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  1. #1
    Member Nbois's Avatar
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    Two races, two crashes

    My 7th and 8th Cat 5 races, both ended up on the deck. I was able to ride/walk away from both, and the bike is fine with it's new bartape and scuffed pedals, but I'm second guessing myself after last night's crash.

    Being a Cat 5 race, and being that the race sponsors offered the race free to their own "beginning racing club", there was a ton of shakiness in every corner. And being passed meant that the pace would immediately slow a couple miles per hour a few seconds later.

    The course was closed, but was only one lane (inside lane) on a two lane road, closed off by cones down the center line. All right turns with two slight lefts on the back side.

    Coming into the last right turn prior to the bell lap, we (top 10-12 riders) were going 5 wide. The guys on the inside were hugging the right curb, while myself and a few other riders were on the outside, setting up our line for a wide turn. Of course, the guys on the inside go through the corner wide, pinching the outside, and sending me into the cones/guy to my outside, and in-turn flipping me off and planting my helmet on someone's rear tire (cool tire mark on the temple, but I think I may have crushed it a little).

    Guys were routinely hugging the inside lines, not taking corners how one would instinctively take them by starting wide and ending wide (at least, I thought that was instinctive). The front of the line was often lining up very inside, then sweeping wide, going much slower than needed.

    My question: if people are lining up improperly for a turn, do you:

    A) take the line with them so as not to go against the grain

    B) line up the way you feel you should and hope they adjust accordingly (like I and a few others foolishly did)

    C) sit up and let the carnage unfold in front of you, then hammer to get back into it.

    D) time trial off the front and take the turns however you feel

  2. #2
    Carpe Diem bdcheung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nbois View Post
    Guys were routinely hugging the inside lines
    It doesn't get much better in the 4's, unfortunately.

    The best option is to ride at the front and avoid the NASCAR-esque riding behind you.
    "When you are chewing the bars at the business end of a 90 mile road race you really dont care what gear you have hanging from your bike so long as it works."
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  3. #3
    Village Idiot
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    If someone's taking a bad line and you are at risk of being pinched, then you should follow their line. That way everyone stays out of everyone else's way.
    Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
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  4. #4
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    1) trouble comes from the inside out. If you're confident in your own cornering, take the inside line, and no one is going to come from the inside out into you.

    2) If everyone else is taking a different line through the turn than you, and you crashed out of 2 races in a row, perhaps the others are not the problem? Impossible to say without being there. But some introspection might be in order.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  5. #5
    Member Nbois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    1) trouble comes from the inside out. If you're confident in your own cornering, take the inside line, and no one is going to come from the inside out into you.

    2) If everyone else is taking a different line through the turn than you, and you crashed out of 2 races in a row, perhaps the others are not the problem? Impossible to say without being there. But some introspection might be in order.
    I am confident in my bike handling, but I'm definitely looking into my own actions, hence my question.

    First crash was due to the guy directly ahead of me locking up through a turn after a slight downhill (while we were taking the inside line) and spinning out and going down. I just had to eat it.

    Last night's though, I wasn't the only one taking my line. There was another guy on my hip to my outside even, and a few behind us. In fact, after working at the front along the back side, we were being passed on the right by the group, but everyone was aware of everyone else going into the turn. Very cluttered at the front towards the end with everyone setting up and getting anxious for the coming bell lap.

    Should I have put myself in the middle: probably not the best choice.

    I'm not looking to place blame on anyone. Just looking for advice to avoid pinches in tight courses with bunched packs.

  6. #6
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    experience, experience, experience...

    Until you have those three covered, sh** happens.
    Get up and go again, and again, and again, and again...

    Most people pack it after a couple early career crashes. Sounds like you're not that type. All the best on your path towards cat1 stardom.

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    just like motorcycle racing, the person with the inside line in a corner usually is the safest and in the best position because you have no one that can swing wide on you...for example, you are single file going into an apexed corner, just maintain position and dont overlap wheels with the guy in front of you...if he runs it deep or swings wide it wont have any effect on your position if you take the correct line...if you are in a pack try to, if possible, get an inside position before going into an apexed corner because if there are people on the inside of you, you are literally at their mercy if they dont get it right...just remember, gravity always swings the inside person wide if they mess up, no one falls and slides to the inside of a high speed apexed corner...the inside is always the safest place, but racing in a pack or bunch, most of the time you dont have a choice....

  8. #8
    VeloSIRraptor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nbois View Post
    Coming into the last right turn prior to the bell lap, we (top 10-12 riders) were going 5 wide. The guys on the inside were hugging the right curb, while myself and a few other riders were on the outside, setting up our line for a wide turn. Of course, the guys on the inside go through the corner wide, pinching the outside, and sending me into the cones/guy to my outside, and in-turn flipping me off and planting my helmet on someone's rear tire (cool tire mark on the temple, but I think I may have crushed it a little).

    Guys were routinely hugging the inside lines, not taking corners how one would instinctively take them by starting wide and ending wide (at least, I thought that was instinctive). The front of the line was often lining up very inside, then sweeping wide, going much slower than needed.

    My question: if people are lining up improperly for a turn, do you:

    A) take the line with them so as not to go against the grain

    B) line up the way you feel you should and hope they adjust accordingly (like I and a few others foolishly did)

    C) sit up and let the carnage unfold in front of you, then hammer to get back into it.

    D) time trial off the front and take the turns however you feel
    A or D
    If they are ahead of you then their job is to take the turn and your job is to protect your wheel.
    If you are ahead of them... then you can line it up and do it right.

    B will probably introduce you to the pavement, and this will be your fault not theirs.
    C has an excellent chance of tiring you out, and probably keeping you from achieving the results you want. Mass-start racing is about adapting to the situation unfolding around you- this includes screwy cornering.
    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    If it comes down to a field sprint, you probably won't win, so don't let it.

  9. #9
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    A and D, but more D than A

    also E (experience)

    practice your cornering. often.

  10. #10
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    Learn who the sketchy riders are (quickly) and avoid them- read: stay in front. Or if you have the beans to go solo, by all means then... Don't make it a habit of taking a ****ty line behind someone that does or you could end up being the one causing crashes.

    Nothing worse than staying behind the cluster as it unfolds IMO.

  11. #11
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    And why were you on the outside?
    Please remember that all statements unless quoted, are strictly my opinion of what happened. That there are as many opinions as there are spectators attending. I just choose to publish mine on this forum. And would NEVER intend to purposely hurt or discredit any other cyclist.... With that said... HTFU!

  12. #12
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    The closer you are to the front, the less squirrely riding there is, but it sounds like you found trouble anyway. That doesn't mean time-trialing off the front, but it does mean staying if the first couple rows. If the top 10 riders were 5 wide, then no one was making a big effort to keep the speed of the pack up. That's a problem. If someone was driving the front, then you would have been 2 wide and not had those problems. It needs to be an effort by the entire group.

  13. #13
    Senior Member MONGO!'s Avatar
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    Ride at the front and take the inside line.

  14. #14
    Member Nbois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saratoga View Post
    read: stay in front.

    Don't make it a habit of taking a ****ty line behind someone that does or you could end up being the one causing crashes.
    These were my thoughts through the race. Especially the second one as the race was unfolding and most of the turns were being taken very sharp and slow rather than wide and guys were getting antsy and starting to make moves all around the front. I was pushing myself to stay at or near the front, and did so for the majority of the short race. I needed a break so I dropped back a little on this lap in preparation for the bell lap, which put me back into the mix. Probably should have held it a little longer through the turn to keep myself clear.

    I appreciate all the input.

    future Cat 1 stardom...ha!

  15. #15
    Member Nbois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfrogge View Post
    And why were you on the outside?
    It's the way it was setting up going into the corner:

    In fact, after working at the front along the back side, we were being passed on the right by the group
    What I'm gathering so far is telling me I should have held my position longer, at least through the turn.

  16. #16
    Member Nbois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    The closer you are to the front, the less squirrely riding there is, but it sounds like you found trouble anyway. That doesn't mean time-trialing off the front, but it does mean staying if the first couple rows. If the top 10 riders were 5 wide, then no one was making a big effort to keep the speed of the pack up. That's a problem. If someone was driving the front, then you would have been 2 wide and not had those problems. It needs to be an effort by the entire group.
    Bingo. This is what was going on. We were crawling, and as much as I would have liked to have been able to pull the whole time, I couldn't. There were maybe 3 or four of us pushing when we could, then getting eaten up by the pack again everytime.

  17. #17
    Back in the Sooner State
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    You'll rarely get a break going in the 5s, but if you have a teammate or two then agree to pull a bit to spread it out. See if others that you have noticed handle their bikes well will join in and before you know it you'll have most of the sketchy riders OTB. Talk to the guys that are pulling some and see if you can get a little organized with them. It's worth a shot to run it by them. We have a team or two here in the 4s that we'd work with to stretch crits out a bit early on and then the pace would get back to normal after we drop the sketch guys.

    And use your handling to your advantage to open up a gap. If they're 5 wide, then push the pace a bit (not necessarily attacking even) to get to the corner cleanly, get through it cleanly and see who is left with you. If you do it enough, you'll find allies naturally a lot of the time and find that you're riding with other folks that can take a corner better.

    As others have said, you'll get used to picking out the good and bad bike handlers and you'll get used to sticking close the former and passing the latter.

  18. #18
    Super Moderator
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    In this case I'd say that the OP made some judgmental errors (regardless of what the field was or wasn't doing), putting him in a position that would increase the risk of a crash.

    There are a two myths hard at work here:
    1. Corners have one ideal line.
    2. It's better/safer/easier to be at the top 10-20 of a field during a race.

    Both, in my experience, are generally untrue. Except for extremely unusual corners (like a crit course with a narrow corner off of a steep 40 mph downhill with various manhole covers, sewer grates, and potholes/cracks - a crit in Tarrytown NY - the entry line was about 4-6 inches wide due to a massively humped sewer grate, and you absolutely had to brake once your tires landed back on the road after the grate, then you had to follow a line about 1-2 feet wide), corners generally have many different rideable lines. And I can tell you from oodles of racing time that I spend a lot of time sitting in the field, in the second and third 1/3 parts of the field, and I manage fine.

    With cornering, it's important to remember the the "ideal line" changes based on situation. Are you riding defensively? Aggressively? How are the other riders tackling the particular corner? These all affect the "ideal line" because "ideal" encompasses not just the physics of the turn but also the tactical dynamics involving you and 50 other riders on a narrow bit of road.

    You have to use your own discretion to decide what constitutes the proper line. When things are strung out, fast, single file, then the outside-inside-outside line is probably the best. Probably, not definitely. If you have any goal other than to go really, really fast, then the outside-inside-outside line is the WORST line to take. But that's a whole 'nother explanation.

    When things are NOT strung out, single file, etc etc, then the outside-inside-outside line is probably one of the worst lines to take. Again, probably, not definitely.

    If you sense that the riders are starting on the inside and then drifting to the outside, then an outside turn-out point is probably a bad thing if you start outside of the field. (Unless you're so fast you'll be in front, or unless you know there'll be a spot for you to slot into, etc etc)

    Learning to corner is totally separate from learning to go around a turn in a field of riders. The first has to do with technique and can be practiced solo, drilled, and honed. The latter involves using good judgment to interact with a bunch of random riders who may or may not know how to go around a turn in a field and may not even know how to corner.

    The most important thing in pack riding is to be able to semi-predict standard moves and ride in such a way that they don't affect you. As a new racer, it takes a lot of concentration, a lot of focus, just to ride in a field. Later it'll be natural.

    It's like learning to drive a car - I was 1/2 mile away from home on my first drive, mom at my side, and a car approached us from the other direction. My 9 year old brother screamed out "Look out, there's a car over there!". Now I laugh, but at that moment I almost panicked. Wow, almost no room between me and that car, only a few feet! Holy smolies I might crash! etc etc. Now it's routine to have a car go the other direction in the other lane. It's only when they cross the center line that it gets interesting.

    Similarly, at first certain things in a field will be exciting, nerve-wracking, etc, like taking a corner in the middle of the field (versus the outside of it, whether to the left or right). Or riding into the field, instead of riding towards the outside. Later they'll be so normal you barely notice them. I regularly choose to head into the depths of the field because I prefer the shelter I find there, as opposed to staying to the outside edges of the field.

    A note - it would probably be a good idea to work on bumping drills. Although it seems a bit foolish bumping while riding, or doing drills on the grass, such drills have saved my bacon plenty of times. I'd practice bumping elbows/shoulders/forearms, touching wheels, and doing slow speed, full contact "pack" riding.

    The latter is a culmination of the former two. It's where you have to be in contact with at least one person while going 5-10-12 mph around (alternate passing them left and right) a bunch of randomly placed bottles/cones in a grassy/soft field, the goal being to be in contact with 2 riders as well as touching your front wheel, all while staying upright. Usually a group of 6-10 works well, sort of an amoeba like mass making its way around a 500-100 yard long loop.

    After such drills, a little contact in a corner will seem like nothing. A body slam will simply slam you in the body. etc etc. I've slammed into rear axles and cassettes so hard my rear tire has lifted, but kept riding fine. I've heard comments on "That guy's dangerous, see how he overlaps wheels?", as recently as two nights ago, but they don't know that I feel pretty comfortable doing that because I drilled in how to handle that situation.

    The above stuff relates to what I call "The Sphere":
    http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...scenarios.html

    When I heard the comment about "being dangerous" because I was following so closely to the rider in front of me (who I really don't know - he's been in the group maybe 5 times, and he may be a Cat 4 or 5, I don't know), I pointed out that I am extremely protective of my front tire and bars. However, I also feel comfortable with either in close vicinity of another bike/person/thing. As an illustration I eased forward and skimmed the derailleur cable housing of the bike in front of me (which was on someone else's bike, who I've only seen twice on any of the group rides, but I think he's a 4).

    I've managed to reduce my sphere size so I can comfortably squeeze through small holes in a pack. It used to be nerve-wracking, exciting, etc to go through a hole with 6 inches of clearance on each side. It used to be just as nerve-wracking etc to drive a car through a gap with a foot on each side. Now both are normal situations for me. You can work on the riding so a 6" gap on each side seems pretty roomy.

    What I'm trying to say is that it's okay to make mistakes (I've made plenty, believe me). Well, so long as nothing too serious happens. You just have to learn from them.

    And I'd also get a new helmet. Any slight crushing and the helmet is compromised and may not be able to protect you in the case of another impact. I don't know what living, breathing, thinking, walking, etc is worth to you, but to me it's worth a lot, much more than the cost of a helmet.

    Part of the thrill of bike racing is dealing with all the tactical permutations of field riding as it happens, in real time so to speak, and uncovering the finer nuances as you gain experience. It's something that I find addictively thrilling.

    hope this helps,
    cdr

  19. #19
    Member Nbois's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for the long thoughts cdr! And Impreza, and again to everyone else.

    I think I did judge the field properly, but I definitely didn't adjust my actions the way I should have. I went into the last laps trying to lead by example, and taking the fast line. Although I didn't take the fastest "outside-inside-outside" line which would make me cut across the inside guys (I did more of an outside-mid-outside-outside), I did assume the guys taking the inside line would slow more than they did and not swing as wide coming out of the turn due to the fact that there were a few of us outside of them. I was at their mercy. Not where one should be. Oops.

    I'm with you in the thought that this stuff is addictively thrilling. Almost more-so when you make mistakes, because you just want to get up and do better.

    And yes, I was planning on sending the helmet in for crash replacement tonight, BTW. The left side is squished, and there's a few more scuffs on the back. Knowing that it would have been my forehead getting tiremarks and the back of my head scraping on the pavement, a new plastic hat is priceless.

  20. #20
    Back in the Sooner State
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    Another thing that I do, an on the heels of some of the comments that cdr made, is to ride crap lines in my on course warmup. Sometimes the course won't be open, but if it is then don't just cruise through the corners by yourself on the best lines. Be deliberate in finding the crappy lines through the corners and take them some. You'll rarely be able to ride your best line through a corner in a race, especially int he situation you describe in the first post, so it will likely be helpful to find and ride outside of your comfort zone before you're being pushed there during the race. You'll better anticipate, as well, which corners are the most critical to get set up for and which ones you can relax through and not sweat being pushed off line through.

  21. #21
    175mm crank of love RichinPeoria's Avatar
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    -just say'n
    Have a good day and htfu you big baby, Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by coasting View Post
    So I step away from BF for a day and this thread takes a nose dive! .....
    The only good bit is RichPeoria's yummy food pics again! Congratulations Rich; you are a king amongst fools

  22. #22
    Senior Member captnfantastic's Avatar
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    I crashed 3 times before I got out of CAT 5. Life sucks in the 5's. Hang in there.
    DROP THE HAMMER!

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