No more crumpling race numbers?

I did the Berkeley Hills Cat 5 Road Race this past weekend, and my wife helped pin my number after I had crumpled it and sprayed with Scotch Super 77. As others have experienced, it works great to keep the number nice and flat/aero on your body, and I’ve done this for other nor cal races this year.

However, a race referee was checking numbers at the start line and told me not to crumple the number next time, because their finish line camera wouldn’t be able to register the number and the image would get washed out. Sure enough, I finished the race, but got a DNP.

Has this happened to anyone else?


I contacted the organizer and it turns out that they just happened to miss me at the finish, and it wasn’t related to the crumpled number. The judge went back to the footage and based on my computers finish time was able to find me and give me the correct placing.

Never had a DNP/DQ because of it but, have had plenty of refs spouting off about it to everyone.

I’ve looked at myself on the finish cameras a couple times after crumpling and if you pin your number more on the side than on the top of your back like your’e supposed to it shows up amazingly well. Heck even when I race back to back to back days I’ll just throw the jersey or skinsuit in the washer with the number still pinned. Talk about crumpling! The cams still pick it every race.

So, moral of the story? Don’t crumple your number when a ref is around.

Told the same here in San Diego. Oops. Whatever. They recorded my place just fine. Won’t do it in the future for USAC. Been doing it for years in triathlon.

I’ve gotten that pre race lecture before but no DNP.

Since then I’ve been involved in putting on some races and gotten to watch the officials work their asses off all day, including trying to read numbers off finish pics. Anything that makes their jobs easier is OK by me,


Do you not race with transponders in the US?

generally, no. I have gotten a timing chip for a CX race before

As for crumpling, I haven’t done it, and found that the 3m spray does well in sticking the number on, but I’ve only ever used it on my Verge brand CX skinsuit, so maybe the material is more conducive to this than a regular cycling jersey.

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I believe that there are rules somewhere that say you’re not supposed to crumple the numbers; to be honest it’s probably worded vaguely along the lines of “rider’s shall not obstruct the view of their numbers.”

I’ve been racing since 2008/9 and have been crumpling my numbers since then. Have heard a lot of threats of DQ or relegation, but never seen or had it happen.

Same. I’ve been crumpling since numbers were crumple-able. No issues. You can even see in photo-finish that the numbers are clearly visible.

My governing body now uses year-long numbers. I don’t know how you’d even go all season without crumpling the numbers after stuffing them in bags, tossing them in the washer, etc.

I don’t intentionally crumble them, but they end up that way putting them on a skin suit with super 77. Never got any complaints, though.

Did people that finished behind you get placed? DNP is not DNF, and sometimes they just cut off how many people they place.

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I contacted the organizer and it turns out that they just happened to miss me at the finish, and it wasn’t related to the crumpled number. The judge went back to the footage and based on my computers finish time was able to find me and give me the correct placing.


On the other hand, crumpled numbers are almost impossible to avoid on multi day races where the only give you one number… After four days of Gateway Cup last year my number was clinging to life.

FYI… I think this is a lesson most of us learn the hard way: ALWAYS wait around for the results to make sure they are correct. VeloPromo races are notorious for having very long waits for results, and regardless of what field I’m in, there seems to be an issue at least 50% of the time. The organizer won’t always go back to the footage for you.

Is this for when the race makes you wear it on the bike? I’ve only have one race do that but I suspected that since it was on a race belt the flapping was inevitable…

Does it do anything to help it stay in place on the run?

Yes, if I have to wear a number, I crumple it (in fact, I wear it on my belt under my wetsuit during the swim so it’s one less thing to deal with in transition). I can’t honestly say it if helps with anything other than just making the number not so stiff so it doesn’t bother me flapping in the wind on the bike or hitting my quads while I run (many of our local events make you wear the number on your back on the bike then flip it to the front for the run).

The different approach to crumpling is due to the fact that most triathlons determine placing by chip timing whereas bike races determine placing by and large with finishing cameras/video to identify numbers and are often dealing with bunch finishes. Add in the fact you often have 5+ folks in the same kit in many bike races and its is nigh on impossible to figure out who got X place in a bike race if you can’t see and read their number. Triathlons pretty much use numbers in race only for handing out penalties and in those situations the officials have much more time to read a number.

I get the “why” once the official explained it. I was one of probably 10 in the field who crumpled it, but had it pinned well enough that it wouldn’t have mattered for the cameras (at least IME). Lesson learned.

From the USAC Rulebook Chapter 1 - Section 1J7 - B

"Numbers may not be folded, trimmed, or otherwise defaced. "

Crumpling = defacing. Yes its a jerk move for someone to get DQd for it but a rule is a rule and a warning is a warning. Every race I do I see someone folding or trimming, and I always say ‘If you beat me I’m complaining about your number’. Have yet to follow through on it…


Back when I read the 2017 rule book studying for my license exam, I didn’t remember anything about crumpling, but it’s not highlighted as a change, so it must’ve been in there. Prior to my first USAC race seeking tips to pin numbers effectively, I read this blog from TrainerRoad, which encourages you to “wrinkle your race number a bit”.

Not sure who the right person is for that, but maybe @Bryce or @Ian can get someone to make a note in that blog that “defacing” race numbers is not permitted under USAC rules.

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Has anyone tried those small M&M looking magnets?