If someone told you that the pace vehicle for an indoor bicycle race at the Olympics was a motorcycle, would you believe them?

Well, it’s true.

Gasoline-powered vehicles leading racers around, say, a Nascar track makes perfect sense. But a bicycle race? That makes no sense at all. The pace bike at the Olympic Velodrome, called a derny, never exceeds 30 mph and only needs to make 5 laps before pulling off the track to let the racers begin pedaling away madly; an electric bike would work just as well and be much better for two main reasons:

  1. It doesn’t pollute. Electric bikes emit no pollution and burn no gasoline, and this is key as this cycling event is a sport which takes place indoors.
  2. Racers shouldn’t be required to ride behind and directly into the gaseous trail of carbon monoxide from a gas-powered bike. These racers are out to win and need their lung strength to do so; would you see any of them light up a Marlboro before heading out to the track?

Electric bikes have come a long way since they were first introduced, and if you live in or near a major city you have probably seen shops popping up selling the latest and greatest versions of them. While I personally still ride a non-motorized bike – otherwise known as a… well… bike – there are plenty of folks in my neighborhood buzzing around on electric ones to get them to the store or the beach. And for anyone not capable of doing a lot of pedaling, electric bikes have opened up a whole new method of transport, allowing them to enjoy cycling again while avoiding getting in their car.

Interested in checking out some e-bikes for yourself? Take a look at companies like Pedego, Optibike, and Currie Tech, both of which offer all sorts of different models. In fact, a stock Optibike e-bike is currently being used in the Boulder Velodrome to lead the races:

See, electric bikes can lead indoor bike races without a problem. No gasoline needed!

But back to the motorbike leading the Olympic race. Is the derny leading a pack of rabid racers slowly around the track 5 times kinda cool? Yep. Check it out:


But in 2012, we should be able to do better than use polluting motorbikes at an indoor sporting event. Let’s hope in 2016 we see electric bicycles leading the pack.

[via New York Times]

Image Credit: TimothyJ/Flickr