Tech Guides at Road Races
All of the road races – the omniums, the time trial, and the stage race – that I have entered this first year of road racing have produced Tech Guides that give details about the race(s). In the case of the Tucson Bicycle Classic, the “Tech Guide/Race Bible,” as they termed it, was 22 pages long. It listed the location of each of the 3 days of races, where to sign in, where to park, start times for each category, as well as a course map and course profile. The maps had important details like sketchy railroad crossings, and roads that were not fully closed to automotive traffic. The course profile graphically shows the elevation changes – the ups and downs along the race route. Just about everything one needs to know is on these pages – including mysterious bits of jargon unique to bicycle road racing – like the term “wheels in/wheels out.” As a neophyte road racer without a team or even a racer-bro to ask, I Googled the term and discovered that “wheels in/wheels out” means that if you put a spare set of wheels in the support vehicle and you have a flat tire during the race, you can take your wheel out of the support vehicle that follows your race group, so that you can continue racing.
On Friday, there was a prologue time trial. I’ve watched a fair number of Tours de France on TV, but I’ve never understood why they call it a “prologue.” The way a stage race works is that each day’s race is timed and the times one finishes with each day are combined and the rider with the lowest time wins. Google – my only source and – “teammate” – tells me that a prologue “in professional cycling is a short preliminary time trial held before a race to establish a leader.” Fabulous redundancy here, which is confirmed by the other definition of prologue, noun, – “an event or action that leads to another event.” Wonderful indexing in cycling jargon – Prologue, Stage 2, Stage 3 – like the old George Carlin joke, “Examples 1, 2 and C.”
Another unique term found in the Tech Guide is information about the “feed zone.” This is pretty self-explanatory, especially if one has ever watched a professional road race on TV. Even some longer charity bike rides like “El Tour de Tucson” have feed zones, only they are called “Aid Stations.” These aid stations are usually staffed by volunteers and anyone can ride up, grab a beverage, some fruit or a handfu of M&Ms and get back on the route. Usually these aid stations don’t “hand up” drinks, one has to stop and grab and go. In a road race, at feed zones, a someone working with your team (or a wife or friend or kid) hands you a water bottle or a bag of food while you slow slightly, grab, and continue apace.
I need to remember to bring a team next time – or a wife. Or a kid I could bribe. Only my kids – adults all – have no interest in cycling and are a bit beyond the bribery stage, lest I offer a vacation package or Rolex.
There’s also something called a “rollout,” but it only applies to “junior,” riders between the age of 9 and 18. Still, I Googled “rollout” – this bit of bike jargon – and none of the definitions made sense, so since I’m a few years away from being a junior, I blew this one off, and relaxed a bit. The third search result listed by Google was a song by Ludacris, and even though young bike racers might like his music, I doubt rollout is a USA Cycling attempt to grow the sport by offering youngsters a chance to show off their dance moves. So, I still don’t know what a “rollout” is, but I am a little concerned by Mr. Ludacris’ spelling skills.
Why tell you all this stuff about Tech Guides? See my Tucson Bicycle Classic’s daily entries.