This is why we can't have nice things

Less than a mile into a night ride tonight with Alex I tore my derailleur off my bike. It would have been understandable if I had crashed, or shifted, or it had been muddy, but all I did was bunny hop while in the 3rd biggest cog. Somehow this sent my derailleur into the spokes which of course led to a broken dropout and the end of my ride. Incredibly lame.

Also, I haven't seen this mentioned elsewhere, so I'll put the word out -- USA Cycling did the expert short track fields a massive disservice with their overzealous pulling of riders on Sunday at Mount Snow, and I think they'll realize their mistake next year when those classes are nearly empty. Entertain, for a moment, the following scenario --

1) You put down $49 to race short track at nationals
2) 15 minutes into the race, you're in 6th place, 45 seconds off the leader.
3) The officials wave you off the course

Sounds implausible, but it happened to Stephen Petersen. Expert Men 19-29 short track had 23 starters and 5 finishers. Stephen was the guy in 6th who got pulled, and no, I don't know him, I just recognize that he got screwed.

The short track rules have a clause that is something like this:
Riders shall be pulled when they are in danger of being lapped or otherwise considered out of contention


The officials at Mount Snow decided to take the second part of that, "otherwise considered out of contention" far too seriously. They basically pulled anyone who was more than 20 seconds out of 5th place, regardless of how close to being lapped they were. Why did they do this? I have no idea. I can only assume that instead of applying common sense (people paid to race, they want to race, let them race until they are nearly lapped) they were slaves to the letter of the rulebook, not the spirit of it.

Because of this, a lot of people got their $50 races cut short for extremely dubious reasons. Laps were being run in the 1:40-1:45 range, so when you're 45 seconds down you're nowhere near being lapped. The 30+ race had similar issues, 26 starters and 10 finishers, with 10th place finishing a whopping 36 seconds out of 1st place. Open women? 22 starters, 7 finshers, with 7th place 42 seconds off the pace.

So this wasn't a fluke error, this was a systematic destruction of people's racing experiences that went throughout the entire morning. Initially I thought it was the work of some clueless volunteers, but upon closer examination it was a very official-looking guy in a red USA cycling shirt at the finish line who was actually cutting people. So I don't think was a communication error, someone just decided that this is how short track's should be run. It was applied consistently, but it's just... stupid. Let people race until they actually create a problem, not until they are out of contention. If you're going to pull people just because they can't make the podium, then why even start them? Just pull me before the gun goes off, because I'm not making a national champs podium unless there's about 3 starters.

Alright, I think I've made my point. I think this is a self-correcting injustice, however -- next year the expert short track fields are going to be TINY, and USA Cycling should have no trouble figuring out why. Will anyone pay $50 to race 11 minutes and get pulled for being 45 seconds down? I hope not.
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