Cycling 101

Cycling 101

Track Events Explained

For those who are unfamiliar with track cycling events, we have you covered. Here are explanations of every track event that takes place at Valley Preferred Cycling Center.


The Sprint is one of most exciting and elemental events on the track. It’s about pure speed over a short distance. The winner of this event is usually considered the fastest man on aktohlhcfq8dc0suzu-2yn4w46tpaf4efpvnoouqe-2i bike across all disciplines of cycling.

In the Sprint, riders will first compete in a 200-meter time trial to determine seed times. The fastest 18 riders from the 200-meter qualifying round will advance to the finals. In the finals, riders will compete against each other in a head-to-head, three-lap, single-elimination format based on seed times.

In the quarterfinals, the head-to-head match-ups now take on a best-of-three format. Riders must win two of three battles against their opponent to advance to the semifinals. Once a rider is eliminated in this round, there is no repechage to get back into the competition.

In the semifinals, the final four riders again compete in a best-of-three format against their assigned opponent in order to advance to the medal rounds. The winner of each semifinal advances to the gold-medal final, while the loser of each semifinal squares off for the bronze medal – both in another best-of-three format.


Another sprint-oriented event, the Keirin pits riders against each other in mass sprints after initially being paced by a motorized bike called a “derny.” The pacer will begin at about 30 kilometers per hour and gradually increase the speed to over 50 kilometers per hour. With 600 meters remaining, the derny pulls off the track and leaves the competitors toVPCC-Races-6-14-13_4828 battle it out for a massive sprint to the finish.

A typical field of 28 riders is organized into four seven-man heats for the first round of competition. The fastest two riders from each heat automatically advance to the second round, while the remaining 20 riders are sent to a repechage round. In the ensuing repechage, riders are organized into four five-man heats and given a second chance at advancing to the second round. Here, only the winner of each heat advances.

Next, the eight riders who originally advanced, plus the four repechage winners are organized into a pair of six-man heats for the second round. The top-three finishers in each secondound heat advance to the finals while the last three in each heat are sent to the consolation round to determine seventh through 12th place.

In the finals, six riders battle it out, shoulder-to-shoulder, in a furious sprint for the medals.

Team Sprint

The Team Sprint is a test of speed and teamwork as three-man teams work together to post the fastest time over 750 meters (three laps).

A qualifying round first determines the fastest eight teams which will advance to the first round. Based on qualifying times, teams are seeded and then matched against each other for the first round. The top-seeded team is matched against the eighth-fastest qualifier, the number-two seed is matched against the seventh-fastest and so on.

In the Team Sprint, three riders start each race, but only one finishes. The lead rider sets the pace for the first 250 meters then pulls off. After 500 meters, the second rider leaves the track while the anchor leg sprints it out for the final lap after drafting off his teammates for the first two laps.

After the completion of the first round, the fastest two winners advance to the gold-medal final while the two other round-one winners advance to the bronze medal match.


The omnium is best described as the decathlon of track cycling as it features several events to determine a best all-around rider. The competition includes the following events in order: the flying lap, the 20-kilometer points race, the elimination race, the 3,000-meter individual pursuit, the 10-kilometer scratch race and the 500-meter time trial. Following the completion of each event, a rider is assigned a point value based on where he or she placed in that event (a first-place finish is worth one point, second-place finish is worth two points and so on). After all events, the rider with the lowest cumulative point total is declared the winner.

Individual Pursuit

The Individual Pursuit is a relatively short endurance event that pits riders against both the clock and each other. The competition begins with a 4-kilometer (16-lap) qualifying round. The fastest eight riders advance to the first round and are seeded accordingly as the number-one seed is matched against the number-eight seed, the number-two seed is paired against the number-seven seed and so on.

In round one, riders start on opposite sides of the track and pursue each other over a distance of four kilometers. The two winners with the fastest times advance to the gold-medal final, while the other two winners advance to the bronze-medal final.

Again starting on opposite sides of the track, riders compete against the clock and each other in the finals. The winner of the finals is determined by either recording the fastest time or catching the opponent.

Because results are timed to the hundredth of a second in the individual pursuit, here you will see some of the most aerodynamic and technologically-advanced equipment.

Points Race

The Points Race is a mass-start event which typically features 24 riders. The winner is the rider who accumulates the most points throughout the contest. Intermediate sprints occur every 10 laps as riders sprint for the finish line to earn points. Points in intermediate sprints are awarded to the first four riders across the line (1st place = 5 points, 2nd place = 3 points, 3rd place = 2 points and 4th place = 1 point). Any group or individual rider that laps the main field is awarded 20 points. Any rider or group of riders that is lapped by the main field loses 20 points. In the event of a tie, the rider who placed highest in the race’s final sprint is given the advantage.


The Madison is another team event and is somewhat similar to the Points Race. In this mass-start event, 18 two-man teams race over a distance of 50madison kilometers (200 laps). The winner is determined by scoring the most points of the teams who cover the greatest distance.

Intermediate sprints are contested every 20 laps and are scored in the same way as the Points Race (1st place = 5 points, 2nd place = 3 points, 3rd place = 2 points and 4th place = 1 point).

During the Madison, only one rider on each team is actively competing while the other rests at the top of the track. Once a rider is ready to make an exchange, his teammate descends from the top of the track and is literally slung into the race. The constant exchanges from rider to rider allow the pace to remain considerably higher because of the brief rest periods involved. Typically, the better sprinter of the pair is slung into action just before an intermediate sprint while the better endurance rider attempts to cover as many laps as possible.

At the end of the race, only the teams who covered the most laps are eligible to win. Of the teams who covered the most laps throughout the race, the pair who accumulated the most points is declared the winner.

Scratch Race

The simplest form of mass-start racing, fields of 24 riders race over a pre-determined distance. Men will contest 15 kilometers and women 10. The first rider across the finish line is declared the winner.

Valley Preferred Cycling Center
Valley Preferred Cycling Center

What is a Velodrome?

A velodrome is a cycling track, made of wood or concrete, consisting of banked turns on either side and connected by two straightaways. Riders use fixed gear bikes, with no brakes, to compete in a variety of individual and team races.
Valley Preferred Cycling Center’s Velodrome features 28 degree banked turns, with straightaways banked at 12 degrees. Our Velodrome is a 333 meter long concrete track, known for being one of the fastest outdoor tracks in the world by its degree of banking. Rather than steep banked turns, the 28 degree banked turns allow our riders to gain greater speed when coming out of the turns.

Blue Band: The band on the flat surface off the bottom of the track. Riders are not permitted to ride on this band unless it is done so involuntarily.

Measurement Line: The innermost line, typically black to contrast the track. This line measures the official length of the track.

Sprinters Line: The next highest line on the track, this red line must be occupied by the leaders unless they are far enough ahead so as to not interfere with other racers seeking to pass. If the leader is below this line, racers may not pass on the inside of this rider.

Stayers Line: Drawn one third of the way up the track from the inner edge, slower riders usually stay on or above this line as a courtesy.

Track Rules

  1. Leaders must occupy sprinters lane, unless far enough ahead to not interfere with those attempting to pass.
  2. A competitor overtaking another must pass on the outside unless the rider ahead is riding above the sprinters line.
  3. In the homestretch on the last lap, the leader must ride a straight line parallel to the edge of the track.
  4. Riders are not allowed on the blue band unless forced there involuntarily.
  5. When a crash occurs that does not present danger to other riders, the race will not be neutralized. In the event there is danger presented to other riders, they must ride slowly around the top of the track, maintaining their positions, similar to a caution in NASCAR.
  6. Riders who suffer a mishap, they may be assisted in restarting and must restart at the same spot where they left the race.
  7. When a mass rolling start occurs, the first lap is to ensure riders are close enough for a fair start.
  8. In the event of a photo finish, the riders may again ride that distance to decide the race, or a short distance decided by the Chief referee.

Area Cycling Routes

The Lehigh Valley offers some of the best cycling routes in the world. As the hub of cycling in the area, the Valley Preferred Cycling Center encourages everyone to ride the incredible cycling routes in the region. Below is an aerial map showing the many cycling routes in the area as well as specific directions for a few of the routes.

Ride Directions:

Velodrome Loop

Hills of Emmaus

Gap Gallop Half Century

Covered Bridge Ride

Lehigh Valley Bike Trails

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Bicycling for Beginners

Just starting your cycling career? These simple tips courtesy of Bicycling Magazine will get you on the right track to becoming a pro!

Getting Started

Note that this assembly project will be much like others you’ve probably taken on in the past: Just like the time you built that big Ikea bookcase, there may be some trial and error involved. But if you follow these basic instructions, you will have yourself up and pedaling in no time.

  1.  Installing Yourself On a Bike
    Finding the right bike is critical. First, think about how you’ll use the bike and your budget.
    a) Find a local bike shop with a good reputation. Plan to ask lots of questions. If the staff doesn’t listen, treat you respectfully, or answer all your questions, go elsewhere.
    b) Do some research before setting out. Components and frame materials vary by performance, weight, and durability, so it’s wise to educate yourself in advance.
    c) Ultimately, choose the bike that fits best instead of the one that’s the best deal. Shop employees are trained to figure out which frame size and seat height are suitable.
    What it will cost
    • $500 to $700 Expect entry-level components; a frame made of no-frills steel or aluminum; basic wheels
    • $1,000 to $1,500 Mid- or entry-level parts; a midquality steel or aluminum frame, maybe with carbon fiber mixed in; lighter, stronger wheels
    • $1,500 to $3,000 Upper-level components; a frame made of some high-quality aluminum or steel or mid-level carbon; lighter wheels
  2. Achieving The Proper Fit
    Once you have acquired a bicycle, you should consider getting a professional bike fitting. In this process, an expert will measure your proportions and flexibility and make adjustments to ensure you have the most comfortable and efficient ride possible based on the kind of riding you want to do. The fitter may swap out some components, such as the stem, handlebar, and seat-post.
  3. Getting Properly Seated
    One change many riders make is their saddle. Although it seems counter intuitive, you should avoid cushy saddles with lots of padding. That’s because your weight will sink through a soft model and press against the hard bottom. Instead, plan on using a firmer, narrower model common to sportier road bikes that will support your sit bones and muscles. You might initially experience soreness while your rear end acclimates to the seat, but that will subside over a week or two of riding. Not every saddle is the same, and as with a bike, you should testide them. This requires even more time than testing a bicycle frame: Plan on at least 25 miles of riding per saddle. Some shops offer test saddles or a 30-day return policy.
  4. Powering Up
    Once you’re on the bike, you’ll require regular nutritional upkeep to keep the pedals turning. You should primarily consume natural, simple, high-carbohydrate foods. In a pinch, gels, goos, and chews are convenient and, as a bonus, often contain electrolytes. Nutrition bars can also be useful, but be sure to check the ingredients and serving sizes. Avoid hard-to-digest high-fat and protein bars. In general, follow these fueling guidelines.
  5. Building Fitness
    Follow these steps to build the legs and lungs of a cyclist.
  1. Start easy. Don’t try to to do too much right away. Begin with a low mileage goal—say, between 5 and 8 miles per ride—and add on a little each week.
  2. Ride several days a week. This will not only build fitness, but also help you acclimate to the bike.
  3. Choose your routes wisely. At least in the first couple of weeks, avoid big hills and overly ambitious adventures.
  4. Recovery is as important as riding. Rest is key to becoming a strong cyclist because the body needs time to rebuild after rides.
  5. There will be good days and bad days. If you’re struggling, cut the ride short.
  6. Build community. Find a riding buddy who’s also new to cycling.
  • Staying Upright
    With traffic, shifting, road hazards, and fatigue, riding can seem overwhelming at first. Here are a few basics.
    • Etiquette – Communicate with vehicles and fellow riders by using hand signals.
    • Shifting and cadence – You’ll ride most efficiently at 70 to 90 pedal revolutions per minute (rpm). To avoid getting bogged down, shift into an easier gear any time you’re about to slow down—before stop signs and ahead of climbs.
    • Climbing – On hills, stay seated, keeping your cadence high and your arms relaxed. Stand intermittently on long climbs, or for occasional bursts.
    • Descending – Ride with hands in the drops to get closer to the brakes and optimize traction and steering. Look far down the road and always brake ­before a corner, never in it. Apply both brakes evenly to slow down or stop.
  • Maintenance and Troubleshooting
    With a few simple steps, you can keep your rides smooth and safe, and lengthen your bike’s life span.
    a) Check your bike before every ride. This includes tire pressure, brakes, chain, and the quick releases on wheels to make sure everything is snug and in place. Inflate tires to the level indicated on the sidewall—often 90 to 100 psi.
    b) Lube up. Oil the chain every 100 miles, more often in wet weather.
    c) Keep a maintenance schedule. Get the bike tuned up or overhauled at least once a year.
    d) Learn to fix a flat. See Bicycling’s step-by-step tutorial. Many bike shops offer free clinics.

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