Cycling Lingo: What is the Difference?

Cycling Lingo: What is the Difference?

As Team PossAbilities paracyclists, we compete in events all over the country. Some of them are one-day events, like marathons, and some are 2-4 day stage races. A stage race is a combination of some or all of the road events: road race, criterium, time trial, hill climb, and team relay. Ever wondered what exactly these things are? I know I did! So here is a brief explanation of the types of racing we do:

 

  • Road Race – These are mass-start events held on open roads. Racers ride in groups or ‘pelotons’, corner at high speeds, take turns ‘pulling’ at the front of pace lines, and pick tactical spots to try to break away. The first rider across the finish line is the winner. The course may be from point to point, from town to town, or on a circuit (the start and finish are in the same place.) Usually the course is closed to traffic in the area of the race. Road races are typically 25-35 miles long. Marathons would also be considered road races.

 

  • Criterium – A criterium is a short road race on a circuit – usually city streets – closed to traffic. The distance per lap may vary from 1/2km to 3km (1/3 mile to 2 miles). Races are of varying numbers of laps. The mass start, high-speed cornering and sprinting make criterium exciting for participants and spectators alike. Because criterium pass the same point each lap they are better spectator events than road races.

 

  • Hill Climb – During a hill climb, riders race towards a finish line that is higher than the starting line. These events may be individual (time trial) or mass start. Hill climbs are usually 5-15 miles long.

 

  • Time Trail – A time trial is an individual or team race over a fixed distance against the clock. Rider start individually at timed intervals and the rider with the fastest time wins. Distances raced vary from 1km to 100km. The course may be from point to point, from town to town, or on a circuit (the start and finish are in the same place.) The course is closed to traffic in the area of the race. Time trials are usually 5-25 miles long.

 

  • Team Relay – The team relay is a mixed event for male and female riders in classes H1-H4. The first wave of athletes will start together and compete like a regular road race. As soon as an athlete from a team completes their lap and passes in front of their teammates, the next athlete will start their lap. The distance per lap may vary from 1/2km to 3km (1/3 mile to 2 miles). Each team is made up of three athletes, which must consist of a maximum of 6 points, and must include an athlete with a scoring value of one point (3 points: H4-H5 men) (2 points: H3 men and H4-H5 women) (1 point: H1-H2 men and H1-H3 women).