Encyclingpedia: BMX


Having made its Olympic debut at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, BMX is one of the most popular forms of competitive cycling in the United States. Athletes between the ages of five and 65 regularly compete on the national circuit. The fast-paced racing, tight turns, spectacular jumps and high risk make BMX racing an exciting spectator sport.

Supercross BMX is the format used at the Olympic Games. It’s relatively simple and leads to an eight-person winner-take-all dash down a steep start ramp, over jumps, and around tight turns, before a final sprint to the line.

BMX competitions begin with one-lap time trials which are used for seeding purposes. Each rider completes two time trials and is given his or her seeding based on the fastest of the two runs. In the men’s competition, 32 riders compete in the seeding time trials. For the women, the seeding begins with 16.

Next, the 32 men are seeded into four eight-man brackets for the quarterfinals. In the women’s competition, the riders are divided into two eight-woman brackets for the semifinals. Each quarterfinal and semifinal includes more than one heat, and points are awarded based on a rider’s placing (1 point for first place, 2 points for second place, and so on through eight places). At the end of a round’s heats, the four riders with the lowest total points in each bracket will advance to the next round.

In the finals, there are no heats. A one race competition sees eight riders line up in the start gate. After the gate drops, the first person to cross the line is declared the winner.