more on PASSING ETIQUETTE: Passing a Deaf Mountain Bike Racer

more on PASSING ETIQUETTE: Passing a Deaf Mountain Bike Racer

this summer at Wednesday at Wakefield I found myself behind a racer
approaching fast... hungry to make a pass... inches from his rear wheel...

it started with the fast approach and a good spot to pass as we exited the singletrack leading into the open power line section
passing is tough on this course so you take it when you can
it is a short multi-lap race that involves a great deal of passing with very little opportunities to pass

RIDER UP! ON YOUR LEFT... the gap closed and I was unable to pass
when you get a chance... I would like to make a pass no response
excuse me... this would be a good spot to pass IGNORED! not so much as a slow of the pedal
yet no effort to increase the pedal stroke to prevent my effort either

this racer was moving at a pretty good clip
I was confident I could go faster
I had caught him... which meant I had been going faster... I wanted to get past him
I wanted to be moving faster forward
I wanted to be moving at my pace not his
this racer was impeding my effort to have my race

a few more requests then I saw the small writing printed on the pocket of his jersey

the words DEAF CYCLIST in black letters within a yellow diamond shaped warning sign
so when I saw the opportunity to take the pass... I did... it was not pretty... but it was the only way it could be done
I had tried previously... so when there was safe passage
I took it
then back to my race and back to my pace

the next week a little deeper on the course I approached this same rider who was recognizable by the same jersey
thinking he may have partial hearing I gave him an assortment of polite audible warnings...the usual requests...
just as the week prior
nothing... not a tilt of the head... no alteration in his cadence... no change in his speed
he did not slow down... he did not speed up... he kept going

doing his own thing oblivious to my being behind him

I tried to nudge in on a twisting turn... we almost make contact... my presence went unnoticed
I had to brake hard and drop back behind him
again... on his tail... following close... trying not to let our knobbies kiss... I attempted another pass
again... only to get forced out
nearly forced into a tree... not only is he not letting me pass... he is unintentionally muscling me off the trail putting me at risk... he is focused... he is hammering... he is using the whole trail... and he is unaware of the racers around him
or at least he was unaware of me
little old me

how could he not feel my heavy breathing on his shoulder?
how could he not sense me at his side?

so on a short little muscle of a climb I approach on his right and gave him a gentle and friendly touch to the shoulder
I place my palm flat on his back
he turns to the side in shock
this is a gesture expected at a restaurant when being approached by an old friend... not by a stranger in the middle of a mountain bike race
our faces were a half a foot from each other
I am in his personal space
he is in my way
I remove my hand from his back and put it back on the grips and completed the pass

back to my race
back to my pace
I accelerate and rode the trails at my rate
leaving this athlete behind me

after the race I considered approaching him
I took a glance at his race number and considered GOOGLING his name and sending him a fri
endly email
when I got home I meant to blog about it
I did none of this... until now
now I blog about it

perhaps I was afraid of offending him
maybe I was scared of the PC Cops coming down on me
maybe I just forgot

in college I played soccer... each year we played Gallaudet University
for those that do not know... Gallaudet is a deaf university
it was Division III level play

each year we played Gallaudet in soccer... a few seasons for some reason we were scheduled to play them twice... this created a bit of a rivalry between us
well... maybe not a rivalry... but.... on game day... the competition was high...
the introduction to the deaf world and the deaf athlete is an interesting one
playing on their silent campus was a sociological experience
competing against this team was just like competing against any other time
there was never a point were I felt our team was advantaged due to their athletes being hearing impaired (some completely deaf and others with partial hearing)
the players at Gallaudet were a physical breed which worked well for my European style of play
they were physical and hyper alert
they were hyper alert... really nothing more than a tad more panning the field... keeping their eyes open... staying alert
they had to look more because they did not have the ability to hear the call for the cross or the need for assistance to pull back and defend

I scored my only college goal against Gallaudet
in these soccer matches against Gallaudet there were many physical contest
contact was made
through this contact I made enemies and I made friends
I have great memories of these games
maybe more memories from the competitions against Gallaudet than any other team we played in my four years of division three soccer

my point?

the tangent seems to have drifted off the topic of mountain biking
maybe I can try to tie these points together

in short... the deaf athlete just like any athlete is to be treated with respect
in the case of passing the deaf athlete it is my contention that this person should be passed just as any racer should be passed with the concern that they know that you are there and that the pass is made in a matter that is as safe as possible
personally I felt that this racer was not exactly aware of the riders around him
maybe others experienced things differently in their effort to pass
I thought that the markings on the jersey were a big help
but I think that he could have factored in a little more of an effort to be aware of athletes behind him
just as each individual should be respectful when making the pass
the athlete being passed should be respectful of the faster rider approaching behind them

United States Deaf Cycling Association


Gallaudet University

a blog about logos

Wiki Page on Outdoor Sculptures in Washington DC

an aside
it is said that the hands of Abraham Lincoln on the statue within the Lincoln Memorial are signing an"A" and an "L"
a blog that discusses this
it is also claimed that the hair on the back of Lincoln's head create a sillouette of Robert E. Lee and stares across the Memorial Bridge to Lee's House

you tell me!

another aside...
yesterday I took a run in the morning with my black dog brutus
when coming out of the woods to cross the street in Rock Creek Park I nearly bumped into another runner
it was a familiar face.. a guy I played soccer and basketball with as a child... a guy I went to high school with
we caught up
in our catching up he told me about his family
I can recall his father being my defense coach as a child... teaching me the left fullback how to guide the forward with the ball to the sideline and how to tackle them
one year we played Gallaudet... this man was the referee
with my long peroxide blonde hair and my long lanky frame he did not recognize me
but I recognized him... and I knew his style of play
the perfect ref for this physical sort of play
it was a physical contest
great memories


ryand said...

We play polo with a deaf kid. He does autobody refinishing for a living. I don't know if he is a competitive cyclist, but he seems to have it together on knowing where we are without audible cues. There are also small gestures that some players use to tell him where they are going or where they want him to go. At first it was difficult to communicate, but each week we all understand each other a bit more. Next time I see him, I will ask him if there is a polite way to pass.

Jim said...

We used to play ball against Rome School for the Deaf in high school. It was accepted protocol that they would sign (which we couldn't understand) and that we would communicate with verbal cues (shielded by a hand) that they didn't understand. They could deceive us by setting up plays a particular way then switching into a totally different arrangement without warning; we would do the same thing but using verbal communications. No quarter asked, none given. I don't know how you can show more respect to a fellow competitor than that, to go head-to-head with him.

How do you treat a deaf cyclist? Like any other one. I'd try a tap on the back if situation permitted it (like passing or getting the attention of a hearing rider on a really windy day), and if he didn't yield I'd force the pass as soon as I thought I could safely do so. My 2c, YMMV.