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  1. #1
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    Oct 2011

    Passing During a Race and Trail Damage

    How do you balance performance and minimizing trail damage during a race? This question is in regards to both passing and getting passed. It seems to me that on a single track, passing might mean going off the trail for a moment. And also, for those hiking up a hill, cycling rules encourage moving over. That often means hiking off the trail. What are you thoughts?

  2. #2
    Relentless forward motion
    Reputation: strat819's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    I go into a race with the understanding that the race organizers have reviewed the entire course and that it is "race ready". With that in mind, "passing happens", and in some cases, in even the most difficult places (is what it is, even if that's not good). For me, I use my common sense, I pass in sections that will "allow" a safe pass. I call out the pass, and get it over with. If it leads me off the trail for a few yards, so be it (but it is rare, and usually bc the slower rider did not yield to my pass). However, I won't pass in mud or water or unsafe terrain... so the off-trail pass doesn't affect the trail conditions, cause erosion or harm the environment (or lead me off course and DQ). Even in a race, we have a responsibility to be responsible. Now... officially, it is the rider being passed duty to move over so the faster rider can pass safely, and the passing rider should stay on the more difficult side of the trail (my understanding). If both racers are fighting for position, the lead rider owns the track.
    "Racing cyclocross exposes the truth, it's the biggest reason many people do not race it"

  3. #3
    mnoutain bkie rdier
    Reputation: rydbyk's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Good question. If a podium is on the line, it is hard to justify "saving" that tiny bit of extra trail you need for a desperate pass.

    I'll bet that most honest racers put in this position do not think "Golly...I can podium today...I have trained super hard for this race...but saving the grass on the side of the trail is more will just wait another 10 minutes to pass..."

    Don't get me wrong...I will definitely do what I can to stay on the trail to a certain extent, but sometimes...

    If there is some sorta protected shrubbery that offers a cure for cancer, then wait I guess?

    I don't think it happens enough to do much damage. On the other hand, whoever grants access to the land may get upset if there is tons of "off trail damage".

    Hmm...I am more confused now than when I began typing..haha.

  4. #4
    ups and downs
    Reputation: rockyuphill's Avatar
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    Nov 2004
    If a race organizer has a concern about trail protection in some areas, they should tape those areas to limit the acceptable "in bounds" race area. If there's no tape, then it's all in play. It's unlikely that they would ever get permission to stage a race in an area with real ecological sensitivity.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  5. #5
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    Oct 2011
    Thanks for all of the comments. They are helpful. I just did a race yesterday and safety seems to be the #1 concern. Most passing was only possible where the trail was already wide enough for two riders.

  6. #6
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    Apr 2005
    In my experience it is a "no holds barred" approach when racing and in my experience with biking, hiking, and whatever else as well. Trails will always become battered and bruised from human use no matter what is going on. Hopefully it can be minimized as much as possible but in reality it comes with the territory.

  7. #7
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    Reputation: jonw9's Avatar
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    Jun 2009

    Passing During a Race and Trail Damage

    Figure that your pass is 2 wheels through a short section, and it is unlikely other people will ride on that same area.
    A short corner with every rider coming through will cause a lot of damage.

    Consider that the trail would not exist if it was surrounded by protected marsh lands.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: dirtdan's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    I'm trying to figure this out now as well. I've not been passing on singletrack and have been waiting for the doubletrack sections to pass thus far. Realistically passing off trail on singletrack can't do much more damage than occasionally veering off trail on a corner which happens to everyone (I think) so I don't think it will leave much of a trace if any. I've found that the singletrack sections are where I end up getting behind some really slow people so I've been considering the off trail pass more and more. I'm guessing the answer is to just sprint better out of the gate and try to get ahead of the weaker riders so that you're never needing to pass on the singletrack but that takes some serious training because those guys sprint fast and have some light wheels and bikes.

  9. #9
    Formerly of Kent
    Reputation: Le Duke's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    Unless you're sliding your rear wheel through that area, I'm guessing the damage is minimal, if any.

    It's unlikely another person would ride through the exact same area during the same month, let alone the race.
    Death from Below.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
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    Nov 2010
    Anything goes as long as you don't break the tape or cut the course.
    If you can make the pass without violating the above or contacting the other rider, it's a perfectly clean and kosher pass IMO.

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