Lately I've been in a discussion board thread about racers, mainly lower-level Cat 4/5s, yelling "INSIDE! INSIDE!" in crits, then expecting everyone to get out of their way because their own bad choices put them in a dangerous spot.
Here's my take:
I tell new racers to let me know when they get trapped on the inside of a turn. I like to be aware of things going on around me, especially things coming up fast behind me. I'm focused on the turn ahead of me, hitting the apex and giving the riders around me adequate room, so if I miss the fact that you tried to take an impossible line behind me that will result in you A.) braking or B.) t-boning the rider ahead of you, I'd like to know. Everyone gets caught inside once in a while. Let's all communicate so we can keep our skin.
That said, if you're finding yourself letting everyone know that you're on the "INSIDE!" more than once or twice, the problem is most likely you and I will be less enthused about making room. In most racing wrecks, the guy in the back of the accident usually gets the worst of it when there's a touch of wheels. If you're not following the flow of the pack through the turn or trying to advance your position on the inside of the turn... well, eventually you're going to lose some skin. Hopefully you don't take anyone else out when you do it, but chances are, you will. If by the grace of God and your fellow riders you don't, eventually somebody is going to put you in the ditch when words fail to get the point across.
In my view, pack riding (and racing) is equal parts common courtesy and douchebaggery. When you're going through a turn two or more abreast, you try to leave enough room for the guys next to you to make the turn safely. You don't sweep from one side to another, cutting off those around you and inspiring much yelling and panicked maneuvering. If the guy in front of you swings wide with the rest of the pack to open the radius of the turn, that open spot in front of you is not a good place to move ahead. Stay on the wheel, complete the turn, and then look for your shot at moving up as you exit (if that's your goal).
The douchebaggery part comes in when you're yelling like crazy and I refuse to yield to your demands. I don't care how articulate you are when anaerobic, if I like my position, the wheel I'm on, or really don't want you up the road, I'm not going to going to give way. It's a race, and my goals and your goals don't magically align because you yelled. At the risk of giving away too much personal strategy, I'll give you my goals for any given race:
  1. Keep all of my skin/bones/bike parts intact.
  2. Have fun.
  3. Try not to get dropped.
  4. Find a good wheel to hide behind.
  5. Pray it comes down to a sprint (problematic in time trials and hill climbs).
That's it. I didn't pay my entry fee so we could all get a participation medal. I'm not here for your self-actualization experience any more than you're here for mine. You should be, because helping me achieve my goals is the most rewarding experience you'll ever have. If it isn't initially, give it a few years before you abandon the concept.
And try to stay out of the inside of turns.


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