I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the size and the quality of this year’s Cat 1/2 feilds. The racing has been great, average speeds are high, the racing is good from start to finish. Grandstay has dominated with good team tactics. The rest of us are fighting for remaining places, taking chances with solo efforts, or simply surviving. The Sibley County road race had a little of all before mentioned. But ‘survival’ dominated for me and a hoste of others. When survival mode kicks in etiquette and sportsmanship prevail. When I see a breakdown in these two racing elements I get vocal. Welcome to my world. Crosswinds are stressful situations, add survival mode and you have a recipe for frustration or even worse; disaster.
An echelon forms when a group of racers, team mates or otherwise, work together in a pace-line to break through the wind efficiently. The speed is dicated by the speed of the rider rotating through the front of the paceline or echelon. The size of the echelon depends on the angle of wind and the width of rideable road. If you don’t know how to ride one and you have a cat 2 license or better please take it to the nearest trash can and dispose of it. You are no longer welcome in my race. OR, you can simply take my bitching to heart, learn something and not take it personally. There are 3 types of echelons; A break away, a chase group, and a survivor group. If you are in a race and not in one of these groups you should be in the feedzone. A break is pretty self explanitory, all racers take their effort with the MO of staying clear of a chase group or field to increase the chance of winning the race. In a 7-man break in a 45-man field each member of the break has a 1 in 7 chance of winning and a 100% chance of placing top 10. A chase group is usually made up of racers willing to make the effort to bridge to the break or put in the effort to take the next places behind the break. A chase group usually, but not always, has some solidarity or unified effort with some racers with teamates in the break trying to impede the effort (blocking) or simply taking advantage of the free ride IF there is room at the tail of the echelon to get a draft. More than often this tail is where racers struggle the most.
Racers tend to be single filed into one line with very little draft. Sometimes racers get shelled off due to the pace of the rotation.. and are forced back into ‘survival’ echelons, or worse; dropped. It’s these survial echelons where people lose track of the etiquette and sportsmanship of racing. Panic sets in, common sense is lost and quitting becomes easier. But all is not lost. A little solidarity can go a long ways. But reaction time is key.
As soon as you are on that line ready to be spit off the back you need to react as do the riders behind you. Move to the windward side of the road and maintain your effort. There will more more draft behind you than in the spot you vacated. Only an idiot would think that spot you vacated is better. A new echelon must form immediately to limit losses. These racers must now take off their team jerseys so to speak. It must be a unified effort as it is in a break or a chasing group. The race is in front of you, not behind, and survivng, limiting your losses will keep you in the game. Patience is key, the race will likely regroup. One of the nastiest things a racer can do is take advantage of this situation, not share in the effort and jump across to the next group at the easiest opportunity.
These are some of the rules of the road that the riders that I respect honor and obey.