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2014: EVALUATION on the UCI BMX Worlds Rotterdam-NED

Waalre, August 15th. 2014.                               


Concerns: the evaluation of the 2014 UCI BMX World Championship in Rotterdam-
                 Holland, July 21st – 27th  as I see it:  “ Looking In from the Outside “.


It's a couple of week ago now, since the 2014 UCI BMX World Championship took place at the Ahoy SportPalace in Rotterdam – Holland. I want to give you my opinion on this event under the title “Looking In from the Outside”.  Allthough I have been involved in organizing the side events, the BMX Museum, BMX Cinema and the first ever  REUNION of BMX WORLD CHAMPS 2014, I was not involved in the overall organization. I want to give my view on everything what happened during the periode of July 21st through July 27, in headlines.

A record breaking event it was for sure with 2860 entries overall. In Elite men 105 entries, in Elite women 40 and in the Junior men there were 87 entries with in Junior women 31 entries. So in the Championship classes we did have 263 entries and riders that represented 36  countries world wide.

In the Challenge classes a total of 2597 entries were registered coming from 41 countries world wide.

The total budget for organizing this 2014 UCI BMX Worlds was around 2.2 / 2.5 million euros.

My general opinion on the overall organization, meaning PR, advertising, communication through social media/press, information for and to the riders, banners all over the City of Rotterdam from around July 19th on, parking, camping, the indoor total accomodation, national sportschannel NOS broadcasting live on Sunday, VIP's on Sunday, realy everything / overall was the BEST I have ever seen before anywhere at a BMX Worlds I attended.  This was a unique event and the compliments have to go to the organizer BMX HOLLAND B.V. with event director Mr. Eric Kersten and all of his business partners, co-workers and KNWU officials/ Staff members.

It is very difficult the organize such a big event without anything going as planned for 100%. Here and there things will go wrong, sometimes not even noticed by riders and/or spectators. That's kind of normal in BMX event like this. It isn't easy to keep 2860 riders organized and under controle as well as around 3 till 5000 people accompaning them to this Worlds. It's impossible to score “PERFECT”, there will be “rustle” (ruis)  always.

So here my evaluation on what I saw, went wrong, could have been better or different. Not the little things, but things that matter.  I am telling this so others can benefit from this and/or improve things, so it's ment to be a POSITIVE evaluation.

All of the above mentioned have been executed at a very professional level. Specialists were involved/hired in all of the mentioned areas and have done a great job. The website, facebook page etc. did work as planned and in the weeks before the event, meaningfull articles in several leading newspapers in Holland.  Somewhere January in Rotterdan and surrounding areas, BMX promotion was made at schools and even a school competition was set up to promote these Worlds. The final event of this school competition took place in the Ahoy during the Worlds “week of action”.

For the first time ever, the Dutch National sports channel NOS, broadcasted the Championship classes main events life on National TV on Sunday. At Worlds before here in Holland, commercial TV Stations broadcasted these events.  Again meaningfull articles on these Worlds in several leading newspapers on the Monday after the Championships. So overall good publicity for BMX during a long periode of time.

The week before the BMX Worlds would start, the actual BMX track was built in around 3/4 days. The AHOY SportPalace had limited space to built an outdoor track, indoors. Seizes of the space available, were about the same as the indoor facility at the 2013 Worlds in Auckland – NZ (in my opinion, hall too small for a Worlds worthy BMX track).

A problem was however, the weight of the dirt that had to be brought in, on the too thin floor of the arena.  Track builder Teun Stam and company (Teun being a former BMX Champ) had a great solution: according to the drawing of the track, first fill up the jumps with compact haybales and afterwards put the dirt on top. That was a great solution of the problem. It worked out just fine.

Since it was not possible to built a 400 meter track, an around 300 meter track was designed and jumbs were adjusted to the kind of short straights. Three series of jumps on the first straight was not possible, only 2 were. Building very high turns was not possible too.

My opinion is that Teun Stam and crew did built the best possible track taking into account the space available and therefore its length.  Just for your understanding, out of the past 7 World Championships, plus the Olympics (total 8), only four (4) were outdoor tracks and four times we went indoors.  To messure a track, we use the Elite men class. One round done in seconds, as “standard”, so between 36 and around 38 seconds.

Here the laptimes by each winner in Elite Men class, in the main event during the past Worlds and 2012 Olympics.
-Beijing Olympics,    outdoor,   36,109 seconds.
-Taiyun,                 outdoor,   36,091 seconds
-Adelaide,               indoor,     28,648 seconds
-Pietermartizburg,    outdoor,   38,391 seconds
-Copenhagen,         outdoor,   33,444 seconds
-Birmingham,           indoor,     25,923 seconds
-Auckland,              indoor,     23,280 seconds
-Rotterdam,            indoor,    25,393 seconds

As you all know, the in principal around 380/400 meter outdoors tracks are done in around 36 till 38 seconds, depending on the obstacles in that track. This should be the standard.

Opinion: Length of track.
As you all probably know and I said it several times before, any track for  a Continental Championship, World Cup/SX, World Championships or Olympic games, indoor or outdoor, should be around 380 / 400 meters and in seconds aroun 36/38 seconds depending on obstacles.

I would pledge strongly for outdoor events, specialy since new built BMX tracks are “waterproof” and accomodations around the track are professionaly layed down now a days.  If one decides to go indoor, then the accomodation should be able to have an outdoor track layed down indoors. It's that easy, so an around 380/400 mtr. track indoors should be in place then.

Tracks like in the past 3 years devaluate BMX immensly. Finishing an indoor track in about 23/25 seconds, means around 33 till 38 % less intention, stamina, power etc. then racing at a 38 second track. This SPRINT race has a lot of risks in it. Riders need to push harder, have to take extra risks to try to get out in front, causing crashes that again devaluate a Main event immense (look at the Elite men Main, after turn 2, only 2 riders finish kind of “normal”. It causes also bad crashes and career ending injuries.  That is NOT a very good promotion for BMX.

On the other hand, it is still the same group of riders that normaly get through to the semi's and mains on both events (Sprint and Standard 400 mtr.). Too much attention on the Start only, which is very important on 23/25 seconds indoor tracks and that is NOT what BMX is all about. Insiders as you all are, know exactly what I mean. Besides that, if we want BMX sprint races, built special tracks for that purpose. If we want BMX races as they were ment to be, built 400 mtr. tracks. To explain to journalists what BMX is all about, the comparison is often made with 400 meter running. One can compare the intension of a `normal` BMX race with among others 400 mtrs. running in athletics. 

Besides that, I learned from interviews done in the USA on this 2014 World Championship that former Pro riders refer to this indoor track as a `Mickey Mouse` track and-or `Tennis court`  track !!! Again devaluation of World Championships in BMX.

Opinion: Destroying Capital !!!
Concerning indoor tracks layed down for just this one Worlds event, I want to say the following in general.   To built a “weekend Worlds track” now a days, organizers have to spend between 200.000 and 250.000 euros minimum to get that done.  After racing, the “weekend track” is taken down in one day, NOTHING is left. I do think this is destroying a lot of capital.

Would it not be fantastic, the built a new track or rebuilt an existing track to the present level, according to the UCI ruling for World Championships and still have the track after the event,  for many years to come??  A clubs could benifit from that having an up to date BMX track. A good investment for all parties concerned.  A promotor can do just a good job then, as at an indoor facility, only the budget will be spent in a different way !!!

Opinion: Starting hill at this Worlds.
Normaly there are 2 starting hills at this kind of events, one max. 5 meter hill for the Challenge classes and a max. 8 meter hill for Junior and Elite classes. There is a significant difference in the steepness of  both hills mentioned. In Rotterdam (it was NOT possible to do it otherwise, I understand that) only an Elite hill was built in such a manner that at 5 meters, the Challenge classes had their starting gate first and afterwards, that gate was taken away, the gape was closed and the 8 mtr gate was placed.
So, the Challenge classes had to start from a very steep hill, specialy impressive for the youngest age groups. They probably never practised on that kind of hill before and I KNOW, a lot of them were affraid. I strongly believe this was wrong, should never happen again at a Worlds. It took away the joy ánd changes (affraid at the gate, did holt back etc.) several riders had.  Something to think about next time.

Advice  for UCI  on Indoor Worlds.  Just and idea.
Again, I said it before, IF we want to go on with indoor Worlds racing, UCI start to consider 2 types of World Championships:
1. “Standard” Outdoor or  Indoor BMX World Championships on 380/400 mtr, around 38 sec. tracks and 8 riders p.r. (in periode  July/August), Challenge and Championship classes (2000 and plus entries).
2. “Sprint” Indoor BMX Championships on 300 mtr. tracks, around 24 sec. and 6 riders p.r.  (in periode November/December) Youth Olympic Games and Olympic classes only (4 till 500 entries).
Might be interesting such a new type of World Championship Sprint indoor, in wintertime !?

People from the Photo Press were kind of unhappy. No place directly on or around the track then only in 1 spot were about 5 men could stand. Pictures had to be taken from the Grandstands almost. Not a good thin either.

Registration started on Monday afternoon with the normal; “getting into the rhythm” of things, activities, etc.  Always a bit hectic at first, but then it smoothes out. No realy crazy problems here, just some small communication problems that were solved at the spot.

At 16.00 hours the grandstands were openend to allow everybody to check out the track. One did find a track about the same seize as in Auckland – NZ, in 2013. Disappointing but expected  by a lot of riders.

The next day, Tuesday, practise for Challenge and Masters. Training continued on Wednesday for the same classes, all in groups and at last the training for the Challenge 17 and over + Masters again.

The opening ceremony took place on Wednesday at 18.15 hours. The hall was filled with around 4 – 4.500 people and except for a small misshap, it was a nice opening of the event.

Wednesday afternoon the 4 collectors arrived and did built up the BMX Museum. At around 17.00 hours the BMX Museum opened. From start till finish on Sunday July 27th., 14.30 hours, there have been people coming in and out constantly. During racing one could walk around easily but during intervals it was crazy busy, one could hardly walk.  Again here, I never did see such a well attended exhibition as this one.

Besides the very well restored old school BMX bikes (up and till 1990 models, around 65 of them) and Dutch corner (bikes made in Holland over time), our French friend Christophe BOUL had around 34 drawings made of  European and some USA BMX Heroes and Legends and they were exposed at the BMX Museum, which gave extra body to this activity.

Must be said that most of the people going to the BMX Museum were old school BMX'ers with their children. Holland has around 6 till 8000 old school license holders (years 1978 – 1988) and many of them were present at these side events ánd the racing.

After walking through the isles of the BMX Museum, one ended up at the BMX Cinema where a move was shown about the History of BMX. This around 15 minutes move received a lot of appreciating and people were applauding when the movie came to an end.

SPECTATORS during racing.
During all racing days I found it surpising that so many people stayed and watched the racing. During the Challenge competition, at all times there were around 3 till 4000 spectators in the grandstands.  On Sunday, the Championship competition, I believe there were around 5 till 6000 spectators at all times present in the grandstand. To me this was kind of exceptional too and very positif.

The professional Medical Staff did a great job. As always there were some accidents, but from the “outside in” I did not see too many “very bad” crashes. Would be very interesting though to exactly know the kind and number of injuries that occured during this Worlds !

Without some minor problems (had to do with communications, misunderstanding etc.) looking from the outside in, all looked very great. Enough officials present and very capable people on registration, computers/timing, track etc. No remarks to make here except that all was executed  perfect.  The AHOY staff being used to events like this with thousands of people, did not have a hard time, I believe.

Since early 2013 I have been busy finding e.mail or other contact addresses of 103 BMX World Champs. World Champions in the highest performance classes at any time during the periode 1978 – 2013.  I did find around 92 contacts of which after inviting them around 60 had the intention of coming over to Holland for the 1st ever and unique REUNION of BMX WORLD CHAMPS 2014 during the UCI Worlds in Rotterdam.

The final count of Champs taking part in this event was 42 at around 2 months before the actual event. Sorry to say that 3 weeks prior to the event 6 Champs cancelled their participation, mainly due to financial problems. So we were left with around 36 Champs.

The Reunion day was Saturday July 26th. Those who registered before, were going to do a CitySightseeingCycle Tour through Rotterdam. We went on or way with 18 bicyclists to tour the City. Guides showed us around and it was great fun. Besides the 2 stops in between, we had lunch together and during that whole periode new friendships were made or renewed. It took us from 10.30 till 15.30 to go around in the City. This has been a success.

After the time trials and finals on Saturday evening (Elite classes), at 20.30 hours all pre-registered Reunion of BMX World Champions would come together in the BMX Cinema for the Official Reception and Ceremony. That was the plan. However, several of the latest and still racing World Champs did not show up. Also a couple of Old School Champs that were present at this Worlds as coaches or business wise,  promissed me to be present earlier that Saturday, did not show up. That was kind of disappointing for sure, but it also shows how “our own” think about this kind of happenings.

If we want to give BMX the status of a REAL sport, we still have to learn our spotsmen and women how to act in activities as serious as this one. It would have taken only about 30 minutes to come over and be present, get the special award made for them, be present for the group picture and then leave to relaxe and prepair for the next day or do business!

Some of them did not even “excuse” themselves  and some of them said: “sorry it does not fit in my planning/program for racing, have to focus on the racing for Sunday  etc.  As a former sportman myself, I understand, but what are we talking about ….... only about 30 till 40 minutes and the ceremony was over. Focusing for the next day??  I saw Elite men and women in the hallway of the hotel at around 23.00 playing with their Iphones, …..  concentrating? resting ?  The next day they had in total around 200 seconds of racing to do !  And then concentrating …... in our sport concentrating the day before will help you to be over-concentrated. Realy concentrating 1 hour before the race is essential.  Again, very disappointed by the attitude of some of you old school and new World Champs.

Must say that even some people from the BMX press-magazines/websites did not bother to come and have a look. You know what I mean !!!!

However, with those World Champs present we had a great time together. The presentation of awards was a nice one and very personal. An introduction was done, then I presented the appreciation awards and gave short stories on the Champs concerned. Peter VanDenAbeele dis speak on behalf of the UCI and after closing the official part of this Reunion, we had a drink and a bite and around 22.00 hours we left the building. The 1st ever REUNION of BMX WORLD CHAMPS came to an end.

One World Champ competing at this Worlds was present at the Official part of this happening, Dutch Ivo v.d. Putten.  He left right after the Official part of this evening, at around  21.15 hours.  Quess what, he was the best Dutch teammember performing at the Worlds on Sunday. So far for concentration and other conflicting stuff.  Thanks for being present IVO, respect.

I still have on more disappointing  experience I want to mention. Most of the participants in the REUNION of BMX WORLD CHAMPS arrived on Friday or Saturday. On arrival at the Ahoy after the CitySightseing Cycle Tour at around 16.00 hours, we had to report at the Welcome Desk. The Champs received a wristband (free entrance) there, but partners accompanying them had to buy a ticket to get in. They even had to buy a ticket for the Sunday. In total it concerned about 7 persons, who travelled from the USA, England and France, did spent a lot of money being present for the Reunion and their partners had to PAY to come in and be present at the Official reception. That did upset me very much.

I undestand that money has to come in for such a big event, but for me, this was “one bridge too far” and very inhospitable !! Just had to get this off my chest.

TICKETING / pricing of tickets.
I just want to see something about the prices of the tickets for this UCI BMX Worlds. When BMX Holland B.V. announced the pricing for the Worlds tickets in 2013, hell broke loose.  A lot of complaines came in because there were week passes and weekend passes at high cost.  Some very good suggestion were made through facebook to BMX Holland B.V. and they extended the possibilities of types of tickets as shown underneath. That was a smart thing to do. Still, it was kind of expensive for a family of 4 to come the Elite main events on Sunday,  4 x  37 euro's makes a total of  148 euro's, when buying your tickets on that day.

Knowing what kind of budget (at least 2.2 million euro's) was needed to organize this event, it looks more then normal to ask this kind of ticket prizes. If one wants QUALITY, you have to pay for that and I agree with that. It's a good thing this Worlds is just a once in about 10 years event (so far anyway, 1983/ 1993/2004/2014).  I believe that if this kind of ticket prizes would become a common thing at International events, we will have a problem getting people in and events financialy sound. This is absolutely an item to consider and think about.

I remember Chula Vista a couple of yours ago, the UCI World Cup / XS was run there. Even though a National event was organized at the “standard “ BMX track (2nd track) at Chula Vista, with a view thousand people present, maybe around 500 till 1000 spectators came over on the Sunday to watch the Super Cross event. Why so little spectators ? The tickets for specators were $ 25,= a person. People did not want to pay that amount of money.  Normaly they get in for free at races in the USA. That will make you start thinking, I quess?

Just to get the idea, here once again the pricing of the tickets by BMX Holland B.V. for the UCI BMX Worlds in Rotterdam 2014.

Regular sale is started! Order your ticket, click on the banner below. Available tickets:
Week Pass: Wednesday 23 July, Thursday 24 July, Friday 25 July, Saturday 26 July, 
                Sunday 27 July   
Day Pass:   Wednesday 23 July, Thursday 24 July and Friday 25 July
Weekend Pass: Saturday 26 July, Sunday 27 July
Saturday 26 July
Sunday 27 July

Challenge riders have free access to the grandstands on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Wheelchair and Wheelchair-helper tickets available in the ticket shop. 
All Challenge prize giving ceremonies will take place on Friday 25th July.
Prize giving ceremonies for Masters will take place together with Junior and Elite classes on
Saturday 26th July.
Free admission to watch the training on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ticket pricing
Regular Sale 12 May till 22 July 2014
                                                     Adult* Kids <12yrs** 
 Week Pass Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun   € 75,-  € 59,-
 Day Pass Wed, 23 July                      € 19,-   € 14,- 
 Day Pass Thur, 24 July                      € 19,-   €14,-  
 Day Pass Fri, 25 July                         € 19,-   € 14,- 
 Weekend Pass Saturday & Sunday     € 49,-   € 39,-
 Saturday 26 July                              € 24,-   € 19,-
 Sunday 27 July                                € 35,-   € 28,-

Regular Sale during event 23 July till 27 July 2014
                                                     Adult*  Kids <12yrs** 
Week Pass Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun    € 77,-    € 61,-
Day Pass Wed, 23 July                       € 21,-    € 16,-
Day Pass Thur, 24 July                       € 21,-    €16,-
Day Pass Fri, 25 July                          € 21,-    €16,- 

Weekend Pass Saturday & Sunday      € 51,-    € 41,-
Saturday 26 July                              € 26,-    € 21,-
Sunday  27 July                               € 37,-    € 30,-

**Kids * Excluding reservation costs. € 1,35 per e-ticket. Transaction cost per e-ticket booking € 1,00, for hard copy ticket booking € 3,00. Buy all your tickets in one booking that saves you cost.

REMARK GD on the above and Ticketing and Price Giving Ceremony Challenge classes. (except Cruiser classes).  The only bad thing about the above was, that riders that finished their racing on Thursday had to come back on Friday for the Prize giving Ceremony. Parents and or supporters/fans had to buy a Thursday ticket, if they wanted to be present at that Prize giving Ceremony (Between 19 and 21 euro's p.p. for adults). I heared many complains about that and a large group of riders left Rotterdam right after the prize giving ceremony.  Also that granddad and grandmom that wanted to see their grandchild being present it's trophy, had to pay 19 or 21 euro's just for that reason. That is the backside of things. Maybe also something to think about !!

SUNDAY, Junior and Elite racing for World titles.
The Sunday was just great. When the doors of the AHOY opened thousands of spectators came in. Noticeble was that there were many old school (early '80 s) BMX' ers with their family or just with their kids. I knew many of them.

Also the VIP accomodation on this day was very well organized, as we are used to when BMX Holland is involved. Again, they took care of an overall fantastic organization, while “normaly” at events like this, most of the concentration is on the racing technical aspect only, of such an event.

Races were exiting and the Main events were broadcasted life by the NOS  from 15.00 hours on. The only anti-climax for me was the main event , Elite Men and this main also shows what I tried to explain above. After 2 corners only 2 riders were riding around, the rest was fallen down. That was a pitty and stays in the minds of people who watched.

Allthough I was only present form Wednesday on at these Worlds, I had 5 fantastic days at the AHOY SportsPalace in Rotterdam. Met many, many old school BMX'ers and friends there from home and abroad  and was proud of my collectors at the BMX Museum / BMX Cinema.

I hope and wish the UCI BMX Worlds at Zolder in Belgium will be able to compete with the Worlds in Rotterdam, they at least have the professional organization available to make it a great success too. Good luck.

Wishing all of you the very best and till we meet again.
Kind regards,      Gerrit Does

P.S. Check back for this report on the "History of BMX" section of this site, "year 2013 - 2014". Lot's of pictures are telling you the story as well there. Enjoy.