Watching sports might be the nation’s pastime, but actually doing sports is far more fun for many people. Extreme sports now attract millions of participants, including cycling sports, water sports, snow sports, climbing sports and some very strange extreme competitions.

There are many different types of extreme sports and extreme competitions. Each requires a high level of skill and specialty gear. They also involve some degree of risk. The following highlights some of the most popular.

Cycle Sports

This includes anything on a bicycle. Road cycling is still enormously popular, but these sports provide people more extreme ways to have fun on two wheels.

Mountain biking. Off-road cycling over rough terrain. Designers create mountain bikes with more durability than other bikes and higher performance in rough terrain.

Cross-country biking. This discipline of mountain biking became an Olympic sport in 1996.

BMX racing. BMX racing involves a single-lap track built specifically for BMX bikes. The courses include banked curves, jumps and rollers.

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Non-Motorized Water Sports

These sports involve you, the water and equipment that is not mechanical. Surfing remains the all-time classic, but there are others that have become popular, especially for those without frequent access to California waves.

Whitewater Kayaking. This isn’t the whitewater you take on during family vacation. The degree of difficulty varies by river, but some get extremely tough for a one-person kayak.

Whitewater Rafting. Same as kayaking, but instead you use an inflated, rubber raft.

Skimboarding. A cousin of surfing, this involves riding a board into a breaking wave back to the beach. Those who are good at skimboarding perform tricks often associated with skateboarding. The World Amateur Championship of Skimboarding is held every year on Dewey Beach in Delaware.

Motorized Water Sports

These sports require more of an investment – or a friend with a boat.

Water skiing. The classic water sport is lifted to the extreme with tricks, freestyle jumping and alternate methods such as barefoot water skiing.

Wakeboarding. Riders stand on a wakeboard while towed by boat, allowing them to perform jumps and midair tricks.

Snow Sports

Snow is great for extreme sports. Enthusiasts have found many ways to turn winter into a paradise for those who love extreme competitions.

Snowboarding. Probably the most famous snow sport. Alpine snowboarding is a Winter Olympics sport. Inspired by surfing, skateboarding, sledding and skiing, snowboarding styles including jibbing, freeriding and freestyle.

Extreme skiing. This is done on mountainous terrain in areas where there are long, steep slopes and dangerous curves.

Climbing Sports

Climbing sports have been popular for many years, especially mountain climbing. It’s the reason you can find a rock wall at every family entertainment center across the nation. The types of climbing include the following.

  • Free climbing. Using ropes and other gear for safety but not to aid in the climb.
  • Canyoneering. Climbing canyon walls.
  • Ice climbing. Climbing ice formations.
  • Pole climbing.
  • Tree climbing.
  • Lumberjack. Tree climbing, but using only spikes and belts.

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Other Extreme Sports

The above just scratches the surface of the many extreme sports, and people invent more of them each year. Extreme sports can get very strange and wildly dangerous. For example:

BASE jumping. Jumping from a fixed object at great heights using a parachute.

Cave diving. Diving into underwater caverns.

Free running. Running through a course and incorporating moves from gymnastics and break dancing.

Zorbing. The sport of rolling downhill and over various types of terrain inside a giant, transparent ball made of plastic.

These are some of the many extreme sports that have become popular in the past few decades. Whatever type of extreme competition you are into, there is likely a sport for you.