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The "No-en route-support" Rule Explored
by Stephen Hinde

Earlier this fall there was a interesting exchange on the club forum about the no help/self-sufficiency rule - our Rule 8, ACP's Article 7, RUSA's Article 6. Two helpful messages were from Stephen Hinde including this one (below). This rules seems pretty intuitive to me, but there's been confusion over the years and it seems the discussion is ongoing. Message reproduced here with Stephen's permission. EF.

To understand the "no help" rule (as in the recent paraphrase, and as more fully expressed on the BCR website under "Rules"), you need to examine the original rule set out by ACP. As my French skill is not up to anything except simple conversations (and some might say "Not even that!), I've chosen to quote the English version from the RUSA site:

Article 6

Each rider must be self sufficient. No personal follow cars or support of any kind are permitted on the course. Personal support is only allowed at checkpoints. Any violation of this requirement will result in immediate disqualification.

The key to understanding this rule is "personal support". In the unlikely circumstance that help is obtained from a passing motorist, fellow cyclist, or similar, the help is not considered "personal". Phoning to arrange for help (outside a control) would be personal, as it was arranged specifically for the rider. Yes, in France, community assistance is more readily available, but then, they have other impediments like long lineups at controls. It is acceptable to obtain a ride to the nearest repair point (that might be a bike shop, rather than a control), but you must return to the point where you left the route in order to continue your ride.

As an organizer for some of the rides in remote areas (eg North Vancouver Island) I have allowed support cars to provide assistance to riders, but under the proviso that they offer that same assistance to all riders. In this case, the help is not considered "personal" but rather a service provided by the organizer. Convincing a stranger to obtain a wheel would be considered "personal". Using a cell phone (do they really work out there?) to arrange for assistance to be prepared at a control would be acceptable. Using a cell phone to convince an organizer to change his plans and provide personal assistance would not be acceptable. I would also consider pre-arranged gear drops to be personal support, only allowed at controls. (Ken B. once used this technique on the VI 1000, but the drop was within 3 km of the control. He was riding unsupported.) Hey, you can always use the cell phone to arrange a ride after you DNF because of a mechanical. I've seen riders DNF at 580km in a 600 because they didn't have a spare tube. (I didn't have a tube that fit their skinny racing wheels. I left them a patch kit, but I guess they chose not to, or didn't know how to, fix the puncture.)

The rule is completely logical (even if we don't like it). If you arrange the help for yourself, it is personal support, and not permitted except within 3 km of a control. If fortune smiles on you, then luck allows you to accept any serendipitous help from strangers, or other brevet riders. It is the fact that you arranged the support that makes it unacceptable.

Sometimes the sun shines, and sometimes it doesn't.


October 17, 2011