One of the most “raced” vehicles in the world is the simple bicycle. It has been around since the late 1800’s and the bikes used then were nothing compared to the graceful cycles we use in modern times.
The driving wheel of the early models could reach 60 inches in diameter! At that time, the only way to increase speed was to make the wheel bigger. “Breakneck speed” came to be a term used because these people went fast, and if something happened you got tossed over the handle bars and that resulted in massive injuries.
So why do people continue to race bicycles if it is dangerous? Well, it isn’t so dangerous anymore. Their are plenty more dangerous races like rollaway bed racing for example.
The bikes in modern times are amazingly engineered, and have plenty of safety features. For example, in the 1800’s a “brake” did essentially nothing. It was a brake in name only. Now of course, you can almost instantly stop a bike by applying the different brake systems.
Then, there is the other gear. Helmets, pads and even racing suits designed using impact and tear resistant materials. This makes it a lot safer, and major injuries are much less frequent.
Essentially, people race bikes for lots of different reasons. Exercise is of course a major reason, while simple competition, the speed, exhilaration and fun make up a few more good reasons.
All you really need to race is a bike! Virtually any kind will do. A helmet is an absolute requirement, and everyone who rides or races a bicycle should wear one. Pads, race suits, special shoes and what not are not mandatory. You don’t even need people to race against! Simply time yourself from start to finish and the next time you do that circuit, try to beat your old time.
There are 3 major bike racing events in the world. Of course one is the Olympics, and that is generally the most sought after competition on the planet. Cyclists strive to be good enough, fast enough, to compete for their country in the Olympics.
Next is the Tour de France. It began in 1903 as a yearly event. Racers compete in a multistage race that sometimes passes through neighboring countries, but is primarily conducted in France. It is one of the worlds most famous races of any kind.
Finally, the third big competition is Road World Champs. Cyclists compete all over the globe for placement in these races. The UCI Road World Championships were held in Qatar in 2016. These include events like individual time trails and team trials as well. This site was the official site for the road world champs in 2007!
Bicycle racing is obviously not going anywhere. Like soccer (football to you Europeans), cycling is a sport anyone can get into. It is relatively cheap, great exercise, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable. Next time you consider taking up a sport, think about bike racing.