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The Paul Mach Blog - But, but, NASCAR has radios
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But, but, NASCAR has radios
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - General
I get excited when news relating to race radio comes out. The comments on those articles are always good for a laugh.

I think my favorite was from a while ago, "What if a couch falls off a truck into the road, you need to warn the riders!!" When was the last time you actually saw a couch in the road? And if that's the best reason you can come up with for race radios, then yes, I would like fries with that.

But ultimately they all revolve around one thing, "The UCI should listen to fans because the fans are the sport." It's true, the fans are the sport, but it's also true that most fans have never used radios in a bike race. Will I get in trouble if I say fans don't know what they're talking about?

To help this issue, I've compiled a list of things I've learn about radio when racing with them in 2009 and without them in 2010. Hopefully they'll help create more educated opinions in the future. So here's some stuff everyone should know.

It takes effort to talk into a radio
We've all been in a race and thought, "My teammate should attack right now, I wish I could tell him." The reality is that by the time you take a hand off the bars, find the button and talk clearly, the moment has passed. That's assuming he actually heard you and didn't just reply, "What's that?"

They're helpful for stuff behind the peloton
My biggest fear is getting a flat, shooting out through the back of the peloton, and have the team car drive right past me. A radio solves that problem.

Also, when going back to the team car, having someone tell you what's happening behind you without having to look, is really nice. I think this is where the safety argument comes in.

Officials have been really good at giving info
We were getting time gaps pretty regularly at NRC and even local races last year. If we didn't get them, it's because they didn't have them, but that's a different issue. I'd imagine that at a World Tour race, with a thousand officials, it won't be a problem.

Word travels fast
At the Sun Tour two years ago, it was going to go from head wind to cross wind in a few miles. We didn't have radios, but somehow we all knew it was going to happen.

Also, if you want to know about the break, just ask, someone will tell you, eventually. But it's unlikely your actions will change now that you have that information.

Reading the race is always important
It doesn't matter what the director tells you, or doesn't. If you can read the situation for yourself, you can respond quicker and have an advantage. Period.

Ultimately there are good reasons for and against race radios. If people would just take a minute to understand the basic points above, we'd see more of those types of comments and less garbage.

My opinion is that riders will adapt to racing without radios, just like we did in the US last year. It won't change what you see on TV. But it will create a lot of avoidable issues, especially behind the peloton and after a crash.


All March Entries



Jim Allison
Thursday, March 17, 2011, 4:20 pm
Paul - your balanced comments are sort of in the same camp of J. Vaughter's that I saw in VeloNews today. Maybe the fans need a control set of results to see that breaks in the bigger races will succeed at about the same rate as they did with radios. I for one think the increasing the chance for even more bad luck than already occurs will degrade races, but then again, maybe it feels more like "life" and that is what they are after...

And congrats to you and team again for a chance to wear a certain jersey at the ToC.

Paul
Thursday, March 17, 2011, 4:45 pm
One dataset would be 2009 vs. 2010 NRC. But also consider the lack of radios in local races. There are two scenarios: the break gets caught, or it has all the strong guys, so it can't be caught.

In a Pro Tour race the field is much deeper, so there will always be enough power to bring back the break. The two scenarios there are: the field doesn't want to chase, or they mess up the timing. So the break would get lucky.

From JV's perspective, bad luck means serious money. They give $60,000+ bonuses to podium finishers at big races. There is obviously a lot at stake and they want to take chance out of it.

Without radios the break will still aways get caught. Just because if your team misses the break you have no chance of winning.

What might happen is the break will be caught too soon. Then there will be chaos in the last kilometers. That will be fun to watch, but it will also be super dangerous.

In my opinion, if you want to make races more interesting, make the courses more interesting. Flat boring courses will always yield boring races, with our without radios.

FWS
Thursday, March 17, 2011, 9:49 pm
Ditto...And Congrats on Bissell being
in the TOC! Going to be awesome to cheer
for you and the Team! : )

Jim Allison
Friday, March 18, 2011, 6:14 am
Spot on with that last point Paul about boring races. Also, it is very interesting to read about how the race tactics and dynamics play out from your insiders perspective - my vote is to keep that up - it makes for a better read than we cycling fans can get almost anywhere.





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