Feb 11, 2013


I've talked about this to so many racers over the few years, that it finally dawned on me that perhaps if I blog about it, I can stop regurgitating sentences and just regurgitate one — "yeah, I've got a blog on that." Or maybe it will actually help to somewhat alleviate the problem. Either seems like a good cause to continue typing.

So what am I talking about? The horrible, awful, offensive way in which many racers pin their numbers. And I'm not necessarily talking about alignment (full disclosure: I did once manage to pin my number upside-down, but I was extremely sleep deprived), however, I will talk about it briefly below, but rather pinning technique itself. Flapping numbers that don't hold, or blow up like sails aren't only annoying to the rest of the field due to noise they make, but aren't much help to the racer either.

Here are some tips on how to properly pin a number to your jersey for a bicycle race (or any other race, so pay attention runners and triathletes!):

1. Stretch the jersey. Typically at the race site, I stretch it over my knees, zip it, and turn the side where the number goes toward me. If I'm pinning to a skinsuit, I'll put it over the steering wheel of the car and zip it. You have to zip it! If you happen to carry a big pillow around, that works well also. (PRO tip: don't pin the jersey to your pants)

2. Position the number on the correct side. For most races here in NorCal, the number goes either on the right or on the left, so whatever side of the road the camera is on, it can capture your number as you cross the finish line. Keep that in mind when pinning! Your jersey has a middle panel on each side, most of the botton half of your number, should be on that pannel. But no more, otherwise the number will be too far down. Go too far in the other direction, and the number will lie flat on your back. (PRO tip: don't position your number in such a way as to seal off your back pocket — in a longer race, you might need it)

3. Forget the holes. I wish number manufacturers would just stop putting holes in numbers altogether. They are useless for cycling. Do not put pins through the pre-made holes in the numbers. When you pin, make holes in the number with the pin. (PRO tip: read number 3 again)

4. Use 8 pins for each number. The math is easy, 4 corners + 4 sides = 8 pins. (PRO tip: bring the same pins to the races each time — it saves resources)

5. Twice through with each pin. Start with the corners by pinning through the corner, going twice through the number and the jersey. Then pin each side of the number in the same way with the pins going parallel with the side of the number on which you're pinning. Wow, that came out sounding way more complicated than intended. Just look at the picture below. (PRO tip: fold the corner of the number over and pin parallel to the fold for stronger hold — works especially well for stage races, where you have to reuse the same number several times)

6. Check it out. Put your jersey on, lean forward to simulate your cycling position and see how the number looks — I typically use my car windows to do that. It took me quite some time to be able to get all the pins correctly on first go. Usually at least one would be a bit out of place and make a strange fold in the number. But after a few times, I just learned where the numbers go.
This is how it's done. 


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