Published: 26th February, 2013
This might seem a daft thing to write about, but over the last 4 years I have been doing the timing for a string of mountain bike events, and am always amazed at the things people do with their number boards.
To help you out, I have compiled a list of things NOT to do with your number:
1) Don't hide it behind your cables. This is the most popular number board misdemeanor. I'm sure in the mind of the racer, this somehow makes the number look neater, or maybe more aerodynamic - but for the timekeeper, the cables alter the numbers. Not sure what I mean? 6, 3, or 0 can become 8, a 1 becomes a 7, a 5 becomes a 6 etc. etc.
2) Don't put your number on so that it points upwards - only God can read it then, and I'm pretty sure he's not going to be doing the timekeeping.
3) Don't curl the number up around your handlebars. This is a relatively new trend, and the result is that only the middle section of each digit is visible and the top and bottoms are lost. Last seen on Samuel Steen's bike at round 1 of the Welsh series. National Champ you may be, it counts for nothing if we can't read your bleedin' number!
4) Don't put your number on the side of your bike. You might think you are being very helpful, but the timing tent will have been carefully positioned so that we get the clearest view of numbers as riders travel towards us.
5) Don't cut your number board - it just results in you putting it on wonky and making it harder to read.
6) If your number board has fallen off during an epic crash, don't ride past timing shouting 'my number's fallen off' - we can see that! Ride past shouting your number out at us instead.
7) Not really to do with number boards, but while I'm moaning at you, please don't come over to timing to ask a question and stand in front of us so we can't see the riders coming through the finish - we have a short space of time to read number boards as they go by, and once they're gone, they're gone!
Keep to this simple set of Don'ts, and you will go far. Deviate from this, and you will incur the wrath of the timekeeper (or more likely just be missed off the results because we can't read your number). Get it?!
Just to even things up a bit, here's something we really like people to do with their number boards:
1) When a race is muddy, please wipe the mud off your number board before you come through the finish area. We LOVE it when riders do this, it shows us they care!
I will be doing the timing at round 2 of the Welsh XC this weekend, and I look forward to seeing your numbers wizzing towards me in a nicely readable way. Thank you!