How can it be cheating if there are no rules?

How can it be cheating if there are no rules?

E-Bikes are taking over the world. What are we going to do about it?

What the hell is an E-bike? Sadly, they are not a range of Yorkshire bikes. Instead, they are bikes where a motor assists your pedalling. Power assisted means that the motor only works when the pedals go round. So, no pedalling=no power. Simple really.

Fat E-bike

Fat E-bike

Like it or not, if you are keeping up with current mountain biking affairs, you need to have thought about them. If you want to think of yourself as abreast of current developments, then you probably ought to have an opinion about them.

Which brings me to cheating…

Disgruntled of South Angryton

I read a letter recently in a popular mountain biking magazine on the subject. The writer definitely had an opinion on E-bikes:

“E-bikes are not real mountain bikes and the people who ride them are not real mountain bikers.”

This definition of people who are different from yourself as “not real” whatever, comes up a lot in situations far more serious than mountain biking (usually associated with unpleasantly narrow definitions of belonging and nationalism). It really raised my hackles.

It also made me think: who are you to set the rules and tell me how to ride my bike?

“Road cyclists would not tolerate their world being invaded by cheating E-bikes”

Now we come to it: they’re bad because it’s cheating. Cheating whom, exactly?

The rules

There are always rules for things. A group of roadies have compiled a set of ever-so-slighty tongue in cheek Rules for riding on the road. They’re worth reading if you haven’t already.

For the purposes of mountain biking there are rules, they come in a set of broad categories:

Safety rules

These are rules that enable you to get home in the same number of pieces as you set off. Things like: make sure your bike is working properly, have a plan for if someone has an accident, check the weather and plan accordingly, don’t ride off a cliff, don’t ride the wrong way along a trail centre trail.

They’re fairly self-evident and it’s a good idea to follow them.

Legal rules

In Britain, legal rules mostly boil down to access: where are you allowed to ride? Bridleways are fine. Footpaths are not. If it isn’t a road, bridleway, BOAT or restricted by-way then the chances are you’re not supposed to be there. You can also count things like closing gates, not chewing up trails, slowing down for pedestrians and horses.

Following these rules minimises the chance you’ll get into trouble with the law. It’s a good idea to follow them.

Social rules

Now we’re into etiquette. We’re talking about things like: be nice to each other, offer to help people who might need it, don’t go haring past someone who is slower.

These rules are there to make everyone’s life that little bit better because we’re basically being nice and looking out for each other.

Level playing-field rules

This is really what disgruntled is talking about. The bikes aren’t breaking any safety rules, they’re not against the law, social rules are largely down to the person in the saddle rather than the bike.

So what rules has the E-biker broken? They’re cheating. They’re gaining an unfair advantage. They’ve broken the rules that keep the playing-field level.


Competition. Competition is about comparing things to see which one is better. In order to make it a fair comparison you need rules to ensure that you are comparing like with like. If you are comparing how fast two cyclists are, then you need rules to ensure that you’re comparing the two cyclists.

E bikes World Championships

E bikes World Championships

This is where being motor assisted breaks the rules: It’s unfair to compare a cyclist using only their legs against one who has a motor. Motors are big news in the worlds of road and cyclocross racing.

So they’re cheating then? Only if you’re racing. Only if you want to compare one rider with another. Only if the first person across the line is important.

You might have noticed that I didn’t appear at the Olympics this year.

Rio Olympic Mountain Bike- Men

If you’re not racing then you can’t possibly be cheating

Simple really. If your bike is safe, if you’re following the law and you’re polite then you’re grand. From where I’m sitting, my charges are already cheating by not carrying the havy leader’s bag that the safety, legal and social rules dictate I carry with me.

I’m not racing. Yes, I Strava my rides but I’m not going to get that upset if someone goes faster than me because I’m really not racing. In this case, the only person I’m competing with is myself.

So, if I’m not racing then you’re not cheating on your E-bike. We can go ride together.

It’s far more important to me that you’re enjoying yourself.

So, what am I going to do about E-bikes? Go out for a ride with them. That’s what.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Thoughts, 0 comments
I was there…when someone won circuit racing

I was there…when someone won circuit racing

Yesterday I went to the Winchester Cycle Fest and Criterium.

Yesterday I saw one of the most epic and impressive sporting performances it has been my good luck to see live in a very long time.

For those who aren’t entirely sure what Criterium (crit) racing is, it’s a bicycle race round a short, twisty, urban circuit. The aim is to go as fast as possible for a set amount of time without crashing, riding into someone else, puncturing, running out of gas or just being passed by people who are faster than you. First person over the line at the end wins. Simple really. The only time I tried it, I felt like someone had poured hot, broken glass into my lungs. It was horrible and brutal.

Yesterday I saw someone make it look, not easy, but certainly made it look like everyone else was doing something much more difficult.

Pfeiffer Georgi turned up to race the under 16 girls region championships. She completely wiped the floor with everyone else. She spent 25 minutes going absolutely flat out. She went faster virtually every lap than everyone else taking part. It was hugely impressive to watch, but not the thing that was memorable.

About an hour later she lined up for the Elite adult championships against the best circuit riders in the south. All of these adults were fresh and Pfeiffer had ridden a race, it was a long way from a level playing field. She proceeded to show them exactly the same clean pair of heels she had shown the 16 year olds. This time she did it for 45 minutes. To say they were out of sight doesn’t really do it justice. Even when she had the race won, she kept pushing and getting further in front. It was jaw dropping.

At the end she was interviewed and simply said: “I wanted to make sure I was clear of the group in case there were any crashes.”

Remember this name: Pfeiffer Georgi she is a star in the making.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Events, 0 comments