What is Cycle Speedway?
Cycle speedway is a form of bicycle racing on short oval dirt tracks, usually outdoors, occasionally indoors, typically 70–90 metres long. Riders use bicycles without brakes or multiple gears.
The best cycle speedway riders are explosive sprinters with great bike-handling skills, nerve and tactical awareness. With two riders from opposing teams riding each heat, team working is also an essential attribute. Although races are short, meetings are run over successive heats, so good endurance and recovery is essential too.
Cycle speedway is raced by individuals, pairs or teams. Each race is contested by up to four riders, and a match normally consists of eight to twenty-four races. Points are awarded for placings in each race. A race day fixture might take in up to two, three or more matches. In a team event, the winning team is the one with most points at the end of the day.
The sport is managed and administered by British Cycling, the governing body for all cycle sport in the UK. All cycle speedway riders and referees are required to be members of British Cycling, and in return are covered by their comprehensive insurance policies.
The cycle speedway season extends from spring through to autumn, with regional and national leagues running throughout the season. National championships for various team and individual categories take place throughout the season, including indoor racing in the winter. There is racing for all age groups and a range of abilities.
Races involve up to four riders racing anticlockwise round four laps of the track, the winner being the first across the line. The number of laps varies with the age of the riders but is usually 4 laps for a single race. Riders slide their left foot along the track as they race round turns. Physical contact is legal and often necessary. Clothing covers the whole body from the neck down. Helmets are also required.
Cycle speedway bikes are simple and robust. Steel and aluminium still rule in cycle-speedway. No suspension, upright handlebars, a low, single gear with a freewheel and 26 inch width. They are purpose-built for one-thing – getting through the slings and arrows of a cycle speedway track as fast as possible and in one piece!