Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rant: Lapping etiquette

I realize we all have to start somewhere. I remember my first bike race, a Tuesday night race in Terwillegar park. I was 14. It cost $2 to enter. I think I did just two or three laps and watched in amazement as Evan Sherman defeated my idol Steve Martins whom I'd met on group rides.

I hope I have the story straight, but maybe just a couple of laps into my race, I heard the rumbling behind me, stopped and got the hell out of the way as they flew by close to double my speed.

When I was 16, I raced a Canada Cup and a very muddy Nationals. I wasn't a very good rider, and had the elite and junior women pass me after making up the start gap and the elite men lap me.

Now, I'm racing closer to the front of the pack. The fastest elite women and junior men at the Canada Cups might still have to pass me (and I better let them because a podium position in those races is more important than my 34th place), but I am now finding myself more of a passer than a passee.

I've got a bell on my bike, and I ring it and yell out "rider up!" or "onyerleft" when approaching a rider from behind. Some people pull over to the right, stop off the trail, and lean their bike further off the trail at the first immediate opportunity. Another group for whatever reason think that merely slowing down, moving over to a random side of the trail and continuing riding, giving the passer a very narrow window while swerving around trees on the side of the trail is enough. It's not.

Even more disgusting are the people who ignore any requests for passing and might let you pass at a trail intersection. Ive seen this before when lapping sport men riders. They even look back, see me coming, then try to race me. Didn't realize that 34th place was so important to you.

I know it sucks that the passer is interrupting your flow. I know that battle in a 24hr relay is important to you (by far the worst etiquette I've seen is in 24hr relays). I'm not asking you to stop on a fast descent or a tricky section requiring momentum. But who wants to ride with an impatient and faster rider RIGHT on their wheel? It's better for both of us if the passee would just stop and vacate the trail.

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