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.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I don't think your bike likes gears and derailleurs very much.
gewilli said…
dude - come on - if ya can't hang with the fast guys don't bother racing ...

racing is about winning!

this ain't some hippie/PC "lets make everyone feel happy and included" bullcrap... They are trying to figure out who the fastest dudes (and dudettes) out there are...

That said it sounds like the ass munching retards from Wade's race in CT were working (agressive pulling).

It happened to a giant handful of us in that race.

What if #5 person crashed out? What if #3-4-5-6 all put their ders into their spokes?

Then what? 7-10 would be pretty GD pissed that they got pulled...

but if 10 suddenly bonked/blew and got all wobbly mid lap as the leader was coming around and disrupted the race there'd be other bitching...

and yeah...

Colin, i think your bike is telling you to be a man and race singlespeed now...
Colin R said…
Ge -- surely you of all people are joking about "don't bother racing if you can't win"

I'm pretty sure you're just screwing with me, but I'll give you a serious response anyway.

We're talking about a 1:40 lap here. The odds of a racer 45 seconds down affecting the race are miniscule. If you've lost 45 seconds in 15 minutes, why would you ever lose another 55 in a single lap? Sure, you could crash horribly, but in that case you could just as easily be only 10 seconds down and then lose 1:30 in a crash. Obviously deciding when to pull riders is a judgment call, but to you aren't seriously suggesting that the correct judgment call is to pull someone less than half a lap down just because by some extraordinary circumstance they could affect the race?

When you say Wade's race in CT, you mean the Southington CX race? I know there were issues with that race because of field sizes, but you can't compare 100+ people riding simultaneously at a local event (C men + B masters + B women) to 25 people riding at a national champs event.

As for PC bullcrap, get real. There's a huge difference between "let everyone race no matter how lapped they are YAY" and "cut any rider who drops out of the top 5 even if they are nowhere near being lapped"
gewilli said…
The field i was refering to was the Masters. Sure it was a combined 35+ and 45+ field but that was it...

and yeah WAY WAY sarcastic in my remark.

The way they pulled riders in southington was okay, we have 25 on the course that is all the spots on my officials score sheet - let's pull everyone else (26th wasn't far behind 25th and was in NO danger of getting lapped)... heck i was in the top half of the field getting ready to move up, the leaders had between a 1/4 lap and 1/2 lap lead on me. On a cross course. Lap times far longer than a short track and one to go? no chance of getting passed.

And of all that hot air i generated yesterday - ya got no comment on the single speed one?

Here's the idea. Timing chips. Screw this manual counting official pulling people randomly...

stick a GD chip on everyone's bike and go from there...

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