Since BMX racing began in the US in the 1960s, it has grown into a popular international sport for all ages. It is now even featured in the Olympic Games.
BMX bike racing is also a young, fast-developing sport so, it was inevitable that some international standards had to be set.
As part of the move to establish widely recognised guidelines, Union Cycle Internationale )drew up strict standards for BMX track construction.
Clark & Kent Contractors were pleased and proud to be asked to help develop the guidelines that now allow BMX track builders worldwide to construct BMX race tracks to the UCI's highest quality standards.
The UCI technical guidelines ensure that BMX track builders have clearly defined parameters from which to work when they build a new BMX facility.
Clark & Kent were able to use these guidelines when building the BMX track for the London 2012 Olympic Games, thus helping to cement the position of BMX as an international cycling sport.
BMX track builders wishing to construct circuits to UCI standards now have to pass rigorous tests to gain certification, but when they do, they know they have a quality BMX track?
It's not the job of UCL to certify or approve anything other than the BMX track itself. However, the guidelines do cover areas that lie within two metres of the side of the riding surface, as this is considered a relevant safety issue for BMX riders.
The guidelines spell out the maximum and minimum width for BMX track layout and the legitimate alignment of any starting ramps, especially when 5-metre and 8-metre start ramps merge into a single straight.
They set out the overall elevation of the BMX track from the start gate to the finish line, along with the measurement of straights and berms. Of particular concern are the minimum distances required to give a proper flow at all track points.
Critical measurements in track design include the distance from the bottom of the start hill to the foot of the first jump, how far it is to the peak of the first jump after the exit of the first turn.
Particular attention is paid to start ramps for various levels of competition such as Olympic Games BMX, UCI BMX World Championships, UCI BMX Supercross World Cup and Continental Championships.
Regulations governing start gates, especially electronically controlled gates with coloured starting lights and voice boxes, are even more detailed to ensure all riders get a good start to the BMX race.
The rules governing BMX track building also highlight the proper design of straights and notably the first straight where every ride must have an equal opportunity to make the front no matter where they start.
The first straight will often include the most demanding jumps on the whole BMX track, so safety is a significant consideration here.
Jumps on the second straight are often bigger to test riders coming out of the first turn at high speed. In contrast, the third straight jumps are usually present more technical challenges with different combinations of characteristics that test the riders' skills to the full.
The finishing straight usually combines pedalling and pumping so, although jumps and rollers are more straightforward, the track still tests technique right up to the finish line.
The UCI BMX Track Certificate is a quality label for BMX tracks and means the BMX race track meets all UCI quality standards.
Certificates are only valid for two years when an officially appointed track inspector must check the BMX race track to ensure it is still up to standard.
So track quality must be permanently maintained to ensure standards do not slip in this ever-growing sport.