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What's an acceptable amount of space?(6 posts)

What's an acceptable amount of space?Matno
Mar 13, 2003 5:20 PM
Between you and another rider when you're passing them in a race? Reason I ask is, my brother in law did his first triathlon last Saturday (run, bike, XC ski) and in the middle of the bike part, he passed a woman and made her crash! He said he gave her much more clearance than most of the other riders gave him, but I guess she was drinking from her water bottle and he startled her. He thought the distance between them was 4-5 feet, and they were going straight in the middle of the desert. At any rate, she swerved and hit his rear wheel and went down pretty hard (on a nice Colnago no less!) He stopped to help, but she told him to keep going, so she probably wasn't hurt too badly, but still... :^o (I sure hope the bike wasn't damaged! He didn't see her after the race).

At any rate, it seems like any distance greater than a couple of feet ought to be sufficient during a race, but I'd hate to make the same mistake he made. (When I say distance, I mean the closest part of your handlebars to the closest part of the other person's). Is there any sort of etiquette rule on this?
2 inches.............nmMR_GRUMPY
Mar 13, 2003 8:09 PM
re: What's an acceptable amount of space?TWD
Mar 13, 2003 11:14 PM
That will obviously depend on what type of race you're doing.

In a triathalon, since you can't draft and it's a solo event, you're not expecting someone to come right up next to you (although 4 or 5 feet seems like plenty of room to me). I'm sure somebody else could comment more about what is appropriate for tri (or even time trials) but seems like saying on your left wouldn't hurt.

Also, many triathletes seem to train alone and don't ride in groups as much as pure road cyclists (just my observation)so some of them may not be comfortable being passed closely.

In a road race or crit it's a whole different ball game. In crits especially, you need to be comfortable in close quarters rubbing shoulders and bumping elbows (literally). The difference is that road racers expect it, and shouldn't be suprized by being passed. They should also know to stick to their line and not to swerve (too bad not everyone follows that rule).

That said, you'll still see people in the pack announcing where they are or putting a hand on somebody's shoulder to alert them they are coming up along side. You don't want to come up next to somebody just as they swing out to launch an attack or pull off and take you down.

If you're getting into road racing, I'd suggest finding a club to ride with so you you get used to riding in a pack. Be careful though, club ride and race ettiquette aren't always the same and can vary widely from club to club.
passing in triathlonsmohair_chair
Mar 14, 2003 8:08 AM
In triathlons, which are supposed to be individual sports, there is usually an invisible "draft box" defined around a rider. For most triathlons, the draft box is 7 meters long and 2 meters wide. You can only enter this box if you are actively overtaking a rider from the rear, and you must leave the box (i.e., pass the rider) within 15 seconds. The box is longer if you are an "elite" athlete (10 x 2). There is also a 30 meter by 15 meter box around vehicles. Some triathlons allow drafting these days, which is idiotic, so forget about the box.

I doubt your brother in law made the woman crash. She probably just got a little freaked out for some reason.
Wow. That's pretty specific!Matno
Mar 14, 2003 9:11 AM
Just out of curiosity, where did those rules come from? I've never heard of a specific rule against drafting, although it would certainly make sense if you're using aerobars! I'm pretty sure the crash wasn't his fault. She was drinking from a bottle so she only had one hand on the bars, and probably didn't notice him in her peripheral vision until he was right next to her. I guess it pays to stay alert!
USA Triathlonmohair_chair
Mar 14, 2003 9:57 AM
Triathlons are supposed to be individual events, therefore, no drafting. Plus, allowing drafting really deemphasizes the cycling portion of the race, because to win you really only need to be a decent swimmer and a good runner. If you can get out of the water early enough, simply draft your way through the bike leg, then drop everyone on the run. It's almost as if the bike leg doesn't even count. Draft legal triathlons suck.

There's another organization known as ITU which allows drafting in many events. They have slightly different rules for their draft-illegal events. The box is 5 x 2 for riders and 35 x 5 for vehicles.