Quote POTOMACTRIATHELETE2009 The drafting seemed to be worse this year. All of the early waves were traveling in pelotons! There wasn't even an attempt to avoid drafting. As I was riding up Clara Barton, I saw three separate pelotons heading back down on the other side of the road. Each group was tightly packed with no stragglers at all. People need to stop doing that. Or else they should just make it an official drafting race.
For most of the course it was virtually impossible not to draft since we were only had the one tiny lane for a good portion of the ride with so many bikes all going at the same time. I think I set a record for the number of times I had to say passing on the left in one ride :)
I did some semi-drafting too, although I tried to minimize that. What I'm referring to were the tight groups of about 30 cyclists who were clearly riding as a peloton. There was no excuse for doing that. The first time I saw it, I was surprised, even though I've done this race two times before. Then I saw two more tightly-packed groups soon after.
I normally don't ride in groups during training rides. But I remember one day when I was at Hains Point on a solo ride when a large and fast-moving group surrounded me suddenly and swallowed me up into their peloton. I was forced to ride at their speed because I couldn't get out of the group. I saw on my Garmin that I was suddenly riding about 3-4 mph faster than I was a minute before. Same road and same windy conditions, but 3-4 mph faster with minimal extra effort. People are drafting in those tight packs to ride faster, save energy or both. For an Olympic-distance race, it's a more effective form of cheating than doping would be. I think the officials need to hand out more time penalties when the group drafting is so obvious. I'm not bothered about borderline cases. Probably 90 percent of the field is forced to do at least some drafting. But these were clearly not borderline cases.
The road just north of Georgetown was the narrowest. But there was plenty of room in the northern part of the course. We had two full lanes on the parkway. There was more than enough room to pass over there. Sometimes I just stayed in the left lane instead of moving from side to side before and after every pass. I would still peek behind me to make sure I wasn't blocking anyone. But there would have been plenty of room for others to pass me on that stretch of the course.
PotomacTriathlete2009: I understand your perspective, but I respectfully disagree. I thought the exact same thing when I saw the Elite wave ride by in a peloton. However, 15 minutes later I was riding alone headed back south, and suddenly a peloton caught me and I got swallowed up. I ended up at the back of the peloton. I tried to break through a number of times and it was impossible with the one-lane roads. (I saw two guys crash when they tried to pass on the one-lane sections: one hit a curb and the other hit a cone.) Every time it expanded to two lanes, I thought to myself "this is my chance to break away". The problem is that at least half the peloton had the exact same thought. So, suddenly you had 20 guys fighting to get around on the left, and you are completely stuck because you have immediately expanded the peloton to fill both lanes.
I am not denying your point that there were certainly people who purposefully stayed in the middle of the peloton and had no intention of breaking free. However, I disagree with your point that every person in those pelotons purposefully stayed in those pelotons as a means of drafting.
though i didn't officiate this race i have in the past, the problem with the race is that on the clara barton where its 1 lane each way, there are just too many people in the race and not enough road width to accomodate multiple lines of people passing at once\ much less an official trying to cut down on drafting.
also in past years the officials tried to get up that road on the motorcycles and we quickly found out that it was just too dangerious for the motorcycle to go up that way, so basically that part of the course is not marshalled at all, and you and other riders have probably figured this out in the past years.
I was up with with the 1st peloton, and there were guys who were content with riding in the peloton, guys who were trying to break free, and guys sitting in behind it trying to ride legally.
We did have a race referee with us for the entire bike, and he could've/should've handed out WAY more penalties than what is listed in the results. Perhaps in the future, if the swim gets cancelled again, sending people off in 1 second increments - atleast for the first few groups - might help to reduce some of the blatant pack riding that was seen on Sunday.
+1 on Justin, Kevin, and Andy's comments. Flat course + one-lane sections + no swim + 3900 athletes = nearly everyone violating the drafting rule at some point on the course. That's life -- if you weren't expecting that others would suck wheels (on purpose or by happenstance), then you shouldn't have entered Nation's, and instead signed up for the Savageman Oly this week.
The best solution would be to move most of the bike course onto the GW Parkway. If only the NPS would be more cooperative. I think the Tourmobile fiasco can be used as a political bludgeon to get them to budge on the GW Parkway issue. NPS denied the permit for the GW Parkway last year, so I don't think this year's denial had anything to do with the 10-year 9/11 anniversary.
After it was publicly revealed that the Tourmobile contract was probably an illegal no-bid monopoly award from NPS, NPS quickly announced that the Tourmobile contract would not be renewed. Then NPS backtracked on their long-standing resistance to allowing Capital Bikeshare stations on the National Mall and other NPS areas in DC.
NPS announced just a couple weeks ago that they would now allow CaBi stations on the Mall, subject to a formal agreement with DDOT to hammer out the details and funding. Clearly NPS is on the defensive these days. I think the race organizers should take advantage of NPS's vulnerable political situation and see if they would be willing to allow a permit for the GW Parkway in the future.
I don't see why pointing out the pelotons means that I should have signed up for Savageman.
Besides, Savageman is not a realistic alternative for many people, because of the difficulty of that race and the travel involved to get there.
Seeing as you brought up Bikeshare, there has always been talk amongst a few of us of doing Nation's on a CaBi bike for bragging rights...that may become a reality here shortly if they ever get some docking stations closer to Hains Point!
I'm not sure if I'm ready to say that I think that NPS is vulnerable. I will say that I'm very happy that they seem to be making some decisions that further help the public use National Park land for their own recreational purposes, whatever that may be. I believe this is the intended use of Park land.
I spoke with several of the Park Police officers that were providing security around Hains Point. We also gave them about 3 pallets worth of leftover water and Gatorade. Hopefully continued small gestures will help improve the perceived relationships between Park Police and athletes who train/race/recreate around Potomac Park.
Back to the race... Yesterday was a learning process for all, I think. Thank you again for all of your flexibility and I hope you were able to salvage a good race in unexpected conditions. Feel free to keep posting comments/critiques. We are following this and take your comments seriously. Also, feel free to email/message me if you have something you'd like for me to direct to race organizers.
Sad news that we lost an athlete yesterday. I don't know any more details than what can be found in the news but it is always tragic to hear.
And maybe if more of us had little bells like those found on CaBi bikes, drafting would be reduced.
Ding, ding! On your left... ding, ding.
LOL at the CaBi triathlon.
I thought about someone organizing a CaBi bike race someday. Mostly because I was scouting out Hains Point on Saturday to see if the road was still flooded. I did that reconnaissance while riding a Cabi bike. At a very fast 5 mph.
Travis: here is the article on the athlete who died while racing yesterday from the Post. How very sad:
Also: My employer blocks interactive things like connecting to e-mail, so will someone please write to them to correct their reference to the swimming portion as the "third leg" of a triathlon?
We've covered the GW-Clara Barton issue before (on a thread that many of us participated in). NPS controls both, and IMHO, Clara Barton is probably the best solution for everyone (including the rest of the community). Let's also remember that in big races, certain things are bound to happen. Like muddy transitions when it rains the few days before, and like draft packs. When you have to cancel the swim, complaining that draft packs are worse than usual is like complaining that you drink have to more water during a workout when it's hot outside. Yes, it's true, and yes, it sucks. But what did you really expect?
Next DC Tri TT is in a few weeks. I may show up rockin' the red 3-speed with aero fenders. (will it take clip-ons?)
Edit: Re Eric's comment below, I had 6.02 miles on the run course. I have my Garmin set to auto-lap every mile, and those were w/ 10 meters of each of the first five mile markers, so it wasn't systematic error in measurement of the course (e.g., the outside, not inside line).
About the drafting everybody has said everything and I agree, how ever no body has mention that run was short by 400 mts. It was supposed to be a 10k or 6.2 miles not 6. I asked 3 person who had Garmin all of them had it around 6. 400 meters is around 1 :20 to 2:00 or more. I don't understand why this happened as you have the whole lane of Ohio drive to make sure that the distance is accurate. I totally believe that this mistakes about distance in a race that is on his 5th year shouldn't be happening.
Congrats to all of you that PR but remember this wasn't an honest course the drafting significantly make you faster by at least 2or 3 MPH and the 10k wasn't it was 6 miles
eric guzmanaalv WROTE: no body has mention that run was short by 400 mts. It was supposed to be a 10k or 6.2 miles not 6. I asked 3 person who had Garmin all of them had it around 6. 400 meters is around 1 :20 to 2:00 or more. I don't understand why this happened as you have the whole lane of Ohio drive to make sure that the distance is accurate.
Congrats to all of you that PR but remember this wasn't an honest course ... the 10k wasn't it was 6 miles
I think there is no greater slam on a race director than calling the course short. After safety, an accurate course is job #1.
To be certified, a course has to be accurate to 1/10 of one percent. Even the best GPS is no where near as accurate as the Jones-Oerth device used to measure the course. This has a lot to do with sampling and the way a GPS calculates distances, as well as the fact that runners don't run perfect tangents. Normally, this results in your GPS indicating that the course is long, not short.
So it is troubling that people are seeing a short course. I also had the course as about 400 meters short but until reading this thread, I chalked it up to my error (not starting timer at right place or something like that).
I'd be interested in knowing whether others with a GPS or foot pod unit found the course long, accurate or short.
I started the run on my garmin 310xt when i crossed the run out timing mat. i crossed the finish line after 6.01 miles of running.
Yep, Carol, my garmin said 6.02. Eric had the same: 6.02. I'm annoyed it was shortened!
Garmin must be consistently wrong, my 310XT also measured precisely 6.02 mi...