Find a group of bike racers and you’ll soon be hearing terminology like “TT’s, Crits, SW-blah-blah- blah’s, the track,” and a slew of other terms that will leave you dizzy and confused. To assist you, here are some quick definitions. At the very least, you can bluff your way through cappuccino at the neighbourhood bike/coffee shop.
Race on the Road
The race begins at the same time for everyone, and the first person to cross the finish line is the winner.
Within your own racing category, drafting is legal.
The distances differ.
Roads are paved (most of the times).
Individual time trial (ITT): a sort of road race in which cyclists compete individually against the clock (in French: contre la montre – literally “against the watch”).
ITTs are also known as “the race of truth,” because the winner is determined only by the rider’s own strength and endurance, not by the assistance of teammates or others racing ahead and producing a slipstream.
The start timings are spaced out evenly, usually one or two minutes apart. The starting order is normally determined by the finishing times of previous races (or, in the event of a multi-stage race, previous stages), with the highest-ranked cyclist starting last. The advantage of starting later is that the racer knows what time they need to beat (and also makes the event more interesting to spectators). It is not authorised for competitors to draught (riding in each other’s slipstream). Any form of assistance between riders is strictly prohibited. The winner is the cyclist who clocks the fastest time.
Racing on a track
Consider track racing to be the equivalent of the Indianapolis 500 for motorcycles…
No one’s car, however, has brakes. That’s correct. There are no brakes. Track cycling is mainly done on specially constructed banked tracks or velodromes (although many competitions are hosted at older velodromes with shallow track banking).
Sprint races and Endurance races are the two types of track cycling competitions. Typically, riders will fall into one of two categories and will not race in the other. Before moving up to the senior levels, riders with good all-around skill will select to focus on one area or another.
Sprint races are short-distance events.
Sprint races are typically 8 to 10 laps long and focus on sheer sprinting power and race strategies over a limited number of laps in order to defeat opponents. Sprint cyclists will train only for events of this length and will not participate in longer endurance races.