I am in the final roller / rhythm section before the finish at SERC #1, a week ago Sunday at the Santos Vortex.
It might be 20 seconds, tops, to the finish line.
I am rider 813, a 43-year old cat-2. Everybody knows this because I have a gigantic “813” on my left calf written with a big, black sharpie marker.
So I enter the rollers and all of a sudden there’s a staccato “Come on come on come on hurry hurry hurry!” from behind.
Again, it is a mere 20 seconds to the finish line.
The rollers are tight like a compressed pump track, and they aren’t wide enough to pass. But there is a slight break for a fire road between the rollers. Being a gracious rider I pull to the side a bit so Super Aggressive Dude can get by.
He might be a pro, right? He might be racing for a position, right?
As I pull over on the fire road I don’t break speed, because I’m racing too, 20 seconds left or not.
Super Aggressive Guy does not pass. So I enter the rollers again and all off a sudden the staccato is back “Come on man HURRY UP!”
So at this point I let off a string of expletives at Super Aggressive Rider that would make a sailor blush. “We’re going through a @##$%# rhythm section 20 #$^&#@ seconds before the #$#%# finish dude, I already gave you a chance to pass!”
I said something like that. I’ll let you guess what the cuss words were.
After the rollers there’s a wide passing area right before the finish line proper, and Super Aggressive Guy still stays back. So this infuriates me almost beyond imagination. I turn around and glare at him as we roll through the line.
Apologies to Rider 203
Rider 203, I apologize. My string of cusswords was not personal. I wish you only the best this racing season, and hope you have many victories.
But you have to learn how to pass.
How to Pass Another Rider
Here’s the deal, my goal events aren’t until July and September. I didn’t have any speed at Santos and I probably won’t have any speed next week at Tsali because my I’m still laying down my base.
So if you come up behind me I am probably going to let you pass.
If you want to pass me (or another rider), take a cue on how the pros and race leaders do it:
When a pro or race leader comes up they yell out “Pro rider!”, “Race leader!”, or “Out of class coming through!”
If more than one rider is coming the other riders will usually yell out as well, “Two riders!” or “Three riders!” etc.
When I hear those words I get over to the side and will usually signal with my hand which side for the riders to go by on.
Even if someone yells out, “On your left!” I still try to gesture with my hand (because I am dyslexic and trying to keep track of left and right in a race can be challenging sometimes).
So the rider calls out, I point with my hand, and here’s where the miracle happens: neither I nor the other riders break speed. They go by, I keep a different line at the same speed, and nobody loses speed or time.
The only time I actually will slow down is when it’s really close to the finish line and I hear “Race leader!” In those cases I try and surrender the whole lane, but only if it’s safe, and only if I am not fighting for a final position myself.
I Am Not a Mind Reader
If you come up behind me and want to pass, and you don’t say anything, you have two options.
The first is to just go ahead and pass. I’m cool with that. This is a race and you don’t need my permission.
The second is to give me a heads up that you are there and you want to pass.
Nothing drives me crazy like the dude that comes up and rides my wheel, and then about a minute later says, “Come on buddy I need to get by.”
I am not going to initiate the conversation on your pass. You have to do a little more work than just sitting there and hoping that I know, or care about, your race tactics.
If I’m on your wheel it’s because I’m conserving energy by letting you do the work. And if I come around, I may ask, or I may not give you a heads up at all. It all depends on my race strategy.
I Am Not Going to Slow Down to Let You Pass
Ten minutes into the Santos race a rider in my own class comes up from behind and starts yelling, “Come on, Buddy, let’s catch those guys, hurry up.”
I ignore him.
A minute later, “Come on buddy, let’s go.”
I roll my eyes. Somewhat laconically I yell back, “You can pass if you want.”
Like I said earlier, my speed isn’t there yet. I know this.
I have very specific goals for the race. For example, I want to run it clean, I want to carry speed, and I want my last lap…when I am suffering and tired…to be as clean and as smooth through the Vortex than my first lap. Mission accomplished.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not racing. So if you want to pass and you’re in my class, you have to earn it. I’m not going to race you on the pass, and I will surrender some space if I know you’re faster, but dude, I’m not going to pull over and clap as you go by.
Plus, if I’m running in the back of the pack, you’re even slower than I am!
I understand if you threw a chain at the start, but otherwise you are Sucktastic today, too. If you’re busting the balls of 13th place so you can hurry up and be in 12th, please, put some ambien in your water bottle and go hit the pump track.
But to this guy’s credit, he just saw an opening and sprinted by, which is what I prefer actually.
It is racing, after all.
See Strackacobra’s mountain themed T’s at Strackacobra.com.