I have read a lot of blogs of late concerning the lack of officiating re: drafting in Kona. I also know from experience, that the rule is generally over looked in our local weekend events even though there are 3 to 5 motorcycles out on the course.
I guess the question I am asking is, is it worth having a rule that is not policed properly or consistantly enough to warrent the law?
I realize the rule is in there for the safety of the riders but have you ever seen the list at the end of a local event? You cannot tell me that only 2 or 3 people were drafting out of 400 to 800 athletes.
Usually, the officials are watching the top riders while the rest of the groups in behind get away with working together. The leaders are out there busting their butts and worried about getting too close to each other while the packs coming up behind are making time together and cutting into the lead. It may not result in a total reduction of the lead gap, but the energy they save may come in handy on the final run.
As someone who has received a drafting penalty, while riding close to the front of the race, and still doesn't agree with the call, I am always watching the riders around me. The one thing I watch most is the part of the rule I was apparently in violation of when I received my 2 minute penalty. That being, to drop back 5 metres (OAT Rule, 7 metres Tri Canada rules) as soon as the person's leading edge of their front wheel breaks the imaginary line across the front of your lead wheel.
When I was passed, going up an incline, I continued at my pace but the guys that went by me moved over in front of me and slowed down immediately as the hill became tougher. I maintained my pace and moved passed them. Now, when I overtake people on the road, I watch to see if they drop off my wheel right away or if they try to jump on for a free ride. Being in the duathlon, I have to come through a lot of triathletes in the field who get to the bikes earlier. As I make my way up the ranks on the bike, and get up to the better age group athletes, I notice many people do not drop off their pace. By the time I get to these people, my speed is not too much quicker so the time they spend in my draft becomes longer.
Because, I have been punished for this, I am more aware of the rule (as the officials and I had a pleasant chat after the race). I am not angry at the other riders as I do not expect others to break their momentum just because I get by them (as long as they are not hanging right on my wheel for miles after the pass) but I am disappointed that I have not seen any official hitting others for the exact same infraction.
I say, if you are not going to enforce the rule on everyone, than there is no use in having it. It should not matter if it is the leaders of the race or the mobs of age groupers hitting the road at the same time with only half a road to ride on. A rule is a rule and if it does not work (due to the number of people in the same area or the lack of officials in a race, etc.) than eliminate it or amend it. It is just like any other sport, call the game consistantly and everyone will know what to expect from the officials.
What do you think?