How to Start Track Racing


By Cari Higgins


What Is Track Cycling?

Cari Higgins leading the pack around a corner in the points race
Cari Higgins has raced for the U.S. at track world championships and world cups.

Track cycling takes place on a velodrome, which is a closed, banked oval. Velodromes vary widely in total distance, shape and degree of banking, giving each velodrome its own personality. In the U.S., we have roughly 29 velodromes.

Although many people ride velodromes purely for the joy of cycling and don’t ever race, there are several types of events raced on the velodromes. Traditional sprint events include match sprints, 500 or 1,000-meter time trial, keirin, and team sprint. Traditional endurance events include the pursuit, scratch race (can also be considered a sprint event), points race, madison, and omnium. In addition, there are many non-traditional races including a handicap race, chariot race, point-a-lap, snowball, just to name a few. Each race would be fully explained by the official at your local race.

All ages and abilities have the opportunity to ride together on a velodrome in a safe environment if a set of basic rules as well as universal rules are followed. This makes training on the track a unique and inviting setting. The four basic etiquette rules:

  1. Never stop pedaling
  2. Ride predictable lines
  3. Look before changing your lane or direction of travel
  4. Communicate
Jade Wilcoxson powers the Vumedi team to victory in women's team pursuit

Where to Find a Velodrome and Start Racing

Click here for a comprehensive list of velodromes. Check your local velodrome’s website for beginner classes or introduction days. If you don’t see any listed, do be afraid to reach out to the email listed on the velodrome’s website as most track communities are friendly and open to teaching new people.

You should also check out the local racing schedule and go watch! A unique aspect of racing on the velodrome versus road/mountain biking is all the action is right in front of you for the whole race.

Track Bikes

Riding the velodrome does require a specific type of bicycle. This bike is fixed gear, not singlespeed, and has no brakes. Almost all velodromes have access to rental bikes for new people to try. After trying it out, track bikes are relatively inexpensive.

Additional Equipment

Riders must have a helmet.

Typically, beginners will stay on the same gear to simplify the riding experience. However, after getting some racing under your belt you may also want to invest in some additional gears and the tools for changing gears.

For More Information

The USA Cycling track page has additional info on national and international events. Also, contact your local velodrome via email or social media; it’s a friendly bunch of people and someone will answer your questions!

This Article Updated March 11, 2014 @ 05:23 PM For more information contact: