no one line


The Ripple Effect?
June 5, 2009, 3:43 pm
Filed under: no one line, road racing, sprints

I love when rest days coincide with rainy days – I can take the subway, read a few chapters of a book (currently: Acts of Faith by Phillip Caputo. Crushing), and not feel completely lazy or like I’m missing a day. Last night’s efforts – twentyfive miles up to a crit in New Jersey, placing 8th in the race, and riding back to Brooklyn – got my egg well and cooked.

I think I’ve made at least one and possibly two stupid moves in recent races. I consider myself a decent rider. I feel relaxed and in control of the bike. I’m aware of riders around me and I’ll let an attack or acceleration go if I think it’s unsafe for me to get up and jump after it. But: recently, in a sprint, I was passing a lot of people because I was in poor position, too far back, but still had a lot of sprint to wind up and thought I could still place. I tore up the right side with a huge head of steam with the leaders still in front of me, but I needed to get left to have room to sprint more. I checked my left side and slid left, moving over several “lanes.” Not holding my line. Not swerving, not in a tight pack – I had very definitively passed people – but still. Tenuous at best, right?

I think it was careful, but I also think it was stupid because it could very easily have not been careful. Confessional and defense all rolled together. I tend to roll my eyes at people sprinting from behind, but in this case, I placed in the top ten, I hit the line with a big head of steam, and if the line was ten meters down the road I could have podiumed. Should I have done it? Maybe not. Was it bad? Maybe not. Should I do it again? Probably not.

Here’s the thing – different activity looks different from different perspectives. One person can go right up to the edge having assessed the safety of doing so, but an observer doesn’t necessarily know what that person has and hasn’t considered. The observer hasn’t reckoned the what-ifs, so there’s a lot of unsettled potential for risk. That leads to conflict in the pack.

A teammate’s recent race report described coming up in a cat 2 sprint as another rider swerved toward him. Rather than swerve to avoid him, he leaned against the rider, trying to stabilize the situation. Obviously, words were exchanged after the race, and my teammate’s point was that he felt it was the safest thing to do in the situation.

Things appear different to different people; if you want to avoid setting off a chain reaction of people taking precautionary measures because they don’t know whether or not you have evaluated the risk of the move you’re making, then it might be best not to toe that line of apparent-but-evaluated/controlled risk.

Bottom line? I felt what I did was safe but the ends don’t justify the means.

Your thoughts?

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