Mind your manners, and we all have fun

I got a phone call on Monday from an irate cycling official. After I established that I was not the cause of his ire, I listened and as my concern subsided so my anger grew … until I now also feel the need to vent.

Last weekend the South African Enduro championships were held at Howick and Karkloof with ten stages making for a great weekend of mountain biking – for most people.

For at least one poor participant the weekend was spoiled by an incident involving the boorish behaviour of one of the country’s top riders who decided he was more important than anybody else. I need to point out I have only heard this second hand and have not been able to speak to any of the riders involved. Because of that, and only that, I am not going to name and shame. I have however seen official letters of complaint, a letter to the rider involved, and a letter of apology to other competitors.

For those who do not know how enduro works, riders are timed over short sections of mostly downhill riding. Last weekend these “stages” ranged from under two minutes to over six minutes for the top riders. Between each “stage” riders can slowly make their way to the next starting point and then chose when they want to set off down the next timed stage.

Our villain, who was one of the favourites to win the South African title, opted to start one of the stages later than the other top competitors – his choice! However, his strategy backfired when he caught a slower rider. I say this with the utmost respect, but she was an “older” rider in the masters category, so was unlikely to ever be as fast as our young anti-hero charging down the hill with his testosterone flowing.

The result was a frustrated, testosterone-filled racing snake seeing his hopes of a South African title disappear due to his own tactical error. His reaction was a tantrum of epic proportions with screaming and swearing. And after that stage he continued to scream and swear at the poor rider who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thankfully the KZN MTB Commission, the Gravity Commission and KZN Cycling have taken the issue seriously and the (young) rider involved has been reported to Cycling SA and banned from competing in KZN again for a year. Well done KZN Cycling!

For the record, junior Keira Duncan won overall with Tim Bentley and Sam Bull completing the podium, while our villain was never in contention.

Because it seems some people still need to be educated on trail etiquette, I found the following from the Tygerberg MTB Club website and it seemed appropriate to this week’s topic.

“What is trail etiquette? Well, we have had complaints from slower riders that fast riders are sitting on their back wheel screaming at them, and fast riders complaining that slow riders are blocking their mojo on the trails.

“It is a bit of a catch 22 don’t you think? Who is right and who is wrong? Well my fellow dirt addicts, you are only wrong if you do not apply a little thing called logic and or common sense paired with manners and courtesy.

“To put it bluntly YOU DO NOT OWN THE TRAIL – regardless of how fast or slow you think you are. Courtesy and trail etiquette go hand in hand.”

And that, my dear readers, applies to racing as well as simply riding for fun.