Road Racing Tactics versus "antics" -Advice please



mtndog

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Sep 16, 2003
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Have a really good question about race tactics versus race "antics."
Here is the scenario during a recent race here in Wisconsin:

Today I took serious offense at several of the USCF Category 2 racers who did not actually "race" the event but instead prevented others from Racing. A tactic that is frowned upon by any level of racer and repeatedly mentioned (on OLN) by Bob Roll as "bad form," and "never practiced, even among B racers," was utilized by this one "Team X" again today.

Namely, anytime a rider would attempt to organize and work hard to chase down the 2 leading riders (a "Team X " rider was in the 2-man break), their 'Team X' teammates would sit on the lead chaser's wheel and prevent riders from pulling through to generate a smooth paceline. Another tactic was to sit on the front and ride slowly. Another tactic was to come around a group of riders chasing and then slow down once at the front in order to "protect" their breakaway rider from getting caught. Another tactic was to form a blockade across the road to prevent racers from chasing. :eek: This has happened during several races in the past 3 years (by the same Team X.) This intrusive tactic keeps a large group together and makes for a more dangerous and sporatic speed race. I attempted to discourage this tactic during the race and talked with the team Leader after the event. These guys are USCF Category 2 Racers and seem to think it is perfectly acceptable behavior --"in order to WIN." Question: Is this perfectly acceptable behavior during a race? Even during a non-USCF, friendly "Citizens Race?" I have never seen this tactic used in a USCF Masters event nor a USCF Cat 4/5 race.

:cool: So what's the deal? Is this a valid "tactic" or using overwhelming force, or something else? Your feedback is GREATLY, HUGELY appreciated.

If you're in Wisconsin please do not reply to this thread.
Thanks much,
A Disgruntled Chaser,
 

Spider1977

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Jul 19, 2003
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Mate, it's just not cricket!

(You'll have to ask an englishman or an Aussie what that means).
 

jyeager

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Aug 3, 2005
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mtndog said:
Have a really good question about race tactics versus race "antics."
Here is the scenario during a recent race here in Wisconsin:

Today I took serious offense at several of the USCF Category 2 racers who did not actually "race" the event but instead prevented others from Racing. A tactic that is frowned upon by any level of racer and repeatedly mentioned (on OLN) by Bob Roll as "bad form," and "never practiced, even among B racers," was utilized by this one "Team X" again today.

Namely, anytime a rider would attempt to organize and work hard to chase down the 2 leading riders (a "Team X " rider was in the 2-man break), their 'Team X' teammates would sit on the lead chaser's wheel and prevent riders from pulling through to generate a smooth paceline. Another tactic was to sit on the front and ride slowly. Another tactic was to come around a group of riders chasing and then slow down once at the front in order to "protect" their breakaway rider from getting caught. Another tactic was to form a blockade across the road to prevent racers from chasing. :eek: This has happened during several races in the past 3 years (by the same Team X.) This intrusive tactic keeps a large group together and makes for a more dangerous and sporatic speed race. I attempted to discourage this tactic during the race and talked with the team Leader after the event. These guys are USCF Category 2 Racers and seem to think it is perfectly acceptable behavior --"in order to WIN." Question: Is this perfectly acceptable behavior during a race? Even during a non-USCF, friendly "Citizens Race?" I have never seen this tactic used in a USCF Masters event nor a USCF Cat 4/5 race.

:cool: So what's the deal? Is this a valid "tactic" or using overwhelming force, or something else? Your feedback is GREATLY, HUGELY appreciated.

If you're in Wisconsin please do not reply to this thread.
Thanks much,
A Disgruntled Chaser,
Hmmm. Isn't that simply called blocking? I remember a road race years and years ago (I don't compete anymore) where this happened. The 'host' team had a solo breakaway that was at least 2 miles ahead of the pack. He had broken away @ 5 miles into the race and stayed away for 70+ miles. However, when it became clear that he would win this way due to his teammates' obstructionist antics in the pack, I decided to lead a charge to catch him. I knew full well that I wouldn't be left with enough steam to place in the pack sprint at the end, but I wasn't a pack sprinter anyway. So I just figured it would be payback to get this guy reeled in after a hard 80 mile time trial.
So I pulled his teammates through the pursuit. I found 2 other people not from that team that were willing to help me and we hammered really hard for about 20 miles and the 3 of us (with the rest of the pack in tow) caught the rider only @ 3 miles from the finish.
What can you do? If you had been in that race with a team of your own they would have been able to void any blocking his teammates had been trying to perform. Cycling often can be a team sport.
As for literally blocking the road so no one can pass, that's really lame and that calls for some aggressive riding. Just blow through them and if they go down, so be it. (If you go down, take one or two with you).
 

Eldron

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Jan 24, 2002
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mtndog said:
Have a really good question about race tactics versus race "antics."
Here is the scenario during a recent race here in Wisconsin:

Today I took serious offense at several of the USCF Category 2 racers who did not actually "race" the event but instead prevented others from Racing. A tactic that is frowned upon by any level of racer and repeatedly mentioned (on OLN) by Bob Roll as "bad form," and "never practiced, even among B racers," was utilized by this one "Team X" again today.

Namely, anytime a rider would attempt to organize and work hard to chase down the 2 leading riders (a "Team X " rider was in the 2-man break), their 'Team X' teammates would sit on the lead chaser's wheel and prevent riders from pulling through to generate a smooth paceline. Another tactic was to sit on the front and ride slowly. Another tactic was to come around a group of riders chasing and then slow down once at the front in order to "protect" their breakaway rider from getting caught. Another tactic was to form a blockade across the road to prevent racers from chasing. :eek: This has happened during several races in the past 3 years (by the same Team X.) This intrusive tactic keeps a large group together and makes for a more dangerous and sporatic speed race. I attempted to discourage this tactic during the race and talked with the team Leader after the event. These guys are USCF Category 2 Racers and seem to think it is perfectly acceptable behavior --"in order to WIN." Question: Is this perfectly acceptable behavior during a race? Even during a non-USCF, friendly "Citizens Race?" I have never seen this tactic used in a USCF Masters event nor a USCF Cat 4/5 race.

:cool: So what's the deal? Is this a valid "tactic" or using overwhelming force, or something else? Your feedback is GREATLY, HUGELY appreciated.

If you're in Wisconsin please do not reply to this thread.
Thanks much,
A Disgruntled Chaser,

Depends which side of the tactics you're on ;-)

When I rode Elite category blocking, elbowing, headbutting, switching and flicking were all in a day's work. Now that I ride Vets 30-35 the pace is just as hot but there are more manners involved. Typically if there is a break away the remaining team mates will tag along just behind those interested in chasing.

The only advice is - have a quick word to gather the troops (sometimes oppostion teams are sleeping and miss the break completely) then set up a chase. If a blocker gets in the way go round him immediately - if they physically block the road throw in a few elbows.

And they said cycling was a non contact sport :rolleyes:
 

jyeager

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Aug 3, 2005
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In regard to team 'X' sitting on the back of the chasing pace line...the right tactic to defeat that is for all of the non-team 'X' chasers to do a reverse direction pace line. Say there are 3 of you followed by 5 of them. You 3 are at the front and #3 in line keeps moving up to the front. Or if you want to be aggressive, then #1 can fall back in to 3rd place by forcing over the first team 'X' rider. But be ready to fist fight.

That's why I'm a proponent of mixing cycling with martial arts training. Oh, and don't think everyone who races with their frame pump is stupid! :)
 

mtndog

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Sep 16, 2003
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Yeah. They call it "blocking" but I call it interference or as you mention, Obstruction. At some point this tactic slows a race down to 15 mph which aint' racin'. Lucky you to find 2 guys to work with. I find most of these guys, including some of my own teammates, prefer to wheel-suck until the sprint. Like you, I try to avoid the sprint (and subsequent crashes.) I can understand not working to chase a fellow teammate and of course creating an initial barrier so a breakaway can get started. But a constant intrusion on a competitors chase efforts? For over 20 miles? I wonder, when you and your 2 workers chased down the breakaway, did the opposing team repeatedly insert riders between you and the other 2 chasers you were working with? If they did so, what was your response? :rolleyes:
So maybe I should change sports, purchase some white trousers and organize a Cricket league? :D
[One can infer that there must be quite a few formal rules in cricket, unlike bike racing.]
 

jyeager

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Aug 3, 2005
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mtndog said:
Yeah. They call it "blocking" but I call it interference or as you mention, Obstruction. At some point this tactic slows a race down to 15 mph which aint' racin'. Lucky you to find 2 guys to work with. I find most of these guys, including some of my own teammates, prefer to wheel-suck until the sprint. Like you, I try to avoid the sprint (and subsequent crashes.) I can understand not working to chase a fellow teammate and of course creating an initial barrier so a breakaway can get started. But a constant intrusion on a competitors chase efforts? For over 20 miles? I wonder, when you and your 2 workers chased down the breakaway, did the opposing team repeatedly insert riders between you and the other 2 chasers you were working with? If they did so, what was your response? :rolleyes:
So maybe I should change sports, purchase some white trousers and organize a Cricket league? :D
[One can infer that there must be quite a few formal rules in cricket, unlike bike racing.]
Well in my case the other team did insert riders (I believe 3) and we knew they weren't going to pull through, so we bypassed them. Once we began the chase in earnest they weren't able to do anything to break up the chase. They tried. They would go to the front for their 'turn' and would just slow down.
They were foiled because everyone else was there to race too and they wanted a faster pace. The pack outweighed that team. And yes, in retrospect I was about as peeved at them as you were from your experience. It was really gratifying to reel in that guy who'd been off the front for so long.
 

YMCA

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Aug 3, 2005
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Your kidding about Team X doing what they can to keep their teammate off the front, right?

Hmmm. Young whippersnappers, when will you learn. Bicycle racing is not about who's fittest (although you must b strong), but who understands and can employ the best tactics.

When a teammate is up the road, blocking is perfectly acceptable. Teammates slowing the peloton into a corner is super. Marking every move and sitting on, nothing wrong there. Expect that team to do everything they can to help their teammate, sans physically grabbing others riders.

Now, if my team wants to chase a group that is far up the road and we get 6 of us on the front pulling steadily, nobody better even think of putting their bike anywhere near our paceline. BUT, if we are not organized in any fashion, I'd expect a little argy-bargy from others, and really can't say anything.

So next time you are trying to chase a group, look organized, act organized and talk organized, otherwise...
 

spacefuzz

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Jun 11, 2004
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aside from blocking the whole road and riding up past you and then slowing down quickly (thats just not safe) I would say the rest is just blocking in a road race. thats why its a team sport. It may be frustrating if you dont have a team to counter, but if its a large pack hopefully you will be able to find other people to work. otherwise if your a lone ride, as I usually am, talk to the team in control and work out a deal with him, ask to go along and work with their break. then you can use them too.

If this was a citizens race was is WISPORT? Ive never raced one but I heard they get sketchy. As for never seeing that in a cat 4/5 race Im not supprised, there are no discernable tactics in those races. If you feel they were riding dangerously talk to an official.
 

jimbo30

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Aug 10, 2005
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mtndog said:
Yeah. They call it "blocking" but I call it interference or as you mention, Obstruction. At some point this tactic slows a race down to 15 mph which aint' racin'. Lucky you to find 2 guys to work with. I find most of these guys, including some of my own teammates, prefer to wheel-suck until the sprint. Like you, I try to avoid the sprint (and subsequent crashes.) I can understand not working to chase a fellow teammate and of course creating an initial barrier so a breakaway can get started. But a constant intrusion on a competitors chase efforts? For over 20 miles? I wonder, when you and your 2 workers chased down the breakaway, did the opposing team repeatedly insert riders between you and the other 2 chasers you were working with? If they did so, what was your response? :rolleyes:
So maybe I should change sports, purchase some white trousers and organize a Cricket league? :D
[One can infer that there must be quite a few formal rules in cricket, unlike bike racing.]

Like cricket cycling does involve edicate that isn't written in the rule book.

And while I agree with some replys suggesting that if a couple of you organise a chase and chase hard, then Team X shouldn't be able to get up the front to block, it sounds as if you should mention the extent of this to the club president or whoever acts as referee.
I know that is a bit wet and whingy, but it sounds like team X is outnumbering the rest of you and ruining races in a way that is basically childish 'gang' like behaviour...

Mate, we all work hard to be well adjusted adults, hold down jobs and lives and race bikes as well... and having to throw elbows at a bunch of twits who probably could never handle things if they had to go one on one isn't what you're there for.

I'd seriously consider a quiet word to the ref. And if that doesn't work I'd let a guy whose doing the handicapping know about. Handicappers love to roast those kind of guys.
 

mtndog

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Sep 16, 2003
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Thanks to everyone for the feedback.
Though I've been racing semi-competitively for only 3 years, I was fairly certain this was a nebulous tactic used by the strongest and largest team in a recreational race. There are no referees, no race officials and no handicappers. This is a mass start recreational race including 13 year-olds , 75 year-old grandfathers and 62 year old grandmothers.
Yes, as Spacefuzz mentioned, this is WISPORT and it's very "sketchy." One young man died in a race in 2004. Three teammates crashed seriously in the event I'm referring to here. [One broken collarbone.]
In all fairness I have to clarify the tactic used by Team X was not to ride around a chase group, "slowing down quickly" at the front of the group, rather just slowing down. I know this team did not intend to make this more dangerous.
Sounds like everyone here is saying that this blocking tactic is somewhat legitimate when teamwork/teams are involved in a race. Perhaps questionable when only one large, strong team is outnumbering the rest of us weekend racer wannabe's. After all this is a recreational race. Unfortunately in a race of this caliber, it's difficult at best to get people to "look organized, act organized and talk organized." It's simply not worth it to throw elbows, head-butt and/or carry a frame pump as there's nothing to gain in these races except the occasional broken bone and road rash.
As the poet says, "If you can't stand the heat, get outta the kitchen." It's getting really HOT. :eek:
 

YMCA

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Now you've got it. Nothing wrong with the cat 2's ganging up and making sure they win the event. Imagine if they lost. The same people complaining about questionable tactics, would now be telling the world about how they brought down Team X. So it would seem to behoove the cat2's to do what is neccessary (by the written and unwritten rules), which of course is what winning takes.
 

paul t

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Mar 12, 2004
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but why are cat 2’s mixing it with kids and coffin dodgers in the first place?
 

jyeager

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paul t said:
but why are cat 2’s mixing it with kids and coffin dodgers in the first place?
I'm curious too. I wasn't aware that this was a non-USCF race. If they enter a citizen race they should just tour it. That's just low-class.
At least they all could have gone off the front together and left the **** tactics out of it. That stuff has a place in a serious race, but not in the citizen races.
 

YMCA

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jyeager said:
I'm curious too. I wasn't aware that this was a non-USCF race. If they enter a citizen race they should just tour it. That's just low-class.
At least they all could have gone off the front together and left the **** tactics out of it. That stuff has a place in a serious race, but not in the citizen races.

I'm not sure what you mean by a "citizen race"? I figured this was just your normal training crit, where all cats were in one race. I can't imagine they would let P123's into a race like this, but if so then everyone should get a chance to race hard. Does seem a little silly that cat2's were allowed into a race with such a varied group though. In the end, I still don't question their tactics, as you go to win when there is a start and finish line.
 

Deafcon

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Jul 27, 2004
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Don't forget the tandem racers. They start at the same time as well. This year I have raced in three of these Wisport, who cares about the yellow line rule, races. I normally race cat 4 in MN, but I have family in Wisconsin, so sometimes I am in the area. If you are licensed, you can race in the Wisport races, you just aren't supposed to be eligible for the age classification prizes. I may have been in the race you mentioned, being as there was a crash that some one broke their collarbone in. Nothing better than 150 people all trying to get to the front at same time, going around blind corners in the left-hand lane... :eek:
 

spacefuzz

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I have a couple guys on my collegiate team who started racing WISPORT before moving to USCF. They still occasionally go back to wisport when theres a race in the area. I know they just ride it for fun, but Im sure they still try to win.