BMX 101

Everyones should start by reviewing the Saskatchewan Cycling BMX Racing Page here and the UCI BMX Guidelines here.
WHAT IS BMX

The sport of BMX racing is more formally known as Bicycle Motocross, a self-propelled pedal sport, where individual riders race in groups of up to 8, in singular laps, around a specially designed track as they compete with the goal of getting to the finish, fastest. BMX Racing has the exciting elements of an ‘extreme’ sport yet it is safe and challenging for everyone.

HISTORY OF BMX

BMX first began in California in the early 70’s. The sport came to Canada in the late 70’s and was prominent in the Western provinces before gaining popularity nationwide in the early 80’s. Today, the Canadian BMX Association sanctions over 20 tracks across Western Canada.

RACE STRUCTURE

A BMX race is a compiled of a series of 3 “motos” or separate race laps, and could also include a main race depending on the number of athletes registered in your group on race night.

Each moto begins from a hydraulic starting gate where a maximum of 8 riders of the same age and ability level leave at the same time, pedalling as fast as they can over dirt jumps and tabletops, around banked corners, and across the finish line. The winner of the moto is the racer who crosses the finish line first. Athletes compete in at least 3 motos in a single race, and they’re ranked by accumulated points awarded based on how they finished in each of the 3 motos. The rider with lowest “points” wins.

There needs to be at least 3 racers in a category to run a race. If there are more than 8 but less than 17 riders registered there will be a “Main”. If there are 17 but less than 24 riders there will be a Semi final, then a Main. If there are 24 riders but less than 32 there will be a Quarter final, Semi, and a Main. And so on. Typically at Globe, on the odd night, there are mains, but not usually semis or quarters.

WHO RACES WHO

Males will race males and females will race females. Usually a rider will race within his/her own class, age, and skill level at every race, but there will be times when females may need to get mixed in with males or that two classes of riders combine.

In the event there are not enough riders to make your class, riders will have to move up to the next age group at their skill level. If that still doesn’t make a class you will go back to your own age group and then move up to the next higher skill level. If that still doesn’t make a class you will be moved to the class that is closest to your age and skill level.

This is true for all ages and skill levels, so it may be that younger riders get moved up to your age and skill level. If you do happen to get moved up in age or skill level don’t get discouraged, it won’t happen all the time and it gives you the opportunity to see how you stack up against older or more experienced riders.

HOW CLASSES ARE MADE

Why did I end up in this class? This is probably the most confusing part of BMX racing when you are a new rider, or a new parent learning the ropes. Here are a few examples and explanation of class make-up.

When we start to make the motos for a race night, classes are always made up from the youngest to the oldest. It always takes at least 3 riders to make a class in any single age class whether Novice, Intermediate, Expert or Cruiser. (Example: 8 Novice, 10 Intermediate, 14 Expert, 15 Cruiser, etc.) It alsotakes 3 riders to make a class in a multiple age group class. (Example: 5 & under,19 & over, 21 -25 Cruiser, etc.)

Once a class is made, either a single age group class or a multiple age group class, the only changes that can be made to that class now is that younger riders may be moved into this class.
If there are fewer than 3 riders in a single age class they must move to the next age group in the same skill level. (Example: 8 Novice to 9 Novice, 11 Intermediate to 12 Intermediate, 9 Expert to 10 Expert.)

If after moving to the next age group the class still does not equal 3 riders, then these riders will move to the next available class above their home class, except that no Intermediate or Expert will ever move down to a Novice class. A Novice may however move to the Intermediate or Expert class. (Example: 8 Intermediate to 8 Expert, 9 Expert to 10 Intermediate, 11 Novice to 11 Intermediate.) 3 riders will make a legal class if two or more age groups combine. (Example: Two 6 Intermediates move up to join one 7 Intermediate this equals three riders and a legal 7 Intermediate class. One 9 Novice moves up to join two 10 Novices, this equals three riders and a legal 10 Novice class. One 14 Novice moves up to join one 15 Intermediate and one 14 Expert, this equals three riders and a legal 15 Intermediate class.)
No rider may at any time be moved down in age except if the oldest class is too small, and then they follow a move down rule exactly like the move up rule above. (Example: if the 19 Expert class does not make, they move first to the 18 Expert class and start down one class at a time until the class makes, skipping Novice classes. Intermediates also skip the Novice classes.)
If a rider is combined with a higher class he will receive the points from the higher class. (Example: if a 12 Novice moves to a 12 Intermediate class all riders in the class will receive Intermediate points. If a 14 Intermediate combines with a 14 Expert all riders in the class will receive Expert points. If a 14 Expert moves to a 15 Intermediate class all riders in the class will receive Expert points.)

In order to determine if a rider is in the correct class, they must not only look at the class they’re are in but the classes above and below their class. Check the riders age and skill levels as shown on the Moto sheets (6N), (6I), (7X), etc.

Example: A parent wonders why their 6 Novice rider ended up in a 7 Intermediate class when there was a 5 & under Novice class with only three riders in it. First you must look at the makeup of the 5 & under class. This is a multiple age group class and only needs three riders to make a legal class. Now look at the makeup of the 7 Intermediate class. There are two 6 Novices which does not make a single age class, their first move would be to the 7 Novice class but there are no 7 Novice riders. These riders now move to the next class above their own class. There is one 6 Intermediate on the Moto sheet but two 6 Novice riders and one 6 Intermediate rider still do not make a legal single age class. Finely there is one 7 Intermediate rider now the class is made. The class consists of two 6 Novice riders, one 6 Intermediate rider and one 7 Intermediate rider. All the riders in this class will receive Intermediate points.

These types of scenarios are all managed by the volunteer race organizers, which is completely run by all parents of the club. It’s beneficial to get to know these scenarios, as well as participate in Commissaire training to learn these rules.

HOW WILL THE RACES RUN?

Registration – Registration takes place prior to midnight the night before a race. At Globe, we use online registration through google forms. When registration is closed, race volunteers start to prepare moto sheets, and changes at any time after registration closes can make this process difficult (ex. Late registrations and/or cancellations).

Check In – When you get to the track the next day to race, it is VERY IMPORTANT to make sure your rider has been registered in the correct class, and a great habit to get your rider to check over their own information as well. Make sure your age, ability category, and plate number are correct. If something is not right, please inform the registration crew. Once everyone has signed in, the final motos are prepared with any changes and posted near the registration table. Moto sheets will be in numerical order starting with Moto #1 and continuing through whatever the last Moto number is. In addition to being in numerical order the Moto sheets are grouped by age and class.

Motos & Lane Assignments – It’s handy that you have masking/painters tape and a marker on hand to record your motos. Then stick the tape on the top tube of your bike or the back of your plate. At Globe, we also pre-assign lanes, so you’ll want to record the lane assignment next to the moto.

Final prep – Now you have registered, gone for practice laps, checked your bike and gear and performed any necessary last minute tune ups, and most important of all you have checked your

Staging – Staging takes place behind the starting gate and you should be there at least 5 Moto’s ahead of the one you are racing in. Motos can move very quickly and can be hard to wiggle into your correct spot if you aren’t there in advance. There will be a person called the Stager who will call out each Moto number, each riders name that is in that Moto and their starting lane assignments. A series of Staging volunteers will direct you along the route to the starting gate and what to do next.

Starting Gate – It’s now time to get into the starting gate. At Globe, when you are standing on the gate looking out at the track, Lane 1 is on the far right side, and Lane 8 is to the far left side, with the other lanes in numerical order in between them.

The starting gate is run by an electronic trigger and has a set number of commands it must go through before it can be reset, the last of which is to drop the gate. If you are on the gate and the commands have started there is no way to stop the gate from dropping. A series of lights along with the commands will help queue the rider as to when it will drop.

Track Officials – There are Track Official’s positioned at different places on the track. These official’s can and will alter the outcome of a race because of fouls (riding off or outside of the chalked line, deliberately cutting riders off, etc.), riders missing obstacles, riders using inappropriate language on the track and any other unsportsmanlike conduct. If a rider feels they were fouled they must go back to the finish line within 5 Moto’s and register their complaint or protest. Track officials include the commissaires, the Chief commissaire, safety volunteers and finish line volunteers.

Finish Line – The finish line generally consists of 2-3 Finish Line Official’s and 1 Chief Scorer. They are responsible for scoring each rider as they cross the finish line in each of their Moto’s. If a rider fails to start a Moto or does not finish a Moto they will not be scored for that Moto. In all cases the decision of the Chief Scorer is final.

First Aid – At every race or practice, we are required to and will have a parent volunteer with First Aid training. Parents if your child should fall please do not come running onto the track. Our qualified track official will evaluate the extent of your child’s injures if any. At that time if they feel your assistance is needed they will call you onto the track.

RIDER CLASS LEVELS
Riders generally compete against other athletes of the same age, gender, and ability. Although if some classes are small (less than 3) they may be combined with another similar age/gender/ability as noted above. Male athletes have 3 categories. Novice, Intermediate, and Expert. Female athletes have two, Novice and Expert. Athletes will upgrade ability levels based on the number of wins they achieve. This is based on race wins (the outcome overall for that day), not individual moto wins. District racing (club level) and Provincial (special event within the province) wins, both count towards the upgrade, though a win at a Provincial race counts as two wins. Wins do not expire, so you don’t need to acquire all your wins in a single season to upgrade.

Ability Class Upgrades (Male):
Novice to Intermediate: 10 Wins
Intermediate to Expert: 20 Wins

Ability Class Upgrades (Female):
Novice to Expert: 20 Wins

RACE LEVELS AND RANKING

District (1st level of BMX) – This is the first level of racing that you will encounter when you start BMX. You will be competing against other local racers throughout the season and your points will be tallied up at the end of the year to determine your final year-end ranking.

Provincial – Each province holds a series of “Provincial” level races where you can test your skills against riders from your respective province. In Saskatchewan, you do not have to qualify to participate, however you will need an In province or UCI racing licence to participate. We have 3 provincial series races in 2018, and 1 provincial championship. Check out the schedule here.

You are also eligible to register and participate in Alberta BMX Provincial series which runs all summer. See schedule here.

National – This award means you have earned the most National points in your age class (males and females are separated) at National Events across Canada. To earn a National number you must meet the qualification criteria set out for the series.

CCA Canadian Championships – The CCA sanctions the Canadian Championships each year and the winners of each age class earn the highest recognized UCI/CCA Canadian ranking.

UCI World Champion – The UCI World Champion number plate is the highest ranking you can achieve in BMX. To earn a spot on Canada’s Team you must first qualify through a series of events specified by the Canadian BMX Association the season prior.

RDW’S (RACE DAY WINS)

Our contact at Saskatchewan Cycling keeps track of wins and upgrades in province, however it is up to the parent to reach out and to notify them of out of province wins.

A day at the track also includes Strider/Under 5 races. Strider riders are riders who use a bike with no pedals, and riders under 5 using a bike with pedals are considered to be in the same category. They do not earn district points or race day wins, however can earn club/fun points.

POINT SYSTEM

Point Values are awarded for each moto in the following structure:

1st place: 1 pt
2nd place: 2 pts
3rd place: 3 pts
4th place: 4 pts
5th place: 5 pts
6th place: 6 pts
7th place: 7 pts
8th place: 8pts

Example:

If “Rider A” placed 1st – 2nd – 3rd, they’d be awarded 6pts
If “Rider B” placed 2nd – 1st – 1st, they’d be awarded 4pts
If “Rider C” placed 3rd – 3rd – 2nd, they’d be awarded 7 pts.

Rider B would win this race.

WHAT A RIDER NEEDS

In order to compete in a BMX race there are certain pieces of equipment you need, and a registration process to go through.

Bike – First of all you need a BMX bike, preferably a BMX race bike. The bike must have a number plate of the proper colour with the correct number on it. This plate and proper number sequence to go on the plate are provided with your registration cost and given to you on our first few nights of racing. Park/trick bikes are usable provided they don’t have pegs and have a rear brake, but the wider tires and heavy weight make them slower. The bike can not use a pedal style brake and must have a single rear hand brake installed.

BMX Bike Size Guidelines:

Mini 3’10” – 4’8” 40 to 65 lbs
Junior 4’4” – 4’9” 60 to 75 lbs
Expert 4’6” – 5’2” 70 to 95 lbs
Expert XL 4’10” – 5’4” 75 to 110 lbs
Pro / Jr Pro 5’ – 5’8” 100 lbs and up
Pro XL 5’8” – 6’ 140 lbs and up
Pro XXL 5’10’ and up 160 lbs and up

Cranks – Crank Length is very important for the comfort, speed and control of the bike. Try to find a crank length that will be close to the rider’s inseam measurement. Please see the list below for crank length suggestions.

Inseam Length Crank Length
15-16 inch 130mm
16-17.5 inch 135mm
17.5-19 inch 140mm
19-20 inch 145mm
22-22 inch 150mm

For Junior, Expert, Expert XL
20-22 inch 150mm 22-23 inch 155mm
23-25 inch 160mm
25-26 inch 165mm

For Junior Pro, Pro, Pro XL/XXL
25-26 inch 165mm
26-27 inch 170mm
27-29 inch 175mm
29-30 inch 177mm
30-32 inch 180mm
32+ inch 182-185mm

Pedals – Pedals are very important to give the rider confidence on the track, platform pedals with traction nibs are the best for new riders. Avoid clipless pedals to begin with as it is better for the rider to learn how to ride the track and balance in the gate first before they learn to lock their feet onto the pedal. Clipless pedals are technically not allowed until the rider is Age 10.

You will also need:

  • a certified full face helmet
  • full finger gloves
  • tear resistant full length pants (no jeans or sweatpants)
  • a long sleeve jersey or shirt.
  • Closed-toe shoes

Strongly recommended:

  • Chest protector
  • Extra padding including elbow pads or knee protection under pants
  • MotoCross/BMX Race Jersey and Pants as they have built in padding and are the appropriate tear resistant material

License – You will also need an SCA In Province Race License or UCI license. This is purchased through the Saskatchewan Cycling Association and linked from their website or our registration page.

In province race licence – allows you to race in the province of Saskatchewan at races held at andy of the three sanctioned tracks (Globe, Diamond and 13th Avenue BMX) and the Provincial Series.

UCI License – allows you to race out of province in Alberta or BC, or in the United States, however in BC or the US, other fees may apply.

General License – this is ONLY for Strider Riders or Riders under the age of 5.

Here are few suggestions on where to pick up various gear in Saskatoon:

Adrenaline Unlimited (helmets, chest protectors, gloves, pants, jerseys, accessories)
Recreation Supply (helmets, chest protectors, gloves, pants, jerseys, accessories)
Doug’s Spoke & Sport (carries a select amount of BMX race bikes, however chat with them if you need to make special orders)

GENERAL EQUIPMENT RULES

Helmets are to be worn at all times an athlete is riding a bicycle on the track and surrounding area. No exceptions.

Jerseys should be tucked into pants, and the sleeves should be long enough to leave no skin exposed between the cuff and the glove.

Sweat/track pants are frowned upon at district racing and prohibited at Provincial level and higher races. This is because the material can melt to skin during a crash.

Clipless pedals are forbidden for children under 10 regardless of ability level.

Your number plate should be visible and on your bike at all times. If you travel out of province, you will be provided and required to display a sideplate.