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Track Talk: No Clips For Novices in 2013

December 23, 2012 by  

New USA BMX Rule: No Clips For Novices

As in most years, the turn of 2013 brings some new rules for BMX Racers in North America. The 2013 USA BMX and BMX Canada Rulebooks will be released soon, and as a lead-in to that, we thought we would take a look at one rule that has a lot of parents and track operators saying “right on!”

Starting January 1, riders holding a Novice membership will need to race on flat pedals. This includes times when they are moved up to make a class, or in a mixed-open setting at nationals.

While not necessarily the official reason for the change, the “race” to clips tends to be a “keeping up with the Joneses” situation, in a class that is our sport’s “beginner” entry point. The novices who have had several months on the bike tend to clip in, because people next to them in the gate have done the same. This hurry-up scenario introduces an “advanced” tool, for riders who have not-yet mastered the fundamentals.

BMX News asked representatives from seven tracks across the country how the upcoming rule is playing within their local scene, and some other questions that shine a light on how it might work across the system.

Answering the questions are:

Glen Knapper – Trilogy Park BMX, Pottstown, PA
John Sawyer – Oldsmar BMX, Oldsmar, FL
Justin Miller – Mankato BMX, Mankato, MN
Jackie Altizer – Steel Wheels BMX and Imagination Glen BMX, Hobart/Portage, IN
George Colbert – The Hill BMX, Elgin, IL
Tyler Brown – Chula Vista BMX, Chula Vista CA

We also have one response from a track who asked not to be identified.

1). How have you spread the word among your local riders that this rule is coming down the pike, and will be enforced as of the new season?

Glen Knapper – Trilogy Park BMX
Immediately after the announcement of the rule change, we made routine announcements at the track and spoke to individuals who are currently using clipless pedals. We informed them that, for 2013, they had two choices: turn Inter, or take the clips off till you move up.

John Sawyer – Oldsmar BMX
A copy of rule changes will be handed out at all events coming up for a month or so.

Justin Miller – Mankato BMX
It has been posted on our Facebook page. Our Season starts in May, so I have been sending out letters in the mail to my rider base that contains information like schedule, plate numbers etc. I plan to include information on the rule changes.

Jackie Altizer – Steel Wheels BMX and Imagination Glen BMX
I have posted the rule change on a bulletin board at the track… And personally told most of the novice riders and/or parents of the novice riders of the rule change. Oddly enough, we have a bunch of novices…but not many with clips.

George Colbert – The Hill BMX
We have not officially spread the word outside of a Facebook post on the track Facebook page. (Season is currently over til spring)

Tyler Brown – Chula Vista BMX
I will be using our website, social media, and announcements at races to get the info out to the riders. Also I have been letting any kids I see that the rule would apply to and letting them know.

Anonymous
Word of mouth and usabmx.com

2). What has been the response among your current Novice riders to this change?

Glen Knapper – Trilogy Park BMX
The response has been good. Riders and parents understand. We encourage the riders to set a goal if they want to have the pedals. (“if you practice and win races you will move up faster and then you will be able to use the pedals.”)

John Sawyer – Oldsmar BMX
Not a great deal of noise about it either way here.

Justin Miller – Mankato BMX
I only know of one parent, so far, that is upset their novice cannot run clips.

Jackie Altizer – Steel Wheels BMX and Imagination Glen BMX
Most do not run clips as a novice, so it hasn’t been much at all. Mostly along the lines of “oh… OK.”

George Colbert – The Hill BMX
I have spoken to one local 12 yr old rider and father about the rule and how it will affect them. I took it as an opportunity to discuss with them their goals for next season and the options they have to pursue them. The fun part was laying out the option of moving up to intermediate or changing pedals to the 12 yr old, and having him decide.

Tyler Brown – Chula Vista BMX
So far, the responses have been neither good, nor bad. It has been more of an “ok thanks.”

Anonymous
No negative reactions yet, people seem more impartial to the new rule. Most novice riders who are riding clips are almost intermediate, so they said they will move up.

3). Do you feel it will compel existing novices to class-up in order to stay with their “comfortable” clips?

Glen Knapper – Trilogy Park BMX
Yes, it has compelled them to do so. Again after explaining the rule changes, we told them that they had choices. There were a few riders who already moved themselves up to Inter.

John Sawyer – Oldsmar BMX
I think a few will class up right-away, just due to peer pressure from the inters and experts but, I think a good number won’t bother with moving up before their time. At the end of the day, they know whether they can compete in a higher class or not and they want to win.

Justin Miller – Mankato BMX
I do not anticipate any moving up for that reason.

Jackie Altizer – Steel Wheels BMX and Imagination Glen BMX
I feel it will take the pressure off of novices if everyone is under the same rule… And the pressure to get clips will be diminished.

George Colbert – The Hill BMX
For the ones that do, they should probably move up anyway.

Tyler Brown – Chula Vista BMX
Right now at my track we don’t really have a lot of novice riders in clips, so I don’t think it will affect them to much.

Anonymous
Yes

4). How will you police the rule? In staging? Only if there is a protest? Etc…

Glen Knapper – Trilogy Park BMX
At this point we are still looking into how we are going to enforce the rule. It will start with registration reminders, PA announcements prior to the race starting and finally observed in staging. We hope it does not need to be policed in the staging area, as the stager has enough to do and it would hold up the race at that point.

John Sawyer – Oldsmar BMX
The Oldsmar “wristband police” will be watching for them at the gate. We will have all novices wear a different-colored wristband then all the rest for a few months.

Justin Miller – Mankato BMX
Staging is too busy. I announce, so I will watch for it and call them out right on the PA during the race. There will be big signs hanging up at registration. That, combined with the letter in the mail gives them plenty of notice. No excuses.

Jackie Altizer – Steel Wheels BMX and Imagination Glen BMX
By informing the riders as they sign up.. And talking to the rider… Also by observing and reiterating the rule change. Difficult on a busy night when classes are mixed with inters to check each pedal at the gate. If the rider insists, I plan to move him up to Inter.

George Colbert – The Hill BMX
Just like any other equipment related rule (helmets, long pants/knee pads, long sleeves elbow pads), we’ll keep our eyes out for infractions and do everything in our power to bring the rider into compliance by race time. For example, we regularly lend out extra team shirts for riders in short sleeves with no elbow pads.

Tyler Brown – Chula Vista BMX
That is going to be a hard one, and I want to be fair because the rules are the rules. I will do my best to get the word out and help the kids understand why. Also keep some extra pedals at the track for the first month or so until everyone gets it down.

Anonymous
Like all rules, our track officials will be aware of these new rules and make a call as needed. Same as if a 5+ yr old rider is being held in the gate, or impeding another rider within the first 30ft of the gate, or illegal move down the last straight, our track officials will make the call as they see it occur. We inform our riders/customers about rules as best as we can, but ultimately it is up to the rider and parent to know the rules.

5). Do you have any method in place to explain to parents and riders why this rule is necessary (both existing people and new people who ask why it is as it is)?

Glen Knapper – Trilogy Park BMX
Educating the volunteers with the information that USA BMX provides to us. All Information that they provide to us will be included on a handout highlighting the new 2013 rule changes.

John Sawyer – Oldsmar BMX
Yes. First, we will fully explain it to them. After that, if there is still a question, we will show them videos of kids falling over in the gate and other clip-troubles on the track. If there are still complaints about it, then I will show them some 9-12 year olds from the UK that rip, without clips, and can boost most anything and have more style than a lot of experts do here.

Justin Miller – Mankato BMX
I usually spend as much time with the new parents as possible when they come to the track and I already cover topics like bikes, helmets, gearing, rules and also bring up the topic of clips to them. I have very few intermediate riders clipping in, and even fewer novice riders. Folks are just not clip-crazy at my track. It could be how we teach them about learning the sport, or just by chance.

Jackie Altizer – Steel Wheels BMX and Imagination Glen BMX
Rules are rules…And I feel that the explanation provided by USA BMX is adequate. We do new rider and novice clinics all the time to help riders learn the fundamentals. It’s a good opportunity to work one-on-one with them, and explain what they should be doing, and how it’s done. We have plans to work with kids moving to clips in a practice session as well…kind of an “Intro to clips 101.”

George Colbert – The Hill BMX
It’s easy to explain the spirit of the rule. We think people will understand.

Tyler Brown – Chula Vista BMX
I think the new people will be easy, since it is all they will know. It’s the existing people that it will be harder to explain to. I think just making them understand it is not only better for the sport, but also for their younger rider, as far as safety, bike control, and overall fairness is concerned.

Anonymous
Not at the moment. Mainly just explaining to them there is no need to rush into clips, let the rider become comfortable with the bike first.

6). Any other comments or ideas on the topic, or tips for other tracks?

Glen Knapper – Trilogy Park BMX
Encourage new riders who express the want to have clips to earn them. Put in the work to get them.

Justin Miller – Mankato BMX
I think this is a good rule. People will have a hard time with it for the next year or two, and forget all about it. Remember the whole slingshot/random start debate? When was the last time someone brought up that subject? Seems like a million years ago now.

Jackie Altizer – Steel Wheels BMX and Imagination Glen BMX
Don’t make it a big deal. It’s a rule change not the end of the world. Be low key, and offer opportunities for beginner riders to master their skills through clinics, novice practices, “buddy” riders, etc. I really feel that if no other novices are on clips, novices won’t worry about clips.

Tyler Brown – Chula Vista BMX
I am new to this game so I will be the one TAKING advice, not trying to give it– haha.

Anonymous
There are some other new rules for 2013. As TOs, we should remember to keep a fun environment for the parents and riders. That’s what BMX is about! Fun and Family :)

BMX News is firmly-behind this rule, since it allows the most-junior-riders to get much-needed experience on the bike, before the arms-race to advanced equipment starts. There is plenty of time for clips, once riders turn inter and begin to expand their track skills to the next level, on their way to the Expert class in their age.

Pictured above:

Free Agent Mini Platform Pedals – $17.95 at J&R Bicycles

Vans Warner SPD Shoes – $84.95 at J&R Bicycles
*Editor’s Note: We included these, because, out of the box, they allow you to keep the flat-pedal tread in place. Then, when it’s time for clips, you can remove the cover and attach your favorite cleat. Naturally, one of the best things about this rule is that Novices can show up with any ol’ shoe and race on a relatively-even “footing” with the other riders in the class.

BMX News will have more coverage of the 2013 USA BMX rule changes within the next week or so.

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