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  1. #26
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Sigh.

  2. #27
    RacingBear UmneyDurak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    http://tinyurl.com/mcle3d7

    "USA Cycling should create a mandatory education and certification process for new road and track racers and eliminate one day licenses for mass start events without this certification"

    Given that these programs already exist in numerous locations on a voluntary basis, the wheel doesn't need to be reinvented, nor will things need to be created out of a vacuum. There are plenty of coaches and promoters out there that already provide these services, often for free.

    Having had an opportunity to race all over the country, and work in various mentoring programs, I've seen what works and what doesn't. Hope doesn't. Education and mentoring does.

    Sign and pass it on.

    "Bicycle racing is an inherently dangerous sport where serious injuries and deaths occur. Presently USA Cycling, the primary sanctioning body for bicycle racing in the US, allows anyone with $15 dollars to enter a race with a "one day" license, without verifying that they have any prerequisite skills or knowledge whatsoever.

    Creating a uniform mandatory education and certification process will increase safety, improve the rider experience, increase retention of racers, and reduce insurance costs.

    Such processes are commonplace in sports like auto and motorcycle racing where the participants have the same risk while having superior safety equipment.

    Voluntary programs (some no cost) to provide new bike racers with skills and knowledge exist in several locations in the US, providing USA Cycling with models to use.

    As racers, cyclists, family, and friends, we call on USA Cycling to put a mandatory education and certification process in place prior to allowing new riders to compete in mass start events."

    Since motorcycles were mentioned... It's also a difference in mentality. People who end up racing spent time improving their skills, by doing track days/working with instructors. Hell even if you have no plans in racing you can still learn a lot by doing track days and working with instructors. For road bikes doesn't seem to be much of that, or anywhere to learn really. You would think coaches would be it, but most are just look at numbers and give work outs that might or might not actually be tailored to the athlete. Here in NorCal we have Early birds, but it's way early in a year, and if someone decided to race later they are either thrown in to the thick of it, or have to wait a year.

    Maybe solution is just to have more clinics available to people.
    I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
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    I don't agree with this simply because I do think it's a barrier to entry, as others have mentioned in this post.

    In an ideal world, safety trumps all else. Practically, however, this can be a big deterrent to potential new racers.

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    Sweet. We should also have mandatory training classes for sketchy p/1/2's riders..
    Fair point. Sketchy riders in every category, even the experienced ones.

  5. #30
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    Fudgy - You're not thinking clearly.

    You don't teach people how to deal with high-stress situations by throwing them in high-stress situations with no prior training and expect them to do well. You give them the tools they need and the chance to drill and make mistakes at low cost, and increase the complexity as their skills evolve. An example would be bumping drills, first done at low speed on grass, then faster and then on pavement.

    I've been through this in the context of people shooting at me and trying to kill me. My training didn't start with someone shooting at me and trying to kill me, but with slow drills in reacting to contact, and then more complex stuff. When people shot at me and tried to kill me for real, the training kicked in and I made it through unscathed. That would be the goal of the clinic, to ensure that the new racers get through their races unscathed, and to equip them to learn to deal with the high-stress stuff.
    Couldn't have put it better myself. If anything, it's a problem now that a lot of people "learn" how to ride in a group by going to Tuesday Night Worlds rides (with a bunch of sketchy, nervous recreational riders who also "learned" to ride in a group by doing these rides), or even by racing. It's pretty much impossible to learn anything when you're in the red zone from the beginning until you're dropped. And once you're dropped, you're riding alone.

    The traditional club system, where you learn to ride in a group with experienced riders at sane speeds, has declined. I was lucky, in that I learned to ride with a club that still has that traditional, structured ride schedule with clear delineation of when it's okay to attack and race a little and when we're all going to ride in a smooth double pace line at an easy pace. Even the hard rides on Wednesday and Thursday evenings consisted mostly of riding in a pace line, with hilly sections in the middle where everyone would push the pace. It was a workout, but it was safe. Around here, it's a different story, with a TNW ride that's simply bonkers in all the wrong ways. I probably won't do it much this season, because I want to live.

    The emphasis these days is so strongly on fast, fast, fast, fitness, fitness, fitness. Even recreational riders have carbon wheels and power meters. I'm not saying this as an old-timer, I've only been road riding since 2007, but it's clear that my experience when and where I started is a bit unusual these days. If this is the situation, it makes sense to introduce some education when people get into racing, because it has to happen somewhere. I think it might be better for there to be a resurgence in the organized club ride, but that's probably a much harder thing to do.

  6. #31
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    they should take urine samples in the p12, is what they should do
    5/20

  7. #32
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    i think this is a great idea. i'm planning on participating in a skills clinic with my coach on 4/19, and I'm a cat 2. one can never stop learning or developing skills in bicycle racing, or any other facet of life. to think otherwise is erroneous. that such a requirement may create a barrier to entry into the sport, I guess that's a concern, but lower cat fields are still filling up around here. it's a fringe sport, and I kind of like it that way.

  8. #33
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ygduf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby View Post
    it's a problem now that a lot of people "learn" how to ride in a group by going to Tuesday Night Worlds rides
    citation needed.

    someone dig up the study on increased crash rate that prompted this whole thing and convince me it isn't just generation gap and "In my day..."

    Which is weird, because back in that day they still didn't have mandatory clinics.

    Is it not the case that people are complaining about decreased attendance and shrinking profit margin? IMO increasing the barrier to entry will just decrease participation.

    IF, and I mean IF!, this were to somehow become gospel, they should make it so that every club/team has to host a race AND a clinic.

    But they shouldn't do that because this is questionable idea. There is already cat 5 to segregate new people and force them to get a minimum of experience.

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  9. #34
    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    Safety doesn't trump ewang; cyclists could add a few lbs of equipment and it would reduce their chances of injury by about half. However, our cda and speed would be worse. Wasn't it a major effort to get cyclists to adopt helmets 30-40 years ago?

    There really isn't a solid answer; a clinic is a barrier to entry but its also safer. Regardless if there's a clinic or not you are still dumping the most inexperienced riders in the same race and that is always risky. Maybe pull aside all the new riders for 10 minutes and have a mandatory safety checklist to go over? I do like what USAC does now where a clinic get you 2 points for an upgrade. Maybe upping that to 3 or 4 and making it more readily available would be a good compromise.

    I don't think the TNW and other group rides cause an issue. We have a goon squad out here that is dying for a rider to do something dumb, its self policed pretty well. Of course, they'll watch the new riders like a hawk but ignore the 10 year veteran that bumps two handlebars and breaks checks half the peloton so he can talk to the one girl in the group.

  10. #35
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ygduf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post
    but its also safer.

    Is it? Safer than what? What's the crash rate with non-clinic riders vs. clinic riders? Now what's the cost to run the clinics and how does the impact of the additional hurdle to entry affect the sport at this level? Do we lose races? Does the reduction in races mean everyone is less experienced and more prone to crashing next year?

    All this garbage is speculation. Real businesses that are going to implement a national program that affects thousands of participants know these answers before they act.

    Want to make it safer? Mandate reporting of crashes to USAC and build a database and see where people are running safer races or unsafe races and figure out WHY those are safer. Maybe it's clinics. Maybe it's "else."

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  11. #36
    Senior Member aaronmcd's Avatar
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    I did the Early Bird clinics. They were fun, entertaining. But you can't just take that into a race. We did a "cornering clinic" and the race immediately following had bad cornering throughout. Go out and descend high speed and you figure out cornering real quick. I think a few things are great to keep in mind first race: follow the line, don't cross wheels, bumping won't hurt you. But just being told these things? Or practicing once in a mandatory clinic? That won't help any more than the first cat 5 race will.

    I got to do bumping drills one time - a while before I ever raced - on pavement, low speed. First bump and I was never scared to bump again. It was useful just to prove bumping won't hurt. But I still don't think there should be more barriers to entry.

    Also I think it's a good point that others brought up - that's what cat 5 IS. You have to pass so many races before entering the sport as a cat 4.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    You don't teach people how to deal with high-stress situations by throwing them in high-stress situations with no prior training and expect them to do well. You give them the tools they need and the chance to drill and make mistakes at low cost, and increase the complexity as their skills evolve. An example would be bumping drills, first done at low speed on grass, then faster and then on pavement.

    I've been through this in the context of people shooting at me and trying to kill me. My training didn't start with someone shooting at me and trying to kill me, but with slow drills in reacting to contact, and then more complex stuff. When people shot at me and tried to kill me for real, the training kicked in and I made it through unscathed. That would be the goal of the clinic, to ensure that the new racers get through their races unscathed, and to equip them to learn to deal with the high-stress stuff.
    Heh. I never thought of the learning process like this. In those old Chinese kung-fu movies they did it the hard way, you died or you survived. This is a great explanation, very vivid.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
    The first time someone breaks a collarbone performing a mandatory bumping drill, there might be trouble. Waivers work in races because it transfers accountability from the race organizer to the racers themselves. A class, mandated by the governing body, telling someone to put themselves in a hazardous situation, will probably render any waiver you can figure irrelevant.

    So maybe you have a much watered down course? And now maybe you only have the barrier to entry without the corresponding safety benefits.
    In CT waivers don't mean anything, as the state court has ruled and upheld (a lawyer friend said something about a snow tubing death/paralyzation case that held the slope liable, even though I think the person who died or was paralyzed was snow tubing on a stolen ski lift tower pad - the person hit the unpadded ski lift tower. I think the person died. I can't remember. Anyway waivers in CT don't mean anything, and in a number of states they don't mean anything.)

    But yes, I think that a large organization like USAC would have to think about the benefits vs costs of doing clinics.

    I still think it's a great opener for discussion on this stuff. It gets people thinking. It stirs up the soup. You see some of the good stuff floating around now.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  14. #39
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkwaki View Post
    I agree with this.
    Back in the day I had to have my license signed by a coach/team to be able to race in a sanctioned event. Rbart could confirm if it is still like that but something should be put in place to help educate/direct new riders.
    They stopped that a while back here in Ontario, but scrapped one day licenses at O-Cup events a few years back after a nasty crash and lawsuit. The next step is implementing a system as RX has described. They are talking about doing that for next season. Part of the issue here is that there are very few clubs with the resources to put on skills clinics. In Ontario you basically pay $450, fill out a form and you're team\club. The club scene here was a lot stronger back in the day, well before I got involved in the sport.

    Lots of people get involved in racing (me included), especially at the Masters level, who have no clue what they are getting into. Simple group rides do not prepare you for the pack dynamics, they help, but are not the end all be all. Skills training is sorely needed for sure...

    BTW waki, the reason the old system was ditched was because cards were being signed without an merit being shown so they felt it was a waste of time.

    First race is Good Friday and I will be part of the cluster**** that can be Master3. I fear this year will be worse since winter was so long and hard, No where near as much road time for most. That might help me since I was training like hell on my e-motion rollers
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    Fudgy - You're not thinking clearly.

    You don't teach people how to deal with high-stress situations by throwing them in high-stress situations with no prior training and expect them to do well. You give them the tools they need and the chance to drill and make mistakes at low cost, and increase the complexity as their skills evolve. An example would be bumping drills, first done at low speed on grass, then faster and then on pavement.

    I've been through this in the context of people shooting at me and trying to kill me. My training didn't start with someone shooting at me and trying to kill me, but with slow drills in reacting to contact, and then more complex stuff. When people shot at me and tried to kill me for real, the training kicked in and I made it through unscathed. That would be the goal of the clinic, to ensure that the new racers get through their races unscathed, and to equip them to learn to deal with the high-stress stuff.
    good post rev.

  16. #41
    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    Yeah, Cat 5 is designed to be a way to introduce new racers to racing. But how many of you did a straight Cat 5 race as your first race? I didn't. I did a 4/5 race, meaning I was with a bunch of guys who already had plenty of race experience. And some of those guys were Cat 3s a week later. I didn't learn anything about how to be a safe racer that day. All I learned was I needed to train more so I don't get dropped so quickly.

    Moreover, there is a wide discrepancy in the skills and strengths of any Cat 5 race. I've seen races where within 30 minutes, one guy has lapped the field three times. Guys like that don't learn race skills in the 5s because they always are on their own.

    So, to simply say that is what Cat 5 is for ignores the reality of the situation.

    We have started offering free clinics to new racers at some of our events. They are just 30 minutes and offered before the first race of the day, usually the junior race. While we've had a plan for what we want to cover, in reality, the instruction was dictated by who showed up. The last one we did was 30 minutes of explaining pace lining and working with a bunch of kids on how to ride safely in close proximity to each other.

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    Lots of good posts and food for thought in this thread.

    In my 45/4 fields in Colorado, I definitely fear for my life. There is a lot of sketchiness, both by new riders and experienced. One guy got upgraded to a 3 with a race finish in which he swept the entire field. I definitely wish that the pack skills were higher across the board (myself included).

    I'm sure that there should be a multi-pronged approach to increasing pack/race safety. One initiative I'd like to see is real-time coaching. I think it'd be great to have some of the elites be in the field and offer tactical/safety/strategic advice while the race is happening. I don't know how to incent elites to do this, and also, somebody who got beaten by somebody who was being coached would have a legitimate gripe. But think of the teaching that could happen at all of the teachable moments!

    Recently I got the chance to go on a long ride with a group of 65-70 year old ex-pro/1 racers. I think there was a national champ or two from way back in the group as well. Due to their age, the guys were not noticeably stronger than I was, but man they were a lot smoother and better at moving around in the pack. It was a hugely noticeable difference. They made some direct and succinct comments to me when I did something sub-optimally..it was definitely a huge learning experience. I came away very humbled: although I don't consider myself wet behind the ears any more, it was clear that I still have a huge amount to learn.

    I certainly would welcome more chances to learn from more experienced racers. Currently, for me, such opportunities seem to be all too infrequent, and I'm all for improving this.

  18. #43
    Announcer EventServices's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
    Didn't coaches used to mostly train kids? Modern coaches mostly train adults.
    No, coaches coached bike racers. Mike Walden, for example, coached Connie Paraskevin all the way to Worlds. What's called a 'coach' now actually a 'personal trainer'.

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    The fear of crashing is already a significant barrier to entry to this sport. Knowing that the newbies will be trained in racing safely can only open more doors.
    I agree. I think this is why Gran Fondos and dirt road races are becoming more popular because people can opt out of the pack and still get their feeling of accomplishment.
    I've heard it from so many riders: they don't race because they don't want to crash. Yet they'll still show up for the Tuesday ride which is much more dangerous than a race.


    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    You don't teach people how to deal with high-stress situations by throwing them in high-stress situations with no prior training and expect them to do well. You give them the tools they need and the chance to drill and make mistakes at low cost, and increase the complexity as their skills evolve. An example would be bumping drills, first done at low speed on grass, then faster and then on pavement.
    +1
    There are so many drills you can do to teach pack riding and bike-handling skills that will give riders more confidence in a race. It's naive to think that the only way to learn it is to jump in and do it. And those skills are something you need to keep working on throughout your career. Especially in the spring.

    Our club does a members-only skills ride every Wednesday night throughout the season. It's not mandatory, but it's getting bigger and bigger each week. It started as a junior's ride but has grown to include a lot of Cat 1-2 riders. It's an easy 25-30 miles with a lot of drills and a few intervals.

    If you're not doing something similar, you're not fully training. If you're just going out and hammering for long miles, you're not developing many skills.

  19. #44
    starting pistol means war YMCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
    Our club does a members-only skills ride every Wednesday night throughout the season. It's not mandatory, but it's getting bigger and bigger each week. It started as a junior's ride but has grown to include a lot of Cat 1-2 riders. It's an easy 25-30 miles with a lot of drills and a few intervals.

    If you're not doing something similar, you're not fully training. If you're just going out and hammering for long miles, you're not developing many skills.
    It always comes down to someone organizing and implementing.
    Jamie - what's a normal Wed entail?

  20. #45
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Which is why this petition exists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rapwithtom View Post
    Recently I got the chance to go on a long ride with a group of 65-70 year old ex-pro/1 racers. I think there was a national champ or two from way back in the group as well. Due to their age, the guys were not noticeably stronger than I was, but man they were a lot smoother and better at moving around in the pack. It was a hugely noticeable difference. They made some direct and succinct comments to me when I did something sub-optimally..it was definitely a huge learning experience. I came away very humbled: although I don't consider myself wet behind the ears any more, it was clear that I still have a huge amount to learn.
    I thought I knew how to ride until a local, who'd apparently done the Giro as a domestique in the 50s?, rode with the collegiate team I was on. He pedaled so smoothly, rode so fluently, I realized that I'd a lot to learn.

    There's a nefarious character on the forums who tries to be as obnoxious as possible but I got a chance to ride with him and I had sort of a deja vu feeling. When you ride with a fluent rider you can tell, and I felt like I got schooled in pedaling technique this day.

    I forgot the term until I googled my own blog post. "Class".
    Sprinter della Casa: Training - Class
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  22. #47
    Powered by Borscht ovoleg's Avatar
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    I did the training clinic/class cause it was 2 free points toward a 3 upgrade. It was alright, kind of a waste of time for me but I guess some people could learn from it. They mostly talked about positioning, how to pin your number, what a free lap means, etc.
    -Cat-3-o-meter: TBD :/

  23. #48
    Announcer EventServices's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMCA View Post
    It always comes down to someone organizing and implementing.
    Jamie - what's a normal Wed entail?
    A lot of the stuff that's in the greatest book ever written.

    The most important thing is exactly what you said: someone organizing and implementing.
    It's important to have one leader, a singular voice. In our group, it's a guy (Ray, who's mentioned in the book) who learned everything from Mike Walden.

    Simple stuff like...
    - sprinting in the drops WITH YOUR HEAD UP.
    - tapping the wheel in front of you with your front wheel
    - cornering three wide on a narrow road. We do this in a cemetery (being mindful of the WWII cannon and the flagpole).
    - counter steering. One of the most critical things to know. Not just in cornering, but any time you want to move the bike.
    - We do the bumping drill.
    - We do something that seems stupidly simple, but it's not: pass a water bottle back and forth in a rotating pace line.

    I think we take it for granted, but new riders struggle with the most basic stuff.
    F'rinstance: I know a guy who couldn't drink while riding. He literally had to stop and put a foot down every time he drank. He would lose about 100 yards, but he had the strength to reattach to the group. Eventually, he got the hang of it. Now we can't drop him.

  24. #49
    Senior Member rankin116's Avatar
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    I like the idea of putting the onus of this on clubs and teams. If you want to be one, put on a clinic. Use it to increase membership as well as instructing new riders. We're doing another one this year since we had a good turn out last year. Cost is $20, which is simply club dues (free to current members). Then you're in. 2 upgrade points too if I'm not mistaken.

  25. #50
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
    citation needed.

    someone dig up the study on increased crash rate that prompted this whole thing and convince me it isn't just generation gap and "In my day..."

    Which is weird, because back in that day they still didn't have mandatory clinics.

    Is it not the case that people are complaining about decreased attendance and shrinking profit margin? IMO increasing the barrier to entry will just decrease participation.

    IF, and I mean IF!, this were to somehow become gospel, they should make it so that every club/team has to host a race AND a clinic.

    But they shouldn't do that because this is questionable idea. There is already cat 5 to segregate new people and force them to get a minimum of experience.
    I have no idea whether the crash rate is higher. I do know MANY people who start racing who are nonetheless fearful in a peleton, because they've never had any group riding drills or draining except for being thrown into the deep-end on TNW rides. I also don't know whether this is different from "back in the day," but the fact remains that the kind of structure that allowed people to get into racing without being totally clueless about riding in a group is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be.

    Anyway, whether or not racing was safer in the past isn't really the point. The point is, can we make racing safer today? I think the questions you're raising about whether this particular idea would increase safety (and how safe or unsafe things really are right now) are good ones. It would be great to have some data. Unfortunately, even if we did have data, it might be difficult to figure out what makes some races less safe than others. Not that that's a reason not to collect that data, but anyway. Unfortunately, a lot of racers' intuitions about what makes a race dangerous, at least from the inexperienced racers who might crash most often (maybe), is probably inaccurate. And if there are a bunch of crashes in a cat 4, 5 or 3 race, how else are the promoters going to investigate the likely cause other than asking the riders? This question is a tough nut to crack even in professional racing, with all the cameras constantly being pointed at those guys. Still, it would be nice to have some answers.

    For what it's worth, I'm not even convinced that cycling, in terms of the serious injury rate among participants, is unusually dangerous among sports. It certainly seems like it could be, intuitively. But where's the data? Without it, it's very hard to say.

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