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Old 09-20-04, 11:14 AM   #1
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Not sure this story has hit the boards or not. Nothing came up in the search results. So, for those who haven't seen it...

http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2...es/01local.htm


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Originally Posted by Article by Bill Kettler
Tragedy strikes Cycle Oregon tour after West Linn woman plunges from road on descent near Williams

By BILL KETTLER
Mail Tribune
JACKSONVILLE

A West Linn woman died Tuesday when she lost control of her bicycle on a twisting mountain road near Williams, marring Cycle Oregonís swing through Jackson and Josephine counties.

Karen Holmes, 60, was the first person to die from an accident in Cycle Oregonís 17-year history.

The weeklong bicycle tour raises money for local communities along a different route each year, and regularly draws 2,000 riders.

Holmes was three or four miles into a long descent down Holcomb Peak, in Josephine County, on the way to Williams, where riders were scheduled to stop for lunch on their way to Jacksonville, their destination for Tuesday night.

"It happened real fast," said John Adams of Lake Oswego, who had stopped to check his brakes just before the accident occurred. He happened to look up and saw Holmes coming downhill fast.

"She was really moviní," Adams said, "and her front tire was wobbling like crazy. She was totally out of control and clearly panicked."

Adams said Holmes shouted something unintelligible that made him think she was in trouble as she hurtled toward a sharp curve in the road.

"The road turned left," he said, "and she just went right over the side.

"If you went over the side you were in big trouble," he said. "It wasnít straight down but it was pretty damn steep."

Adams said the road was surfaced with a mixture of rock chips and oil, a mixture known as "chip seal," thatís commonly used on rural roads.

"Iíve been on worse (roads)," he said. "It was not wet, not slippy, but very steep."

An ambulance brought Holmes down to Williams, where she was airlifted to Providence Medford Medical Center. She lost vital signs along the way, and efforts to revive her failed, said Jonathan Nicholas, president of the Cycle Oregon board of directors.

Nicholas announced Holmesí death to riders who had gathered at the Britt Grounds for the nightly entertainment that is one of the features of the tour.

He said Hughes was riding with her husband, Keith, 71, and "was very proud to be on top of the Siskiyous at 10:25 this morning.

"It was a beautiful day and a beautiful place and she was doing something she loved to do," he said.

"Letís take a moment to think about Karen, who left us today," Nicholas said as Portland singer Linda Hornbuckle, who had come to Jacksonville to entertain the crowd, sang "Amazing Grace."

Nicholas said in an interview it was still too early to know why Holmes lost control of her bike. All cyclists had their brakes checked by mechanics at the top of the descent.

"Safety is the most important thing to us," he said. "Itís our number one priority as an organization to keep people safe."

The only other death in the tourís history happened in 2002, when a man died of a heart attack.

Adams, who saw the accident, said the descent was so steep that some ridersí tires blew out from heat generated by friction from their brakes. Hearing so many tires pop prompted him to stop and check his own brakes just before Holmes barreled past him out of control.

Adams said he initially thought Holmes had blown a tire, too, because her front wheel was wobbling badly, but he later saw her bike in camp at Jacksonville and the front tire was not flat.

Most bicycle brakes have two pieces of rubber on each wheel that grab the rim to slow the machine and rider. The brakes are about 2 inches long and less than an inch wide. Each wheel has its own brake lever, one on each handlebar.

For brakes to fail completely on a bike would be rare, said Brian Combs of Portland, who is following the tour selling equipment for Bike Gallery, a Portland-based bicycle store.

Combs did not ride the course, but said friends who did told him they were riding their brakes "80 to 90 percent of the time."

He said Holmesí death will inevitably alter the tone of the tourís final three days.

"It will cause people to reflect on their own mortality," he said, "and think about how they want to die."

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail bkettler@mailtribune.com
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Old 09-20-04, 11:30 AM   #2
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Sad.

Sounds like she got going too fast, totally panicked and couldn't get out of it. I did the same thing once while mountain biking. Tried to go really slow down a hill and figured I could speed up a little more. Before I knew what hit me I was doing 35, lost it and ended up on my arse.
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Old 09-20-04, 11:35 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Laggard
Sad.

Sounds like she got going too fast, totally panicked and couldn't get out of it.
Indeed. The speed, steepness, and front wheel shimmy mentioned by one witness combined with the chip-seal presents a very scary scenario. Front wheel shimmy isn't all that uncommon and if you don't have the knowledge or presence of mind to clamp the top tube between your knees* to stop it the results can be just as tragic on a not so steep and smooth descent as well.

Simply gut wrenching to imagine the scenario, as rider or as a helpless witness.

*Typo corrected with thanks to Rowan for pointing it out.

Last edited by livngood; 09-20-04 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 09-20-04, 01:22 PM   #4
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What I don't understand is why an "organized" ride would go through areas like that where the descend is so steep that people are popping tires left and right. There were parts on the NYC century bike tour I was on that literally had a bunch of us blazing through a foot ball game, narrow mtb trails, and through a church procession.
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Old 09-20-04, 07:46 PM   #5
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So sad. RIP.

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Old 09-20-04, 09:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by livngood
Front wheel shimmy isn't all that uncommon and if you don't have the knowledge or presence of mind to clamp the top tube between your needs to stop it the results can be just as tragic on a not so steep and smooth descent as well.
Not nitpicking by any stretch, Mark, but I think it should be knees... only because it is so important to know that piece of advice.
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Old 09-20-04, 09:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Not nitpicking by any stretch, Mark, but I think it should be knees... only because it is so important to know that piece of advice.
My bad; thanks for pointing out the mis-step.

It's also worthwhile to point out that you can usually stop front wheel oscillations or "shimmy" when it first starts just by merely resting the inside of your right or left knee against the top tube. If you discover that your bicycle -- for whatever reason -- is prone to front wheel shimmy while making fast descents on certain road surfaces you can keep it from starting by doing the same thing, i.e., resting the inside of your left or right knee against the top tube. Clamping the top tube between your knees is usually only called for when the shimmy gets ahead of you and/or is very pronounced.
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Old 09-21-04, 09:15 AM   #8
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wow that is tragic. I wonder how much experience she had riding downhill like that. seems like they should have guard rails on areas like that.
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