Pre-riding course Etiquette?

Who is racing or is riding, can you tell?

Sometimes I wonder if some riders believe in etiquette on the bike, it's like the world was created for them and their bike and everyone else are props in their world. There are the roadies and their lack of conscious cycling, and the commuter/general cyclist and their inability to follow the law and now their is the pre-course-riding asshat.

This is being brought to light because Saturday at the Blue Sky Velo race a local rider Greg Keller was taken out by a pre-rider and may have broken his collarbone from the incident. There is no rider in Colorado who lives cyclocross like Greg does and now his season may be toast!

First off, what are the official rules on pre-riding an ACA non championship course? I'm sure someone out there is a walking rule book. Next, I'm not saying just because you pre-ride the course makes you an asshat, there are times there are real safety issues if you DON'T pre-ride the course, seen that happen at CU short track every year. But there are those riders who either don't care about the racers maybe because he thinks he is riding at "race pace" or there are the riders who just don't seem to be aware of racers approaching from the tail side. While he may be apologitic to the situation it still is annoying because if you are out on the course you need to be aware of potential racers at all times!

So step up on the 303cycling soap box for a moment and give us your rant on pre-riding below in the comments

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23 Comments

Kris, you nailed it with

Kris, you nailed it with "what are the official rules" as its obviously fuzzy for most. Every article on pre race prep includes pre-riding courses. I saw one last week that gave an example of riding the course up to four times. Now take 100+ 35+4s (beginners) who read these articles and put them right after the 35+ (elite) and it's a recipe for disaster. They of course are going to pre ride during the 35+ race because this is the only time to do it. Not all of us are going to abide by the unwritten rule of "get out of the way" all the time as its just a matter of statistics. It seems simple enough, but obviously this lack of policy or clarity isn't working. It’s not just the 35+4s either as even they scream their heads off at people to get out of the way. I think Greg's proposal of dedicated times throughout the day for course recon is spot on. This is how it is done on the east and west coasts and apparently Europe as well.

Warm-Ups

I like the idea of warm-ups in the first two laps of a race and then the course is closed for warm-ups. This would prevent mishaps like Greg's. I had similar problems with riders on the course late in the 35+ open race as well. Our field gets spread out over the course of the race, and the spacing between racers gives warm-up riders a false sense that they are not in the way. This way, every one will know when the warm-up laps take place, and when the course is closed. So you could do two laps, and then as another poster said, go ride on the road or trainer. If you can't figure the course after two laps, you might need to come to the race prior so you can get 4 laps to figure it out. Definitely a problem that needs to be fixed. It's unfortunate a good rider like Keller had to go down. If you read his blog, you'll understand his fustration. Get well Greg.

Simple, really

ACA rules require at least 10, if not 15 minutes between races.
Use that window to pre-ride the course. But your 'warmup' can
and should be done on the road, the trainer, whatever. You don't need the actual course to get the legs moving. If you're caught on course during a
race that's not yours with the wrong number, or no number, you go home.

Pre-Riding During a Race is WRONG!

Though I don't live in Colorado anymore and don't even remotely know the ACA rulebook, nor did I know it when I lived there (just moved away this past summer) it seems to me that you should not ride the course at all during any category's race whether they are Cat 4's learning the ropes, Master's A racers, Non-Master's A racers, Women's categories, etc. There are typically a few moments between each event in which you can hop on the course and hit a couple of laps while they are staging the next race, there are no racers on course and you don't belong there if there are. It's not your race.

I do like the suggestion that Greg Keller made on mudandcowbells.com recently with pre-ordained warm up periods. Though it might make the day longer it allows racers to achieve more time to look at the course and figure out the lines making the first few laps safer in bunch situations.

Regardless, do not pre-ride during someone else's race. It's a respect thing, you don't want them on the course while you're racing so don't get on the course while they are racing.

my two cents.

Stats?

Granted no one wants to be the one who gets injured but by and large I don't think this is a huge deal. From my observations, the pre-riders are courteous and aware of racers on course and over-eager to get off the course. I've seen more close calls with spectators than pre-riders.

I'd be curious to see the stats on "incidents" instead of rushing to judgement based off of the unfortunate circumstances of one popular and vocal local crosser.

Safety

Do we really need statistics if the issue we are talking about is for safety issues? I saw exactly what happened to Greg. The person warming up was just not paying attention. Before he new it Greg was approaching fast. I heard Greg say something about hold his line.

I saw something similar yesterday at Louisville where a person warming up was not paying attention and a group of guys racing on the last lap approached him very fast. The guy warming up took out the first guy and cost him a top 10 finish. Stuff like that should not happen.

combined groups

Part of the problem without any rules from ACA, the newer people are clueless about etiquette, imho.

Another example with the problem is the combined groups like the 55+ going with the Cat4 Women - cat4 men are always warming up during them. The 55+ guys get bent out of shape when the cat4 w lapped riders don't move over fast enough, but it's hard for them to tell who is who when the cat4 guys are constantly riding up to them, sitting on their wheels and sometimes passing. Now that's great for motivation and confidence DURING a race - some dude riding by you like you are standing still and he's not even racing.

No offense intended to any parties, just wish this was prohibited. I tend to warm up very similar to Greg's suggested schedule - at the end of the race of two groups before me I scout it out, and get one more lap in at the start of the next group. Pull off, and do a higher intensity pre-ride after the following group. Getting to the race just before your race and pre-riding during someones race is rude in my opinion. Typically there is enough time to get 3 laps in without overlapping.

ON course warm ups

Rules, courtesy and awareness aside, the sheer numbers of riders is going to cause issues when people warm up on the course during a active race. No matter how or if that is addressed in the rules now or later, there is one thing that can minimize conflict and still allow warm ups on the course right now.

- Start your warm up behind the START of the race previous to yours.
- Ride 2-3 laps at "fast" pace
- Get off the course (Finish the warm up on the street or trainer..)

Jumping in behind the start of the previous race gives a large clear area to ride in, which works well till the race spreads out. once that happens it's hard to "stay out of the way" without "hyper-vigilance", especially the 35+4s with the fast 35+ opens racing.

Maybe a rule that allows warming up for the first 2-3 laps of each race? Not a complete fix, but would minimize the issue after the race spreads out, keeping people out of the "gaps".

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