There are several early, but unverified claims for the invention of the bicycle. The first verifiable claim for a practically used bicycle belongs to German Baron Karl von Drais. He invented his Laufmaschine (German for "running machine") in 1817 and patented this design in 1818, which was the first commercially successful two-wheeled, steerable, human-propelled machine, commonly called a velocipede. After several years with moderate success in Europe, his designs received an upgrade in England with “Dandy Horse” design. That model caught the attention of French blacksmith Pierre Michaux and his partner Pierre Lallemen in the early 1860s. Together with Michaux’s son Ernest, they managed to produce the first model of a bicycle with pedals.
First organizations intended to provide structure to cyclists all around the world were formed between the 1860s and 1880s, with large international organizations such as Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) being formed to regulate rules for many influential races. Cycling as a sport officially began in 1868, with a 1,200-metre (1,312-yard) race between the fountains and the entrance of Saint-Cloud Park (near Paris). In 1869, the first city-to-city race was held between Paris and Rouen. While road racing became common within a few years in continental Europe, in England the deteriorated conditions of the roads made them unsuitable, and therefore the sport there focused on the track or time trials. Track cycling started as far back as 1870.
The development of racing as a popular sport in Europe began in the 1890s with the improvement in road conditions and the introduction of some of the one-day classics that continue to this day. After France and Belgium, races were introduced in Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. In 1903 the 21-day-long Tour de France was inaugurated and has continued every year since except during World Wars I and II. Ranking just behind this premier race are the grand three-week tours of Italy (the Giro d’Italia) and Spain (the Vuelta a España).
Cyclo-cross eventually became a sport in its own right in the 1940s, with the first World championship taking place in 1950. In Oregon, one Chemeketan club member, D. Gwynn, built a rough terrain trail bicycle in 1966. He named it a "mountain bicycle" for its intended place of use. Originally, BMX was founded by Scot Breithaupt. Scot was responsible for organizing the first BMX race in 1970, which was held in California. The earliest photographic documentation of BMX freestyle shows Devin and Todd Bank in 1974 riding BMX bikes on an eight foot tall skateboard ramp they built in West Los Angeles, California. This was the birth of BMX ramp riding. The American Freestyle Association (AFA) was the first governing body for BMX freestyle.
Road and track races for men were held at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896; women entered Olympic competition in road races in 1984 and track races in 1988. Mountain biking, a cross-country race over rough terrain, became an Olympic event for men and women at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, US. The Atlanta Games also marked the first Olympics at which professionals were allowed to enter the road race and time trial competitions.