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Thread: Race etiquette?

  1. #1
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    Race etiquette?

    So, I am riding in my first xc race in a little over a week. I have tried to read as much as possible, but haven't seen anything on race etiquette.

    What are some things that a newbie needs to know. Never do ____ at the start line, don't show up and ____. I realize that people will ask to pass, and the other normal trail rules apply, but what else do I need to know to give me a better chance at not making a fool of myself?


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    Race etiquette?

    Make sure your bike is in good working order a couple of days in advance. I've watched more than a few end up with mechanical issues in the first couple miles.

    I limit ride distances and intensity the week before.

    Stay near the front at the start so there is less chance of getting stuck behind others. Depending on your level of fitness, this may not be a wise choice for your first race.

    Do not expect other riders to indicate when they are passing. Many do not.

    Follow the course, not necessarily other racers (that go off couse!),

    Have fun and good luck.
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    Thanks!
    Just picked my bike back up from my LBS yesterday, so it should be good to go. Normally do my own wrenching, but had a couple things I needed special tools for, so just took it in to have them do a tune-up.

    I know the course because I ride there frequently, so that should help with staying on course. Looking at the times from the same race last year for the Novice cat. I think I can get out with the leaders and hang on just fine, so I'm gonna give it a go.

    As long as my bike or a crash doesn't cause me to get a DNf I think it'll be a good learning experience.

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    Have fun and pay attention. If you feel up to it, no reason not to be friendly on the start line with everyone. If you need to pass, try to ask politely and do it in a nice fashion. Of course if that doesn't work - try other measures If someone wants/needs to pass you, especially if it's another category, try to do so as quickly and safely as possible.

    Otherwise enjoy it! Whether you're in baggies and a skate lid or wearing a custom fitted kit and road helmet, everyone's out suffering together. It's all about camaraderie.

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    It's not nearly as nerve wracking as it seems. Warm up, try and relax just before the gun, and know the course/how many laps you should be doing.

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    Re: Race etiquette?

    Good stuff so far. Thanks and keep it coming.

    Planning to do one last good long ride a week ahead of time then take it easier through the week. Just registered this morning for cat3. Debated going straight to sport class because I wanted to race the longer race. I think I made a good choice, though. Start with the beginners and go from there.

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  7. #7
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    Depending on where you're racing, Cat3 is a good bet. My Cat3 XC circuit is won by Cat 2 guys who want to podium on a short-course track.

    I'm Cat 2 this year, moving up to Cat 1 this coming year if my CX training works out.

    As for advice, preride the course. Know what you're up against. But the best advice? Crack as MANY jokes at the start-line as you can.

    Remember, we do this because it's fun.
    Quote Originally Posted by hey_poolboy View Post
    Good stuff so far. Thanks and keep it coming.

    Planning to do one last good long ride a week ahead of time then take it easier through the week. Just registered this morning for cat3. Debated going straight to sport class because I wanted to race the longer race. I think I made a good choice, though. Start with the beginners and go from there.

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    Yes, get there early and be friendly and chatty. Bike races are a great place to make friends. Be polite on course and allow for others to make mistakes; try to not get irritated at other racers, they are often end up nervous wrecks (pun intended). If someone crashes near your, make sure they area ok. Be encouraging to the other racers around you; "go go! You can do it! let's catch those guys up there!

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    Quote Originally Posted by hey_poolboy View Post
    Thanks!
    Just picked my bike back up from my LBS yesterday, so it should be good to go. Normally do my own wrenching, but had a couple things I needed special tools for, so just took it in to have them do a tune-up.
    Never take your bike to the LBS before a race. In fact, if you or the LBS do any significant work on the bike, ride it at least once to make sure all is ok.
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    Re: Race etiquette?

    Yeah, I planned that to make sure that I got it back at least a week ahead of time. Plenty of time to ride a couple of times to make sure it is all sorted out.

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    If in doubt, check all small allen hardware with a multi tool for torque. Bonus points for torque wrench usage My first XC was very much in the bag until I had a front derailleur mounting bolt work loose and turn into the crank. Limping got 5th place...

    X2 on the chatting it up remark. That's one of my favorite ways to loosen up before the gun and it gets the feel for who you are up against. When you see a large crowd of riders it helps to have an idea who in that crowd is your game. Sometimes those who aren't in your category can be allies (in a peloton kinda way) if they are similar to your ability level.
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    Get rest the nite before. Don't do anything different the morning of. If you normally ride with a hydration pack then race with. If your used to water bottles try to set up someone to pass you spares as you go by. Maybe a small bowl of oatmeal a couple hours before but dont do anything you wont burn. Get there early and just walk around and meet people. Warm up and hit the pisser before you start. At the start look around to see who's in your category. Remember your racing them not everybody. This way you'll know if you need to grind that hill to catch that guy. Pace yourself and have fun!!!

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    I realize I am not there yet, but how soon can one enter a race? How much experience should I have before getting into a race?

    Never been to one before so not really sure what they are like. (Just got into mountain biking last month)
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    Re: Race etiquette?

    Well, I just started last year about this time. Never been to a race yet either.
    This will be my first race to attend or participate in. We have a local mtb group that I belong to that helps facilitate, so I plan to volunteer to help after my race is over.
    Beginners, sport and expert each have a different start time, so I can finish, cool down then help with whatever needs done.
    I don't know if I'm "ready" but I'm gonna do it anyway. I just decided that I should give it a try because I'm competitive and I ride faster than my buddies and need to meet some more riders that can push/teach me.

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    Awesome! That's pretty much what I am aiming for is to race next year, but we will see it might get delayed for one more year after that as I would like to have a better bike to do it with. Might do it anyway and rock it on my rock.
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    I wish I had seen this thread a week ago. I participated in my first MTB race last week. They made my race the beginner class. I had no idea about how to pass people etc. I still finished first and they bumped me to the next class, but I could of done a lot better.

    My next and 2nd race is this week. I am just going to jump out in front and not get stuck. I want to win the intermediate class

    As for the OP, you will have a blast. My advise is don't let yourself get stuck behind slower riders for to long. You will loose valuable time. Watch out for riders that arent keeping the lines and hitting every root/rock etc. I saw about 5 gives fall hard in front of me. Last thing I can say, is dont look back. Keep your eyes forward, and just get into the zone.

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    Desidus; you don't need a better bike, for starting out you just need a reliable bike. 90% of my rides are on my 'winter' bike, it's mid range and heavy but it works fine, I would only be a couple of spots slower on that bike vs my race bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    Never take your bike to the LBS before a race. In fact, if you or the LBS do any significant work on the bike, ride it at least once to make sure all is ok.
    Guess it depends on your shop.
    Our protocol is along with whatever work the bike is in for, to put a torque wrench on every bolt on the bike, have the mechanic who worked on the bike test ride it, and then have another mechanic re-test it as confirmation. We only want to see you come through the door again smiling.

    Regardless of who does the work, a bolt check and shakedown ride are always a good idea (mandatory!).

    ...and if you run tubeless, refresh the sealant!

    Goodluck and have FUN!

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    Race etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by CB2 View Post
    Guess it depends on your shop.
    Our protocol is along with whatever work the bike is in for, to put a torque wrench on every bolt on the bike, have the mechanic who worked on the bike test ride it, and then have another mechanic re-test it as confirmation. We only want to see you come through the door again smiling.

    Regardless of who does the work, a bolt check and shakedown ride are always a good idea (mandatory!).

    ...and if you run tubeless, refresh the sealant!

    Goodluck and have FUN!
    That is great advice. I took my bike to my LBS. That same day did my first race. The next day I went for a ride and the crank arm fell off. I'm glad it frll off during the race and I learned that next time I'm checking over bolt that beast!

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    Good luck with the race! I competed in my first two races this year, both endurance type, and had a blast. I would suggest some really good stretching before you head out and try to get some pedaling in before the start. The stretching really helped calm me down and loosen things up a bit because once that gun goes off, boom there is no easing into race pace.

    Ditto all the advice above. Most importantly have fun!!!!

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    Some races will have sections of singletrack broken up with double track or fire roads if this applies to your race use the double track sections to really hammer and get around slower racers so you don't get stuck behind them in tight single track. In some cases you can recover from a hard burst once you hit the single track. The same approach would apply to any climbs try and set up your approach so you not stuck behind a lot of traffic which can break your rhythym as you are grinding up the hill.

    It can be a little nerve racking being in your first race, just remember you are out there to ride your bike on dirt and have fun.

    The week of your race your rides should still have intensity but the quantity should be less than the previous weeks, and overall ride time in race week should be reduced. The day before the race an hour easy spin should be plenty with 4 or 5 1 min bursts.
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    Sounds like you had good results in your first race, but don't be disappointed if you don't finish anywhere near the top of Cat 2. Cat 3 is pretty much commonly guys who are truly beginners. If you have any type of fitness, you can typically blow these guys out of the water.

    Cat 2 is a combo of guys who were upgraded from Cat 3, guys in the middle and Guys waiting to be upgraded to Cat 1. The Cat 2 field is pretty broad in terms of who is lining up next to you. Also, the extra 5 or so miles does work to sap your legs a bit more.

    Good luck either way and have some fun!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmack View Post
    Sounds like you had good results in your first race, but don't be disappointed if you don't finish anywhere near the top of Cat 2. Cat 3 is pretty much commonly guys who are truly beginners. If you have any type of fitness, you can typically blow these guys out of the water.

    Cat 2 is a combo of guys who were upgraded from Cat 3, guys in the middle and Guys waiting to be upgraded to Cat 1. The Cat 2 field is pretty broad in terms of who is lining up next to you. Also, the extra 5 or so miles does work to sap your legs a bit more.

    Good luck either way and have some fun!
    Yea my first race last week they stuck me in the beginners. I only finished second because I didnt get the rules of passing. My Cat was only for one lap, but I stayed on the course and did 2 and I ended up passing 8 Cat 2 guys. It was fun. I do look forward to my second MTB race tomorrow night.

    I do have a question regarding passing. If I fly up on guys, is it rude to start yelling out( not in a rude way) that I am coming up on them and they need to move? I do have a high level of fitness so I can turn the crank for hours on all types of terrain while maintaining a high MPH.

    If I dont place hight in my first Cat 2 race I wont be disappointed. There is nothing more I want than to ride with racers/riders who are more skilled and fit than I. In the end it helps me become better at my riding.

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    If you are right up behind somebody and ready to pass, it is perfectly acceptable to clearly and politely say "I'd like a pass please", or shorten it to "pass please". Repeat as necessary. Forcing a faster racer to slow down is rude, especially if they're not even in the same age group. I started the season in Cat2, it seemed to me that some of the younger guys were less polite about it. A couple of times I was leading my group and getting slowed down by the younger guys, after a few polite requests it was "I'm leading my category, YOU NEED TO LET ME PASS". When I upped to c1, I found the politeness to go way up, everybody has been super polite in c1, asking if you need a pass before you are even ready.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyg80 View Post
    Yea my first race last week they stuck me in the beginners. I only finished second because I didnt get the rules of passing. My Cat was only for one lap, but I stayed on the course and did 2 and I ended up passing 8 Cat 2 guys. It was fun. I do look forward to my second MTB race tomorrow night.

    I do have a question regarding passing. If I fly up on guys, is it rude to start yelling out( not in a rude way) that I am coming up on them and they need to move? I do have a high level of fitness so I can turn the crank for hours on all types of terrain while maintaining a high MPH.

    If I dont place hight in my first Cat 2 race I wont be disappointed. There is nothing more I want than to ride with racers/riders who are more skilled and fit than I. In the end it helps me become better at my riding.
    Some guys take themselves way to serious and will be screaming A-holes when passing. A polite "coming up on your left" or "on your left" is common.
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    Thats good advice! I appreciate it. I wasnt passed when I did the beginner race but I know I wont have an issue moving for anyone.

    Now, is it wrong to pass someone by going off coarse....for example, lets say a hard left is coming up, and a tree in on the left side, and there is enough space to go off coarse and around the tree while passing the rider. Is that a "no no?" I just ask because I did see that happen when I caught up to the Cat 1 and 2 guys.

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    Re: Race etiquette?

    I've only done a few races but this is something I have done.

    Last race I got stuck behind a slower rider who would speed up for a bit every time I asked to pass, then run out of steam and slow again. Eventually there were about 5 of us stacked up behind him.

    I knew there was a technical section coming up that he was going to struggle through so when I got a chance I blew past him in the weeds. Didn't see another rider the rest of the race- about 10 miles!
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    Race etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffw-13 View Post
    I've only done a few races but this is something I have done.

    Last race I got stuck behind a slower rider who would speed up for a bit every time I asked to pass, then run out of steam and slow again. Eventually there were about 5 of us stacked up behind him.

    I knew there was a technical section coming up that he was going to struggle through so when I got a chance I blew past him in the weeds. Didn't see another rider the rest of the race- about 10 miles!
    Lol. That happened to me in my first race last week. I didn't see anyone for about 5 miles after I got though the traffic jam of riders.

    Another thing i also learned is don't believe people on the trails during a race. The only reason I placed second in my race was because of an advance rider that I came up. i asked to pass and he started chatting and told me I was leading the class and I should relax. I didn't know till I crossed the finish line that has was sand bagging for his buddy. Fool me once .

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    Re: Race etiquette?

    I've been working on my sprints to start. I'm hoping that what you described doesn't happen to me. There's a good long open section from the start before we hit single track, but after that it would be 2 miles or so before there's opportunity to pass, then only a hundred yards of double before back to tight, rocky stuff.
    I'll have fun either way, but hope to get out with the leaders early. If I go by last years times I should be able to keep up.

    Thanks so much for the input folks! Hopefully I'll have a good experience to post up on Sunday after the race!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CB2 View Post
    Guess it depends on your shop.
    Our protocol is along with whatever work the bike is in for, to put a torque wrench on every bolt on the bike, have the mechanic who worked on the bike test ride it, and then have another mechanic re-test it as confirmation. We only want to see you come through the door again smiling.

    Regardless of who does the work, a bolt check and shakedown ride are always a good idea (mandatory!).

    ...and if you run tubeless, refresh the sealant!

    Goodluck and have FUN!
    Slight off topic... and also to preface I have no idea of the quality of bike shop you work for..

    But ive had a lot of bad experiences with bike shops to the point I have bought enough tools to do everything but true a wheel.... but if I bring my bike into a shop for something, the last thing I want to see is someone touching completely unrelated parts. All that would do is cause me to go home and now check every bolt that the bike shop could have touched.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    Desidus; you don't need a better bike, for starting out you just need a reliable bike. 90% of my rides are on my 'winter' bike, it's mid range and heavy but it works fine, I would only be a couple of spots slower on that bike vs my race bike.
    Don't believe I said need.. I said want. lol. Mostly it's the low gear ratio that I would find the most problematic to racing. Any long hill just kills me as my lowest gear is 28/28. Being with a group of people the other day really showed me how nice it is on a long uphill to have a lower ratio than that. Right now I just stand up and mash my way to the top or attempt to buy I run out of steam pretty fast that way.

    Not sure if I can change that without spending a bunch of cash so until I find out otherwise I am just using this bike until I can get one I like a bit more. lol. Regardless next year I plan on riding in the MS Tour Canmore as my Step Mother has MS and it just seems like the right thing to do.
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    Move over for faster riders. Just ride....and finish!

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    Yeah, a 28x28 is kind of a big gear in my book for any real long climbs. Can you get a smaller gear on the front?

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    On the passing topic...

    When I first got into XC I was living in the pacific Island region(Guam namely) and they were big on ettiquette there. For a given season since it was an island surrounded by 3 hr airline flights it was a good chance the same people would be with you for the whole season and it made it more relational. In the junior cats they would give a briefing about it before each race and it paid off as a culture that we could all enjoy at the finish line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    Yeah, a 28x28 is kind of a big gear in my book for any real long climbs. Can you get a smaller gear on the front?
    No idea... just started and my experience in modifying a bike so far is switching out the pedals and my LBS did that for me. lol. How hard is it and how expensive would it be.
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    You have to remove the crank arm to get the small ring off, the small ring only has 4 or 5 allen bolts. Depending on what sort of crank you have you might need a crank arm puller. The small ring has a bolt pattern that you'd have to match, there's a couple different patters, so you have to figure out what you have to know what you need. I think many of the small rings are less than $30. In my experience it's better not to have more than a 12 tooth difference in the small and middle chainrings, so if your middle is huge you may be better off doing other things to get the lower gears.

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    Re: Race etiquette?

    Finished the race! Ended up tenth out of 31. Fourth in my age class.
    Next time I'm definitely getting to the front at the start. Started in the third row and used up a lot of energy passing a bunch of people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hey_poolboy View Post
    Finished the race! Ended up tenth out of 31. Fourth in my age class.
    Next time I'm definitely getting to the front at the start. Started in the third row and used up a lot of energy passing a bunch of people.

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    Congrats!

    Thanks for starting this thread, I learned a lot.
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    Re: Race etiquette?

    Most people were very good about letting me pass when there was a good opportunity. Most even asked if I wanted by without me having to ask for a pass. Got stuck behind one guy who bit the dirt when he lost his front wheel in a bermed downhill turn two of us got piled up there, but we were already way ahead of the masses.
    Dropped my chain once. Just dropped into granny ring for a climb at the end and hit a rock and it came off. Cost me 20 seconds to get it back on then get going again.
    The advice everyone gave was great, and it was a great experience.

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    Carry scissors in your jersey pocket and before the race cut as many unattended brake lines as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Austinrider1997 View Post
    Carry scissors in your jersey pocket and before the race cut as many unattended brake lines as possible.
    Im so happy you bumped a 6 month old thread with that information....
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    I'm sorry, but I have to post this:

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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    Never take your bike to the LBS before a race. In fact, if you or the LBS do any significant work on the bike, ride it at least once to make sure all is ok.
    Haha..so true! In fact, just learn to do the work yourself. There is nothing extraordinarily special about a bike mechanic unless they can rebuild forks, lace wheels and bleed brakes for ya! Lots of avg Joe's can even do those three things.

    Tips: Warm up alone....away from the noise/crowds.
    Get there early so you are not rushed.
    Bring your own pump etc...
    Don't switch up your diet / hydration from what you already know your stomach can handle.
    Don't go out too fast from the start...maybe just shoot for midpack for the first few miles until you know the pace. Most of the guys who go out fast with pop and you can pass them later. Race against yourself for the most part.
    Smile...have fun.

    Good luck.

    Edit: Gosh dangit....this is an OLD thread...argh. So, how did race SEASON go!!??

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