Mountain Bike


Take a Motocross event, replace engines with pedals and you have BMX (Bicycle Motocross). More than just an affordable alternative to motorized dirt racing, this extreme sport is a real test of the gear between your legs — the bike. Races are short but intense. The dirt tracks, usually around 350 metres, throw banked corners, deep moguls, steep ramps and countless other obstacles in the rider’s way.


BMX began in the U.S.A. (California) in the early 1960s as a result of children and teenagers riding bicycles on self-built tracks in motocross gear. By 1974, the sport grew so fast that several organizations in the U.S. had begun to sanction organized events across the country. Modeled after its nearest cousin, Motocross, BMX racing was an affordable alternative to motorized dirt track racing. Anyone with 20″ wheels could get into the action. Now there are also competitive cruiser classes (24″ wheels) that compete on the same courses.

Since then, the sport of BMX is rising in popularity and is one of the fastest growing family sports in Canada.


  • In the early 1970s, a sanctioning body for BMX was founded in the U.S.A. This is considered to be the official start of BMX racing.
  • It was introduced on other continents too, among them, Europe in 1978.
  • In April 1981, the International BMX Federation (IBMXF) was founded, and the first world championships were held in 1982.
  • Since January 1993, BMX has been fully integrated into the Union Cycliste Internationale. Presently, 53 national federations, including over 70,000 licensed riders, organize BMX races sanctioned by the UCI.
  • In June 2003, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to introduce BMX at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
  • BMX is a highly technical sport involving high levels of balance and coordination.
  • BMX is the window to opening up youth driven participation in cycling. As a youth-orientated sport, BMX encourages lifelong cycling and fitness practices.


  • 20″ wheels (standard) or 24″ wheels (cruiser)
  • Pads on the top tube of the frame, stem and handlebar crossbar
  • Back brakes
  • Number plate (white background with black numbers)


  • Full-face helmet
  • Long pants
  • Long sleeve shirt or jersey
  • Shoes
  • Gloves


The age category is based on the racer’s age as of December 31 of the year he or she is racing in. The categories are separated into male and female and range from 5 years old to 50 years and over.


  • Novice — new riders
  • Intermediate — moderately skilled riders
  • Expert — highly skilled riders
  • Junior — 17 and 18-year-old highly skilled riders
  • Elite — 19 and over, the highest level of the sport

Alex Wright

Alex Wright hails from Kingston, Ontario and has been racing since he was nine, but first hopped on when he was four. When it was time to get a bike of his own, his father took him to a local shop where he chose his first BMX bike. The next day, his brother invited him to race at a nearby BMX track. Although Alex had never been on a BMX track, he went for it anyway and found out just how much he loved the sport.

More about Alex

It took less than two years for Alex to win his first provincial championship when he was just 10 years old. In 2011, he placed third in nationals and in 2014 made the national team camp in California.

“Have fun. Don’t take it too seriously at the beginning.”

Although there have been many crashes and a broken collarbone along the way, Alex can’t get enough of the competition and has made a lot of friends in the tight-knit BMX community. After high school, Alex plans to take a year off to focus on BMX. He currently trains daily for almost two hours in hopes that the hard work will pay off and he can one day race with the national team.


When the course gets too steep, muddy or rugged, carrying your bike over your shoulder may be a good idea. That’s cyclo-cross — a mix of road, cross country and mountain biking. This fall-to-winter sport has riders performing high-speed dismount/remount manoeuvres to conquer terrain however they see fit. The hour-long races are intense and dirty. With riders making use of narrow tires on muddy hills, a cyclo-cross race provides the ultimate training ground for honing one’s fitness and handling skills.


In terms of technique, cyclo-cross is one of the most difficult forms of cycle racing. The bicycle resembles the road machine, with its dropped handlebars, 700C size wheels and relatively narrow tires. Yet, the conditions for these two disciplines could hardly be more different. For starters, cyclo-cross is a winter-time sport. Woodland trails, open meadows and short steep hills are the main features of a cyclo-cross course. Normally the circuit is in the region of 2.5 to 3 km, and the race duration is around one hour.

The sport had its first world championship in Paris in 1950. In the early years, cyclo-cross was thought of only as an accessory to road racing. The intense work of the one-hour race and the use of narrow tires on muddy hills made a good combination to hone both fitness and handling skills.

Gradually, cyclo-cross specialists emerged, and the sport became dominated by riders who were little known in road racing. Apart from some notable exceptions led by Adri Van der Poel, this remains the case today. Yet cyclo-cross stars do feature prominently at the top level of mountain bike racing — a sport far more closely related to cyclo-cross than to road.

Where cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing differ in ideology is with in-race technical support. In mountain biking, the riders must be fully self-sufficient to carry out in-race repair work should their machines malfunction. In contrast, a cyclo-cross racer is allowed to use up to three bicycles in a race. Since this is a winter sport, the tracks are often very muddy. A muddy cyclo-cross bike can weigh in excess of 10 kg more than a clean one!

The handicaps of excess weight and mud clogging have resulted in a highly organized pit stop system. Trained teams of mechanics work quickly throughout the race to ensure that the rider may have a clean, oiled bike once each lap. Normally, two machines are in the use/clean cycle, while a third is kept in reserve in case of mechanical failure.

Quinton Disera

Quinton Disera got his start in racing at the age of 8 when moved from Bradford to Horseshoe Valley. He and his mother tagged along when his older brother Peter was invited to a weekly series in town. Although they started off slow, often trailing the pack, they could see improvement every week they went and always looked forward to what they turned into a family event.

More about Quinton

As he was at the back of the pack, Quinton’s first race was one of his worst. Nonetheless, he had a great time and made it a point from that day on that no matter how the race was going or what the conditions were like, he’d find a way to have fun. When it came to trying out cyclocross, one race was all it took to get Quinton into the grueling sport. Because riders have to go all out, all the time, it pushed the limits of his body and mind, forcing him to grow as a rider.

“Jump into it. Fully commit, but have fun.”

Since that first race, he’s learned many different techniques and racing tactics throughout his travels. Spending time riding in Europe taught him how to be aggressive and how to better handle himself in large groups of over seventy riders, as opposed to the smaller groups of less than ten he was used to in Ontario.

Rain or shine, Quinton love to ride and takes any opportunity to do so. It’s the simple joy of being on two wheels that keeps him coming back, along with the tight knit social community and like most, if not all riders, the adrenaline rush of racing.

Mountain Bike

Find any off-road surface and ride it. With so many race types — downhill, hill climb, trials, cross-country and more — it’s hard to pin down mountain biking as one thing. But the one common element is an off-road trail with obstacles. Unlike built tracks, the obstacles scattered throughout the trail will be natural elements like roots and rocks, so prepare for an active ride and little use of your seat.



Cross country (XCO) is a mass-start event which takes place on a circuit of 6 km or more, or from one point to another. Depending on the age category, a race takes between 1 to 2.5 hours to complete. Courses feature a mix of uphill and downhill terrain with technical sections that range from a single track to more wide-open spaces. The winner is the first to cross the finish line. Cross country is the Olympic discipline of mountain biking.


Downhill is an individually timed competition that takes place between a starting line and a finish line located at a lower altitude. Courses vary in length from 3 to 8 km and racers can reach speeds of up to 85 km/h. Besides nerves of steel, riders need to have technical skill and control, quick reflexes, and intense concentration.


Hill climb is a timed competition in which the finish line is located at a higher altitude than the start line. It can be an individual or a mass start.


A dual slalom is a competition where the cyclist must manoeuvre the bike around a series of gates. Similar to the dual slalom format used in alpine skiing, the fastest time wins.


Trial is a competition in which the rider navigates a marked obstacle course without touching the ground or going off the course. Good balance, technique and concentration are mandatory.


Criterium is similar to the cross-country event with the same mass start, but takes place on a shorter loop. A fast and spectacular event, it combines elements of the other mountain bike events and may include hill climbing, downhill racing and sprints.


This is a multi-leg event in which the overall winner is the rider with the lowest total time for all the stages. Three major stage races are scheduled each year on the international calendar. They last from 4 to 8 days.

Emily Batty

Born in Brooklyn, Ontario, Emily Batty grew up in a cycling family. When it was her time to hop on, she had to learn fast to keep up with her older brothers and her father when they would go jumping and night riding after school.

More about Emily

The first time she hopped on, she was nine or ten. The bike was too big and had clip-in pedals. She wore snow pants and layers of winter jackets while riding on grass to learn, despite the 30-degree summer weather. When her brothers started competing in races, she would act as a bottle feeder for them and other riders while her father played the role of the mechanic and her mother managed the scheduling. This was only until she was old enough to enter her category.

Words to live by: “Finding comfort in the discomfort.”

Emily has been proudly wearing the maple leaf jersey as part of the national team for over 10 years now. Over the years, she’s learned how common crashing is in mountain biking — you have to push the limits and your boundaries. But she’s also learned that it’s about how you can recover and learn from your crashes. It’s that mentality that led her to finish in second place at the World Cup in South Africa in 2012 and compete in the women’s cross-country event at the 2012 Olympics, despite a broken collarbone. She’s now training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and going for gold in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.


The opportunity to compete. Para-cycling events match riders with the same abilities. Whether visually or physically disabled, there is a bike, a track and an event for you. Para-cyclists make use of bicycles, tricycles, handbikes or tandem bikes to compete in a wide variety of road and track events against riders using similar equipment. Four main rider groups exist: handcycling, blind and visual impairment, cerebral palsy, and locomotor disabilities.


Cycling Canada’s Para-cycling program was created in 1996. Since then, Cycling Canada has completely integrated the Para-cycling program into its High Performance program.

These athletes benefit from the same support as national team members from other cycling sports, including having access to the Sport Canada Athlete Assistance Program (AAP). Dedicated national team coaches Eric Van den Eynde and Sebastien Travers are in place and the athletes benefit from the opportunities presented to them through the national team program (training camps, national championships, international competitions), culminating in participation at the World Championships.

Every four years, our top Paralympic athletes have the opportunity to represent Canada at the Paralympic Games. Cycling Canada works closely with the Canadian Paralympic Committee in the preparation and coordination of our team for this event.

Finally, for the continued identification, recruitment and development of new athletes, Cycling Canada must continue to work closely with various organizations that deal with persons with disabilities, including the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association (CCPSA), the Canadian Amputee Sports Association (CASA) and the Canadian Blind Sports Association (CBSA).

International Paralympic Cycling (IPC) became part of the UCI in September 2006.



Cycling has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1992, although athletes with disabilities have been competing in cycling since the early 1980s. Cycling competitions include the following events:

  • Road events: road races, individual time trial, team relay for handbikes
  • Track events: pursuit, sprint, 500 m/1 km individual time trial


Cycling events are open to all athletes with physical and visual disabilities. However, not all events are offered to all athletes. For example, tandem competitors (blind and partially sighted athletes) compete in both track and road events, while athletes with cerebral palsy only compete in road events. Competitors are classified into four broad categories with separate events for each:

  1. Handbikes with four sub-categories (H1, H2, H3, H4)
  2. Tandem (stoker + pilot) (B)
  3. Tricycles with two sub-categories (T1, T2)
  4. Regular bikes (upper and/or lower body disability, amputation, cerebral palsy) with five sub-categories (C1, C2, C3, C4, C5)


Cycling is governed by the rules and regulations of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), together with the following rule modifications:

  • Amateur riders may race as pilots, provided they have not been selected by their national federation for any of the UCI-listed events in the previous three calendar years.
  • No professional rider may compete as a pilot.
  • An ex-professional rider must not have held a professional license for three calendar years and must not be earning all or part of his/her living from cycle racing for a period of three calendar years.

Alex Hyndman

After being involved in a car accident in 2010, Alex Hyndman was left paralyzed from mid-waist down. After a lengthy five-month stay at the hospital, he picked up an Xbox and a computer to pass the time and live the life of a gamer. A week later, Alex logged off and picked up a handcycle. Although it was just a cruiser, he found the farther and faster he went, the more he craved competition.

More about Alex

Becoming competitive wasn’t as easy when Alex started out. To compete in one race, he drove for 14 hours to race for half an hour, and then drove 14 hours back. But it’s the freedom of cycling, seeing the countryside and the adrenaline rush that keeps him coming back for more. And more he got — Alex went on to place first in the Ontario Games in both the road race and time trial events.

“Disability is a state of mind.”

Cycling made Alex realize how much more he could do with his life. He’s said, “Getting into handcycling was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.” All these years later, it’s allowed him to travel across North America and even compete in the 2013 World Cup in Spain, while meeting amazing people and making many friends along the way.


Test yourself against the pack or against the clock. Road racing takes place on existing country and city roads where riders compete against others of the same age and experience. Often held as mass-start, long-distance races from point A to B, road races can also be held on shorter circuits with many laps, or over many days with individual stages like the world’s best-known cycling event, the Tour de France.



In a sprint, the qualifying rounds consist of competitors covering 1,000 m whereby only the final 200 m are timed. The fastest qualifier will then sprint against the slowest qualifier, second fastest against second slowest, etc.
At the beginning of the race, riders pedal slowly, carefully watching one another waiting for an opening to strike. This race demands more tactical skill than any other cycling event. Competitors progress through a series of heats, consisting of one to three rounds, leading to a final head-to-head confrontation between the top two riders for first place.

A break occurs when one rider or group of riders accelerates to break away from a larger group or “pack”.


A criterium is a short road race of several laps on a circuit — usually city streets closed to traffic. The distance per lap varies from 0.5 km to 3 km.


A stage race is a multi-leg event in which the overall winner is the rider with the lowest total time for all the stages. The world’s best known stage race is the Tour de France where competitors cover over 4,000 km in 21 days. In a stage race, a rider must complete each stage within a time limit to be eligible for the next stage.


A time trial is an individual race against the clock over a fixed distance. Distances vary from 1 km to 40 km.


The Olympic road events consist of a road race and an individual time trial for both men and women. The men’s road race covers a distance of approximately 200 km and the women’s race approximately 100 km.

Mike Woods

Ottawa native Mike Woods first hopped on at the age of three and a half. For Mike, cycling was always enjoyable, but never a sport he thought to compete in. In the competitive world of sports, he actually started as a runner with a great deal of success in high school and university — where he ran varsity for the University of Michigan.

More about Mike

In 2007, Mike acquired a stress fracture that he couldn’t quite bounce back from. As a way to cross train, his father (who picked up cycling at the time) convinced Mike to borrow his bike. Eventually, it got to a point where he was riding the bike every day, banging it up and wearing it down, until his father bought him a bike of his own — an entry-level aluminum bike that he eventually raced on.

“You're going to meet some great people en route”

Even though Mike was still trying to make a comeback in running, he fell in love with all aspects of the sport, from the exploration of a long ride to pushing himself to reach higher speeds and longer distances. After taking a friend’s recommendation to try out some local races, he found how much he enjoyed the competitive side of cycling and remembered the feelings associated with racing from his running days.

There was a time that Mike Woods lived for running, but he ultimately found it to be a solitary sport. When moving into cycling, he was surprised by how many people cared about the sport and wanted to help him out. “It’s a very social sport,” he’ll tell you. “Be prepared to make a few friends.”


Pace yourself. Track cycling is all about speed and endurance. Smooth, built surfaces like velodromes, often made of wood, ensure no obstacles come in the rider’s way — aside from other competitors, of course. These velodromes have steeply banked sides of up to 45° that allow riders to hit exhilarating speeds, sometimes exceeding 85km/h. But with the long distance races, it’s not just about hitting the top speed; it’s about finding a speed that you can maintain throughout.



In a sprint, the qualifying rounds consist of competitors covering 1,000 m whereby only the final 200 m are timed. The fastest qualifier will then sprint against the slowest qualifier, second fastest against second slowest, etc.

At the beginning of the race, riders pedal slowly, carefully watching one another waiting for an opening to strike. This race demands more tactical skill than any other cycling event. Competitors progress through a series of heats, consisting of one to three rounds, leading to a final head-to-head confrontation between the top two riders for first place.


The Keirin is based on the famous Keirin style of cycle racing, which is one of the biggest betting sports in Japan. Contested over eight laps, the field of three to seven riders follows the Derny motorbike at an increasing pace until there are two and a half laps to go. The riders jostle for position behind the motorbike to gain the desired position, depending on where their biggest rivals are.

As the motorbike pulls off the track with two-and-a-half laps to go, the battle to win the sprint begins. The stronger riders will launch their effort early, while others will follow well into the last lap, hoping that they are behind the right wheel in order to propel themselves to the line and victory at the last possible moment. The riders will be flat out at speeds around 70 km/h.


Dubbed “killermetre”, this men’s event involves racing alone against the clock from a standing start. A maximum, all-out effort is required. The rider with the fastest time wins.


The 500 metres is the women’s equivalent to the men’s kilo. The cyclist races alone against the clock from a standing start and the rider with the fastest time wins.


Two riders begin pedaling from a standing start on opposite sides of the track, “pursuing” one another until the distance is completed — 4 km for elite men, 3 km for elite women and junior men, and 2 km for junior women. The four fastest cyclists in the qualifying round will move on to race for medals. The two fastest times will race against each other for gold and silver, then the third-and-fourth fastest cyclists will race for bronze. If one rider overtakes another in the finals, then the race is stopped and the winner is declared.


The rules in team pursuit are the same as in individual pursuit except that teams of four riders compete against one another. The time of each team’s second-to-last rider is used to determine placing. The team pursuit event calls for precision teamwork. Each rider takes a turn in the lead, breaking the wind before swinging up to the top of the banked track and dropping down to the tail of the team for a brief rest.


The points race is contested over a distance of 25 km for women and 40 km for men, superbly demonstrating the glittering spectacle and tactics of track racing. With sprints every 10 laps, the pace of the race varies as each sprint approaches. The ultimate points-race rider must have the flexibility to adapt to the increases in speed and changes of tactic as the race develops. The last two laps before each sprint are highly animated as each rider tries to find the best position to make his or her effort. Points are awarded to the first four riders in each sprint (five, three, two and one, respectively).

Despite the points amassed in the sprints, riders can win 20 points if they manage to lap the field. Riders will attack individually or in small groups to try to gain the decisive lap. The main field battle to resist a small group gaining a lap. The final result will be decided by total points gained.


This race is contested by teams of two riders showing bike-handling skills at their best. One rider has to be in the race at all times. The other team member takes a short rest and circles at the top of the track before he rejoins the race with his teammate, who throws him into the action with a hand sling. As with the points race there are sprints — in this case, every 20 laps, and the teams will also be trying to gain a lap on their opponents in this high speed race. The final lap is over the distance of 50 km.

The skills of the riders are vitally important as the bunch reach speeds well over 50 km/h. Riders throw their partners into the fray at key times of the race, aiming to win the sprint points or gain a decisive lap on their competitors.


This is the simplest race in the championships. It’s a bunched race event over a distance of 10 km for women and 15 km for men with the first across the finish line winning the gold medal. The action is non-stop, with riders trying to break away from the main field, while their adversaries organize the chase behind. There’s no room for hesitation in this high-speed cat and mouse race.


The teams are comprised of three riders for men and two for women. Each teammate must lead the team on one lap before dropping out of the race. The winning team is the one who completes the distance fastest.


The Omnium is the pentathlon of track cycling. The Omnium is made up of six events and is disputed over two consecutive days.

The final classification is established as follows: the points accumulated by the riders over the first five events are added up on the basis of the points scale in force. This total may increase or decrease according to the points won or lost by the rider during the sixth and final race. The winner is the rider who has the highest total of points at the end of the sixth event.

Kristen Sears

Meet Kristen Sears, the four-time national champion from Ancaster, Ontario. Before cycling, Kristen was a Highland Dancer for eight years where she took three classes a week and competed almost every weekend. It was here that she learned about persistence, being competitive and training hard, helping to prepare her for the world of competitive cycling.

More about Kristen

Although she had ridden around her neighbourhood on a mountain bike, the first time she really hopped on was early on in high school where they were doing a test for a cycling program in the gym. It was a 1 km test on a virtual velodrome where, based on your weight and the time you complete it in, they can tell whether you have potential in cycling or not. As it turned out, Kristen found out she definitely had potential.

“When someone says I’m too small for sprinting, I just want to prove them wrong.”

Although she never had thoughts of becoming a competitive cyclist before that, she soon after met her future coach and decided to give it a try — riding her mountain bike for 30 km. If that wasn’t jumping in with both feet, she was told shortly after that her first race would be coming up at the youth cup in Barrie, Ontario.

The first race Kristen won was her first track provincials. Afterwards, they compared her times to national times from the previous year and told her they thought she could podium in nationals.

Now fully dedicated to the sport, Kristen has a CompuTrainer® in her basement with her road bike set up on rollers where she can train for her goal of competing in a cycling World Cup. She is also attending McMaster University for social sciences with the hopes of getting a geography degree.