When inventor Walter Hunt sold the rights to the design of the safety pin for $400 in the 19th century, he most likely failed to see the utility of his cheap, light, efficient and perhaps even perfect invention to the modern bike racer. Hell, I’m sure that organizers of the ’06 CX Nats spent well over $400 on pins to supply each rider with an adequate amount to secure the half a dozen numbers that we were required to wear.
To those that are neither racers nor punks, experience with safety pins may be sporadic, however within these groups, the safety pin is an integral part of the culture. Perhaps not so obvious among the racers, but for each of them, pinning is necessary step during the pre-race preparation process – however calculated or clusterf’ed this may be for any given individual.
We all must pin, whether we are a wisened Masters racer arriving to the venue two hours prior to start time and meticulously positioning each pin to optimize number placement or a jaded Cat three racer rolling in with minutes to spare in a car running on fumes and full of teammates. Should you fall into this latter category, you will most likely encounter several issues.
You will find that since you are late, all of the pins have been consumed by your fellow racers who have gone all pro-n-shit/punk-rock and used a dozen pins to keep their number flat. Not an issue, because any one that fancies to call themselves a racer should be able to produce a handful of pins by a quick scan of the nether regions of their car and/or race bag. Ubiquitous stray pins should be considered as honorable a mark as defined tan lines.
Further, you will neglect to ascertain from the registration table, which side of your body your number must go on. This may can be easily be corrected for by some logic based on the positioning of the finish camera or perhaps more readily gleaned by an ad hoc
survey of the decisions that riders that are more prepared than you have made.
And finally, you will certainly, without fail, don your longsleeve skinsuit and then, in sequence, notice your number and pins sitting on the front seat of your car. Now there is a fix for this, but it can be tricky. You must turn to your buddy, who is no doubt embroiled in the same rushed commotion that you are, and then ask, “um, hey, can you pin me?” And they’ll do it, but you will certainly, without fail, get pierced. No one wants to establish themselves as reliable, efficient or safe pinner. The sooner in your racing career that you establish to your teammates and friends that you are incapable of safely pinning a buddy, the better.
But all these foibles are not the fault of the pin which, for the price of a small snakebite in your spandex, so virtuously secures your number through whatever hell the race may bring.