Ride Bikes

Unlucky 13. Why people wear race plates upside down

Photo credit: mountainbike-trails.com.au

I’ve been racing a long time, but have never been handed the famous number 13 race plate.

As I got to the registration desk for the Chicks in Sticks 3 hour race, there it was, number 13.

I had often seen people racing with their race plate #13 on upside down. I guessed they were a bit superstitious, and by turning it upside down it would ward off evil sprits or something. There is even a special word for people with a phobia of the number 13; Triskaidekaphobia (the term was coined in 1911).

This image is of a racer at another race wearing the number plate upside down.

Source: http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/eagle-outside-festival.html

Back at the registration desk, I stood there looking at the race plate. I’m not really superstitious, but have had some weird coincidences happen in life. Should I put it on upside down? If I put it on the right way would I be worried about some phantom accident that might happen the whole race?

Apparently ‘unlucky 13’ is a big thing in the motor car racing world. They don’t even have a pit number 13 and opt for a 12a instead. (source: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-racing/motorsports/10-superstitions-from-the-world-of-motor-racing6.htm)

In the rules of riding from this site; http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/comment-page-212/ , it clearly states that “If you draw the unlucky 13, turn it upside down to counter act its negative energy.”.

Source: http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/comment-page-212/

I thought about it, and decided to treat poor #13 with respect and run it up the right way. I was confident with my ability and preparation going into the race.

Photo credit: mountainbike-trails.com.au


I have since learnt that #13 is also considered good luck, especially in Italy (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13_(number))

The number 13 also represents femininity, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). Which is kind of fitting for a female only mountain bike race.

Embracing the number 13, I rode well and pushed hard. Had some great battles with other competitors and finished in 3rd place. It was about 51 km and 3 hrs 30 mins. The family all came out to cheer me on, which was lovely.



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