Your numbers up!

Posted: December 13, 2013 in Equipment, Opinion
Tags: ,

One of my sons had a very short but enjoyable stint racing BMX – didn’t last long as he couldn’t quite coordinate the rhythm-section!  There are a couple of things that BMX do well.  They cater to very young riders: they offer racing for under-5s!  This is why BMX offers a terrific pathway to all cycling disciplines.  Riders like Robbie McEwen and Ryan Bayley both came through BMX.

Unlike road and track cycling BMX offers racing for kids as young as 3 and 4.

Unlike road and track cycling BMX offers racing for kids as young as 3.

Another thing it does well is its numbering system.  Riders are allocated or chose a number and keep it for the year – or longer if the rider wants.  In my understanding they allocate numbers 1-to-8 to the top eight finishes at major titles.  So at national races there are sometimes 1V (for Victoria) and 1Q (for Queensland) etc.  There are also national and international numbers awarded – so a ‘1A’ for Australian title holders or a ‘1W’ for World Champs.  Riders of a lesser standard can apply for a number in their category.  Each category must use a different number plate background colour and number combination.  Having this number for all races means the riders can get it printed on their jerseys and stuck on their helmets as well.

This young fella is proud as punch holding the #1SA plate in his age category.

This young fella is proud as punch holding the #1SA plate in his age category.

The reason I bring this up is I think we’re only one nasty accident away from a not-so safety pin becoming lodged in the body of a rider.  The way road and track cycling does the number system is old-fashioned, inefficient, not suited to the small bodies of kids and certainly not aero.  I’d like to see road and track cycling incorporate a similar system to BMX, where riders are awarded a number or choose a number, and they have that number for the year or, better still, for all their junior years.

Winners of state and national titles can be awarded the #1 for the year of their reign with their regular number put on ice during this period.  This will allow kids to have their numbers sewn onto their skin suits and jerseys, have frame numbers made for their road bikes and even stick on their helmets.  It will mean safety pins are a thing of the past and event organisers have one less thing to worry about.

Two big numbers just don't fit on small bodies…

Two big numbers just don’t fit very well on small bodies…

Different age categories can be allocated different coloured background/number combinations to avoid confusion of the same number being in the same race (could happen in graded club racing).  Not sure what effect this would have electronic timing/results, but assume all riders could be entered into the system at the start of the year so this would also be easier to manage.

Any how, just throwing it out there… keen to hear what others might think?

  1. David Slattery says:

    They do it in athletics. You get a number sent to you for the season and away you go.

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