Monday, August 25, 2008

Are you training if you don't know the rules? "Elite..really?"

When I started in the sport of triathlon the very FIRST THING I did was read the rule book over the first two weeks of my training.  I found out what was legal when, how and why.  I learned how to ride cleanly and keep myself from getting a penalty.  

Looks like I'm an exception.

The current triathlon landscape is full of over-stuffed races.  I understand the need for profit margin.  When is it enough?  What about safety?  What about the exclusivity of a certain event that makes it tough to get to - and the need to qualify?

As an athletes...Are you elite if you don't know the rules of your sport?  Or are you just a "plate head" with no real social skills who trains a ton and therefore "wins" a lot of races?  You know the officials on the motos race too.  We know what goes on.  We know what helmets are legal and which aren't.  We know the signs of a stolen safety sticker - and which brands have them and which don't.  We know how people bend the rules and cheat.

I wish I could give you more on what I saw but I cannot.  What I can give you is this: 

1) Know the rules and which governing body you are racing under; ITU, WTC, USAT - most rules are similar but they are enforced differently.

2) When you get a penalty ask, "What did you observe?"  We are riding BMW motorcycles at a lot of races now...I saw a lot and racers didn't even know I was behind them until they saw me writing their race number down and then they wanted to protest with the ultimate comeback, "I wasn't drafting!" or if they don't speak English well, "No draft! No draft!"  Usually...I am thinking, "You're right.  You weren't drafting.  You were blocking and had a position foul.  Which do you want?"  All the same time penalty, but I am not allowed to talk to the athletes.  My favorite from yesterday, "I was more than three bike lengths back!"  Yes, and blocking the guy behind you as well as making illegal and unsafe passes WHICH IS A DQ (unsafe riding).

3) Be honest.  To me an official...and to yourself.

4) Is "winning" really winning if you cheat?  Even if it is "just" one penalty.    

Know the rules.  Follow them.  Tell your teammates, people you coach or train with what the rules are and KNOW THEM.  

Otherwise, YOU are the plate head and YOU may be part of the problem in triathlon.  That's alright...there are a lot of very good new officials in the mideast and midwest; we have a pen and paper and aren't afraid to use it.  We race too and are making a difference.

1 comment:

  1. This course... so crowded it's hard to stay clear of blocking someone, the road surface so poor in many places that you're trying to keep from destroying your bike while keeping a clean line.

    That said, there should be some lenience by the officials when it comes to such things - SOME lenience. I was happy to hear the moto come up aside me yesterday and penalize the Fred who was sucking my wheel. He had been there for at least a minute or two.