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  1. #1
    如果你能讀了這個你講中文 genericbikedude's Avatar
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    Track racing etiquitte

    I'm a relatively new cat 5 track racer. More accurately, I'm a guy who rides bikes who goes to the track now and again for some fun local racing. I watch lots of videos on youtube where elite track cyclists elbow and shove each other. Thats not how it is at the local cat5 races where I'm at.

    But answer me this: if there is a paceline and I want to get in it, behind the leader, under what circumstances can I wiggle my way in there? Under what circumstances can I just blatantly crowd and shove somebody out of the way? I don't want to cause a crash, so that is the main thing holding me back from all of the things that I could potentially do.

    But is there a widely accepted, universal code of etiquette for these things?

    Another example: say I am uptrack and want to attack, but I see a guy mid-track who is also thinking about attacking, but I'm a little ways ahead of him. Say I swoop downtrack and my rear wheel touches his front. Who is at fault?

    Or do we just write off these little things?

    Again, if I didn't care about hurting people I'd be a lot more aggressive. But obviously I am here asking this question. What are the formal rules, and what are the implicit rules?

  2. #2
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    well you might not want to crowd and shove but there's a way to safely intimidate somebody. get in front of them a little bit, get low and get your elbows wide, and slide in to their space. the other person will probably back off.

    another thing to consider is that in a race, especially a cat 5 race, when people are fatigued and a little bit breathless, people are very susceptible to authoritative suggestion. by telling people where to go, you can get where you need to go.

    in your hypothetical, you're sort of both at fault. it's each rider's responsibility to protect their front wheel, but it's also each rider's rider's responsibility not to make aggressive lateral moves - it can be hard to know if a rider's on your hip/blind spot. you can make those attacks, just make sure you're doing more moving forward than over.
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  3. #3
    如果你能讀了這個你講中文 genericbikedude's Avatar
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    QueerPunk, you know whats funny? I posted this question in Bike Forums specifically to avoid getting an answer from you, of all people.

    I'd really like to hear if anyone with a lot of experience knows anything about any formal rules governing pacelines and responsibilities. Or do they even exist?

    Regardless of what the rules are I'm not going to kill people. But I'm sure that these questions have occurred to others and I'm curious what the thinking is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    I'm a relatively new cat 5 track racer. More accurately, I'm a guy who rides bikes who goes to the track now and again for some fun local racing. I watch lots of videos on youtube where elite track cyclists elbow and shove each other. Thats not how it is at the local cat5 races where I'm at.
    A big part of that is the simple fact that most cat. 5s don't stand up to much pushing and shoving. In my experience, most of it is accidental and a lot of it ends up on the ground.

    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    But answer me this: if there is a paceline and I want to get in it, behind the leader, under what circumstances can I wiggle my way in there?
    In training? None. You want into a paceline in training, you get in the back. In a race, the rules and refs generally require that you allow enough room that a rider in the pole lane isn't being forced onto the apron. The gray area is "backing into" the line. If you are on somebody's hip and you drift back into the rider on his wheel, you can often take the position, especially if the guy from whom you are taking it doesn't really care. If it's an especially valuable position, though -- say, in a keirin, or approaching a points sprint -- then any self respecting rider is going to fight you for it, and if a crash or other irregularity ensues, the refs will probably find you at fault. And if you get a punch in the nose over it, you have to take it like a man.

    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    Under what circumstances can I just blatantly crowd and shove somebody out of the way? I don't want to cause a crash, so that is the main thing holding me back from all of the things that I could potentially do.
    Well, again, in the 5s and 4s, you really should take it easy. Even if you are king of the bike handlers, your packmates aren't, and aggressive riding is going to cause crashes. The 3s are a bit more of a gray area, and in my experience it also depends on where you are. What is acceptable at one track will earn you a reputation as a nutcase at another, especially in those lower categories. Again, the best advice is to take it easy -- but if you see a lot of aggression... "when in Rome".

    Higher categories are another story. If you are in a 1/2 keirin, you'll need your elbows and that's all there is to it. There's an assumption, though, that in the 1/2 races you A) know what is appropriate and what is not, and B) can deal with it either way.

    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    But is there a widely accepted, universal code of etiquette for these things?
    No, not really. Some places, you'll be in trouble with the refs for anything more than incidental contact. But those refs would have a heart attack if they saw an actual Japanese keirin. Again, take it easy until you figure out what's acceptable at your particular track, in your particular category.

    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    Another example: say I am uptrack and want to attack, but I see a guy mid-track who is also thinking about attacking, but I'm a little ways ahead of him. Say I swoop downtrack and my rear wheel touches his front. Who is at fault?
    You are. Passing safely is always the onus of the rider doing the passing, and if you sweep someone you have a fight with both the ref and the guy you just ****ed. I swept a guy once at the old Carson Olympic track and the next time I came around he threw his bike at me -- and after I got up and cooled off I apologized to him.

    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    Or do we just write off these little things?
    First time you see someone carted off on a backboard because of something you did, you won't think of it as a "little thing" any more. And if you "write off" very much of that, you will earn a reputation, which makes it A) impossible to win bike races and B)you a target of opportunity.

    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    Again, if I didn't care about hurting people I'd be a lot more aggressive. But obviously I am here asking this question. What are the formal rules, and what are the implicit rules?
    The formal rules are written down. You should have gotten a copy with your license. Few places go absolutely "by the book", but you can -- and in the lower categories, really should -- while still winning. The other rules can -- sorry, but it's the truth -- only be learned by experience.

    HTH.
    Last edited by Six jours; 05-01-09 at 10:26 PM.

  5. #5
    shut up and ride
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    six jours put it well, although he must be even older than me, as they don't send you a rule book anymore. but it is online at the USAC site, read it. typically when someone is in the 'pole lane' or 'sprinters lane' they own it . you can't pass underneath them and they can use their position in the lane (high or low) to their advantage.
    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    Under what circumstances can I just blatantly crowd and shove somebody out of the way?
    none, never, i hope that's clear enough. you should be learning to win races by being smarter, stronger and faster, not unsafe and questionable riding.

    one thing that we were told at a motorcycle roadracing trackday (which was non-competitive) really sunk in with me and applies here as well- "if you have to think about making the pass, then don't do it".

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    Quote Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz View Post
    six jours put it well, although he must be even older than me, as they don't send you a rule book anymore.
    Heheh. I sat down to think about it a few days ago and realized that I retired from active competition almost 20 years ago. Sheesh.

    At any rate, it's a very valid point: you have to read and understand the rules before beginning to learn which ones are cast in stone and which ones you can bend.

  7. #7
    如果你能讀了這個你講中文 genericbikedude's Avatar
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    six jours, thanks a lot. thats good stuff to hear. don't worry, I'm not some nutcase trying to kill people in the 5s. I just wanted to know if such insanity is sanctioned -- if it was I'd be more prepared for it and perhaps do it myself preemptively.

    Last weekened I did see a friend break his collarbone when some guy swooped downtrack and clipped his wheel. Struck me as a really ****ed up move. But then, a lot of guys with more experience than me shrugged it off, even while I was kind of stewing about how it seemed really ****ed up. The the guy who caused the crash seemed like an arrogant ******bag.

    But like you say, "when in rome." If arrogant ******baggery is what's expected, then I can certainly bring it.

    The only thing I need to figure out is how to sneak into pacelines during races when I don't want to jump onto the back. In the 5s, the guy at the back of the paceline will invariably get dropped and will likely be squirrely. I'd rather not be behind them.

    Its also possible that I'll need to cat up to the 4s before too long.

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    In my time there were always one or two guys with a reputation for unnecessary aggression. They were not respected for it, but were viewed with a mixture of caution and contempt. So I'd work to avoid being that guy, were I you. Granted, there were/are other guys -- Paul Swift and Gibby Hatton always come to my mind -- who had the reputation of being able to deal with anything they needed to. They didn't earn it by being ******bags so much as by how they responded to ******bags. For whatever that's worth.

    As for the paceline question, first a clarification: I assume that by "paceline", you mean a situation where the pack is strung out in single file while going fast. If you mean guys rolling around at moderate speed and trading pulls in a race, that's kind of out of my experience, because I hardly ever saw it. In my time, the group was bunched up while going slow or medium, and strung out while going fast. if that's changed then I dunno what to tell you.

    So in that context, when a jam starts everyone is looking for a wheel. If you get caught out, the problem is not so much how to get a wheel, but how you ended up not getting one in the first place. If you keep your eyes open and your head up, you will see the jam developing and you will be able to jump early enough to get yourself a spot. In fact, if you react quickly enough you'll find yourself at the front, from where it is perfectly acceptable to simply stay in the pole and slow down, forcing other riders to pass you. When you're where you want to be, accelerate onto the wheel you want. The only real problem is if the jam is as a result of an attack: you going slow at the front is going to hamper the initial organization of the chase. Unless the guy off the front is your teammate, this might not be in your best interest.

    If it's too late, and you find yourself in damage control mode, then your best bet is first to get onto someone's hip. If you crowd right down onto him, the guy behind will often just drift back to let you in, again if it's not an especially valuable spot. And if he doesn't, then you can slide back a bit more aggressively, to "encourage" the fellow to give up his spot. There is some risk to this, primarily from the owner of the hip you've been riding: if he makes a sudden move, you're vulnerable. Beyond that, don't really force the issue. If the fellow you're trying to drift into is stubborn and really wants the spot, it's his, legally and "morally". Either drift back another spot and try the guy behind him, or stick tight to the hip you're on and hope the jam ends soon.

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    Oh, and as for what is "sanctioned" in the 5s and 4s? Not much, in my experience. I generally found that behavior that would be completely acceptable in a 1/2 race will earn you a lecture from the refs in a 4s or 5s race. The general attitude seemed to be that the 4s -- and 5s especially -- were places to learn, not get killed, and get out of as rapidly as possible. Once into the threes, you begin to be allowed more "tactics" of the sort that occasionally involve aggression.

  10. #10
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    QueerPunk, you know whats funny? I posted this question in Bike Forums specifically to avoid getting an answer from you, of all people.

    I'd really like to hear if anyone with a lot of experience knows anything about any formal rules governing pacelines and responsibilities. Or do they even exist?

    Regardless of what the rules are I'm not going to kill people. But I'm sure that these questions have occurred to others and I'm curious what the thinking is.
    i'm in ur internetz, blind to ur intents.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post

    The only thing I need to figure out is how to sneak into pacelines during races when I don't want to jump onto the back. In the 5s, the guy at the back of the paceline will invariably get dropped and will likely be squirrely. I'd rather not be behind them.
    you need to use the fact the guys at the back leave gaps to your advantage. if you are strung out and rolling turns, when you hit the front, punch the tempo up for a half lap before swinging up. if you're strong enough, there will be gaps usually in the front half of the paceline that you can slip into.

    if there are no gaps, then to the back you go.

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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genericbikedude View Post
    But like you say, "when in rome." If arrogant ******baggery is what's expected, then I can certainly bring it.
    You really don't need to bring it, just show that you won't put up with it. In the recent past I've ridden against several of the domestic pro track teams-- one of them showed up and were total d-bags and left everyone (including a few of their own respectable riders) pissed at them. They were read the riot act and then read it again the next time they showed up. The others generally just plain rode hard and clean races and left everybody just having a lot of respect for them and their abilities.
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    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post

    If it's too late, and you find yourself in damage control mode, then your best bet is first to get onto someone's hip. If you crowd right down onto him, the guy behind will often just drift back to let you in, again if it's not an especially valuable spot. And if he doesn't, then you can slide back a bit more aggressively, to "encourage" the fellow to give up his spot.
    And if you have a reputation as a strong and safe rider the person in back might well tell you to drop in because he'd rather see you taking a pull than doing it himself....
    Track - the other off-road
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    It was a rare day when I wasn't happy to ride behind someone...

  15. #15
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    CAT 5 races are rarely won by milliseconds. The stronger riders are usually head and shoulders above the rest and will win easily. Either they are strong enough to start the sprints 100-200M earlier than anyone else can handle, or they can cruise at 5MPH faster than the rest and drop them before the sprints even start.

    If you need these tactics listed in the first post to get your points then you (actually your legs) will likely not be ready for the next level, because if you were ready you wouldn't need them to get out of CAT 5. You'd just ride off the front, take the points off the table, and go home.
    Last edited by carleton; 05-04-09 at 02:02 AM.

  16. #16
    I'm so much cooler online eriksbliss's Avatar
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    I'm an old (40+) guy who took up cycling not many years ago, and track cycling just two years ago, to get in shape and because it's fun. I'm not young enough or fast enough that I'll liekly ever make it past Cat 4. So I'm not one to speak from experience, either quantitative or qualitative. But I can speak, perhaps, as one of the sorts of guys you might see in your races. And I would say know your audience. If you're a young guy making your way up through the ranks in sanctioned races against similar racers, that's one thing. But if your track has a weekly amateur day similar to mine, where most of the "Cat 4/5" guys are folks with families and jobs and stuff, we're not going to take too kindly to your attitude and riding style imposing unecessary risk on a race for which the winner gets nothing more than a good feeling until the next race starts in fifteen minutes.

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