Track cycling is a fast-paced, high energy sport; like NASCAR for bicycles. Competitors race around banked tracks on bicycles that are designed for specific aerodynamics. Similar to race cars, riders draft off each other to preserve energy for an end of race sprint. Since there are no brakes on track bicycles, racers can draft each other very close.
There are four main types of track cycling events: sprint races, individual and team timed and mass starting. Sprints are short, generally three to eight laps, while endurance races can be 12-16 laps and in extreme cases, up to 200 laps. Sprinters train with a focus on raw sprinting power as there are only a few laps to pass competitors and maintain a lead. Individual timed races may be between 200 meters and 4 kilometers. Team timed races involve three or four teammates and may be 1, 3 or 4 kilometers. Mass starting events include a scratch race (first across the finish line wins) and a points race (each rider tries to collect the most points on each lap of the race).
Track cycling is a worldwide sport. The first world's championship was held in 1895, and the tradition has continued until today. It's a popular racing sport in Europe; particularly Germany, France and the U.K. It is also widely followed in Japan and Australia. Though it was once popular in the United States, the popularity has since waned. Fortunately, there are signs that the sport might be regaining ground on these shores. In fact, a new velodrome has opened at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, California.
Track cycling is a part of the Summer Olympics, representing ten events: seven for men and three for women. The men's events include four individual races: the sprint, individual pursuit, Keirin and a points race. Three team events include: team pursuit, team sprint and Madison, named after Madison Square Garden (which was originally built as a track racing arena). The women's events include: sprint, individual pursuit and points race.
Many road racers use track cycling for off-season training. It's a great way to stay in shape while continuing competitive racing. In Europe it's becoming a sport to bet on. The high-speed, competitive nature of track racing gives it the longevity it needs to last throughout the years.
The modern cycling training schedule does not require you to train year-round for any specific race.