by Oliver Evans
What are some of the unwritten rules of the domestic peloton?
Emile de Rosney, Victoria
This is the greyest area of bike racing. Unwritten rules are subjective: always open for interpretation. They also change throughout a race.
For example: You don’t dive-bomb a corner and risk crashing out half the peloton at the start of a race. However, if you were to do this toward the end of a race when it kind of makes sense to take such a risk, you might be forgiven. If you’re me, and you dive-bomb a turn and crash some WorldTour dude, you’re in trouble. But, if you’re some WorldTour dude and you dive-bomb me, no one cares, especially if you win.
You don’t attack if the pack is pulled over for a nature break. You usually don’t attack once the break of the day is established, if you want respect. But if you do attack, you better make it to the breakaway. Generally, you don’t attack the race leader if he crashes or suffers a mechanical, but this, too, is a very grey-area rule.
There’s a hierarchy in bike racing. You need to respect it. Some racers can get away with a lot more than others. And if you’re going to try bending an unwritten expectation, you’ll get let off a little easier based on your result.
Do you get paid?
Ryan Loiselle, Victoria
I sure don’t!
I get to work for three to four months a year during the off-season. You learn to stretch your money (and ask for help).
What’s your thought process when racing? Are you calculating your moves or just taking it as it comes?
Steph Melnyk, Stockholm, Sweden
Usually I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat later that night.
In all seriousness, it’s difficult to say. If you have a role to play for the team, such as early break duty, then you’re totally focused on reading and following moves, determining who’s a threat, who will work, how many matches you can afford to use early on. Depending on your role, your level of relaxation varies throughout the race.
I find it much easier to focus on the task at hand in a road race of four hours, or longer, than in a 30-minute time trial. In fact, I can’t really focus in a TT and that’s why I’ve done poorly in them in the past. In races, there’s so much going on that a lot of the time you’re totally consumed and your mind doesn’t wander. You have to think in a race, but in a TT, you need to shut your mind off. I haven’t mastered that art yet.
There’s a certain level of calculation involved in racing as well as response and adaptation. It’s rare that a plan comes to fruition in a race. You always go in with a plan, but the race dictates what you do, the plan doesn’t. Sometimes you have time to think, sometimes you race on instinct.
At other times, when there’s a lull in a race, you do have time to think about things outside of racing. But I like the feeling of having to give my undivided attention to the race. When a race becomes your world—when you forget about anything and everything else and all that matters is that wheel in front of you—that’s bike racing. That’s the closest thing to successful meditation I’ve ever experienced.
Oliver Evans is a 19-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, who is currently based in Victoria. He races on the road with H&R Block Pro Cycling.