THE RUNNING OF RACES
Race entry and registration for clubbies is all done on the day at Park Orchards BMX Club (usually during a 60min period prior to the scheduled start time). Note however at all “Open” race meetings entry forms and fees must be handed in prior (from 3 days to 1 month in some cases) to the day of the event, so keep this in mind when considering entering such events.
Registration:- On race day all riders must register (enter) at the start of the race meeting. Registration is where riders go to confirm that they are present and intend to race, confirm their plate number and the class they are riding in. It is essential that all riders register when they first arrive at the track, as the registration period is usually limited to specific times. Remember you must be able to produce your BMXA licence.
Staging:- The staging area is where competitors in the up coming races are assigned a lane number and are marshalled in race order ready for their turn on the track. This generally happens on the back of the start hill. Riders will be called into their various classes and organised into heats or “gates”. Each gate has 8 lanes and therefore 8 riders. If there are more than 8 riders in a class they will be split into multiple gates. It is essential that the riders listen carefully for their name to be called and cooperate with the staging officials so that the race meeting can run efficiently. Sprockets are allowed to be supported (usually an adult standing with a leg on each side of the rear wheel lightly assisting the stability of the bike and rider) until they are competent at balancing on the gate.
Starts:- The starter operates a device that calls: “set yourselves”, “riders ready”, “watch the lights”. The starting lights then flash through a sequence, accompanied by 3 beeps from the mechanism after which the gate drops forward and the race starts. This is a critical part of the BMX race and needs to be practiced by riders until they become proficient. The gate starter is the absolute authority on the hill and has full responsibility for all aspects of the start.
Corner officials:- At race meetings you will notice that officials stand with flags in hand on several corners. The corner official’s job is to indicate to the starter whether or not the track is clear for racing. Generally the starter cannot see all of the track and the corner official will raise the yellow flag if a rider has fallen. If the official raises a red flag riders on the track should stop racing immediately and return to the starting gate for a restart. A green flag indicates that the track is clear and the starter is free to start the next race.
Finish line:- As the riders cross the finish line, the finish line officials will point at them as they pass by a whilst calling out each competitor’s placing in the race. The riders then line up at the “Bails” in finishing place order, so that the official race results can be recorded. The race registrar records each rider’s place. It is necessary for riders to ensure that they stop in their correct place and wait until the finish line officials dismiss them. The race points are then tabulated to form the series results. Note that the “Bails” are posts positioned side-by-side at the end of the track and numbered from 1 to 8.
First aid:- At each BMX event there are qualified first aid personnel in attendance to provide a 1st point of assistance to any fallen or injured rider. First aid personnel are also required to advise race officials of a rider’s ability or inability to continue to compete after a fall.
SOME BASIC RULES FROM THE BMX RULE BOOK
- Children under 8 years of age are called “Sprocket Rockets” and their class is non-competitive. No race points are awarded, and every rider gets a participation trophy at the end of the season.
- At the start gate your front wheel must be in contact with the gate throughout the start call sequence.
- Each rider must stay in their lane for at least the first 10 metres of the race track.
- Riders must always travel in the correct race direction around the race track.
- All competitors leading you by more than a wheel length have right of way over you and you may not deliberately hinder them.
- If you are forced off the track during a race you may re-enter the race track at the nearest point possible, provided this does not deliberately shorten your race distance. You must also give way to riders already on the track.
- Competitors may not use team tactics in a race. All racers must run their own race.
- A rider may not deliberately force another rider off the track.
- For your finishing position to count you must cross the finish line with your bike (if it is unrideable due to a crash or malfunction, it is permissible to push, drag or carry it with you over the line).
- Bad language and/or inappropriate behaviour by competitors or their supporters is not permitted at BMX events. Sanctions can be applied to riders for offences against this rule. BMX is an equal opportunity sport, so bias based on gender, race, religion, etc is also not permissible.
- Drug use is forbidden.
- BMX is an alcohol and smoke free sport.
TIPS TO MASTERING THE GATE START
The start is the most important part of any BMX race. It’s also the hardest to master. The stance, the timing and the snap must all be right.
A balanced stance:- Start with your pedals in line with level ground then adjust to counter for the angle of the ramp (ie. higher for steeper gates & lower for flatter gates). Your bike should be straight onto the gate, so that you can make a straight exit down the starting ramp. Your back should be straight, with your hips over the back wheel, head up and looking forwards. Elbows and legs should be slightly bent. Hands should project vertically from the tops of the grips.
Timing:- The ideal is for the rider to go as the gate drops. To help, the rider should;
- move the hips and upper body back,
- begin moving prior to the snapping action, and
- move forward keeping the shoulders still and stamping on the leading foot in preparation for the snap (as the gate drops).
The snap:- Once you have mastered the gate timing, the next step is to work on “The Snap”.
The rider must throw their weight (hips and shoulders) forward into the front of the bike. The head and shoulders must stay forward for the first pedal to generate maximum power with the first pedal. The rider Should pull the first pedal backwards as far as possible (as close to nine o’clock as possible) to help with a smooth transition to the second pedal. The body weight should be moved backwards for the third and subsequent pedals, to allow a good cranking rhythm to develop as soon as possible.