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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've read in the past that, in some races, there are "unannounced" starts. Can someone chime in with more details about what these are and what the rationale behind them is?

Also, are there any competitors or race organizers around who have tried starts where the competitors run to their respective bikes, jump on, and begin riding? What are your thoughts on them? Do you favor them over standard starting techniques?

Thanks.
 

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That just means that the official doesn't count down to the start. They just blow the whistle so you really need to watch them closely. If they stand behind the field you have to just be ready to go. The rationale is to cut down on false/secret starts where people start rolling just before the whistle. If you don't know exactly when the whistle will blow (3...2...1...go!) it's harder for someone to get an early jump.

I think some smaller cross races use the Lemans start where you run to your bikes. I've never done one, but I don't think I would like it for 'cross.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
cbass said:
That just means that the official doesn't count down to the start. They just blow the whistle so you really need to watch them closely. If they stand behind the field you have to just be ready to go. The rationale is to cut down on false/secret starts where people start rolling just before the whistle. If you don't know exactly when the whistle will blow (3...2...1...go!) it's harder for someone to get an early jump.

I think some smaller cross races use the Lemans start where you run to your bikes. I've never done one, but I don't think I would like it for 'cross.

Thanks. I'm preparing a four-race series in Nashville and I'm interesting in including some different things; the Lemans start and the unannounced start are two I was considering.
 

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Many times the official will say something like "racers ready- " and then blow the whistle within the next 30 seconds. This is the way to start a race.

The lemans start can be fun, but goofy. It is pretty much mayhem, and definitely not appropriate for an important race. If it is a local series or training race it might be worth a try, but if you are looking to put on a proper cross race I would advise against it.
 

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lemans start

danwerle said:
Also, are there any competitors or race organizers around who have tried starts where the competitors run to their respective bikes, jump on, and begin riding? What are your thoughts on them? Do you favor them over standard starting techniques?

Thanks.
The local series here 2 years ago used a LeMans style start for one of the races. Personally, I liked it because I was a better runner and was able to get the holeshot that race. It didn't make much difference overall, as I ended up being passed by the faster riders midway through the first lap.

My feeling is, go for it if you are trying to hold a more "informal" series. Try a few different things to mix it up. If you want it to be a little more serious, then I would leave out the LeMans style start and anything else that might seem "gimmicky".
 

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wunlap togo said:
Many times the official will say something like "racers ready- " and then blow the whistle within the next 30 seconds. This is the way to start a race.
In starts around here (field sizes of 50-70), they have used the countdown and the "racers ready" then an unannounced whistle blow.

When the countdown was used, I started to roll when I saw anyone else start. It was always a second or two before the whistle.

When the starter used the unannounced whistle, we could still see her take in a breath to blow. That was the tell to go.

My thought is that getting the jump only affects racers on the front row. Everyone else reacts to the wheel in front. As to the front row, you just have to be heads-up. I was never the one to initiate the jump but when I was ready for it, I was able to react and still get the hole shot. While I wasn't racing with the fastest guys, my field was very competitive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
beaker said:
The local series here 2 years ago used a LeMans style start for one of the races. Personally, I liked it because I was a better runner and was able to get the holeshot that race. It didn't make much difference overall, as I ended up being passed by the faster riders midway through the first lap.

My feeling is, go for it if you are trying to hold a more "informal" series. Try a few different things to mix it up. If you want it to be a little more serious, then I would leave out the LeMans style start and anything else that might seem "gimmicky".
Thanks. The series I'm organizing is going to be relatively small and I'm hoping to use the series as a means toward introducing more people in the area to cyclo-cross. I'd like to try the LeMans start for one race. To be honest, I've been working pretty hard on designing the courses to have nice, long, straight, road starts, so I'd have to do some re-configuring in order for it to work. I might try and get some folks to review the courses with me and see if it can work.
 

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I did a race with a lemans start a few years ago, it was really stupid. It's a cross race and follows a set of rules, you would not promote a road race and just decide it would be fun to have people run to their bikes, why put some non-standard feature in a cross race?

The one I did was a big stupid jumble at the start where people pretty much randomly hit the course after finding their bikes, which meant the faster riders had to weave through the field and the slower riders just felt in the way, it was a stupid way to start a race and is disrespectful of the people who drive hours to get to a race and put the effort into the sport--my feeling is that a promoter needs to read the three pages in the rulebook devoted to cyclocross and simply follow them, that's why we have a governing body.

The riders and the well designed course will make your event epic, don't cheapen it by having screwball features.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You hit on a good point. I've reviewed the USCF rules time and again, and, you're right, there's nothing stated about how to incorporate the Lemans start technique. I've been pestering the folks who organize races in Johnson City, Tennessee and North Carolina for organizational tips, and, they always refer back to the importance of course design and making sure that the rules are followed. With that in mind, do you have any suggestions for spicing up the races at all? I love cyclo-cross, and am actually quite happy with a simple, well-organized, safe, fun race; however, if someone has other ideas, I'm all ears. The only other idea that I would like more input on right now is having a one-lap kids' fun race prior to the others. For example, if the men's C's, women's B's, and juniors start at 11, the men's B's, men's master's, and women's A's start at 11:45, and the men's A's start at 12:45, what about having a one-lap kids' race at 10:30. Has anyone run into safety or legal risks with doing this, while others are warming up on the course? Is it more hassle than it's worth? Do the kids even like it? Really and truly, if anyone's got an eleven-year-old who has done one, would you mind asking the kid what the general consensus is on these?

I do appreciate everyone's input on this stuff.

jroden said:
I did a race with a lemans start a few years ago, it was really stupid. It's a cross race and follows a set of rules, you would not promote a road race and just decide it would be fun to have people run to their bikes, why put some non-standard feature in a cross race?

The one I did was a big stupid jumble at the start where people pretty much randomly hit the course after finding their bikes, which meant the faster riders had to weave through the field and the slower riders just felt in the way, it was a stupid way to start a race and is disrespectful of the people who drive hours to get to a race and put the effort into the sport--my feeling is that a promoter needs to read the three pages in the rulebook devoted to cyclocross and simply follow them, that's why we have a governing body.

The riders and the well designed course will make your event epic, don't cheapen it by having screwball features.
 

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Put on a well organized race on a great course and you should do great, I don't think it needs to be "spiced up" at all--we come to the races because we enjoy the sport--when a promoter adds goofball things like a lemans start, that just diminshes the experience.

I think a kids race would be fun. As promoter, you will be bust with the details of the grown up race, maybe you can find someone to organize all the logistics of the kids event before, maybe 200 yars for the little 4 year olds and work it up to a shortened lap for the 13 year olds, the rest can just do the regular race.

Best kids races I have seen had a grab bag for each child at the finish, and a race number they could keep. My son slept with his number for a week.
 

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Gotta have a kids race....

Like J said, you (promoter) will have your hands full with the adult races so get someone else to organize a kid race. Up here in Seattle our kids races our pretty big. Here is a breakdown of the kids categories,

Kids - 2-11 years old (free, everyone gets a prize) You have kids on tricycles competing with the help of their parents all the way up to 10 y/o BMX studs/studdettes. :) Like J said, most kids probably dont take off their numbers for days. They totally get into it. The course is usually just a little loop around the start fininsh area but the competition is fierce. :). There are several families that just show up for the kids race as well. Good times.

Now for the bigger kids:

Junior - A(17-18), B(15-16) This group races at the same time as the C category, same laps too i believe.
Junior- C(13-14), D(10-12) These kids do the full course, usually about a lap less than the C's do. Lap count is also dictated by the leader when they come through on the first lap (usually a close time to the adult C class)

This past season my 12 y/o daughter raced her first season & is now totally addicted. A good friend came back from worlds with a orange (her fav color) t-shirt autographed by Marianne Vos, talk about stoked!

The NW is doing a great job with the strong junior programs like Rad Racing & Oh Boy Oberto. I think every race should get the kids involved so we can bring up the next JP or Queen Ann. Ok, now its proud papa picture time. :)
 

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Ditch the lemans start.

The one race I did ended up with two guys with broken wheels where someone stepped on their wheels during the out of control caos. Handlbars were getting hooked and riders were tripping. I was pretty bummed to have driven three hours, paid $20 only to have my race ruined when my front wheel got hung on another riders bars, by the time we got untangled the race was gone and I did one lap got in my car and would've never gone back again. The promoter promised to never do it again and apologized in an email. Needless to say there were not alot of happy campers at the end of the day.

As far as spicing up your race, have music going during the race. Get a couple sponsors or sports drink companies to bring give aways. They love that stuff.
 

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jroden said:
I did a race with a lemans start a few years ago, it was really stupid. It's a cross race and follows a set of rules, you would not promote a road race and just decide it would be fun to have people run to their bikes, why put some non-standard feature in a cross race?

The one I did was a big stupid jumble at the start where people pretty much randomly hit the course after finding their bikes, which meant the faster riders had to weave through the field and the slower riders just felt in the way, it was a stupid way to start a race and is disrespectful of the people who drive hours to get to a race and put the effort into the sport--my feeling is that a promoter needs to read the three pages in the rulebook devoted to cyclocross and simply follow them, that's why we have a governing body.

The riders and the well designed course will make your event epic, don't cheapen it by having screwball features.
Well said. I'll second all of what's said here.
 

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PA system and announcer

I have found that a "play-by-play" announcer calling the race to be a very good thing. Since there is no risk of me being near the front during my race, I can sometimes find out what's happening up there (when there is sufficient extra oxygen available to process the audio input). As a spectator during the other races, it really helps in following the action, particularly when the announcer is able to add other background info. The local velodrome has a play-by-play announcer and a live band during Friday night races. When done properly, it adds to the event and is not a distraction.
 

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Try to remember that it's a cx race, not a mtb race. The course can be technical, but it shouldn't have very much single track, and you should try to avoid steep descents that would significantly benefit suspension. Each course is different in character, but somethings you might want to consider:

Lots of twists and turns. Taking turns at speed and accelerating out of corners is a big factor in cross. It also makes it spectator friendly and courses that double back on themselves give spectators a great field of vision.

Undulations, small climbs and small descents. Maybe an off-camber contouring of a hill side.

Smoother dirt. Bumpy courses and the ability to handle them (I'm pretty good at them) have their place, but I think more people have fun on "faster" courses.

Don't be hung up on being UCI legal. There's a trend to have fewer barriers and no run ups, but I think it's okay to include multiple barriers and a decent run up.

You might want to consider looking at a Pro cross race. I think nathanspear.com? .org? speare? has some races posted on-line.

In terms of your scheduling, I would suggest that you have the A's race 2nd from last. It's really sad to see races where most of the spectators have packed up and left before the A's race. Atmosphere is an important part of cross and I think that fellow competitors can learn a lot from watching the A's. Having the A's race last isn't a problem in some series, but I think it works out better when you have someone go after them. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I appreciate the input. There are a lot of hills in Nashville, which, although it makes for really pretty scenery, means that undulating cyclo-cross courses are virtually unavoidable. I really think I could add the kids' races, but the courses here are going to be so hard, I don't want any of the younger children getting frustrated or discouraged because they are having to dismount and push their bikes over 1/3 of the courses. If I do go with it, I will make sure that each participant gets a race number, participates in an official start, and gets an award at the end.

I'm going to skip the LeMans start. I've heard enough criticism of it from those who've done it. It sounds like the drawbacks just flat-out exceed the benefits.

I go back-and-forth over starting the men's A race earlier in the day. I'm guessing that folks in that race category have argued back and forth for years over having to ride on a thoroughly chewed-up course after sometimes three (or four) other races have been run on it versus racing during the warmest part of the day.

Thanks again. Oh, the photo rocks. Great handling skills through the snow!
 

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I wanted to also mention a clarification on the "unannounced start"--really all that means is "unannounced' within a 3 second span, i.e. you don't use a standard kind of ready-set-go, but rather give riders notice that they will be starting then fire the gun without a countdown--the idea is not to trick riders but prevent a false start that often happens with the countdown.

Remember, to a serious rider the start is a very important part of the race, so don't mess around and try to be cute, just start people in some fair and predictable way on an open stretch without any bottlenecks or barriers in the first few minutes.

Also, if you find the course is very tough in terms of hills, scale back on the barriers and lengthen the laps to 10-12 minutes so it's not a death march.
 

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danwerle said:
Thanks again. Oh, the photo rocks. Great handling skills through the snow!
Yeah, i told her it was ok to go outside the main line & pass people through the snow. After she figured this out she was blowing by people (boys) left & right. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Absolutely! On two of the hilliest courses, most riders will only have to dismount twice - once for one natural barrier, and once for the set of artifical barriers. I'm aiming for 10 minute laps, which does equate to 1.7-2.0 miles on these courses, to avoid slower riders from getting lapped. Also, I'm trying to utilize the road sections as best as I can so that folks are able to recover after navigating the tougher sections. The flatter courses are going to have more natural barriers (i.e. logs, building foundations (really!), ascending steps, etc.).

I take the starts seriously, and I understand where you are coming from. What I will try to do is be cognizant of notifying participants of what the start will be like, so that their psyche isn't blown for the whole race because some starter wanted to be tricky. From a competitor's standpoint, I would find that pretty annoying.

Thanks.

jroden said:
I wanted to also mention a clarification on the "unannounced start"--really all that means is "unannounced' within a 3 second span, i.e. you don't use a standard kind of ready-set-go, but rather give riders notice that they will be starting then fire the gun without a countdown--the idea is not to trick riders but prevent a false start that often happens with the countdown.

Remember, to a serious rider the start is a very important part of the race, so don't mess around and try to be cute, just start people in some fair and predictable way on an open stretch without any bottlenecks or barriers in the first few minutes.

Also, if you find the course is very tough in terms of hills, scale back on the barriers and lengthen the laps to 10-12 minutes so it's not a death march.
 
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