As I was thinking about this entry, I realized that it could very easily have been titled: “How to Avoid being “That Guy” in Everyday Life.” Although this will have a cycling related spin to it, in my opinion, many of the same principles apply. Maintaining a good standing with your peers at the races can be traced back to observing a few simple ideas: Be Quite, Be Considerate, and Be Gracious.
Now, when I say Be Quite, I don’t literally mean that you have to use your Inside Voice, when you’re outside, but just use a little discretion when you do decide to open your yapper in the middle of a bike race. While racing, you can only control what you do. That means that if you don’t like the situation in which you find yourself, it’s up to you to do something about it. Don’t scream at your competitors to get out of the way, or harass someone for crashing in front of you. If you don’t want to be around such riders, it’s up to you to keep your mouth shut and ride faster. However, there is nothing wrong with a nice “inside” or “comin’ in hot” as you’re about to put a pass on someone. But, generally speaking, very few people have even been labeled “That Guy” for keeping their mouth shut during a race.
Be Considerate. Now, I know this is starting to sound a bit like Kindergarten all over again, but you’d be surprised how many people could use a refresher course on basic people skills. While at the races, you’ll encounter quite a few people who would really appreciate you being considerate. Many of the people you’ll find “working” at a venue are actually either volunteers or others that are making, what equates to, an amazingly low hourly wage for their efforts to promote and grow the sport you love. So, keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to make a big deal about the fact that the box of free GU products at registration is empty.
The final component of our Trifecta of Skills for Smooth Sailing at Your Next Race is to Be Gracious. Whether or not you are the best or worst racer in your scene, you’ve got to make sure that whatever result it is that you achieve, you do it with grace. If you’ve just won by 5 minutes, don’t stop short of the line, hoist your bike above your head and scream in triumph. The standard two arms above your head will do quite nicely, or you could even blow everyone away with your humility and just give a subdued smile and wave. Remember this though: the more extravagant victory celebration you display, you more you increase the odds that people will question your decency. The same goes for losing. No one looks good throwing a tantrum in the pit or at their car because they lost that sprint for 19th. Less is more. And as always, don’t forget to say “Thank You”. The cycling community is a very small family and as long as you concentrate on building relationships instead of burning bridges, it will pay you back.