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Second race/ rate of crashes

Old 04-30-07, 11:08 AM
  #1  
djembob02
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Second race/ rate of crashes

I rode in my second race this weekend, it was the velotek grand prix stage race in Lawrence Kansas. I road in the prologue and Cat 5 crit on Saturday and my standing were pretty good. I was riding very smart, I had nice smooth turns and responded to others great. On Sunday, however, I had a crash that ruined my chances of winning. A junior rider crashed into me quite hard. I was traveling about 20mph at the time, I've got a lot of road rash but otherwise am OK. I had to change me wheel, but I recovered the 2 minute gap and joined back up with the pack even though my rear derailer was not functioning (stuck in the smallest cog). So I rode the 2 speed the rest of the race and eventually my legs gave way on a long steep uphill. I finished the race with a couple of other riders who had dropped of the back a while before.

My wife has essentially told me that I better not race again for a long time (except maybe Time trials). This weekend there was a bad fall in the Cat 3 crit which required a helicopter, a fall on the cat 4 crit with some big scrapes. My fall in which the junior rider ended up a little worse than me but he'll be fine, and there may have been other crashes I didn't hear about because I left before the higher categories finished.

I know that Cat 5 tend to have more accidents, my question has three parts.
1. How common (in reality) are crashes? In other words, given statistics, how likely is it that I will be taken out again?
2. How often do more serious injuries occur? I can handle road rash (although it is really hurting) every once in a while, but I don't want to end up with concussion, spinal damage, or broken hip.
3. Is it worth it? I know this is the most subjective question and you will also be the most biased. I have lots of fun riding in our recreational group rides. We don't ride quite as fast, but we've also never had any crashes. I loved the comradery of the racers and it really was fun. If I decide to race again, it will likely cause my wife a lot of anxiety. I would need to have lots of evidence about the stats on serious injuries.
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Old 04-30-07, 11:22 AM
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grebletie
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1) Pulling this out of thin air, but I seem to remember reading that the average cyclist will have a crash every 3,000 miles? Don't know. It really depends on how often you race. I've probably barely avoided 3 crashes already this season. My luck finally ran out last weekend, and now I'm scraped up.

2) I would say that serious crashes are rare. I define serious as crashes which require an ambulance trip to the hospital. Non-serious crashes are more common than I would prefer. If you break a bone, wrist or collarbone is most likely what will break.

3) That's what I'm thinking about right now. I'd say it is worth it, though it's a calculated risk. After my weekend crash, I'm kind of bummed, and kind of wondering if it's worth it as well. In the end, I love the competition and the dynamics of the race, so I'll be back. Life is full of risks, really.

I reserve the right to change my opinion about this stuff when I'm no longer young and fearless.
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Old 04-30-07, 11:32 AM
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[quote=djembob02]
1. How common (in reality) are crashes? In other words, given statistics, how likely is it that I will be taken out again?
likely that you will crash again

2. How often do more serious injuries occur? I can handle road rash (although it is really hurting) every once in a while, but I don't want to end up with concussion, spinal damage, or broken hip.
Not often. Based on my involvement with the sport, which is not a long time, but long enough to draw some reasonable conclusions, serious injuries can and do happen, but the odds when you take into account the # of participants vs. the # inolved in any given crash, and of those the # that are "serious", are low.

3. Is it worth it? I know this is the most subjective question and you will also be the most biased. I have lots of fun riding in our recreational group rides. We don't ride quite as fast, but we've also never had any crashes. I loved the comradery of the racers and it really was fun. If I decide to race again, it will likely cause my wife a lot of anxiety. I would need to have lots of evidence about the stats on serious injuries.
Only you can answer this question. To me, I love racing, and after getting into it, I cant imagine riding without a race to compete in, it's worth the risk. Keep in mind, you can crash anytime you ride a bike. My worst crash was a few years ago, in my neighborhood, a few hundred meters from my house, solo, near dusk, when I attempted to jump a curb and misjudged. I'll take my chances in a crit over a group ride with a bunch of recreational riders that only ride a few times per month.
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Old 04-30-07, 11:48 AM
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Serious, i.e. go to the hospital, crashes are rare. I've been doing this on and off for a long time. I've been in one race where someone had to be hospitalized (dog ran into the middle of a pack in a RR). (now I've seen other bad crashes in other categories, but not in my particular race.)

Fatal, extremly rare, but it can happen.

Lose some skin type crashes, pretty common, almost an even money chance that someone gets some road rash in your average lower category crit.

The chance that you are going to be in a wreck, goes down as your experience goes up. The more races you do, the more you become able to see trouble coming and avoid, and the better you get at staying upright when trouble comes. Even then sometimes its just inevitable, hence crashes still happen at the highest pro level.


My SWAG analysis is you're at greater risk of serious injury or death training on open roads, than you are racing on a closed course.

However, your skin is in much greater jeopardy.
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Old 04-30-07, 12:17 PM
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I can see my racing habit as developing such that I do some RRs in the summer for fitness, and then concentrate my competitive racing on Cyclocross. Cross seems physically very difficult, but a little safer and a little more mellow psychology than road.
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Old 04-30-07, 12:38 PM
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This may be a total crackpot rationalization, but I will share as it helps me rationalize the dramatic injuries that occur bike racing. The reason why I think a lot a people think that you are a little crazy to race bikes has a lot to do with the nature and drama of the injuries, not that they happen at that much greater a rate then other sports.

If you take a big weekend bike race with many cats, lets just say that there are 500 racers. In that group at the end of the day, I would guess there would be 10 - 20 people scraped up in various degrees and probabaly 1 or 2 people with a more serious injury.

Now lets imagine that you had a basketball competition with 50 ten person teams each playing a couple of games so everyone is on the floor for at least a couple of hours. Also, lets say that a lot of those people are 35, 45 plus, like at a bike race. I would have to guess that at least 10 - 20 people would tweak joints, jam fingers or get some other sort of minor injury. I would also guess that at least 1 - 2 people would blow out a knee or something of that nature that would require hospitalization.

So, I do not know that is that differnet then other sports, I think a lot of the perception of non bike riders might have to do with the road rash is a lot more gross then a tweaked knee, at least to the observer.
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Old 04-30-07, 12:57 PM
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^^^^^^
I think the flaw in the bb analogy is that other than a heart attack (which would likely happen anyway) the risk of death is infinitesimal, and the risk of spinal cord injury and brain damage is diminimis.

While those risks are low in bike racing, they're not diminimis.
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Old 04-30-07, 01:09 PM
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My wife accepts that:

a) I'm not going to live forever and

b) People should do things that make them happy.

She doesn't LET me race because we don't have to ask each other's permission to do things. We're BOTH adults.

Tell her that the number one cause of accidental death in the US is from auto accidents and that you'd like her to stop driving, because YOU worry. Then ask her to please wave her magic wand so you'll be protected from the myriad of ways people can get hurt. Ask her to wave it again so you won't be diagnosed with cancer next week. And tell her to shrink wrap the kids, if you have any, so they'll never get a boo boo like you.

Don't tell her you're much more likely, statistically, to be killed or seriously injured just riding along minding your own business on the streets and roads. She'll probably make you stop riding altogether.

Then show her the "I hate Cancer" thread on this Forum and maybe she'll get that she's being completely stupid and selfish.
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Old 04-30-07, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Vinokurtov
My wife accepts that:

a) I'm not going to live forever and

b) People should do things that make them happy.

She doesn't LET me race because we don't have to ask each other's permission to do things. We're BOTH adults.

Tell her that the number one cause of accidental death in the US is from auto accidents and that you'd like her to stop driving, because YOU worry. Then ask her to please wave her magic wand so you'll be protected from the myriad of ways people can get hurt. Ask her to wave it again so you won't be diagnosed with cancer next week. And tell her to shrink wrap the kids, if you have any, so they'll never get a boo boo like you.

Don't tell her you're much more likely, statistically, to be killed or seriously injured just riding along minding your own business on the streets and roads. She'll probably make you stop riding altogether.

Then show her the "I hate Cancer" thread on this Forum and maybe she'll get that she's being completely stupid and selfish.

What he said. You're an adult. And the risks are pretty small compared to daily driving/commuting.

Personally, I crashed in 4 of my first 7 races last year. I haven't crashed since Collegiate regionals last year. And, as I was able to keep it upright through some semblance of skill (both my own and that of the friend in front of me) this past weekend that mean's I've done Cat 4, Cat3 and now Pro/1/2/3 races without crashing since then.
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Old 04-30-07, 01:16 PM
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The fact that the risk of death is greater is true, but I would think that they are both pretty small. You still are probabaly more likely to die driving to either event.

Either way, it does bother me just a bit that if you are nursing road rash most people think you are some kind of madman, but if you blow out your ACL playing touch football then you are just an unlucky guy.
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Old 04-30-07, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
My SWAG analysis is you're at greater risk of serious injury or death training on open roads, than you are racing on a closed course.

However, your skin is in much greater jeopardy.
I think that's right on the money
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Old 04-30-07, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by djembob02
A junior rider crashed into me quite hard. I was traveling about 20mph at the time, I've got a lot of road rash but otherwise am OK.
One thing you can do to reduce the liklihood of another crash is to look more deeply into what caused this one. Where did the Junior rider come from? How aware were you of the riders around you? Where did you place yourself in relation to tother riders? What were you doing to protect yourself from dangerous contacts?

Not all crashed can be avoided, but there are a lot of things we can do to lower the risks.
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Old 04-30-07, 01:46 PM
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If you race, usually the question is not if, but when you will crash or crash again. But as others have said, very few crashes result in injuries more than road rash, and injuries to the pride.

Worst crash I had was twenty stitches above the knee that kept me off the bike for less than a week. To put things in perspective, I had an overtraining injury that kept me off the bike for over 2 weeks.

The worst part about crashing for me is the hesitancy once I got back in a race. Just a little more reluctance to stuff into the small hole ahead of me or fight over a place in line.
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Old 04-30-07, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle
One thing you can do to reduce the liklihood of another crash is to look more deeply into what caused this one. Where did the Junior rider come from? How aware were you of the riders around you? Where did you place yourself in relation to tother riders? What were you doing to protect yourself from dangerous contacts?

Not all crashed can be avoided, but there are a lot of things we can do to lower the risks.

Good advice. If you can figure out what happened, you can usually avoid the same situation.
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Old 04-30-07, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho
Good advice. If you can figure out what happened, you can usually avoid the same situation.
+1

In my case, I had spent most of the race way, way in front. Energy cost is a little higher, but it's safer. I ducked into to the pack for a little drafting action, and am almost immediately burned with a crash.
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Old 04-30-07, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by grebletie
+1

In my case, I had spent most of the race way, way in front. Energy cost is a little higher, but it's safer. I ducked into to the pack for a little drafting action, and am almost immediately burned with a crash.

Another thing to learn is that just because someone hits you, it doesn't mean you have to go down. Its possible for people to come into you pretty hard and you stay up. (Not saying you could have necessarily stayed up here, sometimes there's just nothing you can do.) Riding loose with flexed elbows (flared if necessary) helps with this.

Practicing bumping and purposefully trying to knock your firends over in a grass field will help a lot in developing your ability to stay upright.

Last year I had a guy slam into me, drive us both into the cones , while his front wheel ground into my calf. I stayed up and finished; he didn't. Without some experience with bumping, I wouldn't have had a prayer.
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Old 04-30-07, 02:31 PM
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I'll tell you what was frustrating was that I was playing it safe and being aware. I was riding near the front. The other rider who is heavier than me was coming from behind at a fairly fast rate due to the downhill. I suppose I could have been looking around a bit more, but I did have to pay attention to those in front of me.

By the way, vinokurtov, the reason this is an issue is because wife is prone to the thinking you describe. She hates driving, especially if there's any traffic, she panics whenever one of the kids gets even slightly hurt, etc. Of course, I can continue to race, however, I wonder how much emotional stress this will put her in.

The solution I've come up with so far is to have one of the racers' wives call and check on her. I wonder if this might help her relate and be OK with it. We'll see... but thanks for the info and perspectives
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Old 04-30-07, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by djembob02
I'll tell you what was frustrating was that I was playing it safe and being aware. I was riding near the front. The other rider who is heavier than me was coming from behind at a fairly fast rate due to the downhill. I suppose I could have been looking around a bit more, but I did have to pay attention to those in front of me.

By the way, vinokurtov, the reason this is an issue is because wife is prone to the thinking you describe. She hates driving, especially if there's any traffic, she panics whenever one of the kids gets even slightly hurt, etc. Of course, I can continue to race, however, I wonder how much emotional stress this will put her in.

The solution I've come up with so far is to have one of the racers' wives call and check on her. I wonder if this might help her relate and be OK with it. We'll see... but thanks for the info and perspectives
Tell her your're safer racing than you are training on open roads, uhh on second thought you might not get to train anymore.
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Old 04-30-07, 08:59 PM
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I can't imagine a life more boring than a life where I do everything I can to eliminate risk of injury.

Life is dangerous, get a helmet....I prefer a Giro.

In all honesty, I could not imagine riding without racing. Nice weather and pretty scenery will only motivate me for so long. Without at least an occasional race, you are just playing.
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Old 04-30-07, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by djembob02
By the way, vinokurtov, the reason this is an issue is because wife is prone to the thinking you describe. She hates driving, especially if there's any traffic, she panics whenever one of the kids gets even slightly hurt, etc. Of course, I can continue to race, however, I wonder how much emotional stress this will put her in.

The solution I've come up with so far is to have one of the racers' wives call and check on her. I wonder if this might help her relate and be OK with it. We'll see... but thanks for the info and perspectives
No doubt my post was more harsh and less empathy. I've just seen a fair amount of carnage of all types in my life and I've grown a bit stoic about the odds of actually living forever, or anyone's ability to control that day of reckoning. I've also seen spousal fears and demands keep a whole lot of people unhappy over the years. Fear isn't love, it's just fear. And from my own life I know the only way of dealing with fear is to face it head on, not try to assuage it with statistics or rationalizations.

Stick her on a bike, pin a number on her, and roll her off in a Cat 4 women's race.
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