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11/21/06
Race Ugliness
Filed under: general, cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:43 am

Not to put a damper on what was a really nice day of racing, a whole slug of emails popped up on the Bay Area Cyclocross Group following this past weekend’s race in Golden Gate Park.  I guess things were reasonably heated during the Men’s B race, and this event of extreme ugliness occurred when the Men’s 35+ B’s and Juniors were out on the course at the same time:


> > My 10 year old son, a budding, avid and enthusiastic
> > cyclist, suffered
> > a rough fall in this past Sunday’s Pilarcitos
> > cyclo-cross race in
> > Golden Gate Park. He shattered his elbow AND
> > dislocated it as well -
> > it was excruciatingly painful injury to have to
> > endure. He handled the
> > injury, and subsequent surgery, in a stoic manner
> > and I’ve never been
> > prouder to be his father.
> >
> > I’m not sure exactly what caused the crash.
> > According to my son, he
> > was impacted by one of the riders in the Master B
> > race and told to “get
> > out of the way.” My wife was spectating at the spot
> > where the incident
> > occurred and does not recall everything that
> > happened - but is certain
> > one of the riders, while passing my son, yelled at
> > him to “get out of
> > the way” and then proceeded up the course about
> > another 50 meters and
> > yelled at another junior to “get out of the way.”
> >
> > I discount my son’s account that he was impacted
> > (but can not prove
> > otherwise). I think he probably lost control of his
> > bike for a brief
> > moment (that’s all it takes!). However, I don’t
> > doubt my son or wife’s
> > account that a rider screamed at him to “get out of
> > the way” while
> > negligently passing him, which contributed / caused
> > the crash. This
> > genuinely saddens me.
> >
> > It disgusts me that there are 35+ b riders whose
> > egos are so
> > insatiable, they’re willing to do damn near anything
> > to move up a
> > place. I must ask that most important of rhetorical
> > questions: “what
> > in the $#@% is wrong with people!” At the end of
> > the day, no 35+b
> > rider is of any importance - any hack elite level
> > rider races circles
> > around even the fastest 35+b rider. I can
> > understand (but not condone)
> > this mind set if your racing for a living, or at
> > some type of elite
> > level. But for god’s sake, we’re talking about
> > master 35-45 b level
> > racers: not elite, not even master A. There’s no
> > excuse for hounding
> > any fellow racer, let alone a junior, in the manner
> > my son experienced
> > today. It’s inexcusable and intolerable, and in
> > this instance,
> > contributed to another racer suffering a serious
> > injury.
> >
> > Some folks I’ve spoke to about the incident
> > questioned the wisdom of
> > running the juniors on the course with the master 35
> > b’s - I don’t, in
> > fact, I think it makes perfect sense. Presumably,
> > the master 35+ b’s
> > are experienced, more skilled, more mature riders.
> > As a master 35+ b,
> > when I see a junior on the course, I go out of my
> > way to encourage
> > them, and have never found it difficult to ” let off
> > the gas” for a
> > moment to pass after calling “on your left” or “on
> > your right.”
> >
> > Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you stand on
> > running the juniors
> > with the master b riders. Bottom line - juniors
> > were on the course
> > with the 35+ b’s. Given this situation, masters
> > riders have a duty to
> > race in a mature and responsible manner.
> >
> > Brian Bruckner
> > Owner
> > USA Cycling Certified Coach
> > Big Swingin’ Cycles

Man…. I read something like that and just sit there stunned. There aren’t enough expletives to send that riders’s way, and that’s gotta rank up there in bad karma somewhere in the neighborhood of razor-blading apples at Halloween.  Maybe it’s why I don’t win these things - well, that and having neither the blessings of genetics nor the diligence to train appropriately.  I don’t have intensity of purpose to blow past some 10 year old kid while screaming at him, nor do I have the misconception that will make a Bit of Difference in the Scheme of It All.

Brian (if the attribution of him as the author of this email is correct) put on the White Hill School CX race in Fairfax a couple of weeks back.   He’s clearly a fan and a supporter.  The fact that he can write with a reasonably dispassionate tone about the incident says a lot about his character.  I wonder what the reaction would have been if the parent had been less “involved” and more litigous.  Of course, I don’t really think that CX racing is where young riders new to the sport first show up, so that’s a scenario as likely to occur as say a soccer game…

The less horrific events seemed to involve more than appropriate levels of pushing during run-ups, hands coming off bars,  and sketchy behaviors during passing while the Men’s B race went on.  Perhaps some of it was just racing, but most of it (I’m supposing, as it didn’t occur to me directly) had no place on the course.  Now, it wasn’t some Gangs of New York free-for-all out there; even by the worst description, it was a couple of riders who just acted poorly.  Maybe some cube farmers who missed out on their raises last week. 

But, to be clear: There is no excuse for that behavior.  If the hands come off the bars in an aggressive manner, the rider ought to be kicked out of the race.  But, as these races occur in the real world rather than on rollers in some gym somewhere, it becomes hard to police, and I’d reckon that the promotors have no desire to become cops in addition to all the other hats they have to wear.  Maybe they could station a marshall near the likely bottleneck zone for the first lap or so to ID the overt culprits and yank them from the race.  Let ‘em go back to the gym so they can complain about the lack of available free weights.

Now, I also realize that it is “racing”. In the first transition from wide pavement to narrowish trail, there was a bit of knocking, and I bumped elbows with at least one other rider - of course I was against the barrier and no where to go.  But, no one squawked and we all made it through, then got down to the business of finding out who the faster riders were.  You duke it out with folks who are roughly your speed, follow and pass riders when you can - it’s part of what gets us up and toeing the line.  And if losing a few seconds on a run-up is that vital to you, maybe consider riding in a longer race (y’know, like the “A”’s) so it doesn’t matter quite so much.

Obviously can’t solve it here, but this was just on my mind this AM.

And just to repeat things said earlier, the promoters put on a great event at a wonderful venue, and things were very, very good in the world of bicycles on Sunday in San Francisco.

4 Responses to “Race Ugliness”

  1. Gordonzola Says:
    wow, that sounds awful. Sorry I missed seeing you at the race, I was working (of course). Thanksgiving is the work every day time of year.
  2. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Yeah - just stunningly bad behavior. Wotta lout! Hang in there at work!
  3. billc Says:
    My wife had the same injury - broken/dislocated elbow - as a result of a winter biking incident with a car that had no lights on, pushing her into the curb. It’s an incredibly painful injury, and shameful that this time it was caused by a fellow racer. Showers of bad karma indeed! Great race reports, wish we were still racing up here in Minnesota.
  4. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Nasty business, that. All the follow-ups on the BayAreaCyclocross list were suitably horrified. Sorry to hear your racing season has ended - I thought you folks up there slapped on the hakkepillittas and raced circuits on the ice this time of year.