Getting Started Getting started in BMX racing simple and affordable - all you need is a bike, determination, and a USA BMX track...
Here are some helpful hints and guidelines to help you get started...
- While any type and size of bicycle will do, we recommended that you start with one that has no more than a 20'' wheel diameter - as that is the allowable limit in the Novice (or beginner) class. Many of our youngest riders even start off on bikes with smaller tires... whatever you ride around the neighborhood will be perfect for getting started.
- Raytown BMX is one of the many fantastic USA BMX tracks in Missouri and across the central midwest . As someone who may be new to the great sport of BMX racing, feel free to give us a call in advance to get any questions answered. Our number is 816-812-8774... you may want to get the following questions answered...
- How do I get to your track? What time are your sign-ups and practice?
- What time do you begin racing? How much will it cost to begin racing?
- How big are your first place trophies?
Once you know where to go racing or practicing there is a simple checklist to go down in order to make sure your bike is USA BMX safe and race ready:
- Make sure all bolts are tight - especially your axle bolts and stem bolts.
- All reflectors must be removed for safety purposes.
- If your bike has a kickstand, it must be taken off.
- You'll also need a numberplate. You will be provided a numberplate with your membership purchase.
Next, there's the checklist of what you will need to wear in order to race:
- Long sleeve shirt
- Long pants
- A helmet - USA BMX highly recommends a full-face helmet. We have some "loaner helmets" for beginners to use. A lot of times, a good, inexpensive helmet can be found at garage sales or in the pit area of your local BMX track.
- Any enclosed shoe is sufficient. Tennis shoes are suggested.
When you arrive at the BMX track, naturally you'll want to check out the course. There will be a dirt track (average length 1,000+ feet), with banked turns and jumps of all shapes and sizes. Actually, the first thing you need to do is find the sign-up / registration building. It is there that you'll need to fill out a USA BMX application and sign up to race or practice. First-time racers are able to purchase a temporary membership for $30, which is good for 30 days. You can also opt to try the One Day Temporary membership for Free. A "Temp" provides you with ABA's secondary insurance and enables you to go out on the track. Entry fees are $5.00 for practice and $10.00 to race.
Before you get up on the starting gate, it is suggested that first you 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 pedal). Much like skateboarders or surfers, racers who line up in the gate with a left foot forward are called "goofy footed." 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.
Once you've got the feel of balancing your bike on the gate, then you'll need to learn how to "snap" out of the gate. This is the motion of thrusting your hips into your handlebars and cranking down on your forward pedal as the gate is falling. The best way to learn this is watching the local pros and experts at your track, and constantly practice.
Obviously, the more you race and ride your bike, the better you will get. That old saying "practice makes perfect" stands true in the world of BMX racing. Very often, BMX racers will have a local jumping zone in the nearby dirt field that they use to practice in. Most USA BMX sanctioned BMX tracks hold regular practice nights. Raytown BMX holds practice one night a week for 2-hours each night - check our calendar for a full schedule of our practices and races.
In partnership with USA BMX, Raytwonr BMX will be offering clinics for new and experienced riders. This series, led by a team of Certified Coaches, Assistant Coaches, and Trainers will help new riders (and parents) gain skills and confidence on and off the track more quickly and give experienced riders expert help to continue developing their skills. Visit our Coaching Clinics page for more information. In addition to our Clinic Series, there are many top pros in the sport of BMX who travel around the country putting on clinics. Attending a clinic is one of the best ways to learn how to get better in BMX.