Tight passing: good or bad sportsmanship?
I'm new to CX and am liking it because it seems kinda like bike racing plus pro wrestling. : )
I like the idea of tricky passes. I'm old but I grew up doing crits and track racing and I always liked the bumping. CX seems to me to let ya bump but not get hurt. It's actionpacked but with fewer casualties.
So I just got the new issue of Cyclocross magazine, #19 (not that new, I guess). It has a neat story in it called "Illegal Contact" about a conflict between 2 racers on the course. Tricky passing got carried away, beyond the comfort zones of both players. To me maybe that's the biggest angle: it wasn't cool for either rider. They knew the pass wasn't going to work out cleanly at all. Well, ya gotta read it. (http://www.cxmagazine.com/issue19) But I can see there are tensions here in the values.
There are a couple things here. One is passing. The other is the duty of lapped riders. My impression is that we pull to the side as speeders come by. It's worked out fine for me so far. I've read that in pro events racers sometimes (always?) get pulled when lapped, but maybe that depends on the series, etc. One of the tensions in the conflict in this article is that both riders were still racing hard tho one was being lapped and he'd been lapped a lot so wanted to keep rolling as he was lapped rather than having to totally get out of the way, off the course, put a foot down, etc. I can see that. Most places there will be room for an easy pass, but what about occasional long stretches of tight tricky singletrack where passing is tough?
So back to passing...
Ideally, both riders are equally game for whatever skills are required -- if the trickier rider can pull off the move then more power to em. But they have to be able to do it, right'n'clean. But "clean" is relative. You can't be crashing or hurting others. But here's the tension: if a rider is skilled then a bit of bumping is fine -- there's no tangling of pokey parts or bruising, etc. I suppose as a season progresses and you get to know each other you find out what level of action is desired. Fun is the name of the game -- fun for everyone. I suppose this is what happens in crits and on the track as well. You don't just bump anyone. But as you get to know who you're with and what they can handle and enjoy then go for it.
But, who knows, maybe in this day of carbon and old-fart racers the main value is "stay away!" I guess I'll find out.
(Issue #19 also has a great fun piece on the Ghillie suit superfan who gives away LOTS of $ handups ... and the tensions in the values of that. If ya check em out, tell em I sent ya!)