In today's New York Times Magazine, The Ethicist answered a bicycling-related question....
I participated in a triathlon in which drafting, riding close behind another bicycle to gain an aerodynamic advantage, was prohibited. While riding alone, I was overtaken by a large group of cyclists riding together. I had two choices: slow down and let them pass me, obeying the rules but losing significant time, or ride with them and break the rules. I chose the latter, and none of us were disqualified. Was this the right decision? — JOSHUA KULP, MODIIN, ISRAEL
The Ethicist replied: It was not. Other people’s cheating does not justify your own. Nor were you limited to the alternatives you describe. A triathlete I consulted, Tim Donahue, suggests that you should have shouted: “Guys, watch the drafting. You know the rules.” If rule-breaking riders ignore your warning, he says, report them to race officials and “make a special point to waste them on the run.”
He’s right. A sport is not merely governed but defined by rules to which participants voluntarily submit. If you flout the rules, you may as well install a motor on your bike and wield a flame-thrower to discourage other riders from passing you. And by “other riders,” I mean bike-straddling killer robots.
Donahue adds a call for moderation: “If these guys aren’t going for some kind of top position in the race, I’d say lighten up. The rules are a bit more about fun when it comes to 174th place.” This flexibility is apt for sports where a competitor’s behavior only indirectly affects your own. Other people’s drafting does not force you to alter your riding style. In fencing, for example, you would have to change tactics if a foe swapped his foil for a chain saw.
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In completely unrelated news, "Dancing with the Stars" begins a new season tomorrow. The only reason I mention this is because here were the results of a recent Bicycling magazine poll:
What would you like to see Lance attempt next?
38%: "Dancing with the Stars"
29%: Ironman triathlon
16%: Leadville 100 (for real this time)
15%: Race Across America
2%: A sub-2:40 marathon
Um, yeah. Weird. Hopefully that is the first and last mention of "Dancing with the Stars" on this blog.
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