BMX isn’t always about winning. For some people, they just enjoy the sport and all that comes with it. Although not all riders are winning all the time, it is important to keep track of your wins, at least as a Novice and Intermediate. As a Balance Bike, wins don’t need to be tracked. Balance Bikes are meant to have fun, learn the basics of racing and camaraderie. Once you get to pedals, things change.
There are 3 proficiencies to know for yourself to get started, although there are other class options available. The proficiencies are Novice, Intermediate and Expert or Girl.
When you first start racing BMX, you start as a Novice. Being a Novice, it is important to keep track of your wins. Once you get (10) class wins or (3) title wins, which includes National, Grands, Gold Cup Finals or Race of Champions, you move up to the Intermediate Class. What you need to know is that the system won’t do it for you. Once you get your 10th win, it is your responsibility to tell the person at registration at your next race that you are now Intermediate so they change it in their system. Please keep in mind that once you have a track change your proficiency; that does not mean that it changes at every track. It is your responsibility to ensure that your rider is listed in the correct proficiency on the motos sheets. After a few weeks, USA BMX should show the change and as tracks update their systems, it will start to show up automatically. You will then receive your new membership card in the mail listing the new proficiency.
What happens if you don’t change your proficiency after you reach your numbers of wins?
If you do not change your proficiency and you race, you will not get points for that race or any others that you race under your old proficiency. Within a few weeks, USA BMX will have caught on and you will receive a letter in the mail from them stating that you “raced out of class” and your points earned for those races did not count.
How do you advance from Intermediate to Expert or Girl?
Just like a Novice, as an Intermediate, it is important to keep track of your wins. In order to advance to Expert, you need to get (20) class wins or (5) title wins which can include National, Grands, Gold Cup Finals or Race of Champions. For some, this goes by fast, but for most, this seems to take some time. The good news is that once you turn Expert, you no longer have to keep track of your wins. As a female, it only takes (10) class wins as an Intermediate to move up to the Girl class which is essentially the Expert Class for female riders.
Do I get an award for moving up?
USA BMX has certificates for advancement, however it is up to the individual tracks to order them. Some tracks are great at knowing their riders and when they get that last win to move up in proficiency and will give you your certificate that day. Of course, riders don’t always get their final win at their home track. If you are not at your home track and you get your final win for advancement, let that track know. If they have the certificates, they will give you one, if not, ask your home track once you return. At my track, we love recognizing achievements. We always have certificates on hand and will announce advancements during our awards ceremony. We also take the riders’ picture with their certificate up on the podium and post it to our Facebook page. Please keep in mind that every track is different. Some tracks have a lot of manpower and support while others are families just trying to give people a place to ride and may not know all their options. On that note, if you want to see things happen at your local track, let the track operator know and offer to volunteer.
What do I do if I lose track of my wins?
If you lose track of your wins, you have a few options:
- If you are Novice, you can count the number of first place awards you have.
- Go to usabmx.com and check under your profile and in your trophy room.
- Call USA BMX and ask them.
Keep in mind, USA BMX may not have the most up to date count of wins. They can only record wins once they have been turned in by the tracks. There are some tracks that turn in their race reports after each race and some that only turn them in a couple times a year. I know this can be frustrating, but again, every track is different. What you can do is when you go to your trophy room on usabmx.com to see your wins, check the tracks listed where you got those wins. If you don’t see a win listed for a track you know you won at, add that missing win to the count listed on the USA BMX website.
What is sandbagging?
Sandbagging is prohibited! Intentionally avoiding a win so that you do not advance in proficiency is sandbagging. Any rider, Novice or Intermediate, that is determined to have sandbagged will be disqualified and moved to last place. Any award earned for that race will also be forfeited. A track operator may also request that a rider be advanced in proficiency based on the riders’ ability and/or actions. Think of it this way; if you sandbag, you are not just holding yourself back from advancing in proficiency, but you are causing another rider to advance before they are ready to as well.
What other options are there?
- A rider can advance themselves to the next proficiency without getting the required number of wins. Keep in mind that if you do this, your right to reclassify is forfeited for one full year.
- Open Class and Cruiser Class wins do not count towards advancement.
If you feel you are truly not ready to advance in proficiency, my recommendation would be to race the Cruiser Class. Since wins in the Cruiser Class do not count towards advancement, it is a great way for you to get more track time and racing in without having to worry about advancing before you are ready. The Cruiser Class is a class where you would need to ride a bike with 24” wheels versus the 20” wheels required for a standard class race. Cruiser Class races are still divided by age and gender, however, not by proficiency.
Open Class is another option I recommend to get more track time. The benefit to the Open Class is that you don’t need a second bike, you can race on your 20” just like your standard class races. Open Class wins also do not count towards advancement and are also divided by age and gender, not proficiency. Not all tracks offer an open class up front, but you can request one. Talk to other riders at the track to get them on board to race with you. You can also talk to your track operator or registration about adding an Open Class. It’s as simple as asking people as they register if they want to add Open Class to their races for the day.