Basic Rules Of Cycling Sport - A Guide To Ride Like A Pro

Author: Megha


To enjoy any sport to the fullest, one needs to be aware of the game’s basic rules. Even if a person is merely a spectator or audience, knowing the rules will help better understand what’s going on in the sport. The same is the case with cycling. If you are a cycling enthusiast and love to watch cycling races, then you should certainly be aware of some basic rules of cycling sport. 


Cycling competitions are held at various levels, including the international level. With cyclists from all over the world, cycle races in the Olympics have a considerable fan base. Cycling races mostly happen in Europe and the West, with a handful of Asian countries showing interest in such events. Japan has a good number of cyclists who win international challenges. Apart from Japan, China, Israel, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Lebanon, Mongolia, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam are other Asian countries that participate in cycle championships. Though cycling is quite popular in India; however, it hasn’t gained popularity as a formal sport in the country.


Even though it is widespread worldwide, not many are aware of the basic rules of cycling sport. If you look at the race, there are many variants, but the basic rules of cycling sports remain the same throughout. Among all the rules, one of the easiest rules is to fix a source and a destination. Later, the one who reaches the destination at the earliest is declared the winner of the competition. 


Also Read: Cycling Sports Benefits - Learn Why Cycling Is Good For You


To help you learn about the basic rules of cycling sport, we have curated this article. In this article, we have penned down some of the vital information that all cycling fans should know for enjoying the sport. 


Scroll down and learn!


Some Popular Formats of Cycling Competitions

Before we dive into the basic rules of cycling sport, let’s talk about the format of the competition. Knowing the structure will help you better understand the races. 


- Road Bicycle Races

As the name suggests, road races are usually held on open roads where the competition begins from the start line of the road course and ends at the finish line, which is already marked by the vehicular marshals. The route of the open roads is predefined, and the laps are fixed based upon the distance.


- Closed Road Circuit Races

Closed road circuit races are held on traffic-free paved roads built typically for cycling challenges or other motor races. These roads are shorter but have more obstacles for the riders to test their cycling skills. In such races, the riders are tested on accelerating, slowing down, braking, and cornering skills.


- Track Cycling

Track cycling races are held on oval-shaped velodromes built explicitly with two 180-degrees curved bends connected to the straight end. The indoor velodromes are wooden surfaced banked tracks. Track cycling as an indoor sport is held all through the year without any weather concerns. Track cycling has been a part of the summer Olympics since the very beginning.


- Time Trailing

To make road cycling more enjoyable, time trailing emerged as a new format. It is competing against time and with other racers over the race distance. The racer has to cover a predetermined distance in a specified time.


Equipment Required for Cycling

While a cycling race might look simple, it requires a lot of equipment and gear. Being a cyclist or a cycling fan, it is crucial to know the list of equipment that one needs to be ready with. Among all the bike gears, a racing bicycle is the most important. Apart from this, the rider’s safety gear, shoes, and attire that suit the weather are also required to avoid any discomfort during the race.


Here’s a list of some of the important gears or equipment needed to race on the track.  


Bib Shorts- Bib shorts are lightweight, skinny shorts made of lycra and come with additional seated padding to avoid discomfort.


Base Layer Suit- The base layer suit is worn to maintain the body temperature and manage moisture. The suit is made up of fine thermal fabric. It is worn over the bib shorts.


Jersey- Like all other sports, cycling has a specific kind of jersey. The short-sleeved skin-tight nylon t-shirt and shorts revealing the identity of the rider is known as jersey.


Gloves- The gloves are used by the rider to get a better grip on the handle. As per the UCI, cyclists are not allowed to cover their fingers during road races. Mitts are used to covering the fingers.


Socks- Usually, there are two types of cycling socks that are worn depending upon the weather. One is the thermal lite socks worn in the winters and air mesh socks used in summers to increase breathability. These socks are designed to avoid pain in the rider’s feet when pedaling.


Cycling Shoes- These are specially designed footwear made with customized soles that are just perfect for pedaling. The thick soles give a good grip and better hold on the pedals. Other sports shoes might not provide the same grip and become a cause of injury.


Helmet- Helmet is one of the most important safety gears that a rider needs to reduce the risk of face and head injuries during the race. The inner layer of the cycling helmets is made of EPS foam to absorb the shock, while the outer shell is made of high-grade plastic material and is layered with special fiber to give extra protection to the rider.


Standardized Characters of Racing Bikes

The rider manually drives a racing bicycle just by pedaling, without any mechanical or electrical machinery. Since a racing bicycle runs entirely through manual efforts, it is vital for it to meet all the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI ) standards. 


The UCI has standardized some essential characteristics of the racing bikes to maintain uniformity and determine a fair winner. Here are some common attributes of racing bikes to know before you start learning the basic rules of cycling sport. 


The maximum length of the bicycle- 185cms

The maximum width- 50cms

Total weight- 6.8kgs

The diameter of the wheels- The diameter of both wheels should be equal, ranging between 55cms to 70cms.

Minimum number of spokes- 12 in each wheel

Seat saddle position- The saddle position should be between 24cms to 30cms.


Basic Rules of Cycling Sport

Now that you are familiar with the essential information, it’s time to learn some basic rules of cycling sport. As mentioned above, bicycle races can be held on different tracks like open roads, closed roads, and circuits. However, the basic rules of cycling sport remain similar in all types of races. 


All the rules of the game are regulated and maintained by the UCI. Here are some of the basic rules of cycling sport that you must know about. 


- Bike Gearing Rules:

The riders must undergo a bike gear check. The chief commissioner checks the rider’s gear and bicycle and ensures that it meets the standards set by the UCI.


- Race Course Rules: 

One of the most important basic rules of cycling sport is that the rider must be aware of the exact route of the racecourse. In the case of an open road cycling competition, the racer cannot deviate at any point till the race finishes.


- Speed of the Rider: 

An experienced rider has the skills to ride the bicycle at high speed even when the other riders are close by. An individual racer can ride their bike at 110km/h during the road race. However, while crosswinds and descending position, it is a rule that the rider has to maintain a speed ranging from 60 to 80km/h.


- Positioning of the Riders: 

One of the most basic rules of cycling sport is that the racer cannot lose contact with his hands from the cycle’s handlebar. The position must be parallel to the ground for better grip and to avoid accidents.


- Free Lap Rule:

During the closed-circuit races and track events, the distance of the race is covered in laps. The competitors must cover the race even if there are mishaps or accidents during the race. A minor injured racer can too make up the race on his abilities and skills. In such a case, the judges can grant one or two free laps for the riders. However, in specific races, the organizers make it clear to them that there will be ‘No Free Lap.”


Types of Riders

After knowing the basic rules of cycling sport, one must also learn about the types of riders. Different riders have different strengths and weaknesses that are used in various formats. Based on their skills, the racers tend to choose a race format suitable for their skill set. 


Given below are all the types of riders. This is how they are classified:


Sprinter: Sprinters are the ones who can finish the race by accelerating the speed while reaching the finish line.


Climbing Specialist:  A climber is one who can maintain good speed even when riding uphill and can create an aerodynamic advantage to the race on the inclined road.


Time Trials: These racers can ride the bicycle at high speed for a more extended period and improve their race performance. These racers are trained to compete against time.


All-Rounder: The racer who excels as a climber, sprinter, and time trialist is said to be an all-rounder. These racers are chosen as team leaders for a team in stage races.


Final Words

Cycling as a sport is famous worldwide not just as a fun activity but also as a professional game. Despite its popularity, the basic rules of cycling sport are not known to many. A significant portion of the population is unaware of the rules making it an important topic to discuss. Read all the rules above and information carefully and enjoy the sport to the fullest.  




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