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is there etiquette in racing?(6 posts)

is there etiquette in racing?filly
Feb 28, 2003 7:57 PM
some of you guys know i'm new to this forum, and i'm just as new to road biking. i appreciate all the info you've provided thus far--it's good stuff!

anyway, new questions have arisen for me. i'm entering my first race very soon (next saturday), and i'm not sure as to how the whole thing works. what i mean is, is there etiquette, or unwritten "rules" that one is expected to follow?

case in point: let's first take a great leap here and assume i can keep up with the peloton. ok, is it cool for me to just hang out in the back the whole time riding everybody's draft, or i am expected to somewhat take the strain once in a while? obviously, i can do whatever the crap i choose, but i also don't want to find a pump shoved in my spokes because i'm just moochin' off of everybody's hard work.

now, what's some strategy to play here? once again, let's assume i can keep up and won't be looking simply to cross the finish line by nightfall. do people go full throttle from the start, or should i expect an easy pace for a while? by the way, it probably helps if i tell you the distance--27 miles. also, if i find that i can go faster than the pack, should i still hang out with them or press on?

bottom line, i guess i'm just asking for any input you may have on racing. i know there's a racing board on this site, but it looks pretty bare. thanks for the insight.

oh by the way, no need to respond with helpful hints that i should ride for a few more months before racing. i know all this, but it looks like this race is the only one happening for a good while. i'm kind of "forced" into it earlier than i would like, and i'm moving to new orleans soon, so i better get what i can while i'm here in san's pothole city in the, the roads suck down there...
re: is there etiquette in racing?russw19
Feb 28, 2003 8:50 PM
First off, congrats on your first race... and don't worry, a 27 mile race will be about an hour and fifteen minutes or so depending on the class of the field. As for etiquette, don't worry too much about it if you are entering a Cat 5 or open race. Most people in those races are new to racing like you and will be in the same boat, so relax and just have fun, that's what it's all about at that stage.

As for pulling and stuff like sitting in the pack... well, here's a crash course in all that.
First off, it's OK to sit in the pack and do nothing. Just hold on to finish, or wait for a final sprint. That's fine. But don't join a breakaway to do nothing unless you have a team mate that will somehow benefit from it. Otherwise it's lame. Take a pull once in a rotation, it doesn't have to be long, just a short steady pull. But don't get suckered into doing anymore work than anyone else is. If that happens, you may as well just sit up and let the break get caught, as if no one is working together, it probably won't last anyways, so save your strength.

Another thing to avoid.. don't go to the front of the pack to take your pull, then pull like mad and try to up the speed 3 miles an hour every pull. If you need to go faster, then either break away, or stay pulling at the front. There will always be some guy who goes to the front and tries to blow the race apart only to sit on everyone's wheel after he does it. It's lame. Think Marco Pantani in the Tour a few years ago... rides to the front, sets a blistering pace to make everyone suffer, then when he gets tired, he just quits like the lame ass that he was in that race. It's bushleague tactics. It's like throwing fastballs at the top batter's head in baseball. If you want to ride faster, fine, but don't crush the field just to climb off or sit in the back after you did it.

As for overall strategy, well, what do you want to get out of the race? If it's early season speed training, then sit back and enjoy it. If an opportunity comes up that you feel you can take advantage of, do it, but don't fret if it doesn't. Just have fun.
If, on the other hand, you feel the pace is on the slow side, shoot for a win. Nothing will jump start your racing career faster than a win in race number one. But if it's on the fast side, just see how long you can hang in the race.

When I was a junior racer, I used to talk my way into the Cat 2 races and see how many miles I could stick with the main field. When I got dropped, I turned around and rode back to the start, but each race I tried to stay with them longer and longer each race. Sometimes I got dropped in the first 5 miles, and I actually finished a few too.

Just have a good time and you will see the way things are pretty quick. Good luck and let us know how it went.

re: is there etiquette in racing?Emu_Lane
Feb 28, 2003 8:57 PM
First of all, if someone has a pump, it's not a race it's a training ride. Actual advice, if you are in good shape do what you can to sit in the first 10 spots or so. The toughest thing about racing in Cat 5 is looking up and seeing that the guy in front of you has a 10 meter gap on the pack. You can only jump around those guys and catch the group so many times no matter how in shape you are. To stay near the front your gonna have to pull through a little, just assess your own strengths to determine what to do when you pull. If you're a strong sprinter and want to keep it together, pull through easily and be ready to jump on attacks. If your a strong time trialist, try to kick it up a couple times at the front to thin the pack or even attack. In terms of pulling and etiquette, it only really comes into play in a breakaway. If you are in a small group you should do close to your share to make sure the break sticks. If you can't, though, there's nothing wrong with sitting on, as long as you let the other riders know you won't contest the sprint(and don't contest the sprint) and you'll help out if you can later. Let them decide whether they want to drop you or not.

I've raced for 14 years and the thing I hate the most is riders that are continually yelling "hold your line". You have some riders that are protesting the entire time about other riders, usually they are the worst riders in the pack. Don't be one of those guys. The best bike handlers don't complain about other riders.

Have fun, but be ware, very few of the people I know that race have ever been able to quit. They go away for a couple years but they always return.
My 2 cents on racingSprint-Nick
Feb 28, 2003 9:21 PM
I'll give you my 2 cents on racing. You can write a book on it but I'll try to give you a crash course:

1) Resist all temptation to go to the front and hammer when it feels too easy. Seriously my first year of racing was spent learning this lesson.
2) Most races start balls out for about the first 20 mins to weed people out then it calms down for a while before picking up for the last bit. Expect to go all out from the gun especially in a crit.
3) Breaks rarely succeeed! Let other people chase. If a break is still away with about a 1/4 of the race left then start to make your way to the front and help chase.
4) Don't feel the need to work. Ultimately in the end the person who does the most work does not win. The person who is the smartest wins. So since your new to racing people will most likely be stronger than you, however these same people may spend most of the time at the front.

Therefore if you hang in the back half until about 6/8 to 7/8 of the race is left before moving up and getting ready for the sprint. Then get on someones wheel who looks strong and sprint for the win with about 150 m left! There may be times where you end up at the front during the race so maintain the pace for 30-1 mins or as long as you feel like you can hold it for the entire day (no less) then pull off... that way your not just pulling off the front or slamming on the brakes to get someone to pass you.

The only downside to this strategy is being in the middle to back of the pack you open yourself up to accidents taking you out. Its a tradeoff.
With all this said especially for not working people may get mad at you. But if you aren't a jerk about pulling off you should be fine. If someone gets mad at you though after the race just calmly walk up introduce yourself and say your new to racing and wanted to save energy and/or your sorry that your strategy involved not working.

I'd recommend splitting up races where you treat it as a race to win so you try to conserve energy and races where you try to stay in the front group. The only way to get stronger is to challenge yourself and you may get blown out the back for doing it but its worth the experience. In these races where you work start with not working up until about 3/4... then slowly progress to working from the start.

Hope this helps!
so, balls out in the beginning?filly
Mar 1, 2003 3:42 AM
that's good to know, because i thought that may be the case, but i also am wondering if i'll see a few wack jobs doing this to prove themselves or make some statement just to find out they get passed after a mile or two because they're spent. i want to make sure i'm not trying to keep up with these folks and end up in the rear like them later.

maybe i'm just over-thinking this whole thing and should just see what happens. oh yeah, to the poster earlier, good comment about the pump...i guess it's common practice to strip your ride absolutely bare, right? no pump, tools, spare tube, etc. i guess you even go as far as filling your water bottle only halfway (at least for me...i find myself not even drinking half my bottle on a 50-mile ride). i'm not saying that because "i'm the man," or anything. i'm just weird that way in that i don't drink much water. i need to change that because i know it's not good.

anyways, thanks for the responses above!
tis rude...heloise
Mar 1, 2003 6:31 AM
to show up at the start line(unless it's a tt) w/o any group/pack riding experience.