Some Things About Heckling in a Cross Race

I was talking to Steve and Cosmo today (in different instances of the Google chat), and we were talking about heckling. And then JD Bilodeau tweeted some things that make sense!

I thought “Yeah! He’s right!” This was not a new thought, mind you, but it was good to see it on the Interwebs.

And if you have known me at all, you’re probably thinking “What? You actually ‘respect riders’?”

Um. Yes. I am not surprised at your thoughts. Because Past Ryan is an asshole (Present Ryan is also an asshole, but it is decreasing over time. He’s working on it).

But I do respect riders! Despite what you may think! Or how I’ve acted for my entire life!


Maybe this is like one of those scared straight things, where I share knowledge with you from years of being a significantly annoying jerk at bike races (thanks, Colin)? Though some people enjoy the things I shout?! I think?

Yeah, let’s go with that.

Here are some things that I have learned:

  • Know your audience! This is SUPER IMPORTANT. By audience I mean “people racing” and “people around you”. It’s probably a good idea to only give the business to people that you actually know, because you know their limits, and know you aren’t actually upsetting them. If you’re going to heckle anyone else, keep it on the friendly side. And keep it creative. Also, if you’re standing next to a bunch of families…maybe it’s not the best place to shout about how it appears the person riding has replaced the blood in their body with human feces.
  • Be creative! This is the second most important thing. Anyone can just scream “YOU SUCK”, but it takes some finesse to tell Brian Wilichoski that if he wins the race he gets to go bow-hunting for human. Or maybe you can’t insulting at all to the person you’re heckling! So tell them how good they’re doing – like they are sandbagging the race they’re in, and the only real competition they could have would be the Justice League.
  • Don’t set up a PA really close to Richard Fries and overpower him. This is a jerk move, but I didn’t actually realize I was overpowering Richard. So, if you have a loudspeaker, or a PA, or an incredibly loud voice, go stand like 200 meters from the official speakers.
  • Don’t swear. I haven’t done this (with any recollection, but I wouldn’t be surprised). But I have seen riders get races cancelled because they flatted in the last corner of a crit, lost it, and started screaming “fuckfuckfuck”. Swearing on the Internet is different – because you came here – but standing next to someone’s ear at a race and screaming vulgarities is a great way to get a race cancelled. Or scare people away from bike racing. Which is also very bad.
  • Don’t throw things. JD also touched on this but, yeah, don’t do that. Handups are…not technically legal, but okay if someone is way off the back. But don’t do it in front of an official. Again, you have to know your audience – and don’t offer beer feeds during the junior race!
  • If someone asks you to stop, do. Don’t be a jerk. In the same vein, if someone is being a jerk, tell them! If they’re at a cross race, odds are they are a cyclist, and odds are they don’t want to damage the reputation of the sport (hopefully). We pretty much all know each other, and we don’t want to have an awkward moment at the #NECX dinner table.
  • Don’t mess up anyone’s race. Ohhhh boy. Yeah. Don’t lean over the tape all the way, putting your face right where Tim Johnson’s face is going to be in a matter of seconds, and fail to move it. That would be bad.

So…yeah. Those are the jerk things you shouldn’t do.

I’m obviously not going to share THE SECRETS OF THE TRADE. You have to learn them yourself.


Um, yes. Not cool.

12 thoughts on “Some Things About Heckling in a Cross Race”

  1. The rules of heckling:

    1) It’s always okay to be funny
    1a) …but it get less funny every time you repeat it
    2) It’s never okay to be mean
    2a) …unless it’s to your friends

  2. If you do heckle guys by calling them girls there is a strong chance that you will be punished by Crystal Anthony or Sally Annis at your next race where they will beat you like a rented mule.

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