*Editor's note: the following commentary was distributed by Doug Gordon, President of BRAC. While this is written with cyclocross racing in mind, it fits the bill for mountain bike races as well. Proper etiquette always matches our sweet kits, so try it on for size. – Laura
'Cross season is here, and I am so very pumped to be racing on the dirt. As an association, we worked really hard to come up with a schedule that was logical, fun, and could allow every category to be held every race. To do that, some races have to share the course with other races. That means, inevitably, someone is going to get passed by the race behind them.
So what should you do?
If you're the Passer, don't be an @#$% and yell and berate the Passee. Tell them you're not in their race and about to pass on whichever side, and then do it when it's safe. Don't crash the poor racer out, make a clean, ninja / catlike awesome move. I tried this last night only to hit a bush on my pass. I gave the guy his spot back and apologized. So if this happened to you at Golden, I was the offender. Sorry. But I digress… You can also call out "Course" as you approach the riders so they know you are asking to have them yield the course to you. Try saying “please.” The key is to do it with plenty of time, and with respect. You have no right to wreck the race for that person, they paid up just like you did. You also are an ambassador. Chances are that if someone is getting passed, they have the real potential to be a new racer. If their experience is bad because racers were jerks, you think they'll come back? No. Think of them as guests in your house, and treat them that way.
If you're the Passee, chances are you pretty much know that the racer behind you is most likely in a different race. Yield the course to them, let them by. Shout out some encouragement as they go by, too, because after all, they're doing something pretty cool. After they go by you, see if you can hang with them. Watch how they corner, look at their lines, see if you can get a little education. Do your dead level best to push your personal limits, and enjoy the fruits of knowing you gave it your all. Who knows, I bet you'll mark a new personal best on speed, power, HR, etc., and that is supremely excellent.
But don't be "that guy." I was at a race last year, and coming up through the 50+ field on the last lap I was sitting in 2nd place, having just attacked a guy to take his spot. I was running out of time to get to the finish line because I was just sure I was going to get caught. So I'm coming up on a guy, and call out "I'm coming up on your left" only to hear him say "not today, you're not" and he blocked me out. I grabbed a handful of brakes and let him know I was not in his race, and then he let me go. I hung on for 2nd, and afterwards he apologized because he thought I was in his race. It was funny when you think about it, I'm glad I didn't come untrained on him because after all, this is not life or death.
So race hard, never weaken, do your best, race clean, and above all pass with finesse to express your complete, total dominance and awesomeness.
I, Your Beloved President Gordon
Douglas C. Gordon
The Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado