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 USABMX application and sign up to race. First-time racers are able to purchase a 1 day temporary membership for $6.00. A "Temp" provides you with USABMX’s secondary insurance and enables you to go out on the track. Entry fees vary from track to track, ranging anywhere from 3 to 10 dollars.
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 pedals). 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. And many of the USABMX sanctioned BMX tracks hold a special "practice night."
Throughout the year, there are many top pros in the sport of BMX who travel around the country putting on beginner clinics. Attending a clinic is one of the best ways to learn how to get better in BMX.
Check out BMX clinics…
Each BMX clinic is independently owned and operated. The USABMX assumes no responsibility for the actions of these clinics. If you have any questions regarding BMX clinics, please contact the clinic personnel – they will be happy to answer your questions.