Start Racing BMX
Getting started in BMX racing at Grippen Park BMX is easier than you think!
What is BMX?
BMX or Bicycle Motocross is a sport where riders of all ages use manual power to maneuver a bike over jumps, banked corners and other obstacles. A lap around the track takes approximately 30 – 45 seconds. BMX was created by kids but it’s becoming popular with older racers as well. Unlike most sports, BMX racing depends 100% on your performance, not the combined performance of a team, or team effort. Riders compete in classes, and will remain with that class until he/she has a birthday or he/she progresses by first place wins.
BMX Racing Facts
Statistics have proven that BMX racing is one of the safest of all sports today. Part of this is due to the mandatory safety requirements. All Riders MUST wear long sleeves, long pants and a full face helmet.
BMX is an excellent individual and family orientated sport. Races are organized into girls classes and boys classes, then subdivided into age groups and skill levels. The age groups range from 5 & under classes to 36 & older. Within these age groups are three skill levels: Novice, Intermediate and Expert. All riders start as Novices and must work up to the more advanced levels by winning races. A Novice must move up to the Intermediate class after they have 6 wins in the Novice class. An Intermediate must move up to the Expert class after they have 25 wins as an Intermediate. There is also competition in the Cruiser class for boys and girls. The age groups for the Cruiser class are 9 & under to 56 & older.
How Much Will It Cost?
You can obtain a thirty day trial membership for $25. A trial membership is good only at the track where purchased. During the thirty day trial, you can upgrade to full membership for only $25 more. If you would like to skip the trial membership, you may purchase a full membership for $45, that’s a savings of $5 over the trial membership with the conversion cost. The full membership is good one year from the date of purchase. Once you have your full membership, points will be awarded to you at each race and you may compete in any ABA sanctioned event. You can get family discounts signing up additional family members. Ask your local track manager for more information when you sign-up.
The ABA also offers a 1-time Free 1-Day membership for those of you still on the fence about racing.
What Does My Bike Need to Be Track Ready?
Just about any bike can be raced from bikes with smaller wheels up to a mountainbike with multiple gears. We recommend starting with a 20″ or a 24″ bike. A few adjustments are required however to make your bike safe to race.
- Fenders, kickstands, reflectors, chain guard must be removed
- Must have pads on the top tube, stem (aka goose neck), and handle bar cross bar
- Handle bars must have grips and a cover over the metal end of the bars
- Frame must be in good condition with no cracks
- Handle bars cannot exceed 28 inches in width
- Brakes must be in good condition
It’s also a good idea to go through the bike and check to ensure that all nuts and bolts are tight.
What type of clothing do I need?
The most important of course, is a helmet. The ABA and Grippen Park BMX recommend a full face helmet, however any standard bicycle helmet will do in a pinch. It is also recommended that racers where a long sleeve shirt and long sleeve pants such as jeans.
Most racers wear clothing in similar style to that of motocross. While clothing like this is not required it does offer additional protection to key areas.
Racing at Grippen Park BMX
Grippen Park BMX is a dirt track approximately 750 feet long, with banked turns and jumps of all shapes and sizes. The first thing you need to do is find the sign-up / registration area inside. It is there that you’ll need to fill out an ABA application and sign up to race. First-time racers are able to purchase a temporary membership for $25, which is good for 30 days. A “Temp” provides you with ABA’s secondary insurance and enables you to go out on the track. Entry fees are $10.00 per rider.
Before you get up on the starting gate, it is suggested that you first closely watch the riders go around the track. Pay attention to their body motion over jumps (using arms and legs as shock absorbers) and note where riders are pedaling and when they are coasting. Take it slow on your first few laps. Remember, you are brand new to this and those fast, expert racers started off just like you. Take time to learn the track – know which obstacles are coming up and how to take it smoothly. Often, the difference in the beginner class is who is smoothest around the course rather than quickest.
The Starting Gate
Since BMX is a “short sprint” sport (with most races lasting 35 to 45 seconds), the start of a race is usually the most important. When you first begin racing, you’ll most likely do what is called a one-footed start. Which is having one foot on your pedal and the other foot acting as a “kickstand,” resting on the ground to keep you balanced. The majority of riders start with their right foot “forward” (on the pedals). Find out which feels most comfortable – there is no right or wrong way.
Soon, you will want to learn how to do the normal “two-footed start.” Some riders can pick this up on their first day at the races and some beginners take weeks to learn how. You can practice the two-footed start anywhere – find a wall and ride up to it, with your front wheel touching. Apply a little bit of pressure on your forward pedal – just enough to keep your front wheel solid against the surface of the imaginary starting gate. Stand in an upright position, relax, and use both of your arms to balance the bike.