Once BMX riders graduate from the novice stage, they are usually keen to start competitive BMX racing when they can test their abilities to the full and hone their BMX riding skills.
BMX racing typically takes place on a purpose-built race track that meets requirements of British Cycling regulations.
Tracks designed for BMX racing will vary, but they will generally include a start hill that is several metres in height and a starting gate.
Regional BMX racetracks, for example, are usually over around 300 metres long and include a hill start, jumps, straights and berms that test BMX racing skills to the full.
Modern BMX starting gates will usually accommodate up to eight riders, and one of the first skills a rider will learn is how to make the best start possible.
No matter how skilled a rider you are if you don't get a good snap out the BMX start gate, you will end up trailing behind the competition.
Master start techniques
The most significant advantage of getting a good start is that the racer can concentrate on the track obstacles ahead and not worry about having to overtake a rider who's in front.
It is considered essential for any serious rider to master the skill of a fast start and top riders will spend many hours honing their BMX start gate technique and snap to ensure the best start to any race.
And this is why Clark & Kent Contractors work with some of the top firms in BMX starting gate design and manufacture when working on BMX building projects both in the UK and overseas.
Choosing a start gate
Clark & Kent can, of course, supply, deliver, install and maintain any BMX start gate system demanded from their customers.
But the company is particularly proud to have built up an excellent working relationship with Holland-based Bensink and with Progate from the United States.
Pro Gate and (Union Cycliste Internationale) UCI have had a successful partnership for years, and their start gates meet international standards. They have been used for the UCI BMX World Championships since 2006.
Pro Gate was the starting system used for Beijing Olympics and recently at the London 2012 Olympics where Clark & Kent were in charge of the BMX Supercross (SX) track rebuild for the 2012 London Games.
Bensink has become a market leader in BMX start gates across Europe, and the firm's safety gate system has become standard in the BMX racetrack and the 4-cross world.
Get ready for the start
Starting gate practice for riders begin well before the gate drops, and the race gets underway.
Many BMX novice racers will crouch over the handlebars before the start as though the competition has already begun.
Top riders will tell you that a flying start begins with the set-up. A straight back and alert stance are vital to a fast break. Elite BMX racers will also hold their wrists high with hands rolled forward to facilitate an explosive start.
With cranks lined up with the slope of the start gate, hands rolled forward and the back set straight, the top BMX rider can exert the maximum body pressure in the right direction for a great snap.
First signs of movement
Top riders will also focus on the top of the start gate for the first sign of movement. The practice helps get the body balanced and in the correct position as the rider waits for the start gate to drop, and the rider can push down on the pedals.
Fast starts occur when the rider's body weight is perfectly aligned with the downward thrust of the pedal.
Getting the snap gives the fastest rider the advantage of being able to concentrate on the first jump or berm without having to worry about or negotiate other competitors.
Pole position out of the start gate gives the rider a significant advantage in a BMX race. It is then up to them to hold that position until the finish line.
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