UCI rules, a racing bike should have:

  •  Front wheel with a handlebar to steer and rear wheel-driven chain and pedals
  •  Fixed points of support, which are handbags, saddles, pedals.
  •  Diameter of wheels = 70 cm and 55 cm
  •  Spokes number = 12 (round or flat)
  •  Spoke length = 185 cm
  •  Spoke width = 50 cm
  •  Saddle length = 24 cm and 30 cm
  •  Internal distance between the front fork = 10.5 cm, and of
  •  Internal distance between the rear stays = 13.5 cm
  •  Minimum mass = 6.8 kg
  •  Height of the frame elements = 8 cm
  •  Thickness of frame = 2.5 cm
  •  These rules rule-out recumbent bicycles, which were excluded 1934; after the industry  of upright bicycles had lobbied to have recumbent bicycles eliminated.


Cycle in reality, is the most efficient bio-friendly equipment. The most environmental hazard is the carbon dioxide gas, which a cyclist releases in the air is 1/10th of that generated by energy efficient cars. Moreover, the energy required to drive a bicycle at 15 – 25 km/h is equal to that, required for a walk. The output is thus almost 99%, a part of which is consumed in overcoming air drag. This can be further improved by adjusting aerodynamics or positioning the seat of a rider to a superior position.

Rules for the Competitions

A time trial has time, as a crucial factor for each individual

  •  Race should stop at 30-second or one-minute intervals for time trials
  •  Bicyclist starts from a resting position. The holder shall be holding the rider and release him without a push
  •  At the beginning, the rider may start with one or both feet on the ground
  •  At the decision of the race director and organizing team, the time trial start order may be conducted as fastest rider to slowest rider or vice versa, depending upon the course layout, course condition, ability range of the field of riders and any other factors in impact
  •  Modified bicycles will be allowed only in time trial events
  •  The Event or Race Director specifies if two wheel-modified bicycles compete together

A road race consists of a mass start event:

  • For road races on multi-lap courses, everyone finishes at the same lap as the leader, except for a huge difference of speed between the racers
  • The Event Director and Rules Committee are consulted in this case by the referee
  • No times are recorded for Mass start Road Race Finals
  • Awards are based on placing only. The Honest Effort Rule does not apply in Road Race Finals
  • Coaches may coach from the course sidelines, but Delegation members and Head coaches are not permitted to follow the race by any vehicle, except for special permission of the chief referee
  • The start is by a gunshot sound or whistle
  • The race shall be declared finished, when the front tire of the biker crosses the finish line
  • The finish is determined on crossing the finish line on ground
  • More than one division may ride on the course at once, if the course length is 2.5 km or more. The cyclists shall wear their entry numbers according to instructions by chief officials
  • Prior to race, the racers shall have the facility to warm up and inspect the course.

Race formats

Various formats are followed in an event with different distance- and structure-based races. In Point races, specific laps are given certain values and riders are given positions, depending upon who leads and who comes second. These races are not ruled upon who crosses the line first.

 Also, there is a great variety in the timings and structure of these races.

Scratch races involve a simple rule of who covers the distance first. The first to finish is the winner. The Elimination race is conducted with the rule that whoever comes last in each lap is eliminated. The final two laps decide the winner.

Madison races have riders in pairs following a tag-team format. Riders keep the pace of long races up to 30 km, by alternatively riding their bikes till the end of race. Kieran races involve a riding competition of 6 to 9 bicyclists with a motorbike until the last lap and a half. Crossing finish line first determines the winner in it.


Director of Events

Head Officials

Event directors

Two starters: The entry numbers according to the registered rider, correct number placement, matching bicycle and correct starting lineup is ensured by two stagers in charge.

Time keeper: Records the time for each contestant

Judge: Stands near the finishing line to identify exact time of finishing and declares winner of the race.

Doctors and Paramedics: Doctors and paramedics are held before the event for first aid facility during the race. One or more first aid posts are provided, as per need of the course. The doctors and paramedics are in identifiable uniform, which are able to rapidly treat injuries or evacuate track in case the patient is serious.

Marshals: Marshals are appointed on the course for safety purposes including one motorized marshal. All of them have been clearly explained about their roles in case of any emergency. The marshal usually carries a flag and a whistle.

Technical assistants: Licensed to repair bicycles.

Course: The course is clearly defined to the cyclist before the event. All the risky areas, bumps and slopes if any, are specifically identified with clear marks.

Skills:Learning to ride safely and efficiently is an exclusive technique. In England, many primary school children took ‘Bikeability’ test, which is a proficiency test to help them cycle more safely. Cycling is a famous sport in Netherlands and England, cyclists ride in bike lanes at the side of, or separate from, main highways and roads. Professional trainers are required for racing guidelines.

International Events

Seasons: The indoor and outdoor cycling events are arranged throughout the world, but seasons seem to be very important factors for this sport. Australia has a moderate winters and hot summer season. Here, the amateur road racing season runs from autumn to spring, while in home regions of cycling, i.e. Europe and in the United States, road bike racing is a summer sport, although the season can begin in early spring and may end in autumn. There are various road bicycling events which occur globally under the supervision of UCI.

The most important events for bike racing are:

  • Olympics games

  • Commonwealth games

  • World Cycling Championship

  • UCI Pro tour Event
  • Paris–Rouen

Official race competitions are of:

  • 250-meter (m) Time Trial
  • 500-meter (m) Time Trial
  • 1-kilometer (K) Time Trial
  • 2-kilometer Time Trial
  • 5-kilometer Time Trial
  • 10-kilometer Time Trial
  • 5-kilometer Road Race
  • 10-kilometer Road Race
  • 15-kilometer Road Race
  • 25-kilometer Road Race
  • 40-kilometer Road Race
  • 5-kilometer Unified Sports® Tandem Time Trial
  • 10-kilometer Unified Sports Tandem Time Trial


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