Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Really scandalous racing

Wednesday, 2 May

You've probably heard of Race Across America. People do this race not just on single bikes, but on tandems, and not just solo but in teams. As you can imagine, various "issues" develop as you race your bike pretty much nonstop across this continent. And if you're on a tandem, one of those "issues" (if you haven't had the foresight to ride much with your partner before you set out--duh!) could be Captain Masher and Stoker Spinner. But at RAAM 2006, one team with this problem "put our minds together" and figured that if just one person was on the bike at a time, the cadence incompatibility would not be a problem. And heck, if there's no stoker, we might as well remove the bars, pedals, saddle, and seatpost for the stoker position. So what if RAAM rules state that a rider must accompany the bike every inch of the way from sea to shining sea, or that a tandem bicycle is a bicycle built for two? Apparently RAAM rules in 2006 did not explicitly say that TWO people had to accompany a TANDEM bike for the whole route. So this tandem team (four people) set a course record and got an official finish for the World's Toughest Bicycle Race (Made EZ). For a fuller version of this story, see the last page of this document:

http://www.ultracycling.com/images/ultracycling_jan07.pdf

This stinks. Since when is a tandem a bike for one person to race (there's a reason they're made with TWO positions)? Since when is a tandem bike race conducted one rider to a bike?

Maybe you can't do anything about drugs in the pro peloton, but you can do some small part for the sport. Fire off an email message to the RAAM director (director@raceacrossamerica.org) and the HQ of the UltraMarathon Cycling Assocation (UMCAHQ@aol.com) that "There is a RAAM rule that states a bike MAY NOT ADVANCE WITHOUT THE RIDER. On a tandem this means two riders. Team JDRF should be struck from the list of official finishers for RAAM 2006."

12 comments:

Coach Curly said...

Whoa! Hot topic alert!

andrew said...

It's RAAM. Have you seen the people that do that event? Rob Kish? Danny Chew!?!!! Who cares?

In general terms though - that is blatantly cheating.

stokediam said...

I care because it's bad precedent and because it belittles the accomplishment of people I respect who did it the right way.

George said...

Andrew - your sentiments are exactly what I expected - and actually was hoping - to hear. I've finished RAAM 6 times - twice on a four person relay, once solo, twice on a tandem and currently hold the two person relay record with my wife Terri. I like all types of bicycle racing but especially am drawn to the intense challenge of ultra distance. I am so appalled by what JDRF was allowed to do that I wanted to get it out to the mainstream (thank you Martha!)- not just the tiny few who read Ultracycling. I - with your permission of course - intend to forward your comment to the RAAM and UMCA management to let them know how their race is still viewed and that by allowing such a farce of a finish by this tandem team they are only doing further damage to themselves and those of us that enjoy this sport. I'm flattered you didn't include me in your opening sentence ;)

Coach Curly said...

way to piss off long distance cyclists Martaint. Even Curly won't go there... so are we still doing the RAAM relay on a Honda Moped?

Coach Curly said...

Andrew wasn't around in the days of Pete Penseyres when he would use the weekly "PR" style race as training for RAAM... and guys would have to rig something to keep their heads up. I have a photo somewhere of Pete and Lon on the aero tandem...

Old as dirt said...

Now Curly is trying to mend wounds with his knowledge

andrew said...

RAAM seems foolish and dangerous. The athletes are in incredible endurance shape I'm sure, but the only coverage it seems to get is when someone is tragically killed or injured.

If it wants mainstream interest - shift the focus. Team relays are cool I guess, and might even be physically practical. I read on the site about the new "enduro" class or whatever. It's the right direction, but still more of a test on the nervous system than the musculoskeletal system.

I'd like to see it run as Iditerod with forced stop-overs and timechecks, but that's how I'd run it.

With regards to the cheaters - I don't think it takes any thought to disqualify them using that method. There aren't any sporting parallels I can draw, but it's obviously just not right.

andrew said...

OK - here's a thought: What makes it a tandem? 2 saddles? 2 cranks? Could I then enter the Co-Motion Classic tandem stage race with my Trek and just tape on some extra non-functioning saddle/cranks? Jamie and I could enter, trade riding stages on our "Tandem" and clean up?

Coach Curly said...

2 words for you... retro category. It seems that everyone and their brother wants to ask some dumb clarifying question on how to take advantage of the parameter loopholes.

I think yer on to something with the RAAM concept. Amazing Race style format... except RAAM provides the bikes... all the same except for fit... even the playing field. RAAM, meets Breaking Away, meets Amazing Race meets Iditarod

K-Man said...

Tell that to Ivan! http://oregonvelo.exposuremanager.com/p/jf06/jf_20d_105338

Jeff Stephens said...

RAAM is under new ownership and mangement this year. We were made aware of this blatent violation of the spirit of tandeming...and have amended the rules to ensure this never happens again.

Our new management is equally stunned that such a loophole was exploited.

George....trust me...your tandem accomplishments with Terri will never be belittled by this "tactic." Hope all is well with your family!

Jeff Stephens
2007 RAAM Management Team