Track cycling

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Track cycling is a bicycle racing sport usually held on specially-built banked tracks or velodromes (but many events are held at older velodromes where the track banking is relatively shallow) using track bicycles.

Track racing is also done on grass tracks marked out on flat sportsfields. Such events are particularly common during the summer in Scotland at Highland Games gatherings, but there are also regular summer events in England.

Contents

History

Riding position

Aerodynamic drag is a significant factor in both road and track racing. Frames are often constructed of one piece of molded carbon fiber, for a lightweight and aerodynamic design. More traditional bikes might employ airfoil cross sectional shapes in the frame tubes. Ever greater attention is being paid to aerodynamics in component group design.

Given the importance of aerodynamics, the riders' sitting position becomes extremely important. The riding position is similar to the road racing position, but is ultimately dependent on the frame geometry of the bicycle and the handlebars used. Handlebars on track bikes used for longer events such as the points race are similar to the drop bars found on road bicycles. However, in the sprint event the rider's position is more extreme compared with a road rider. The bars are lower and the saddle is higher and more forward. Bars are often narrower with a deeper drop. Steel bars, as opposed to lighter alloys or carbon fiber, are still used by many sprinters for their higher rigidity and durability.

In timed events such as the pursuit and the time trial, riders often use aerobars or 'triathlon bars' similar to those found on road time trial bicycles, allowing the rider to position the arms closer together in front of the body. This results in a more horizontal back and presents the minimum frontal area to reduce drag. Aerobars can be separate bars that are attached to time trial or bull horn bars, or they can be part of a one-piece monocoque design. Use of aerobars is permitted only in pursuit and time trial events.

Formats of track cycle races are also heavily influenced by aerodynamics. If one rider closely follows, they draft or slipstream another, because the leading rider pushes air around themselves; any rider closely following has to push out less air than the lead rider and thus can travel at the same speed while expending less effort. This fact has led to a variety of racing styles that allow clever riders or teams to exploit this tactical advantage, as well as formats that simply test strength, speed and endurance.

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