How to Pin Your Race Number

There are few things that irk Coach Connor more than a poorly pinned bib number. He walks you through the art of pinning—and looking pro.

If there’s one thing that irks Trevor Connor, it’s a poorly pinned race number. (It might even irk him as much as people who don’t wear leg warmers when it’s below 60 degrees Fahrenheit!)

Coach Connor discusses why corner holes are evil, how those holes get in the bib number in the first place, the art of the crinkle, how to use a pillow to help with pinning, and other pro tips.

If you think you know how to pin a number to your jersey, think again. This is your “MasterClass” on the art of looking pro.

Video Transcript

How To Pin Your Number

Trevor Connor  00:00

So, today I’m going to be covering something a little bit different, but it’s one of my favorite things to teach because I’ll admit, this drives me nuts a little bit, going to races and seeing the horrible ways that people pin their numbers. I’m not just talking about amateurs, I’ve been to plenty of pro races where I’m riding behind somebody, not even noticing all the stuff on the side of the road, the people attacking him, and just staring at the person in front of me saying, why did you pin it like that?


Intro  00:35

Welcome to Fast Talk Laboratories, your source for the science of endurance performance.


Don’t Use the Holes

Trevor Connor  00:46
So, let’s start by talking about something that a lot of people don’t know, it’s a little-known fact, so here’s a number, notice the numbers have holes in the corners, the number manufacturers do not put those holes in the numbers. What happens is late at night, when they’ve all gone home, little Satan elves come into the factory and punch those holes. So, please, I am begging you, don’t help Satan, don’t use the holes. So, I hate to pick on Jana here, but I have pinned a number the wrong way on Jana’s jersey, so let’s bring Jana up and look at why you don’t use the holes.


What Not To Do When Pinning Your Number

Trevor Connor  01:29
So, thank you, Jana, for doing this, I will admit and apologize to you, this was not your pinning job, I did this, this is what I see a lot of athletes do at the races. So, notice there are two issues here, one pining through the holes. People think that makes the number sit flush to your body, not the case at all, it allows the number to stick out. So, the second issue is noticing this number is still quite crisp, we’ll get to that in a minute, but basically, that prevents the number from sitting flush to her body. So, now what we have is a sail, a couple of issues of that, one is noisy, this is what you’re going to hear the whole race, which is going to really annoy you. The second thing is wind is going to come in and grab this, you now have a sail, so after you spent all this money on aerodynamic gear in your bike, you quite literally have a sail on your back. So, Jana, if you were on the bike, notice how that’s just sticking out, notice how the wind can come in, it’s just going to flap around. The final issue you’re going to have is these corners aren’t very strong, you get strong enough wind, it’s just going to tear the number, now the number is really going to stick out and you certainly aren’t going to look like a pro on the bike.


The Proper Way To Pin a Number

Trevor Connor  02:37

Alright, so now let’s show you the proper way to pin a number. I’m sure you’ve been wondering, why do I have a pillow here? Well, if you look the pillow is about the size of the human torso, it makes it very easy to pin a number and look there sometimes in races, you’re at the start line, somebody’s got to pin it well the jerseys on you, but that’s generally something you want to avoid, because having had this experience, there are times when they pan a little more than just the jersey, so pillows are a really good surrogate. So, we’re going to take the jersey, we’re just going to put it on the pillow. So, notice looks just like a body, nice flat back, rounded around the sides, it’s going to make it easy to pin the number. Sometimes you’re at a race, you don’t have a pillow, the steering wheel of a car is a really good surrogate, you just pull the jersey over top of it, it also allows you to pin the number quite well. But we’re going to do this on the pillow. So, here’s our number. Now, before we pin this number on, there’s one more thing that you need to do with it. Notice this is a new crisp number, we don’t want that because if you’ve pinned that to your body, it’s going to act like that sail again, we wanted to sit nice and flush. So, take that number, crumple it up, get a whole bunch of good wrinkles in it. Race organizers sometimes aren’t too happy about that, but I’m still going to say you should do this, it’s going to help it sit flush to your body. So, now I’m going to open it up, put on the pillow, and just kind of smooth it out, or you can just do that on your leg. So, now we have a number, still very legible, still sits flat, but it’s got those wrinkles in it that just allow it to sit flush to your body, it’s going to act less like a sail.


Finding the Right Position

Trevor Connor  04:32

So, now we’re going to try to look for that right position. I like to have it just come around the sides a little bit but not quite in the underarm because that can be uncomfortable. You want to ideally have your sponsor logo visible, and you also want to have access to your pockets, which can be hard to do with large numbers, so you have to kind of finagle around to find that perfect spot. What a lot of pros do is they pin right down on the pockets, so if they have two numbers just pin them side by side like that, if the number is small enough, and you could do that, great, sometimes race organizers want it actually on your side. We’re going to find that position, I have a pretty good position right here, then what we’re going to do is pin the corners. Now, here’s the important part that I explained to you before, do not use the holes, holes are evil, we’re actually going to pin through the number, into the jersey, back through the number. So, going to start, poke the hole in the number, then I’m just going to grab a very small amount of the jersey, not so small that you can tear the jersey, but I’m going to try to use a minimal amount of it, so you can see just a small amount right there, then I’m going to try to use the full length of the pin for the number. So, the full length of the number, a small amount of the jersey, the reason for that is, then it gives it a little room to move around on that jersey, and as you ride, it’s going to settle in, and that’s going to help it sit even more flush to your body. So, we’re going to do all four corners.


Tips on How To Pin Like a Pro

Trevor Connor  06:22

So, now we’ve got the four corners, all pinned, you could just leave it at that, especially if the race is about to start, you don’t have a lot of time, just get those corners done. If it’s a windy race or being aerodynamic is important, and you really don’t want that sail, you could do a little bit more, I like to pin the top up here, because the wind will come over your shoulders, and you don’t want it catching there. So, I’m going to just pin one right in the middle, and again, wind can come around the sides, so I’m going to pin this side here. I generally just pin those six, if you really want to be thorough, you can get that side on the bottom, but the bottom, you really don’t have to worry about getting any wind.


Trevor Connor  07:05

Now, notice between having that wrinkled number, pining the way that I explained without using the holes, and getting those sides, this sits nice and flush on the body, and that’s not going to pull up and catch any wind. That’s what you’re looking for with a number. Now, here’s a little pro tip for you, if you are at a stage race, when you finish the first-day stage, take the jersey off, don’t take the number off the jersey, throw both in the wash. A race number isn’t just straight paper, it’s got a lot of fibrous material in it, it can handle the wash, but when you throw it in the wash with the number on, that’s a more extreme version of what I just showed you of crumpling up the number, it makes that number really nice and pliable, and the next day, it’s just going to sit perfectly flat on your body. When I go to a stage race, I just wash my jersey every night and I only ever pin the one time.


Trevor Connor  08:02

So, now you’ve seen how to pin it, let’s go back to Jana and see what a properly pinned number looks like. All right, thanks for coming back, Jana. Jana is now quite literally wearing the number that you just saw me pin on the jersey. So, first, I’m going to point out, it’s not pretty looking, there’s a lot of wrinkles in it, but cameras still getting to pick that up, you can still read the number. More importantly, you can see when she’s on the bike, you’re not going to get that flapping from the wind, nor is the wind going to get underneath there and act like a sail. Most importantly, now she’s going to look like a pro. Now you know how to pin a number, no excuses. Don’t let me catch you with a sail on your back.