Respectful Disagreement.

Last week Joey and I got into a FaceSpace Messager debate about my post from last Tuesday about attacking on the inside at the apex of the turn. We went back and forth about it for a while, generally agreeing more than disagreeing and agreeing to disagree on the rest. To sum the exchange up, he doesn't see a problem with it and I think it's a bad idea in practice.
If I was 100% confident in everyone's ability to corner at speed, I might feel a bit different, but to be honest, I'm not. Throw in the less-than-ideal pavement we race on, and a small thing like a slick spot, pebble, or dirt patch suddenly can become a large thing for multiple people. What took me down in the Tour of Fairbanks prologue was a small piece of gravel just before the apex of the turn to start things moving sideways and a very thin layer of dirt on the road to keep things sliding. I'd hit that turn at comparable speed quite a few times as I was pre-riding it, but the last time I went down. This was an individual event, so the only person affected was me. If I had been in a pack, it would have been carnage. Sometimes bad things happen when you go fast. That's part of the deal. You make calculated decisions based on a lot of factors (risk/reward), and then you roll the dice. My level of calculated risk may different than Joey's for various reasons.
Wanky's reflection on Steve Tilford summed it up better than I can:

"Steve engaged in a hugely risky sport and survived it by constantly reducing risk. Checking equipment, evaluating the course, evaluating himself, evaluating the competition, taking calculated risks … all these things allowed him to thrive and survive."
I will never ride at the level Tilford did. I'll never even ride at the level Joey does. That ship sailed decades ago, and probably would have sunk as soon as it pulled out of port.  To put it bluntly, if we're in the same race, you aren't on a Tilford plane either. You don't have the skillset or experience. Overtaking on the inside of a 90 degree corner at speed is going to result in bad things happening 90% of the time. Nothing the Arctic Bike Club Road Race Division can throw at me for winning justifies that sort of risk. Being the sole provider for a wife and four kids factors heavily in my calculations. Your math may be different. I want to race, but I have to put it into my own sort of perspective.

At each level of the sport, you have to follow Steve's example and mitigate the risk as much as possible while still playing the game. You can go too far down the cautious path and actually increase the danger factor. Braking too much in a corner actually increases your risk of losing control. Not taking those calculated risks takes you out of contention and off the back. Sometimes you have to apply a little targeted aggression, jostle, wedge, and intimidate. All part of the game, but at the end of the day it's still a game.
How much you're willing to bet is up to you. Just realize that you're not the only one at the table.


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