Grass track racing is exactly as the name suggests– racing bikes on grass. It is a fast exciting sport which is a fun afternoon out for all the family.
Scotland has a well established grass track cycling scene which has evolved as part of the Highlands games. Not all of the Highland games include cycling as an event but many of the local games do including, Helmsdale, Dornoch, Tain, Invergordon, Halkirk and Invercharron, with many more in the Inverness area. This means the grass track season covers the same season as the Highland games – usually June to September each year.
It is very similar to track racing on a surfaced velodrome. All riders use track bikes – which are brakeless and have fixed gears (this means you cannot freewheel). The tyres are slightly thicker than regular road tyres for extra grip on the grass. Gear choice varies depending on the conditions. Riding a fixed wheel bike on a fast grass track around a corner can take a bit of practice, but it soon becomes natural and very enjoyable.
Most races are handicapped where riders get a head start depending on ability and they tend to cover 800m, 1 mile, 3200m, 6400m and most also include a special race called the Deil tak the Hindmost. The Deil (or Devil) is an elimination race where all riders start together and at the end of each lap the last rider gets eliminated, until you are left with only one rider, who is the winner. This means riders can ride as many as 5 or 6 events at one meeting.
There are junior races and senior races and there are usually cash prizes awarded to the first finishers. Thanks to the handicapped nature of most of the events, the races are often very close and anyone can win.
If you are interested in having a go speak to the race coordinator.
Grass track racing in Scotland is controlled by the Scottish Highland Games Association http://www.shga.co.uk/. Check out the website for 2011 events and information on how to enter.