July 21st, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson
–By Sawyer Shafer
Race etiquette is a tricky subject. We all know to be respectful to other riders, call out passes, and ask a fallen participant if he or she is okay. But during the heat of the battle, do we all do this? This past weekend I competed in the WORS Cup race in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. I was racing against some of the fastest riders in the Midwest, and in addition to the stiff competition, the course was very physically demanding and tight, allowing no room for error or passing. An additional challenger was the Category I men slated to start right after my elite junior class. They would be upon our field rather quickly once the race started. Pre-race, I had a number of them come up to me and say, “You better let me pass as soon as I catch you.” Safe passing in a race situation requires skill, and an understanding of the communication and timing needed. This is all amplified when you have riders riding at faster speeds, and taking risks to move up. This can lead to frustration, and more critically, injury.
Halfway through the first lap the field starting behind my group began to catch us. The first few announced that they needed a pass and that they would be passing on our left. This is the standard, and correct way to pass: you notify those that you will be passing when and where it will be happening to avoid frustration and injury. This is easily done on an open climb, a section of fire road or two track. However, in tight and twisty single-track this is complicated by trail features, and the speed needed to pass another rider. This is when some started to become frustrated, and let that frustration lead to hostility towards other riders which can become dangerous and paint a bad image for that rider’s respective club or team. This is when you need to calm down and remember that, yes, you are racing, but at the end of the day it is all about getting on your bike and just having fun with others in your community. This is why you started riding in the first place. Unfortunately, one of the Cat. I men did not demonstrate this attitude when catching me. His tire tapped mine, causing my handlebars to clip a tree and send me flying from my bike. This resulted in a trip to the E.R. where I was notified I had fractured my wrist and that I would be out for the rest of the summer. I hope this story will help remind everyone that at the end of the day we are all just racing because we like to ride our bikes and have fun.
Therefore, when put in a race situation where you may be contemplating forcing a pass, or doing something to endanger yourself or another...don’t. This is why I chose to share this story as I fear too many people have lost sight of why we started racing in the first place, because we enjoy hanging out with good people and riding bikes.
Here’s to a safe summer of racing!
The post Race Hard but Be Nice- Race Etiquette Matters appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.