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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am pretty new to MTB bike racing and just had my first race of the year here in Portland. the short track series is held on a motocross course and its surrounding. It was a really fun time and there were a ton of people in the race. in my class, sport, there was probably over 50 then another 40 or so older sport guys that started a min later. It was great but i didn't do nearly as well as i would have liked. Not to make excuses or being a whinoid but i blame my start, First I think i picked the wrong side of the line, and the people i was around. I was on the left which put me on the inside of the first turn, I was also slightly behind the first row. I didn't have a very fast start, I missed clipping into my pedal fast like, with that little mistake i got boxed in right away behind some slower people and not being able to accelerate, then the whole right side started merging into the left, and the people on the left seemed to be letting them cut in front. before I knew it i had about 30 + people in front of me, I was able to pass a few people before the first big bottle neck about 40 sec in the course. It was a total traffic jam moving at a snails pace going through the narrow section, all in the while the lead group nuked ahead widening the gap. Some people jumped off there bikes in these sections and ran pass the line of bikers in the traffic jam. I don't know what the etiquette is on this, but personally i thought it was sort of lame. It sort of seems like cutting in line? I ended up passing many of them later in the race. After the first 2 laps and going through multiple bottle necks with bad traffic jams and falling a few times from taking stupid passes, i was really far out from the lead pack. Also I was more exhausted then i should have been, with the falling, breaking and acceleration through hordes of people it really took its toll on me, so i took a lap and a half of rest just keeping pace with the people around me before i regenerated and started picking up the pace again.

From this race i learned that i suck tactically and that is really important to get in the right group from the start, It takes too much energy trying to pass people that you are faster then, plus it can really get you far behind when there are horrible bottle necks in the course.

Also i hope that the pore guy who keeled over half way through the SS race is alive and well. Pore guy jumped off his bike by the finish and staggered a bit then collapsed, a lady promptly went over to check on him then freaked out because he wasn't responding or breathing i guess? A ton of people ran out and started performing CPR on him, they kept it up for what most have 15-20 min till the ambulance arrived.
 

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willymcd said:
I didn't have a very fast start, I missed clipping into my pedal fast like, with that little mistake i got boxed in right away
There's your problem right there. Miss a single pedal stroke on the start line and you're in big trouble. All you can do is practice starting off, and bang your shoe on the pedal a few times before the gun goes off to make sure there is nothing clogging the cleat.

Some people jumped off there bikes in these sections and ran pass the line of bikers in the traffic jam. I don't know what the etiquette is on this, but personally i thought it was sort of lame. It sort of seems like cutting in line
Yep, it's a bit rude. I certainly wouldn't do it.
 

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As SG says, starts are important. Being on the front row helps, but it isn't everything.

I raced Sport B (basically 'Beginner') in the 07/08 state series, and one thing that helped me significantly were my starts. You need to practice this kind of thing - knowing what gear you should start in, and being able to either trackstand a 5 second countdown or clip in on the first cross-stroke. This alone allowed me a massive gap off the start in Rounds 3, 4, 5. I screwed it up in round 2 and ended up half way down the pack (off the front row), and missing clipping in at round 6, where the series was completely turned upside down and won, put me 4th into the first corner (though I moved back to 2nd by the singletrack).
As important as being able to clip in is your ability to get those explosive starts. One of the two areas I always seem to be way ahead of my grade is in starts, and it's pretty normal for me to go from the back of a bunch of 20 riders in a B grade crit start to being in the top 5 by the first corner. It requires practice.

I'd seriously recommend, if you have a BMX track nearby, to practice some gate starts. Obviously in BMX you have a gate, but the point is to practice that explosive shift from 0 to whatever speed you can manage in just a few pedal strokes.

As for passing while dismounted in a race, this happens all the time in Enduros down here. It's bad form, and IMO you shouldn't be allowed to pass a rider who's still clipped in or pass when riders are queued for an obstacle. That's all part of getting a good start.

It gets really interesting when you start introducing Le Mans starts.
 

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Some Guy said:
Trackstanding on the startline? That's not on either, you've got to have one foot on the ground til the gun goes off, or it's just not cricket.
Yep. Great way to get called out and embarassed by any USCF official worth his/her salt.

If they don't let Steve Tilford do it, they shouldn't let you do it.
 

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The Portland short track races always have huge bottle-necks. If you aren't a really good sprinter you won't stand a chance. Lots of guys use them for cyclocross training, which explains the running.
Next year be sure to check out some of the real XC races in the state like Falls City, Bear Springs, Skibowl, Chainbreaker, etc. It's a totally different experience from short track.
 

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Running past the bottleneck

When preriding the course with my teen racers we look for the places where bottlenecks will occur. Any radical transition in course width, grade, or surface will cause a jam, crashes, dabs. Toss into that the idea that walkers tend to take the best best line....don't get me started. In any case I tell my racers to avoid the bodies but there isn't always room to ride around these things. So I instruct them that if they are going to get off of their bikes they need to decide to do it early because this takes a good approach in itself. Having said that running is a part of racing.
You don't get points in a race for staying on your bike. You get value from getting to the Finish line. You will either get over this aversion to getting off of your bike to make forward progress today, tomorrow, next week, or next month but you WILL do it. Had you done it in your last race you might have picked up 5 places.
Here is a shot of a group just a few seconds after a mass crash in a final sprint about 60 yards from the Finish Line at about 25 mph. 5 riders stacked up or knocked off of their bikes all in tough gears like 42/14. 2 racers were down and the other 4 back up. 3 of those remounted and could not get a good start in those gears from a dead stop. The kid who ran the last 60 yards finished in the Top 10, beating out all the riders in the crash. You can see that these boys did pass him AFTER the finish line when they finally got up to speed. Too late. He had started dead last and worked his way up throughout the race. That Top 10 Finish put him in the front row of the next race and he never had to work from the back of the pack again all season.
This is Racing, not Trials.
 

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passing on foot all depends on many things: how serious are you, why are they stopped, do you want to be liked.

If people are bottled up due to a crash or perhaps a steep hill, get off and start legging it. If it is a line to get to single track,stay in line. Those rules are void if you A don't care what people think or B for are in it for the wint.

personally i think berkely mike summed it up pretty well
 

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Stay in line???!!!

I consider myself a fair and ethical person, but you can't be serious about not hopping off your bike to get thru a mass of slow riders unable to clear technical single track. This is racing ..... you gotta attack and be aggressive. It's one thing to knock somebody out of the way, but to wait on line for your turn is just silly. I guess if you are just in it to finish then yeah chill out and let the riders who are racing scramble around you.
The start is so critical and you want to be in the front 10 riders before the singletrack begins. Sometimes, you get stuck further back - maybe you didn't have a chance to preride the course or maybe there are alot of good sprinters who suck when they get on the technical stuff. Regardless, you need to be in the lead pack with the faster riders or your gonna spend the better part of your first lap, working to pass slower riders. If I am behind a line of slower riders and there just isn't room to pass on technical singletrack, I will absolutely jump off my bike and sprint around them to keep my momentum. You can't power thru gnarly rocks and roots without momentum - so whats the point of waiting on line. Get around them and then you can actually ride the rest of the trail in front of you without any lines. Sometimes that line can just about destroy your chance of podium.
 

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Some Guy said:
Trackstanding on the startline? That's not on either, you've got to have one foot on the ground til the gun goes off, or it's just not cricket.
Sorry, I wasn't too clear on this one. Trackstanding is only okay for events where there's a start gate - that means TT, DH, 4X and BMX. Road TT is usually an assisted start, so it's not really a true track-stand. But it is still a skill you need to practice.

Though there is one guy at Westgate in B grade who tends to track-stand most starts :/
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Race #2

just finished the second race, it was much better! I came into it with the intention to take the lead out of the start, and be part of the lead group to keep pace with. It almost went perfectly to plan! I nailed the start, took the lead coming out of the first corner, then the second turn came. I looked at the turn in my inspection and it was a gravel road and figured the line i wanted through it, but i didn't do a practice ride through that section. Well, I went down hard and fast on that turn, but i made it back up and on my bike decently quick, with only 5 riders passing me, must have really nailed the start! Anyways it was a great race, didn't have any bad bottle necks, and didn't have to jump off my bike at all. I think i ended up around 8th+-? it was hard to tell, because the masters started a min in front of us, i passed lots of people (presumably masters) and few non masters (i think) and got passed by a few fast guys. can't wait for the next one, and hopefully the third race is the charm with no falls!
 

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If you're not prepared to dismount to get past a bottleneck - you are not using all the tools available to race and win. There is no rule that prevents you from doing it and pros do it if needed.
 
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