A bluffers guide to . . . BMX racing

Forget the chopper, it’s time to get the bikes in the air

The X-Park BMX venue in Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Getty Images

The X-Park BMX venue in Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Getty Images

 

What do you have to do to qualify, have a paper round in America?

BMX has fallen under the auspices of the International Cycling Union (UCI) since 1993, 15 years before it was accepted as a sport in the 2008 Olympics at Beijing.

Is it time to get the Chopper out of the shed then?

There are two BMX racing bikes sizes; one that is a 20 inch wheel bike, the other, the Cruiser bike has a 24 inch wheel. However, any bikes that have a wheel larger than 24” will still be considered Cruisers. The cruiser style bike tends to be easier to jump and rolls better while the 20” is seemingly more agile. In the Olympics they use the 20-inch wheels.

Like I said I’ll get my Chopper.

Unlike a Chopper the BMX bike has only one gear and a break, besides having a resistant frame to support jumps and bumps throughout the circuit.

Isn’t it just a form of Moto-cross where pedalling replaces an engine and you still get to wear all the gear, possibly making vroom, vroom sounds?

That’s fair. The track usually consists of a starting gate for up to eight racers, a groomed, serpentine, dirt race course made of various jumps and rollers and a finish line. The course is usually flat, about 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and has large banked corners that help the riders maintain speed.

Will you break it down a little further please?

Groups of eight riders start at the top of an eight metre high starting ramp into a circuit of 300m to 400m with lots of jumps, turns, rises and descents and flat parts. The first four athletes to cross the finish line advance to the following phase.

Isn’t there a jump named after an Italian dessert?

Bizarrely yes. There is one, a flat jump that is called a Panettone.

Does this event take place in a purpose built stadium or do they time them down to the local shops and back?

The Olympic BMX Centre is located at Deodoro X-Park.

What’s a Berm when it’s at home?

They are turns are at an angle where a rider doesn’t have to slow down or brake.

So how many people will be taking part in the Olympics?

There are 32 in the men’s competition and 16 in the women’s event.

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