Racing Etiquette

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Racing Etiquette

Postby Jashy » Sun Nov 18, 2007 5:57 pm

I had a really good race today, taking out the B grade race at Smeaton Grange in a sprint that was absolutely crazy. However it felt a little tarnished after I went to shake the hand of the guy who came second.

I jokingly apologized for letting out a load grunt and pipping him at the line. His response was "Your not going to win any friends racing like that", I thought he was talking about the grunt but then he clarified that he felt that I was doing less than my fair share of work in the pack during the race. I explained to him that I was struggling throughout just to hold on and that I was a good sprinter. He gave me a cynical look and said "alright then" then shook my hand. The guy is one of the most active and popular members of the club and had always seemed like a really nice guy, so to get this from him was a bit of a shock. Perhaps he was just a little upset that he lost, given that he was fit enough to go for a 2 man breakaway for a good 10 mins and still contest the sprint, and I garuntee if it was a 2 man race he would have dropped me like no-ones business.

Now, I'll admit I never attacked and I never did any serious reeling in of breakaways, but this wasn't due to selfishness or trying to save my legs. I was just barley hanging on the entire time, sitting at the back of the pack towards the end. However at one lap to go there was a serious slowing of the pack that left my legs feeling "ok" so I the grabbed the wheel of last weeks winner (the guy who came second this week) and when he launched, I launched with him, taking him on the line.

That seems to be the problem, my sprinting ability even when completely exhausted is fantastic, but the rest of my fitness is lower than everyone else in B grade. I always prefer to race in a grade that is a big challenge as opposed to constantly being able to attack, but it appears that by not taking enough turns on the front I'm rubbing some people the wrong way. Should I simply bow out of the sprint if I've been sitting in the rear the whole time? It seems that if I can sprint, I should. Or should I go down a grade and ride on the front of C the whole race and still easily take the sprint. To me that seems like even worse etiquette.

I know I'm probably reading way to much into the situation, but I think its really important to be considered a strong and fair rider, not a leech.
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by BNA » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:38 pm

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Postby sogood » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:38 pm

If you read Lance Armstrong's biography, he also pointed out the importance of peloton etiquette. Something he only learnt slowly. Only after did he realize how much the benefit applied both ways.

I don't have all that much racing experience but listening to all the old hands at the game, it's very clear to me that you need to do your fair share of the work to earn the respect of your peers, especially after a win. This applies even at the club level. A win by hiding in the bunch gives you no friends, especially when you aren't exactly a weakling. And you'll suffer at some future point. Excuse of being a "sprinter" is meaningless.

Yet again, I have heard a few people say privately that the name of the game is to race and win, and no tactic is below the belt. Well, it's a personal decision and you'll have to decide if winning and friendless is more, or less important than to suffer with occasional win amongst friends.
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Postby hielo » Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:44 pm

I don't actually know the answer to your question , however I did overhear this from our racing on Tuesday evening.....

One of the A grade scratch riders suggested the reason his mate didn't sprint at the finish was because he hadn't done his fair share at the front during the race. Now, that may or may not be true, but that was his 'take' on the situation.

Maybe that is the etiquette, I don't know ??
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Postby toolonglegs » Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:11 pm

Depends if you are there to make friends or not...racing is about winning,whats the point otherwise...but you have to weigh it up a bit.
At a club level it is as much social as competitive so I can understand the sentiment,although people often don't say it to your face.No one likes to be beaten by someone who hides at the back,whether you were hiding or suffering is irrevelant as you had enough left to outsprint everyone at the end so to most it would look like you wern't suffering too bad.So at a club level there are plenty of sprinters who hide at the back then come thru at the end...they pay the price of being shoved up a grade when their fitness might make it a struggle....just like some one who makes a good breakaway will probably be put up as well.Hey if you are winning B then there is only A to go!...and that is a big step up.Also depends on the feild size...today my race was about 30-35 in numbers so you don't notice those things as much...if there are only 10-15 it becomes more obvious.
Now if it is an open and you are in the right grade for your level (there are always burglars) then anything goes as winning is why your there.
Me personally I mix it up as I get bored...some weeks I attack constantly,some weeks just save it for one big attack,or I just sit in for a sprint whether I have done turns at the front or not...If I haven't done any turns then no one is going to say anything as they know I pull my weight when needed....
So what do you do.... :lol:
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Postby Jashy » Sun Nov 18, 2007 9:10 pm

toolonglegs wrote:So at a club level there are plenty of sprinters who hide at the back then come thru at the end...they pay the price of being shoved up a grade when their fitness might make it a struggle....


Yeah, I've had this happen to me this time around. 3rd then 1st in C got me pushed to B. The 2 weeks after that ended up being A+B combines, both of which I fell off the back of. I guess I've been in "hang on" mode since, and this time it paid off but in a way that is considered a bit underhanded. Hopefully next week my fitness will have improved enough so that I'm actually able to pull the pack along occasionally.
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Postby toolonglegs » Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:02 pm

Jashy wrote:
toolonglegs wrote:So at a club level there are plenty of sprinters who hide at the back then come thru at the end...they pay the price of being shoved up a grade when their fitness might make it a struggle....


Yeah, I've had this happen to me this time around. 3rd then 1st in C got me pushed to B. The 2 weeks after that ended up being A+B combines, both of which I fell off the back of. I guess I've been in "hang on" mode since, and this time it paid off but in a way that is considered a bit underhanded. Hopefully next week my fitness will have improved enough so that I'm actually able to pull the pack along occasionally.


Yeah,shite...be happy you won B grade already! :D ,just make sure you don't go up to A before you are ready as it is a very different step from going up between other grades.Also try and race some other clubs...not sure how many you have in your feilds there but there are some big races around at this time of the year.The more you race the moreyou learn and the more you want to race!...it is good you are out of the lower grades as the higher grades are harder but safer :D
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Postby Jashy » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:26 pm

Yeah I'm not even going to consider moving up to A till I can ride on the front of B, hopefully I don't get forced up before then. As for racing at other clubs, I'll probably start doing that once the Crit series is over, at the moment 1 race a week is all I can handle.
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Postby Kev365428 » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:25 pm

Maybe it's just me, but how can you be "a lttle bit competitive" in what is essentially a race? If jashy was a strong rider all round, and at the start of the race he took off and averaged 2 or 3 km/h faster than all others and won, is that being tactical or being unfair? Should he hold back until the final lap to ensure all riders have a chance? In other words, why penalise yourself by not playing to your strengths?

Maybe we should say no carbon allowed as it gives an unfair advantage to the richer riders amongst us.

If the rider who came second is in fact a much stronger rider, then maybe he should have attacked more often so as to loose jashy off the back.

The fact that a club race is sometimes called "social" should not prevent a rider from employing tactics (legal ones) that provide them with the best chance of success, IMHO.

I was there on Sunday and saw the race jashy was in, and let me tell you, with less than a lap to go, he looked totally knackered. So much so that I commented to a mate "He'll be lucky to hang on".

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Postby mikesbytes » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:36 pm

Why don't you do your pull right at the beginning Jashy? Then your got time to recover.
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Postby sogood » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:38 pm

I think the issue is no different to people's typical reaction to wheel suckers, in and out of a race. So no surprise there's a culture and understanding that developed on that basis.

I don't care either way but it's understandable.
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Postby Jashy » Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:40 pm

mikesbytes wrote:Why don't you do your pull right at the beginning Jashy? Then your got time to recover.


I wasnt clear in my first post, At the start of the race I was doing turns, but towards the end the attacks intensified and I was just trying to hang on. As Kev said by the last lap I was about to fall off the back, but then everyone stopped pushing for about 30-45 sec which was enough of a rest to get the speed back in my legs and find a good position for the final push. If there had been another attack instead of a breather I wouldn't have faired nearly as well.

I see it more of a tactics/luck thing then bad etiquette. Its not like I'd be able to win like this every week even if I wanted to. I'm sure my next win will be far less circumstantial. Perhaps the guy was just trying to warn me that winning like that all the time is not on, something that I agree with.
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Postby mikesbytes » Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:03 pm

Then the guy is just a winger and/or a sore looser. If during the race he felt he was pulling wheel suckers then all he needed to do was to pull up. In the past I've made a leap from the pack to the breakaway and after 1k, I pull up (before getting to the breakaway, so the hitchhikers can make a choice of having a turn or failing in their objective. It became their choice and I don't feel bad feelings towards someone who doesn't do a turn, its all part of race tactics.
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Postby toolonglegs » Mon Nov 19, 2007 5:22 pm

...you soon realise that people whinge in every grade...some people think that they are in the TDF rather than some local club race.Wouldn't dwell on it too much and just train hard and smash them next time :D
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Postby sogood » Mon Nov 19, 2007 5:54 pm

toolonglegs wrote:...you soon realise that people whinge in every grade...some people think that they are in the TDF rather than some local club race.Wouldn't dwell on it too much and just train hard and smash them next time :D

Yep. Train hard is the only objective. Winning... Well, there'll always be someone better than you.
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Postby LuckyPierre » Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:23 pm

'tis hard to do anything more than comment from this distance (both geographically and 'grade-gap') - but ....
I get pretty pissed-off if some-one bludges down the back the whole race, then wins in the final sprint. Even in E-grade that sucks.
But you didn't do that - you did your bit, fell apart in the middle third, recovered, then the field played into your strength. I'm sure that if it happened every week the other riders would let you know - but that's all part of the banter too!
Early work usually gets forgotten in the heat of the sprint. I usually make sure that I chime in for some serious work on the front early on, then again in the middle, but I typically die towards the end of the prologue and it would take some serious slacking off by the lead bunch to let me recover enough to be any threat. Hence my usual place - first of the stragglers. :? I could probably hold on into the final laps if I hid the whole way, but there's not much fun in that, is there?
I suspect that disappointment had a lot to do with it - especially if he'd been in a long, ultimately unsuccessful breakaway. Get back out there and do it again - maybe take less frequent turns on the front, but spread them deeper into the race so that the lead bunch is aware of you for longer. There's nothing like being the instigator of an early attack to get their attention. Then, when they reel you back in they can feel all smug about it and after the race they can't say that you didn't do any work. If they still whinge after that, then it's likely that that's what they're doing - whingeing.
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Postby sogood » Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:30 pm

I have seen riders who has earned friends and many post race hand shakes by being aggressive during the race with breakaways and what have you but not take the final win. There's some psychology at work there.
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Postby toolonglegs » Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:38 pm

...I had a discussion with another rider when i was dropped off after breaking my bike the other week,he was pretty p'd off at a few riders who chased down every break,wouldn't attack themselves but also couldn't sprint.You have to ask whats the point?...if you are a good sprinter but moving up thru the grades like you are Jashy then you are probably riding in a grade above your fitness level,but your sprinting power has got you up there.So have i got a point?...not really :D ,only that everyone races to their own merits.Personally I like an attacking race with a break away as it makes for a harder race,I also like a superfast lead up to a sprint as I cant accelerate but have a good top speed.Most of my racing is used as training at the moment as I don't want to move up till I am another 10kgs lighter as I will suffer to much in A grade at my weight...so just play your own game
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Postby mikesbytes » Mon Nov 19, 2007 7:14 pm

Just thinking of another angle, why didn't the non-sprinters up the pace to a point where the sprinters were dropped. It's their own fault that Jasey was able to do them in the finish straight.
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Postby sogood » Mon Nov 19, 2007 7:51 pm

I doubt that people would know a new rider's ability. This is clearly a case of a dark horse that'll be marked at the next meet.
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Postby Jashy » Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:58 pm

sogood wrote:I doubt that people would know a new rider's ability. This is clearly a case of a dark horse that'll be marked at the next meet.


Very true, no doubt I'll be a marked man this weekend, at least if it ends in a sprint.
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Postby sogood » Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:00 pm

Jashy wrote:Very true, no doubt I'll be a marked man this weekend, at least if it ends in a sprint.

Well, good luck! Respect to a true champion isn't earned in a single race. Keep it up.
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Postby mikesbytes » Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:10 pm

Jashy wrote:
sogood wrote:I doubt that people would know a new rider's ability. This is clearly a case of a dark horse that'll be marked at the next meet.


Very true, no doubt I'll be a marked man this weekend, at least if it ends in a sprint.


I was told I was the favorite before Saturday's race, but I sure wasn't there at the end.

Jashy, marking you is a waste of time, I'd be looking at making sure you are dropped sometime during the race and if they don't drop you, then thats their bad strategy.
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