Okay, I was planning on doing a race update for the weekend, but feel the need to post on proper pinning number etiquette. I’ve had a ton of experience pinning numbers. I’ve been doing it for decades. I have to admit, I’ve been spoiled and for a long time there, I didn’t have to pin numbers, but just gave them to a support person and leaned over.
Before cameras, the number used to be pinned like we sometimes do on cyclocross. On the back pocket and then on the front of the sleeves. Anything to make reading the numbers easier for the officials. That just got me thinking about picking finish order in huge field sprints back then. Sometimes I’d help out and realized the hardest places to pick are further back in the field, like 9-10-11. Pinning numbers properly was way more important then.
Since cameras, the pinning is all on the back. At local races, I still just pin my number on whatever side the officials are standing, on the lower pocket. But all the rest of the races, scapula numbers and then pocket numbers.
I hate pinning numbers. Especially for cyclocross when they give you four and you have to put two on your back and then two smaller ones on the front of your arms. Trying to get these flat yourself, on a skinsuit is nearly impossible.
Peter Stetina, of the BMC team, did an interview about getting rid of numbers completely. He wants Profeesional riders to have permanent numbers and individual jerseys. I have to applaud that. Let get rid of numbers and just use timing chips. You’d probably still have to have one number, for officials to identify you, but that would be better than 4. MTB racing is so easy sometimes with only having to attach a number plate to the front of your bike.
But this isn’t really about the history, of even the position of the numbers, it is actually about the safety pin and the proper way to use it to pin the number flat.
They best way to get a number pinned on correctly is by having someone else to do why you are wearing your jersey. That way the jersey is pre-stretched correctly and the number will lay flat. But, that usually isn’t the case when a bunch guys go together and have their own number issues.
The first mistake pinning a number is the orientation. I blame most upside down numbers on nervousness. You see it more in Cat 4/5 fields than others. You never see it in a Pro 1/2 field, unless it is number 13, which is most the time pinned upside down, for superstitious reasons and maybe also number 69, which you might not know is right side up or not. Anyway, make sure the number is right side up.
You need to pre-stretch the jersey to get it flat. You can do this on a pillow, a steering wheel of your car, by just stretching it and then sitting on it, having the jersey in your lap. But you need to stretch it both directions for the number to lay flat when you’re wearing the jersey.
Now, the real reason I’m writing this. The pins. You have to go through the number twice with the pins. You can just stick the pin through the jersey, then through the number and close it. Look at the photos below. Photo #1 is correct pin placement. Photo #2 is incorrect. Incorrect number pinning allows the number to raise up off the jersey, the length of the safety pin, thus allowing it to flap in the wind. I saw way too many cases of this sort of number pinning yesterday at the race. It was mildly irritating, thus this post.
Okay, I’m sure you all will come up with a bunch more better number pinning tricks. Like I said above, I hate it and am not great at it. Lack of patience, nervousness at the race or something.