Copyright BMX Australia

Riders at Atherton and Cairns BMX clubs have become the big winners, after their clubs took the initiative to purchase transponder-reading decoders to be used at local track nights.

Last month BMX Australia President Neil Cameron questioned why transponders are still being hired, noting in particular how much more cost effective it is for riders to have their own transponder, rather than hiring them. You can read his column here.

In Queensland alone there will be 72 events held over 40 weeks in 2017, which means any rider in that state that acquires their own transponder will make their money back in five events.

Five events. It’s incredibly cost effective.

More importantly, Cameron pinpointed that if riders where to have their own transponders it would free up officials to assist in scoring and other areas on any given club night. In Atherton, that sentiment is a reality that club official Karen Smith says has improved the running of their events.

“Our club purchased a decoder at the start of 2016 and had it up and running by mid-year,” Smith said.

“We haven’t enforced the use of transponders at our club, but from the start of this year we ruled that only riders who had them would be included in our end of year point score.

“I would say that prior to that decision 90% of our riders had transponders, that number would easily be 98% now. We had very little pushback.

“Importantly it’s helped our officials too and made our job more enjoyable. We can reallocate the five line volunteers we used to have to other areas, or it means less people need to volunteer on a club night.”

The benefits are also being reaped at Cairns BMX Club where fellow official Jill West highlighted how much support the club received setting up the system, while also impressing the benefits that the purchase of a decoder has had for riders.

“Our club received some government grant money and that helped us to purchase our decoder and some transponders. I would encourage other clubs to see what grants are available to them,” West said.

“We had a lot of assistance from BMX Queensland setting the system up, which has been outstanding. They were there every step of the way.

“After creating the opportunity for riders to use their own transponder we have noticed that they’re more excited than before to hit the track. Now they can watch their times and see improvement.

“It has brought parents and their children together to work on times, and also eliminated the disappointment of those at the back of the field. Now instead of finishing seventh and feeling disheartened, they will see that they may have improved their time and be encouraged…irrespective of the result.

“Now we can track the improvement of riders in a six month time frame.”

Although Cairns received a grant to purchase their decoder and transponders, Atherton raised the funds themselves. Proving that even a small club is able to pull together for the benefit of their riders.

Now with riders reaping the benefits of owning their own transponders, and there being less pressure to have as many finish line officials, both clubs are optimistic about helping their riders improve into the future.

Importantly, parents are also benefitting with the cost of consistently hiring transponders now an expense of the past.