Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Crash Course Dummies Finale: When in rome..

do what the romans do...

in my final tribute to my dear friend, i would like to share with you some insights about things that are not related to your physical training for tris at all..

race etiquette

over my two full tri seasons, i've come to understand a couple of unspoken rules which, if followed, can ensure you do not rub anybody the wrong way. of course, if your intention is to annoy somebody, then this posting's not for you! :)

1. freeloader
getting to races are as important as racing itself. there's a number of things that you need to do before actually getting there. the main ones are registration, accommodation and travel arrangements. the key here is the bigger your group is, the lesser the cost per pax, subject to room and car space.

however, it is only polite that you do not continuously rely on others to make the accommodation or travel arrangements. it is also not very tactful and people will feel taken for granted if you inform them at very last minute that you would like to join their group.

inform early and stick to one group. do not cancel last minute to join another group as this will disrupt your original group's plan (imagine, they have rejected other friends to reserve your slot only to realise two days before race that you're bunking in with another group. their cost share has gone up and it's too late to find a replacement roomie).

if it is naturally beyond your ability to take charge of room reservation or travel, offer to help in other ways like collecting race numbers, or volunteering to bring carbo-loading fruits, or offer to sleep in sleeping bag instead of the bed. the goal here is to ensure that everybody in the group contributes so that nobody gets the 'freeloader' label.

2. know when to shut up
the one thing i like about races is, it feels like a high school reunion. Apart from the usual gang that you train with, you will always see a great deal of people that you only meet at races.

naturally, it's a great time to catch up and do some sizing up. i am always happy to see these people and can't help but be extra chatting and animated.

be as crazy as you like but know when to shut up: during race briefings.

nothing annoys participants more than a chatty group at race briefings. it is inconsiderate, disrespectful to the organisers and down right rude.

if you have a question about the route or rules, ask the organiser giving the brief. he's the one who knows best. if you ask your friend beside you, you're actually disrupting his concentration and you might be disturbing other participants as you discuss your concerns.

if you are familiar with the course, you can either pay attention in case there are new pointers or just leave the room if you would like to chat and catch up with friends. you may not hear it because you're busy chatting away, but many are actually calling you an inconsiderate prick, arrogant moron and stupid yapping monkey under their breaths.

3. you did not pay more for a bigger transition spot
we are all equals and should be treated with respect on race day. How kiasu (read: unhealthily competitive) you are is reflected by how you arrange your transition area.

i have been parked next to some really nice gals who will place their transition baskets slightly behind their front wheels, and some not very considerate ones that hang their bikes loosely and transition basket loosely as well.

depending on the space available i find those who park their bikes an inch from the opponent's transition basket and their own transition basket closest possible to their front wheels most suitable. i myself have started practicing that.

if you are the sweetie that places your basket further behind, stop this. you are very sweet but you will find it very hard to get to your basket when race starts. and the girl next to you may not be as courteous, placing her bike too close. so close, that you may topple some of her stuff usually placed on the aerobars while reaching for your basket. which of course, is worse than hogging a bit more space to begin with.

if you're the transition space hogger, stop this too. This is not your bed where you are used to hogging the blankie and getting away with it.

4. on your right!
unless you are super fast that nobody passes or laps you, learn this phrase.

when you hear somebody shouting this behind you, it means a faster rider is trying to pass you, on your right. at this point either stick your course and let him ride around you or if you are far right of the lane, quickly move left to give him space.

do not hog.

as much as you would like to feel like an elite or want to challenge for the thrill of it, avoid charging and hogging. pros are there to win big bucks and chances are, if you're not top 3 material, you'll blow your little engine before you cross the finishing line.

you can however, taste a bit of pro-haven. when you pass a slower rider, shout "on your right!" and put on your most serious face when you pass them.

very important: use phrase only if able to pass and drop them for at least a few km. if not... super shy man....

5. stopping to puke/pee/poo/pengsan
if you're on the bike and feeling nauseous, have a tummy ache or wanting to pass out, remember that your bike is like your car and other riders are car drivers themselves.

if your car tyre blows, and you're approaching a corner, what do you do?

you will first look at your rearview mirror to check who's behind you. then, you would try your best to park after the corner is done or way before the corner. either way, you will try your best to not obstruct any other car or are wary that a car may not see yours and ram you from behind... correct?

same rule applies when you're doing the bike leg.

feel a sudden need to stop?
1. check who's behind you. do not brake suddenly
2. move to the side and make sure your bike is completely off the road.

if you are careless you may cause an accident and hurt yourself and somebody else.

6. suck wheel graciously
most local tris allow us the joy of drafting some body's wheel to safe energy.

if you would like to take advantage of this remember one key phrase: you're not the only smart one out there.

in short, don't take advantage of this privilege by being 'so smart' and finding a 'victim' that will do all the work while you sit there comfortably.

this is a very hard etiquette to persuade because many have this "why should i care about my opponent?" and "i'll only do it if it benefits me... and only me" attitude during races.

a very fair attitude to have.

but i've heard a lot of stories of annoyed triathletes who've experienced freeloading suckers. it is more annoying when the sucker is a relay rider because hey! you're a freeloader... you suck on some one's wheel, a full participant at that. you ravish their energy to pull you faster but yet you do not run after. the triathlete slows down so that you can help work your keep but you slow down yourself to remain in draft!

no offense to relay riders, a pat on your back for being in the race to begin with.

so, if you're a freeloader, start pulling your weight. you may be feeling really smart about taking advantage of a fellow racer but the after race stories label you a coward, a pussy and a pure annoyance.

sucking tips: know what number represents which group before you attempting sucking their wheel. if it's an age grouper, safe to draft because they have to run after the bike and will conserve energy for that. if it's a relay number, be reminded that they will be going all out on the bike because they won't need to run after. drafting a relay may use up more than your reserved energy. let them go and find a more suitable draft group.



proof reading this post made me realise how much angst i have about 'misbehaving' participants!

i think if we all did our part to be considerate we can all benefit from, and enjoy raceday.

i apologise if some of the points have rubbed you the wrong way, but like i said, consider the etiquette tips if you don't want to be a race nuisance but if annoying others for personal gain is what you think is best race practise... then by all means, go ahead. this blog obviously wasn't written for you...

1 comment:

Dancing Ciken said...

good point beb! esp those stopping to pee, hahaha