4X and slalom start questions

Hey Lee, how do you know what the rules are for mt cross & dual slalom gate starts on what is legal and not legal. I couldn’t find any info on the usacycling website.

It has “guidelines” for mt cross. Can you try and slingshot the gate or does the front tire need to constantly be against the gate. Then I started wondering if it isn’t in the rules what could people do. Like could someone keep bumping the gate to try and make the other one lose his balance. Could you swerve all over the course trying to keep someone to pass? I get bored at work so I pass the time thinking about stupid stuff like this.

Thanks, Brian

Hey Brian.

I’m glad you’re thinking about this stuff, because sometimes clever makes the difference.

In mountain cross, your tire must be on the gate when the cadence starts, but you can slingshot all you want. Lopes did a standard start for like 20 years, and he recently switched to a slingshot. He says it’s faster.

In dual slalom there usually is no gate to rest your wheel on. Sometimes there’s a gate that opens to the side. You cannot bump or barge that; the promoter will kick your butt. You either lean against a rail in the start house or start with a foot down. It depends on the promoter.

You could try to bump a 4X gate to mess with the other riders, but I think it would jack you up more than anyone else. Those things are solid. Also, the promoter might get pissed at you. Those things are also expensive.

There’s no rule against you swerving across the course. As a matter of fact, that’s a pretty common tactic. At the Mammoth championship 4X, some guys would start on the inside, get a bit ahead then sweep to the outside to ward off the other racers (and set up for the first turn). That could backfire, because another rider could pass on your other side.

I can’t swear he does this on purpose, but I’ve seen Eric Carter pull some sneaky tricks. Everyone else sets up and applies max tension to the gate. Meanwhile, he just sits there with his goggles on his bar. After the other racers burn up some energy, he waves to the starter — “Sorry, I forgot my goggles.” Everyone sits back down, all wrung out, then they all set up again. EC is fresh and in charge, and he gets a great start.

If that’s true, good for Eric. At that level everyone’s strong. Sometimes smart wins the race.

Now get back to work!
— Lee

Go ahead: Ask me something.