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Old 03-22-10, 01:34 PM   #1
Hermes 
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Bike Race Crash Photo Sequence - Brutal

Just in case we become delusional and think that Cat 4 or any other races are safer than Cat 5...think again. Here is a photo sequence near the finish of a race this weekend - pretty sobering. The fence on the right side is barbed wire. I did a time trial race that day. BTW, the Cat 5 field also had a crash at the finish line! Bad day for the 4s and 5s.

http://hcphoto.smugmug.com/DBC-My-Ho...11571149_7pk3X

There may be a lesson...big field plus narrow road may = problems at the finish.

Last edited by Hermes; 03-22-10 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 03-22-10, 01:47 PM   #2
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Man, that looks pretty brutal. How many bikes were involved? Was anyone seriously injured? What caused it?
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Old 03-22-10, 02:54 PM   #3
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ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL! I hope the fence screen right wasn't barbed wire.
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Old 03-22-10, 03:02 PM   #4
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Man, that looks pretty brutal. How many bikes were involved? Was anyone seriously injured? What caused it?
This is a relatively flat road race that usually has strong winds. Flat road races attract a lot of entries. The winds were light and therefore there was nothing to break up the peloton. The field was 100 at the start which in my opinion is too large for a bunch sprint finish on a two lane road. What you see at the starting sequence is a line of racers across the road with 80 racers right behind all going 30 mph. If one were not at the front, one had to hold position and line and take whatever place one gets. What I read was there was a lot of sketchy riding which I interpret to mean racers were thinking "hey, I am near the finish, I will shoot this gap and improve my position and placement." Well, I suspect someone touched wheels and that set off the mayhem. I heard that the injuries were extensive but I do not know if there were any serious i.e. head / neck. I have not read anything. I do not know exactly how many bikes but it was a lot.

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ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL! I hope the fence screen right wasn't barbed wire.
Unfortunately, it was.

Last edited by Hermes; 03-22-10 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 03-22-10, 04:04 PM   #5
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Man that looks like it took the whole peloton out, or just about. I didn't see your green kit, so I guess you made it OK.
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Old 03-22-10, 04:43 PM   #6
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Man that looks like it took the whole peloton out, or just about. I didn't see your green kit, so I guess you made it OK.
I did not race in that one. I raced in a local time trial on Saturday.
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Old 03-22-10, 04:55 PM   #7
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Wicked!

This is why I am totally intimidated by serious road racing. I will take a fast club ride any day - I can lay back if I don't like what I see. It is also why I seem to be more partial to up hill climb races, this won't happen at 8 mph - or at least it won't hurt as much...
Stay safe Hermes - at our age we don't heal so fast, I know - I am still recovering from the collar bone fracture.
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Old 03-22-10, 05:05 PM   #8
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Wow
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Old 03-22-10, 05:18 PM   #9
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Holy Moly! The water bottle flying 20 feet into the air was a nice touch.

Just as I was thinking that the "cyclocrossers" had mad skilz to keep from bagging it, I see them go endo. At least they had grass to land on, even though the fence and telephone poles didn't seem user-friendly.

We need to buy a copy of one of the photos and post it as a sticky for the "Why I only ride for relaxation" thread.
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Old 03-22-10, 05:47 PM   #10
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In the 1st photo you could see someone's front wheel already off the ground. Amazing the number of riders that did somersaults.
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Old 03-22-10, 06:29 PM   #11
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Wicked!

This is why I am totally intimidated by serious road racing. I will take a fast club ride any day - I can lay back if I don't like what I see. It is also why I seem to be more partial to up hill climb races, this won't happen at 8 mph - or at least it won't hurt as much...
Stay safe Hermes - at our age we don't heal so fast, I know - I am still recovering from the collar bone fracture.
That is why I do time trials, hill climbs and very select tougher road races with small fields with uphill finishes.

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Holy Moly! The water bottle flying 20 feet into the air was a nice touch.

Just as I was thinking that the "cyclocrossers" had mad skilz to keep from bagging it, I see them go endo. At least they had grass to land on, even though the fence and telephone poles didn't seem user-friendly.

We need to buy a copy of one of the photos and post it as a sticky for the "Why I only ride for relaxation" thread.
Or why I do time trials and hill climbs.
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Old 03-22-10, 07:18 PM   #12
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Amazing. That has got to be a major amount of pain for a lot of people. I hope they end up better off then it looks like they might.

Pretty together photographer. Stays on the crash, lets the lead go out of focus, then come back to catch him at the finish. That's quality pro work.
I've got 20 years lot of photojournalism experience and teach photography, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been that cool.
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Old 03-22-10, 07:41 PM   #13
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Riding in a close group at 30 mph is shooting craps with probabilistic and possible outcomes. Sometimes it just gets ugly. I'm hard pressed to understand the guys on the right and left who went in the grass but kept on riding hoping for a good outcome...right until they hit the fences.
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Old 03-22-10, 08:21 PM   #14
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From Mojo Slim's post, same photog captured another mass extinction in another category at exactly the same point?? http://hcphoto.smugmug.com/DBC-My-Ho...iani-Road-Race

If so, what's up with the course/people?
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Old 03-22-10, 10:51 PM   #15
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This crash and the other one is being discussed and analyzed by our racing district members and everyone has an opinion. So far, I have read that one person went to the hospital and was released in 4 hours and will recover. If that is all the serious injuries other than scraps and bruises, that is good news.

Why it happened is another matter but more importantly can it be prevented or mitigated? That debate will go on for several days. I think the major factor was that the race was very fast 24+ mph and few got dropped. Typically, this course has a lot of wind. There was not much wind and it was at the back of the peloton at the finish. All the riders thought they were sprinters and the teams were unable to string out the peloton such that everyone was close together sprinting for the finish even if it was going to be 35th place.
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Old 03-23-10, 05:11 AM   #16
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Riding in a close group at 30 mph is shooting craps with probabilistic and possible outcomes. Sometimes it just gets ugly. I'm hard pressed to understand the guys on the right and left who went in the grass but kept on riding hoping for a good outcome...right until they hit the fences.
If you aren't in the drops the instinct is to hold onto the bars and hope for the best. The grassy area was down hill and although they would have like to slow I am sure they were just holding on until the eventual gopher hole rolled then over.
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Old 03-23-10, 05:36 AM   #17
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From Mojo Slim's post, same photog captured another mass extinction in another category at exactly the same point??
If so, what's up with the course/people?
Awful stuff.
I noticed that the road's useable width seems to vary quite a bit. Grass has unevenly grown over the left (course) side of the roadway.
Could each peloton have been pinched right at the moment of those crashes?
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Old 03-23-10, 07:00 AM   #18
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Looking at the two crashes it seems they took place at the same location. From the camera angle, the crashes were either at the top of a rise or the beginning of a downhill run to the finish, the point of gear shifting. With that many riders in close quarters all it takes is one missed shift or dropped chain and the rider behind is into someone's wheel. It is good news that no one was hurt very bad.

I was in a Cat 4 race two weekends ago that was held in rain and wind on country roads simular to the images. We worked hard each lap to split the field and eventually got it down to around 12 riders with 4 miles to go. Going up a roller into the wind a rider attacked and just at the top of the roller he pulled his foot out of the pedal. He shot across the front of the group and two other guys went down with him. I got through fine, and I guess because it's racing my thoughts were, "too bad for those guys" then took advantage of the chaos to make my own attack to get away. We ended up with 6 riders getting away and dropped one making a 5 man sprint for the win.
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Old 03-23-10, 06:28 PM   #19
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When wheels touch, the rider in the back is usually the one that falls if someone goes down. I'm wondering since it's at the top of a slight rise if it was just the momentum of the folks following that were closing in a little faster than the folks in front (it probably doesn't feel that way to the riders in front) and wheels are touching as the folks behind are not lifting the pedal since it's very close to sprint time.
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Old 03-23-10, 06:54 PM   #20
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The problem is the field was 100 with 10 across the road and 10 deep shoulder to shoulder going 30 mph 300 meters from the finish. If you were not in the from two lines, you were in 21st place. The problem is most of the racers were full power on. When the crash happened it is impossible to unwind that energy fast enough. Even going off the road braking is not going to get you stopped quickly.

The reality is that for that size field there was nothing to differentiate the pack other than a bunch sprint. No team went to the front, raised the pace and strung out the field. In a P/1/2 race, the teams know that this type of race with either be a breakaway or a field sprint. If there is no breakaway, the teams with sprinters position at the front and increase the pace in the last 1000 meters. The teams who do not have a sprinter in contention or riders who are not sprinters call it a day and roll in. Also, P/1/2 fields are smaller. The cat 4 guys had 300 meters to go when the crashes occurred. Most everyone thought they were a sprinter. The safer approach is to back off and not sprint for 50th or 80th place.

I have passed on these early road races that are flat and draw big fields. I like the stage races where I can differentiate myself with a time trial and an uphill road race finish versus a field sprint. In the stage races, if there is a crit or circuit race all the racers finishing in the pack receive the same time and I do not sprint for bonus seconds awarded to the top three finishers. I am doing a more difficult road race in April with a longish climb that will bust up the peloton and I will probably be dropped from the lead group. If I end up riding alone, I will probably bail after a couple of laps. If I hang with the leaders or a splinter group, that will be great.
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Old 03-23-10, 11:01 PM   #21
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Ouch!
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Old 03-24-10, 07:02 AM   #22
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Hi,

Here's my take on what happened because I see this kind of thing all the time when you don't have some top riders in the field. For whatever reason, people will not ride aggressively in a race. A lot of racers read the books and articles and love watching field sprints on TV. So a bunch of people think that they are great field sprinters and are going to make sure that they are in the top 10 for the sprint.

The problem is that 30-40 people cannot be in the top 10.

I hate it when I read articles by top riders telling beginners to stay on a wheel in the top 20 for the whole race and then make sure that they have a good position in the field for the sprint. It encourages wheelsucking and non-aggressive racing. The same people that try to rip your legs off on a training ride won't even think about taking a reasonable pull during a race.

Now this may sound like sour grapes from someone who admittedly is not a field sprinter. However, I mostly don't field sprint because of the high risk conditions. I have to go to work on Mondays.

I do races that can result in situations like those shown in the crash sequences, but if I get within 400 meters of the finish with a group like that, you'll see me a couple of bike lengths off the back of the pack hoping that the carnage does not occur.
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