Passing walking riders when different gendersThis discussion has an associated proposal. View Proposal Details here.
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5.8 Dismounts and Dismounted Riders
..........If riders choose not to ride difficult sections of the course, they must not pass any mounted riders while walking or running through them......
I think we need to be clear here about races that are mixed gendered, where the awards are then separated by gender. If a girl is walking and is faster than a boy who is riding, there is no problem with her passing him because they are not really competing against each other. However, if a girl is walking and is faster than another girl who is riding, she cannot pass the rider because they are competing against each other.
How do you know the gender of the rider in front of you who is wearing full gear (including face protection) and is a pre-teen. Could be either easily. Some adults may not be easily determined either when approaching from behind. If the two riders are having a conversation while they are walking and the competition is smaller where everybody knows everybody else, then easier to determine. I wouldn't want to see the protests in a race with 200 competitors where someone says "I passed rider x because they were a girl and I'm a boy" and it turns out the one passed was also a boy and it affecting the top placings.
I've always interpreted the reason behind the passing rule was a way to force/encourage people to ride as much as they're able to. If a section is too difficult for someone to ride, they're allowed to walk, but in doing so they shouldn't gain any advantage over someone who is riding that section. Viewed in that light, it's less about who you're passing and more about not using it to gain advantage.
I see the problem being where somebody who is walking (let's say a boy) doesn't pass the rider because they are worried about violating the rules. Because of that they must slow down their pace. When he slows down, another boy from behind them catches up to him and then when they both mount again they are now in a close race which wouldn't have happened if the boy hadn't slowed down his walking pace.
I understand that it is sometimes difficult to identify gender. I think this could be easily solved by having all of the girls have one color piece of tape on their back or something like that.
I think Patricia's basic point here is an attempt to make the conditions for the top female XC riders equal to that of the top males.
In the current state of unicycling, it is not realistic from an organising point of view to run entirely separate races for male and female. In the case where the races are run together, the following situation can occur: For the top male riders, they are out in front alone with no restrictions. For the top female riders, they are often racing amongst some of the "pretty good" male riders. That means the females have more to contend with. For example, if the first female is in 10th place overall, a male is in 11th place, and the second female is in 12th place, the second female could be forced by the 12th male to walk more slowly up a hill (or through a technical section). I don't think anyone would suggest that the 2nd female should be disadvantaged by the 10th male.
This is the situation I think Patricia is trying to get at. The question of whether this rule makes sense or is realistic (in the case of Connie's comment), must be looked at.
Thanks for summarizing, Scott. While this would be very helpful to the top riders I think that it wouldn't hurt the riders in the middle of the pack (who are in contention for age group medals) either. It seems like there are simple solutions to mark riders based on gender. To avoid day of the race hassle it could even be something like the competitor numbers are printed in two different colors (one for male, one for female).
Got to agree with Connie on the inability to correctly know a random rider's gender. "Marking" all female riders in the race for this purpose also seems excessive to solve this problem, that mostly applies to a much smaller group of riders.
Let's look at this passing rule. The definition quoted above has a problem to begin with. What if some purist is in there, in the middle of that pile of rocks, trying to hop their way through it? That's not what we have in mind. These days I'm in the category of the person slogging along on foot, trying to maintain a reasonable pace. I shouldn't have to be caught up by a bunch of people behind me if this happens. And what if said hopping rider falls off? I guess that's like a green light, and we can all start walking again.
Having people catch up to you like that can be thought of as "part of the race", like a yellow flag in Indy car racing, but when you have multiple categories of racer all together, it can create inequities, as Scott mentioned. I think we need a better way to address this passing rule.
The spirit of the rule:
- Walkers must yield to riders (riders have the right of way)
- The benefit of the doubt must go to riders over walkers
- Sections that can be walked faster than ridden should be like red lights if someone is riding them
Okay, so I agree with the first two but not the third. All riders being equal, if you're trying to ride through a section and you are being passed by people who are walking, why should this negatively affect the walkers? You should probably be walking!
So I think the best way to address this is to work on the passing rule quoted at the top of the thread. Walkers must be mindful to leave a clear path for anyone that is riding, and give them the right of way. If the rider decides to beat him or herself up trying to ride through the section, walkers should be able to continue walking as long as they are not impeding the progress of the rider. Then we may need to look at how "walking" is defined.
John, I think you're forgetting to take into account rider skill. There were sections on the Unicon cross-country course that were technical and some riders were able to ride them because they were better riders whereas others had to walk them but maybe were a similar speed. I don't think it's correct to say that someone should be walking just because they are getting passed by walkers. This is why the rule was created in the first place.
You did not address the gender inequalities in your answer and offer a solution to that. I don't think we can ignore the top female riders and just let them suffer because it's a bit more work to do otherwise.
One of the fun aspects and strategy of cyclocross (for me) is figuring out when it is best to walk and when it is best to ride. This contributes to the haphazard nature of the race which most enjoy. The course should be designed so that it is generally faster to ride but also contains sections that are unusual and challenging. Perhaps these latter sections (like rock gardens) have looser passing rules or no passing rules at all. They would have to be marked by the event organizers and well understood by the riders. This way if someone takes the time to hop through the rock garden it still allows others to pass them at will (safely, of course).
Keep in mind that cyclocross operates under slightly different rules that normal (cross country) muni races. There's a separate discussion for cyclocross issues, including passing.
Rider skill, where some riders walk by necessity probably applies more to faster situations, such as droppy downhill sections. In those situations, the more skilled riders should be rewarded by being able to get through them more quickly than walkers. In my example I was thinking of uphill sections, which is where I mostly end up walking (and the more technical drops/steeps). On the uphill stuff, it's a smaller difference between riding and walking speed so I was thinking eliminating the "not pass mounted riders" thing would clear up some of the problem. Not a perfect solution but should take away that one obstacle.
Also in regards to "walking" I don't think it should be treated like a caution flag in motor racing, where everyone must stay in the same order. If you are able to walk at a faster pace while staying within the definition of walking, you should be allowed to pass other walkers. This generally puts long-legged in the advantage, but I can't think of something that wouldn't be excessively complicated.
Or I'm not grasping the problem well enough. The female experts, in theory, are riding in a crowd of not-expert males, which the male experts don't have to deal with. That of course is not equal pay for equal work. You need freedom to pass those riders (and/or walkers) without being impeded, but while still sharing the same race course with them. The elite rider make up a fairly small group, but do we have a way of identifying all of them in advance? If so, even if we did have a way to mark each rider, impeding riders would have to be able to see it for it to work. Or to go with something more along the informal lines of Cyclocross, to set a keyword to use to let people know you have higher priority, such as "Expert"!
Just for clarification: the idea is to let walking riders pass riding participants if they don't compete against each other because they are in different categories?
If that's the case, I would say yes, why not! If you require riders to wear starting numbers on the front and back and use different colors, it should not be too difficult to differentiate the categories.
I hope that this would help expert female riders to have fairer conditions.
Additionally, I think this can apply to different categories (experts/beginners) within the same gender. Think about the XC course of Unicon 17 where the experts rode the whole "8", the beginners only the first loop. At the end of the race, the top riders were overtaking lots of riders from the beginner category.
Of course, the ideal solution would be to have completely separate races for m/f & expert/beginner, but I can see why that's often not possible.
I do agree that it should be fair for females/males/experts/beginners/age-groups but I think the rules as is are good otherwise it will get too complicated for everyone to decide if the person is a female/male and if they are in the same age group and/or categories. Say I'm in the 30-39 age group and a kid 15 years old is in front of me riding super slow while I'm walking. I don't think it's fair that I'm allowed to pass him while walking cause he's not in my age group or if he was a female.
Females aren't the only ones that run into this problem of trying to pass slow riders if they choose to walk. Say one of the top elite riders has a dismount at the start or a bad fall during the race and gets stuck behind slower riders, he still has to pass them even if they decide to ride up a slow technical section. Worst case scenario is that someone gets stuck behind a slow rider, all they have to do is mount for a few seconds to pass them and then they can continue to walk.
I'm a strong believer that it's part of the race if you didn't get a good start and get stuck behind slower riders than you and have to figure out a way to legally pass them. If we were to change the rule, I would suggest to just take out the section about not being able to pass riders while walking as that would solve everything. Yes this would probably encourage more walking but it is a race and why wouldn't you walk a section if it was faster than riding?
Jamey, I agree with your second and third paragraphs completely. However, those are situations that occur regardless of gender which is really what this discussion is about.
I'm not sure what is really so complicated about making this happen. Suggestions for simple ways to identify rider gender have been offered. With those in place I really think this is a small deal and wouldn't be that noticeable to the people racing, except for the people that it helps. I think this is an important step in the right direction for our sport.
Patricia, I agree with your position, but looks like we are trying to heal effects instead of causes. If there is no walking or it is very occasionally than problem does not exist. More attention shall be brought to trail design. Trails shall be more easy, such easy that top female riders would not need to walk. At Unicons there are hundreds of muni riders, with skills on different levels. Trail shall be ride-able for most of them because it is unicycle race, not walking race.
I would wish myself that trails are interesting and not too easy though, but we should think on less skilled riders too, they also pay entry fees. Thinking about finals in XC is more important than distinguishing genders.
I will start new discussion on Muni XC race configuration and trail difficulty.
I don't think that the courses should be easier. The main places that people (particularly the top riders) walk courses are long uphills where it is easier to sustain a steady pace by walking. I rode most of the technical sections of the Elite cross country at this past Unicon and while I was in the top heat of girls, I was not in the top 10. I don't think it's a good idea to limit the course difficulty. Yes, have a rideable course is great but it's basically impossible to find a completely rideable course without it being too easy.
Ah, Scott's earlier summary about the elite females starting in a later heat put this into perspective for me. I didn't think about it that way.
- It makes sense to be able to walk past a riding competitor if they are not competing in your race. Elite males may not come across this issue if they are riding a "fresh course" (i.e., one with no participants on it). Elite females will come across this issue often, as they often start later and then have to overtake elite males.
- Clearly indicating gender is a very solvable issue. Coloring numbers by gender is simple, as people must sign up for a gendered event during registration. We simply print their numbers a different color. Numbers must be clearly displayed on front and back. Dealing with age is more difficult, as the age groups vary by competition, by event, heck sometimes they even change after the event.
- I am extremely opposed to different trails for males and females.
TL;DR: I am in support of this, and we can enforce it by printing a participant's number a different color based on their gender at registration.
Good idea to make different colors for female and male participants. this is simple to manage and it helps to solve the problem.
For me it was logical that walking riders can pass mounted riders if they are not in the same race (best example: Mont Tremblant). so I told our team members that they can do so. with different colors it's easier to find out who is in the same race.
I am still against this as it will get really complicated as if we do male/female we must also do age groups to make it fair. People would now have to wear numbers on their back and unless the age groups are in huge letters it would be very difficult for someone in race mode to see if they are in the same age group...unless we had different colors for different age groups and genders.
If people really want walkers to be able to pass riders, instead of limiting it to gender/age group, I would suggest to just get rid of the rule all together and allow anyone to pass anyone walking or riding. This would simplify things greatly. I know we have had this discussion in the past but it might be worth looking into again. Yes, it is a unicycle race but if a section is faster walking than riding (cause it's too steep or too technical) than it makes sense for people to walk that section instead of riding anyways. If someone is just hopping up a section, they are wasting lots of time and energy for what?
I don't think applying the same rule to age groups makes sense because they're a subset of overall results. While it is true that for the majority of competitors they are primarily competing against other people in their age group, we still show a ranking of everyone in the same gender and pull the overall placings from there. There is no way during the race to know whether you'll be in the top places and thus not able to pass other top placers.
Good point Danielle but I still wouldn't think it is fair to not be able to pass a rider who is say hopping, if he wasn't in the same age group, yet females would be able to. I don't think females should have a "special rule" just because they are females and I wouldn't think they would want it either, just like how they don't want a different trail as the guys. I really think it should be all or nothing, as in anyone walking should be able to pass any rider OR anyone walking should not be able to pass any rider.
The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to lean towards opening up a new topic that walkers should be able to pass riders. I'm thinking of extreme cases that could happen, like if someone decides he/she wants to hop up a technical section just to brag that he/she rode the entire course, and he/she creates a huge bottleneck of people behind him that want to walk but they can't pass him... Plus to me it just makes more sense that if a section is faster to walk then what is the point of riding it.
Jamey what do you mean you don't think female would want this rule? A female started this thread and several females have chimed in on it. Why would a female not want this to happen? It doesn't hurt their race in any way, It only helps it.
As for the female vs. age group discussion I completely agree with Danielle. In a perfect world, females and males would actually get to have separate races where this would be a non-issue. The idea is to solve a problem in the least cumbersome way possible so we can still run the races together.
What do you mean this would be a "special rule" that would only be for females? Or "just because they're females." The rule would also apply to male riders and they would be able to pass females as well.
The whole point here is that the top males currently have the advantage of a 'clean course' where they only are competing with and against other top males. With the current setup of our races, the top females have more to contend with. This rule is simply a way to address that concern (with a compromise solution, mind you). This is instead of offering two entirely separate races with male and female, which is rarely realistic from an organizing standpoint.
I guess I am having trouble understanding where you're coming from. If you could clarify better, maybe we can come to a better solution together.
Sorry guys, for some reason I thought this was a only walking females can pass riding males (as that is what all the examples were) and that's why I was against it and thought other females would be against it as it would be a special rule that only applied to females. But if it's both genders it makes much more sense and would be more likely to agree with it.
But I still am thinking about age groups and how to make that fair then. As the same situation can occur but instead of a male/female you have a 14 year old male/29 male. Taking Scott's example from above: "if the first 20-29 year male is in 10th place overall, a 14 year male is in 11th place, and the second 20-29 male is in 12th place, the second 20-29 male could be forced by the 14 year male to walk more slowly up a hill (or through a technical section). I don't think anyone would suggest that the 2nd 20-29 male should be disadvantaged by the 14 year male."
Personally, I would not differentiate age groups for the walking rule because there is still a competition between those riders for the overall ranking. I would allow passing by walking for different genders and separated categories (unlimited/standard, beginner/expert...).
I completely agree with Ben. The only competitors that are truly and entirely ranked separately are males and females.
@Scott: "The whole point here is that the top males currently have the advantage of a 'clean course' where they only are competing with and against other top males."
Really, only the front person is riding a clean course, while everyone else is in traffic. The difference for the female group is that they tend to be in thicker traffic. But the traffic exists for all riders at any given point in the race.
While the best solution is to have separate heats, here we discuss based on the reality of this likely not being possible. Even with a different colored race number, and having one on your front and back, it's still a little sketchy how much improvement we would get. It requires riders to yield to other riders who are behind them, which means the front rider must trust that the approaching rider has the "right" to pass, and that they must yield without having a good way to visually confirm this. I wear a mirror for road rides, and sometimes on the trails, but few people will have those. The colored number idea is worth trying, but I'm not sure how effective it will be in practice.
While I can follow the Idea in general and agree that male and female riders are in a seperate race, I agree to Connie that it will mostly end in a lot more protest. For a Unicon and maybe for Nationals you usually print Startnumbers so a different color is easy to do but you have to do the double amount of Numbers as you need them on back and front. On several smaller Muni events I see that riders used Numbers on Plasitc cards which are used for many years. Those hosts have to find another way then to mark male and female riders.
Beside all this we have the big main problem to got enough people to observe the track in the way it should be and so we are not able to follow any rules as we can't observe them. After nearly any muni race people complain about running riders / overtakers... . Cheating seems to happen unfortunatly more often those days than 10 years ago. Beside this we also have often misinterpretation of rules like:
"For me it was logical that walking riders can pass mounted riders if they are not in the same race (best example: Mont Tremblant). so I told our team members that they can do so"
So we have a lot to do and therefore a rule like this one can / should be maybe mandatory for a Unicon but even there I see that it provide just more room for problems. It would be mucxh better to go for 2 seperate heats or single start. Also we should push the results database which make it much more easy then to build a proper starting row.
I fully agree with Olaf.
I also agree with Olaf but still wonder if there is an easier/better way we can fix the problem. Of course having separate races (same course) for males/females would be best but I don't see this happening all the time due to time constraints. I believe the best way to solve this problem right now is with results from previous Unicons to seed riders so the fastest riders start first which means the expert females should be racing with riders that are very similar in speed to them. Yes this puts a huge disadvantage to new riders who haven't competed in Unicons but I don't see a way to solve that unless of course we had prelims...which would be awesome but again don't think it would happen due to time constraints.
as Maksym said before, races must be ridable for all top riders, either male or female... and all other riders must not overtake while walking...and off cause what Jamey said befor
One potential solution is that the top male heat starts and then there is a longer break (something like 10 minutes) and then the top female heat starts. This would make it so that the females have essentially a cleared course and the only thing that is required is an extra 10 minutes for the whole event. This is an idea I have thought of for road racing where the same problem also occurs. What do people think of this idea?
(Obviously making these top heats requires good start list data, as people mentioned above.)
Interesting idea....just to clarify are you saying the first men's heat goes and then the second heat is the top females and then the remainder heats go? This may be a solution although there is a a chance the heat behind the females catch up to the females and then we kinda have a similar problem. Unless we also start them 10 minutes after the females. I still prefer that everyone is seeded based on previous unicons...this way the top females are racing against males that are also going their speed and ability.
Separating out the "Expertish" heats, with a healthy gap between their starts, is a good idea, but we would have to address its limitations. If you seed people based on previous Unicons, you are discriminating against every rider who either wasn't there, or didn't enter the event at recent Unicons. So I can think of a couple of things to help fill in those other fast riders:
- Let the national organizations, clubs, etc. also provide data on their top riders that are attending. The idea is that people who know these newer riders may have a pretty good idea of who would be competitive in those heats. It won't cover everyone, but it should help
- Conduct some qualifying event(s) ahead of time. Depending on scheduling and availability of trails/venues, put together a scheduled event designed to allow riders to prove their "fitness" for the Expert heats. It could even be combined with a tour of the course(s), if possible. If not possible to use the actual course(s), you could still do some sort of simulating ride to vet the riders who don't have a previous track record.
- Beyond that and other pre-vetting, the actual Expert race heats could be open to selected riders who voluntarily enter with the promise that they think they belong with that group. If they guessed wrong and are really slow, no harm done.
- Riders in the non-Expert heat(s) should still be eligible to win, because the fastest riders, if they have no competition experience, might not realize they blonged in the Expert heats, but should have the same opportunity to win.
I am not in favor of seeding people based completely on previous Unicons, there are definitely big flaws to this. However, I think that with data available from National or smaller competitions as well, the seeding can be done relatively fairly. I don't think that a qualifying event is realistic at this point in time. Jamey, it's possible to have the next heat behind the top females start 5-10 minutes after, that would definitely work.
@John - all riders are eligible to win, they all will still race and receive a finish time
also @ John - I prefer that the organizers create the starting heats, I think this leaves less room for chaos. However, if someone really believes that they were placed in the wrong heat they could bring it up with the Chief Referee and cite evidence from other competitions as to why they should move into the expert heat. I know that this has been done in the past before. We could just have it formally stated in the rulebook.
I agree with all of Patricia's above, but would like to leave the door open for possible prelim rounds. In a typical Unicon schedule, time would probably not allow. But someday it might, and the conditions may allow for it. The details of how to run one shouldn't have to be real strict, since we expect it not to be a common event.
To build those Expert heats, we really do need to use a combination of methods. Past Unicon results will (always) be 2 years old, and only apply to previous Unicon attendees. Results from trusted sources, such as other major competitions, national orgs., or even testimony from multiple riders, could/should also be considered.
John, I think that the way the rules are currently written, there is nothing stopping prelims from happening (correct me if I'm wrong). I think we could write this new rule in such a way that would continue to allow for prelims.
I think we are in agreement on using as many points of data as possible to create the starting heats will allow for the fairest lineup.
Shall I write a proposal?
Sure, please go ahead! We can always iterate :)