Wednesday, October 03, 2007

An Update from the Front

As promised I have been slow to post but I'm trying to keep up on all you bolggy peeps. I have been busily preparing for Silverman and also active in the USAT officiating arena.

On a training note I really stepped up my running as planned getting in 107 miles for September. My bike, on the other hand, fell to 400 miles but the drop was due to a decrease in commuting and most of the miles I did get were long rides with a lot of climbing. My swim, well, I need to get busy because I only knocked out 13, 000 meters for the month. What can I say, I got rained out several times this month…in the frickin desert! Yes, my gym closes the pool, all 5 of them at the three different locations I frequent, just about every time a darkish cloud shows itself anywhere in the sky.

This past week was a recovery week and I dropped my training way down and suddenly feel like I have never trained before. I always get that feeling during recovery weeks and the taper. One bit of news that sucks is that my calf is acting up again but I went to see my massage therapist and she doesn't think it's too bad so I should be able to roll on through with only a little reduction in my monthly mileage.

In officiating news I just finished being the assistant official for the inaugural Elephant Man olympic distance triathlon. The head ref was a guy named Mike Baker; a great guy who has DEEP roots in triathlon. He told me that the first year he went to Kona the entry fee was $75 and that he got pissed when it went to $125. He had a lot of stories including one about an iron distance race they used to have in Texas that had an RD that thought if more than 50% of the participants finished it wasn't really tough enough to be considered an ironman. He said the aid stations were "a guy in a pickup truck driving the course and dropping off water bottles on the side of the road." Gotta Love it!

In other officiating news I did indeed get selected to be an assistant at the Toyota U.S. Open Triathlon! Yahoo! This race is a Professional and Elite championship race also with a large contingent of open category age groupers. They are expecting 2000 athletes, one of which will be TriBoomer, and the course will be a point to point with both sprint and Olympic distances. As I said earlier the head ref will be the head of the USAT officials program and several of the assistant refs will be very experienced including one regional director and two incoming regional directors, one of which is the incoming regional director for my region, the Rocky Mountain region.

Finally, my incoming regional director has put my name forward for my first head ref gig! Of course it will be a small race, a local called the Defined Fitness Duathlon. It’s a 5K – 30K – 5K with maybe 100 participants.

I have some ideas regarding what I would like to do during the pre-race meeting mostly for the benefit of the newbies in the crowd. First I would like to make sure that the newbies are welcomed to the world of multisport. Sometimes this is neglected. I also would like to make sure the 7 meter drafting zone is illustrated visually because unless you have been racing a while it is hard to estimate 7 meters. I also want to be a bit more explicit in the “no drafting” and overtaken explanations with examples that are commonly seen but not commonly understood. Anyway, exciting stuff for me but I hope I don’t bore the crap out of the experienced athletes.

Whoops, the rule...thanks Mike.

Ok, I'm selecting 5.10a - Drafting

We all know, or think we know, what drafting is…right? Drafting is ridding really close behind the cyclist in front of you. Well yeah but that’s not it. The drafting zone for age groupers is defined as an area surrounding the bike that is 7 meters in length and two meters in length. That’s 23 feet long by 6.5 feet wide. The draft zone starts from the leading edge of the front wheel of the bike and extends back so you are looking at about 3 bike lengths off the back wheel of the bike in front of you. The zone is 6.5 feet from side to side and is split in half by the bike so say about three feet off either side. If you are anywhere in this area, to the back or to the side you are drafting. So, there is the traditional riding too close because “I’m a weak legged loser” type drafting but there is also the “I’m a newbie having a great time and riding along side my best buddy talking about what a great time I am having” drafting…yes, drafting. Sorry, enjoy that discussion on the run where you can run side by side with your bud.

Now here is where we get tricky. Motorized vehicles also have clearly defined drafting zones. They are 15 meters TO EACH SIDE by 30 meters EXTENDING BEHIND THE VEHICLE. That is a whopping 49 feet on each side and almost 98.5 feet to the rear! Yes, you can be called for drafting off a motor vehicle so basically if one is anywhere near you your are drafting. Fortunately most vehicles are zooming on by but you know how you get some stuck or you get those nervous Nellies who see bikes and start creeping along with the flow of the race. Well, those folks are a problem, specifically, your problem.

Here is the skinney on dealing with the vehicle. “With respect to a motor vehicle (including authorized race vehicles), it is the athlete’s responsibility to move out of the vehicle’s drafting zone or to continually communicate to the vehicle to move away.” I have done this before in a race where I yelled for the vehicle to speed up a few times but nothing happened so I put the hammer down and passed the car.

Ok, if you are dedicated/bored enough to have read this far I will reward you with a hint about drafting, gather round and listen close.

It is perfectly legal to pull straight up into someone’s draft zone and then kind of slingshot around them just make sure you don’t pass so closely that you scare them or could possibly interfere with their handling of the bike. Many newbies are paranoid about the drafting so they go to pass by pulling straight out to the side and then proceed. No need compadre, you have a total of 15 seconds to suck wheel and then get your front wheel to breach the plane of the other riders front wheel. Just pull in close and count one-mississippi, two-mississippi….10-mississippi and then BANG, make your pass. You get a bike of a rest and ZIPP….you are gone. Because race officials are not really keen on handing out penalties you will be given some leeway with the 15 seconds, not much mind you but some. Now if there happens to be any pros or elites reading this, so sorry Charlie, you guys don’t get any breaks. USAT officials expect you to be professionals and adhere very strictly to the rules. You have 15 seconds…period.


  1. Hey what happened to the rule at the end of each post? I miss it. Helps us newbies out when you old salty dogs throw us a bone.
    congrats on the ref gig. I am sure the race will be remembered for fairness and integrity of the officials.
    Good Luck at Silverman. Hope you can do well enough to meet your high standard.

  2. Thanks for being an official at ElephantMan. You guys did a great job keeping things safe and fair.

  3. Glad you're getting such a kick out of officiating!

  4. Anonymous11:15 AM

    Thanks for thinking of the newbies, and for keeping us safe at the Butte!

  5. love the "wilecyote slingshot method" - use it whenever I get a chance, and as a clyde, a slow swimming clyde at that, I'm constantly passing on the bike.

  6. It was great to meet you and GeekGirl this weekend!

    It's so nice of you to think of the newbies. I think I'm going to try my first sprint in 2008 and know I'll be very nervous about the course, the rules, the whole thing and therefore super appreciative of any extra encouragement and information provided at the pre-race meeting.

  7. You are Officially an official nerd :)

    interesting explanation of drafting, btw.

  8. thanks for the comment on my blog.

    The slingshot tactic sounds brilliant. I think I'd better check the NZ rules but having a 10 second legal draft break would be very welcome