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Old 10-05-08, 10:41 PM   #1
chilehead
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Bike Crash - Organized ride faux pas?

So today I was participating in the Octogonia ride in Lawrence Kansas and I was going down a hill that ended in a T-intersection. At the top of the hill the organizers had painted a right angle arrow illustrating the direction to take at the bottom. As I approached I saw that I was going to need some momentum to carry into the hill I faced after the turn.
What they failed to mention was the LARGE area of gravel located in the middle of the turn. By the time I noticed it, I was leaning into it and went down hard. I spent the better part of the afternoon in the ER getting some x-rays (nothing broken) and 8 stitches in my arm to close up the hole left after sliding on the chip seal road. While I was ascertaining my injuries to myself and my bike, another rider came down the hill and had the same result. During the time we were both getting cleaned up we had to warn numerous other folks so they did not suffer the same fate.
I'm not saying the organizers are responsible for my accident, but rather that they should have had the foresight to either label the large section of loose gravel, or better yet, have swept it up when they drove the course to mark it.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-05-08, 10:53 PM   #2
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The organizers are to blame. That's some cool looking blood. Glad you're OK.
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Old 10-05-08, 11:11 PM   #3
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Responsible? No.
Should they have done the courtesy to label it if they knew it was there? Heck yes.

I've been on a few rides where there are steep hills with switchbacks, and the organizers write "GEAR DOWN" before the steep section of the switch.

Nice battle scar, and I hope the fall didn't tear up your TdC jersey.
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Old 10-05-08, 11:48 PM   #4
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Yeah I don't think they're responsible but if I were marking off the ride I definitely would have done something about it. I would imagine the people who put on the ride probably don't do a lot of biking, otherwise they would have noticed the gravel and made some changes. But if they don't ride at all, they never would have known the gravel would be an issue. Kind of one of those "you can't get introuble for it if you didn't know" kinda things...I forget the term, they tell that to the president of the united states all the time rofl
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Old 10-06-08, 04:11 AM   #5
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I think every rider is responsible for themselves once on the course. Conditions can change on public roads quickly and to give a group the false sense of security would cause more problems. Fact is you must look ahead and be ready to adjust your line. Sounds harsh but I was an organizer for a large sportbike club and this sort of thing happens and is avoided at speeds much higher than that of a bicycle. Country roads are littered with gravel, farm equipment, animals and their excrement you always need to be looking for these things and well in advance of them.
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Old 10-06-08, 05:14 AM   #6
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I'm sorry to read of your accident. Ultimately you are responsible for your safety, but still, they should have given you a heads up in some way - a note on the cue sheet, road markings, sign, etc.

It's been my experience that when there's been a really bad road condition that wasn't anticipated, the organizers will have a volunteer there ASAP. I did two organized rides last month with problem spots. The Bicycle Club of Philadelphia Scenic Schuylkill Century had to deal with a shoddy repair to underground utility wires at the end of a steep downhill and sharp left turn in Manayunk. The repair work was done after the course was marked. It had rained the night before, and when they discovered riders were crashing, they had a volunteer there to get riders to slow down.

The MS City to Shore didn't have a downhill, but it did have large patches of glass to deal with in Somer's Point, NJ. They had volunteers waving us away from the road shoulder - it was the first time I was ever told to take the lane.
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Old 10-06-08, 06:27 AM   #7
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I guess I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, yeah, if they'd known about it, it would have been nice to tell people. On the other hand, when I'm out riding, I never make assumptions about the state of the road, what's around that blind corner, etc., and while I rarely do "organized rides", I don't ever assume that the "organized" part means that the route has somehow been made safe for me to ride in a way that I wouldn't be safe riding if I were on my own (or to break the laws of physics...if I couldn't make that corner at that speed on my own, I'm not going to make it because I'm in an "organized ride"). So...I guess I don't have any real answer, just a question about how (or whether) being in an "organized ride" should change an individual rider's approach to safety.
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Old 10-06-08, 06:46 AM   #8
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I guess I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, yeah, if they'd known about it, it would have been nice to tell people. On the other hand, when I'm out riding, I never make assumptions about the state of the road, what's around that blind corner, etc., and while I rarely do "organized rides", I don't ever assume that the "organized" part means that the route has somehow been made safe for me to ride in a way that I wouldn't be safe riding if I were on my own (or to break the laws of physics...if I couldn't make that corner at that speed on my own, I'm not going to make it because I'm in an "organized ride"). So...I guess I don't have any real answer, just a question about how (or whether) being in an "organized ride" should change an individual rider's approach to safety.
I always ride more defensively on organized rides, especially big ones that might draw lots of novice cyclists. While that doesn't relate to the OP's problem, it is something to keep in mind.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:07 AM   #9
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Reminds me of a case here in Iowa. A few years ago during RAGBRAI, a very wide expansion joint had caused several cyclists to crash. The local police showed up, put out some cones, waited a while. They then picked up the markers and left before the ride was over! A rider then hit the same hazard resulting in a fatal accident.

The family sued the county and won a huge sum from the small county's insurance company. This led to the county (and others considering) barring organized bike rides without onerous insurance requirements. It's a long story and has been a highly contentious issue among cyclists and many county governments. http://www.iowabicyclecoalition.org/issues.htm has some details in the first few links.

In short, the road conditions weren't the problem. The fact that the law enforcement knew about the issue and then left the scene unmarked in the end was negligent enough to convince the county to settle. I think this is good thinking... If I know that there is a clear hazard, do something about it. No one can predict all of the hazards, but the one described by the OP seems quite predictable. I would be pi$$ed, myself.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:24 AM   #10
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I was helping mark a local charity ride a few weeks back. We rode the course before we went out and marked it. At the planning lunch before doing the marking, someone mentioned warning of a couple of aggressive dogs on the route. On of the legal types cautioned against warning about any specific hazards as it could imply that the club knew of the hazard prior to the ride.

So in the meeting right before the ride, it was mentioned that it was an open course, people have dogs, cars don't stop, roads have gravel, and roads get wet. Be careful.

Sorry you went down hard. It sucks, I know firsthand. or first arm.
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Old 10-06-08, 07:58 AM   #11
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This site is GREAT. Where else can you go and see real bloody wounds and a big smile showing it off. Glad nothing is broken.
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Old 10-06-08, 01:00 PM   #12
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Still waiting to hear back from the shop on how much this is going to cost.

Also the shorts and jersey are pretty much toast. I'm most upset about the jersey - I raised 800 bucks for the Diabetes charity ride so I could get a jersey. The nurse said I should buy a base layer for the shorts and wear them as a badge of honor.

I appreciate the comments and as I said - I'm not looking to shift blame to the organizers. I went into that turn faster than I should for never having been on that road before. However I think if I was the one organizing the ride, I would have done a better job marking and taking care of easily removed hazards. Also I think the term the previous poster is looking for is "plausible deniability".

On the plus side, the people who stopped and helped me after the crash (fellow riders) were great. One of them actually gave up the rest of the ride to escort me back to the sag so I could catch a ride to my car. My wife gave me hell for swinging by the shop to drop off my bike before I went to the ER.

One other positive - while at the office yesterday I checked my weight and I'm at 191 - down from 240 at the beginning of the year. I still have 25 more lbs to go to reach my goal, but I was happy to see the scale start with a "1" for the first time in prob 15 years.
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Old 10-06-08, 01:33 PM   #13
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My wife gave me hell for swinging by the shop to drop off my bike before I went to the ER.


Sounds like you and I have similar priorities. In the one race wreck I had to be carted off course in an ambulance, as I was laying there on the pavement I asked a guy helping me "how bad is my bike?"
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Old 10-06-08, 03:43 PM   #14
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Around here, everyone signs a release wavier when signing up for a ride. Too bad about the arm!Ouch!

There are plenty of fun rides around here, I avoid them. Went on one to meet another forum rider, never again. So many newbs, it took about the same amount of time to do the 25 miles as it did to do a century. Too many crowded streets with riders jumping off their bikes after realizing they can't make the 10 yard climb, and avoiding all the crashes
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Old 10-06-08, 03:58 PM   #15
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I wouldnt want to blame anyone either, but the organizers maybe should have driven the route before the ride to make note of any changes in the road surface so that riders can be warned and county road dept can be notified.
Speakingof road contitions check out my slide show in the Pacific Northwest Forum of the Redmond Tour de Cure and Spokane 8 lakes Leg aches. The roads were awesome!
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Old 10-06-08, 03:59 PM   #16
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Really, doing stuff like warning about the gravel, or removing the gravel, make the difference between a so-so ride and a great ride.

Ultimately, the ride is held on public streets, and it's up to you to deal with the streets. But from the organizers viewpoint, the more people enjoy the ride, the better off they are. And crashing on gravel, being chased by dogs, etc., do not add to the enjoyment of the ride. So the more organized and energetic groups will first off, choose routes with a minimum of hazards, and then try to mark or warn of the hazards that remain. I remember reading about one ride where the guy had just completed the Roadkill patrol prior to the ride. I hadn't imagined that anyone would drive a 70 mile route removing roadkill, but some of them do.
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Old 10-06-08, 04:24 PM   #17
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Stinks about your luck, but I have to agree that it's ultimately your responsibility when on public roads, etc. True, you are on an organized ride and yes, there should have been some prior warning. I also agree that it's possible that by pointing it out and doing nothing about it could bring liability to the county or the ride organizers. Maybe they should have riders sign waivers so they can point out hazards? It's a tough call honestly...

Good luck and a speedy recovery! Hope the bike didn't suffer too much damage.

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Old 10-06-08, 04:55 PM   #18
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I wouldnt want to blame anyone either, but the organizers maybe should have driven the route before the ride to make note of any changes in the road surface so that riders can be warned and county road dept can be notified.
Speakingof road contitions check out my slide show in the Pacific Northwest Forum of the Redmond Tour de Cure and Spokane 8 lakes Leg aches. The roads were awesome!
If your organizing a ride, let the city or county/counties know, give them a route map, a few weeks before, often they will be happy to send someone over their parts of the route, looking for potholes, cracks, sunken grates, washouts, damaged shoulders, loose surfaces, and get those things repaired, before your ride. If the ride goes through more then one county, then contact all counties involved, send them each a complete route map, they will know where the borders are.

See, many rides bring people from outside the county, sometimes from out of state or out of the country, which brings much needed tourism dollars to the county. Roads that are in good repair. make the county look good to these tourists who may come back another time. The county will check the route, fix any problems, they will probably send a road sweeper over the route the day before, to make sure that they look as good as they can. A large ride, can generate an incredible amount of cash for county businesses.
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Old 10-06-08, 04:59 PM   #19
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Stinks about your luck, but I have to agree that it's ultimately your responsibility when on public roads, etc. True, you are on an organized ride and yes, there should have been some prior warning. I also agree that it's possible that by pointing it out and doing nothing about it could bring liability to the county or the ride organizers. Maybe they should have riders sign waivers so they can point out hazards? It's a tough call honestly...

V
I agree that the organizers should not be held liable for the fact that I crashed. I signed a waiver and have no intentions of trying to pursue that angle. I just think part of the responsibilities of a ride organizer should be to look for and either mark or clear areas that could pose a significant risk - such as in my case where two riders went down within 5 minutes - to the group. Also I'm not talking about a small patch of gravel - the area was probably 40 square feet in size. Should I ever become part of a group organizing a ride, I know I will approach the safety issue differently based on this experience.
Personally I enjoy organized and charity rides. I feel like I'm riding for a purpose other than my own personal gain and will continue to do so, but with more caution if I'm riding an unfamiliar route.
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Old 10-07-08, 03:34 AM   #20
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I agree that the organizers should not be held liable for the fact that I crashed. I signed a waiver and have no intentions of trying to pursue that angle. I just think part of the responsibilities of a ride organizer should be to look for and either mark or clear areas that could pose a significant risk - such as in my case where two riders went down within 5 minutes - to the group. Also I'm not talking about a small patch of gravel - the area was probably 40 square feet in size. Should I ever become part of a group organizing a ride, I know I will approach the safety issue differently based on this experience.
Personally I enjoy organized and charity rides. I feel like I'm riding for a purpose other than my own personal gain and will continue to do so, but with more caution if I'm riding an unfamiliar route.
Maybe they just didn't get around to marking it? It does seem weird that they wouldn't point something out that was that big. One of the organized rides I did a few months ago had plenty of spray paint on the roads indicating "Rocks Ahead - Slow Down".

You could always get in touch with the ride organizers, tell them your story and just ask them to mark the dangerous places better.

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Old 10-07-08, 08:50 AM   #21
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Maybe they just didn't get around to marking it? It does seem weird that they wouldn't point something out that was that big. One of the organized rides I did a few months ago had plenty of spray paint on the roads indicating "Rocks Ahead - Slow Down".

You could always get in touch with the ride organizers, tell them your story and just ask them to mark the dangerous places better.

V
There could be a number of reasons the spot wasn't marked. One is that the gravel patch appeared after the ride was marked. I've seen rides marked as much as a week ahead of time (the MS PA Dutch tour passes within two miles of my house), and a lot can happen in a week. Remember the broken glass in Somer's Point in the MS City to Shore?

Another reason might be that the local township doesn't allow road marking or signs. This is a regular problem for the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia Scenic Schuylkill Century - the century route passes through scenic and historic West Vincent Township, which doesn't allow road markings. I understand the township has said the police will arrest people making road markings.
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Old 10-07-08, 09:03 AM   #22
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Also the shorts and jersey are pretty much toast. I'm most upset about the jersey - I raised 800 bucks for the Diabetes charity ride so I could get a jersey. The nurse said I should buy a base layer for the shorts and wear them as a badge of honor.
Is the jersey torn or does it just suffer blood and abrasion marks? It looks intact in the photo. If it's torn, can the tears be sewn?

If it's still functional, keep and wear it with pride, despite the damage. My BCP club jersey has asphalt marks on it from a crash I had back in June. I still wear it, because it's my club and my club means something to me, and because it reminds me of how tough I am. The nurse had the right idea, although I doubt the shorts can be saved with a base layer.
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