The Yellow Line Rule started in Michigan . . . (Sort Of)

The highway center line and, by extension, the yellow line rule that we all must observe during our road races originated in Michigan.  While there's some confusion as whether we should credit Edward Hines (1911) or Kenneth Sawyer (1917) as the first man to paint lines on the road, both helped to shape the roadway standards of Michigan and our nation.  

The yellow line rule is just one of many rules in the rulebook designed to keep riders safe on the roadway. It's one of the easiest to violate accidentally and probably the most dangerous. It's also one of the harder ones to enforce for an official who is riding in the passenger seat of a follow vehicle. Sight lines are limited. Depth perception is challenging. And distractions with other aspects of the job make it difficult, which is why they rely on the collective eyeballs of the peloton to self-police itself.

Don't be that rider who takes advantage of this hard-to-enforce rule. Never cross the yellow line to advance your position. And always keep in mind the danger of oncoming traffic for yourself and your fellow competitors. Even if you don't cross the line, your riding may force others out into the opposing lane. 

Making it to the finish safely should be your ultimate goal. 

Two Easy Things to Make the Sport Better

1. Work on your bike handling skills.

2. Recruit young riders. 

Our hats off to those clubs who actively keep their skills sharp. No matter how long you've been riding, you can always get better at handling the bike. Thanks go out to the Team OAM-NOW riders who conducted the clinic in Kalamazoo last Friday. Good bike skills will help you avoid the crashes that scare people away from this wonderful sport.

Our hats are also off to those teams who are cultivating future racers. The sport appreciates anyone who helps attract new riders, teach skills, teach rules, and teach the etiquette that will ensure the growth of the sport. Big thanks to Andrie Junior Development, Ann Arbor Velo Club, Wolverines Sports Club, and a few other families who took all those Junior riders to Madison last year to gave them the Nationals Experience.

If your Club/Team is doing things to improve skills and recruit young riders, send us your pictures. We'll give YOU a shout out, too!

Does this race count for my upgrade? (New Racer Edition)

Everything in life counts! So why shouldn’t you get credit for the race you just did? Well, you probably did even if you didn’t realize it. 

New road racers start out as a category 5 for both men and women. In order to move up a rider needs to gain experience racing with a group and demonstrate their ability to perform the basics of racing safely with a group. At the most basic level, the cat. 5 to cat. 4 upgrade for men depends on the number of mass-start races finished. The rulebook states it simply as 10 mass-start race finishes with no preference given for 1st place or last. But if you’re looking to move up quickly, don’t miss the point of the beginner category: learning to race in a group!

So every race counts as long as you finish, as long as it’s a mass-start race; time trials don’t count. Your name does not even need to appear in the results for you to count it! It’s great when it does, and promoters work to place riders, but it’s not always practical or possible. But if you toed the start line and kept going until the finish, it counts!

“But how do I count it if I’m not listed in the results on USA Cycling?” you might ask. Good question. It’s an old-fashioned concept called trust. After you finish a race, write it down. Even if you don’t know your placing, just mark it as “finisher”. When you submit your request for an upgrade online (http://www.usacycling.org/category-upgrade-information.htm), it magically counts! Be honest (some double-checking does happen), but be thorough in your count. You can use this spreadsheet (http://bit.ly/raceresultslist) to track everything you’ll need at upgrade time.

“But what about the points for this race?” is an inevitable question. These days you get points for rankings, ratings, race series, state series, club involvement, grocery purchases, music downloads, and driving too fast. As a new racer, upgrades are based on mass-start race finishes, so forget the points. Once you get to be a cat. 4, then the race results start to count. But until then, just race. Save the points counting for later.

You may be thinking, “That’s it? Just track my race finishes?” Yes, that’s about it. Just make sure to remember the purpose of the beginning category: getting mass-start race experience.

Every year a new rider shows up who is faster than the rest. If that’s you, congrats! But remember that while attacking from the start and staying away the whole race is impressive, it doesn’t count for more upgrade points. And it doesn’t help you learn how to ride in a group, corner, work for field position, identify good riders to play off of, and many other skills that will be helpful once you progress to faster and faster categories. So relax and take some time to ride in the group, trade pulls, see if you actually can sprint it out at the end, go through the corner next to another rider, and generally get used to working with the group.

If you are like most of us when we started racing, it’s not so easy. Stick with it! It takes time to learn, to get in better shape, to figure out how to save energy, and to finally find your way toward the front of the field at the end of a race. So keep showing up, learning, working hard, and you’ll get that upgrade in 10 races, just like that hammer in your field.

Lucas Wall
MBRA Upgrades Coordinator

Racing Tip: Ride in the Drops

The more time you spend riding the indoor trainer, the more likely you are to develop the habit of riding on the hoods. It's much more comfortable. You can see the TV better.

But there are several reasons why you need to ride in the drops while riding in a pack. Riding in the drops will improve your aerodynamics and allow you to get more benefit from drafting. But the bigger reason to ride low is to lower your center of gravity. This will make you MUCH more stable and give you much better control of your bike. You will negotiate corners better. Riding in the drops will also put your fingers closer to the brake levers, and give you better leverage when braking and allow you to push the bike forward when braking hard. Riding here will also prevent you from getting your bars hooked with the rider next to you.

Riding on the hoods is certainly more comfortable. You can breathe better. You can see the road better. It doesn't hurt your neck and back. But it's not giving you optimum control. 

And if the riders around you want you to have anything, it's optimum control of your bike.