11 January 2023

BMX Racing: the ins, outs, ups & downs

Imagine a 400m sprint, but on bikes. With a giant hill for a start line, jumps, berms, no lanes, and crashes. That’s BMX Racing!

BMX Racing riders launch themselves down the start ramp


Imagine a 400m sprint, but on bikes. With a giant hill for a start line, jumps, berms, no lanes, and crashes. That’s BMX Racing - and it's amazing!

Riders can approach up to 40mph thanks to insanely powerful legs, but they also need a superhuman level of courage to survive in a competitive field of eight. They’re not allowed to intentionally obstruct each other’s racing line, but the action is elbow-to-elbow and wheel-to-wheel, so collisions and wipeouts do happen.

When you combine that chaos with single lap sprints that are over in 30-40 seconds, the discipline can be tricky for first-time spectators to follow.

Riders tackle the final corner of the Glasgow BMX Centre
Riders tackle the final corner of the Glasgow BMX Centre track
Riders stretch for the line
Competition was fierce when the UCI BMX Racing World Cup came to Glasgow last year
Paddy Sharrock keeps his eyes on the prize
Great Britain's Paddy Sharrock keeps his focus on the task ahead - concentration is critical

What’s a “Berm” anyway?

Glasgow BMX Centre’s track is 400m long and features twists, turns and obstacles that will test the raw acceleration, track skills and racing smarts of the world’s best BMXers. 

Here’s some track lingo to get you up to speed:

  • BERM - a banked corner. Riders lean into these to exit with more speed.
  • DOUBLE - two bumps that make up one obstacle. Get ready for takeoff.
  • ROLLER - small bumps. Despite their size, they’re still a problem. Or an opportunity!
  • STARTING HILL - a steeply angled drop just after the start gate. The laws of physics mean this makes riders start fast… and stay fast.
  • STEP UP - a small hill, then a big hill. Riders need to jump their bikes here.
  • STEP DOWN - a big hill, then a small hill = even more speed.
Former UCI BMX Racing World Champ Laura Smulders leads the charge
Former UCI BMX Racing World Champ Laura Smulders leads the charge

How does BMX Racing work?

Riders face four phases on their sprint to glory and they have one thing in common: they’re a rush!

In Round One, the top four finishers progress to Qualifying - job done. 

Riders that didn’t make the cut have another opportunity in the Last Chance round, but only a first or second place will see them progress. So with an early flight home on the cards for the majority of the field, these races are guaranteed to be spicy.

Riders that make the cut to Qualifying face another elimination round, and again, only a top four finish keeps them in the competition. 

And for those that make it as far as the Final, the only places that matter are first, second and third.

Watch our presenter Yomi as he gets bitten by the BMX Racing bug in Nantes, France!

The crowds will be crazy!

There are many UCI World Championships - 13 will be represented at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Champs - but few can match the sheer spectacle of BMX Racing.

Every adrenaline-fuelled jump, spill and sprint will be matched by the crowd too, with max decibel roars pushing riders beyond their limits as they pedal for pride and a place at the podium… where a true hero's welcome awaits.

So if you’re lucky enough to be in Glasgow for the event, don’t be shy.

Cheer like the riders depend on your energy - because their energy depleted legs do!

Riders to watch in 2023

Champions and challengers will head to the Glasgow BMX Centre this August all with the dream of pulling on the coveted, and iconic, rainbow stripes. But only a handful will come away with the ultimate prize. 

Everyone's capable of becoming UCI World Champion, but we've pulled out a few riders for you to keep an eye on...

Felicia Stancil

Felicia Stancil - Current Women Elite UCI World Champ

The 27 year old American claimed her maiden world title in Nantes last year.

She’ll be looking to defend her rainbow jersey by bringing the same emotion and energy that propelled her from a potentially career-ending hip injury to gold medal glory in Glasgow.

Follow Felicia on Insta!

Simon Marquart

Simon Marquart - Current Men Elite UCI World Champ

This Swiss rider is famous for his cool, calculated approach on the track.

Where other riders lose their heads, Marquat wins medals… most recently at Nantes 2022. But make no mistake, he’ll be hungry for more.

Follow Simon on Insta!

Beth Shriever

Beth Shriever MBE - Current European & Olympic Champ

In 2021, Beth became the first British BMX racing cyclist in history to win both the Olympic and World titles in the same year.

But at just 23 years of age, her story is a long way from being over, and the Glasgow chapter is sure to be noteworthy.

Follow Beth on Insta!

Don't miss out!

BMX Racing is edge-of-your-saddle stuff that’ll captivate the crowds at the Glasgow BMX Centre from the first race to the final.

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