Ditching UCI sanctioned national series rounds in 2018
Race the UCI rounds or race the non-UCI rounds? Race all the rounds, race just your home round? Race in your age group or race Superclass…you could do both?
The 2018 BMXA National Series has thrown up more questions, more options for riders than ever before. With seven rounds from February to October next year, and a national championships in Bunbury, Western Australia also in the mix, there’s a plethora of racing on offer.
Don’t even get us talking about all the fantastic state and club events that pepper the annual calendar.
But with so much to choose from, the national series becomes just as much a game of chess as it does an opportunity to excel. Of the seven rounds on the table, a rider will only have their best three counts towards winning their respective title. Ironically, that means there’s a chance that you and your closest rival might never race.
Despite the games and tactics that could determine the series outcome in each class, the reality of a seven-round series is that the commitment of time and finances will be a challenge. Competing at all rounds isn’t viable for everyone, hence the decision that only a rider’s best three rounds will count.
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The first round of the series at Penrith BMX Club may still be three months away, but one rider already has her plan for 2018 mapped out. Des’ree Barnes – eligible to race in the 16-years-girls class in 2018 – will opt out of her age group races, except for at her home event, and instead race Superclass.
Her interest lies in contesting against Australia’s fastest women. As age precludes Barnes from racing in the junior elite class it means she will skip the UCI rounds, instead putting all her efforts to all non-UCI sanctioned rounds where Superclass is offered.
That’s the beauty of this series, it caters to riders wants and needs.
So far in her burgeoning career Barnes has raced in the national series twice, on both occasions finishing top of the pile. Now with an opportunity to leap into a tougher class, Barnes and her family felt it made the most sense to plan for the future and commit full tilt.
“The way Des’ree approaches her sports, she commits 100 per cent,” father Luke says.
“As a parent, it makes it easy for us to support and travel to events with her. We know she is fast and strong, but there is room for improvement and that is what we’re chasing. We think that she will find more opportunity in Superclass than her age group.”
Such an admission may rattle a few cages, but it’s not said with the insinuation of discrediting riders of a similar age to Des’ree. Rather it’s an admission of a father who wants the best for his daughter.
He knows in the not too distant future Des’ree will step into the elite classes, will look to make a professional career as a sportsperson. There isn’t a shadow of a doubt that one day she will hope to don the green and gold at world championship and Olympic events.
For Luke, that means approaching 2018 in a calculated and considered way, pursuing challenges that will yield the highest return. Helping his daughter chase yet another #1 plate won’t tick the same boxes that throwing her in with the fast women she aspires to be like will.
“Next year is a long national series, it’s spread over the year which is quite tough for families,” he says.
“In order to save funds, we are doing the rounds that will be the most beneficial. Sure, we could go to the UCI rounds, but there isn’t a Superclass offered there and UCI points aren’t awarded to age group riders. The elites have a reason to race those rounds, but not Des’ree.
“Superclass for us is a deal breaker. We’re chasing competition in 2018, which means we’re also hoping that competitive riders also attend the Superclass rounds. In her age group Des’Ree hasn’t been pushed as hard as she could be.”
It isn’t just Barnes’ family fastidiously making plans. BMXA President Neil Cameron has spent the past couple of months speaking to members at their respective state titles, and has heard all about different ideas, different strategies being put in place by Aussie families.
“Serious plans are being put in place,” Cameron said.
“The majority of people get it and are planning to do three rounds, that’s all you need. A small minority are going nuts and are going to try and do the whole lot – good luck to them, that’s great.
“Entry fees for this series are low, they’re accessible. At BMXA we understand the financial commitment of this series, even just to race three rounds. So, for those that can’t afford to do three rounds, or riders who are contesting at a national level for the first time the message is simple: Do your home round and have fun.”
Win, lose or anything in between, 2018 is about growth as an athlete and competition for Barnes. In her last year as an age group competitor the focus isn’t on the immediate future, it’s on 2019.
“Next year is really about Junior Elite and we have given serious thought to elite racing for some time now. The goal for Des’ree is to get to the 2019 worlds in that class and win it,” Barnes finishes.
A big incentive, a big statement and even bigger aspirations.
Barnes has marked round three at Satellite City BMX Club, NT, round four at Nerang BMX Club (home race), QLD and round five at Cross Keys BMX Club, SA in the plan for next year.
It’s a strategy that could raise more than a few eyebrows, such is its boldness.