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Crash avoidance instead of crash fear.

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Crash avoidance instead of crash fear.

Old 02-23-15, 09:52 PM
  #26  
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Crashes happen, usually you'll just be down some skin, some bibs, and your shifters won't be as pretty anymore. Worse injuries happen to some people. Ride your bike long enough, you'll end up on the pavement one way or another, racing or not. People get nervous about crits but really your chances of getting smoked by a car in a crit are basically zero, so compare that to your day to day riding and see if that changes your attitude at all.
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Old 02-23-15, 10:39 PM
  #27  
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But fatalism is not what this thread is about. I'm trying to explain/discover ways to avoid crashes, or at least increase your chances of staying upright. At the very least, give newer riders some tips on being better riders. Instead of just throwing fate to the wind and saying, "yeah, they're part of the game, what can you do?"

I contend ... not so naively ... that you're more in control of your own destiny in a bike race than you think.
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Old 02-24-15, 07:12 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
Tip: When a crash occurs ahead of you (or behind you for that matter), don't look at it. Look for an escape or something soft.

Newer racers tend to look at the crash and grab the brakes.

We had a crash in the 45+ race last year. It happened at the back of the pack, yet 5 guys went down in FRONT of the original crash.
Please excuse the horrible video quality...that course wasn't very smooth (EventServices should recognize it)

Right around 8:10 in the video..not sure why it didn't link to that time

#t=490
I got lucky, but I saw the tiny gap between rider and bike and rode through it.
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Old 02-24-15, 07:25 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
Mine is purely observational from being in the sport for 100 years (I round up) and as an announcer who has called so many races and seen so many crashes. and so many people running to the pit area.
I've been announcing since 1985. If you spend your day on stage all day watching every single race, you collect your own data.

I'd like to see a study, though.



Yep. Yet you often see riders try to hurry around on the outside. Never make it.

Happens pretty consistently at a late season crit around here, someone eats it on the second to last corner and wipes everyone outward.

Last edited by longe; 02-24-15 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 02-24-15, 07:48 AM
  #30  
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The common factor in just about every crash I have been involved in or narrowly avoided was the sudden slowing in the front of the field/crash. Someone slows down unexpectedly, guy behind him rolls into his rear wheel and bam, guys go down. I've seen this in both crits and RRs.

As far as corners go, the biggest issue I have experienced is when a guy takes the turn way too wide and plows into the far corner. In those instances, the guys following that line end up going down too or the rider and bike shoot out into the roadway and take out a few other guys.

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Old 02-24-15, 09:14 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
Tip: When a crash occurs ahead of you (or behind you for that matter), don't look at it. Look for an escape or something soft.

Newer racers tend to look at the crash and grab the brakes.

We had a crash in the 45+ race last year. It happened at the back of the pack, yet 5 guys went down in FRONT of the original crash.

This is similar to what I was going to add.

If you HEAR a crash behind you, DO NOT look backward. This also applies to crashes that you see in peripheral vision. Don't look at it, even if you can.

That's what I call a "sympathy crash" in the making.
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Old 02-24-15, 09:41 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
As far as corners go, the biggest issue I have experienced is when a guy takes the turn way too wide and plows into the far corner. In those instances, the guys following that line end up going down too or the rider and bike shoot out into the roadway and take out a few other guys.
Ah yes, the "early apex" crash. I have seen five (Cat 5, yes) guys all go down because the one at the front of the line came in way too early at very high speed on an easy but somewhat deceptive corner. And none of the guys on his wheel were paying enough attention to realize that this might not be a safe line at the speed they were going.

Overall I do agree with Fudgy, though, I'm not convinced of this pattern where 1-2 guys go down in P12 races where a lot more go down in a 4 or 5 race. I've seen solitary crashes in the middle of a Cat 4 peloton and big stack-ups in higher cat races. I'm happy to accept the premise that it's more likely in the lower categories but I'm not so sure there's such a night-and-day difference. Anyway, the advice seems solid to me. I avoided crashes for several years, partly by not racing much for a couple of those years, and partly by paying attention to where the danger spots were in the peloton and avoiding placing myself in them. A couple years ago, I'm not sure if I got stupid or my luck just ran out, because all of a sudden I started hitting the deck a lot, but there you are.
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Old 02-24-15, 10:06 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
I'm not convinced of this pattern where 1-2 guys go down in P12 races where a lot more go down in a 4 or 5 race

It matches my experience, at least in masters fields as compared to 4/5 fields. Last year in a 40+ field somebody overlapped wheels while fumbling with a bottle and went down right in the middle of the pack on a long straightaway. Nobody else went down. I was behind and just to one side, my buddy was directly behind and bunny hopped him. What I really enjoyed was that nobody even commented on it, we all just rode on. One of his teammates dropped off to make sure he was OK and paced him back on, with the help of a moto ref.
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Old 02-24-15, 10:13 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Wylde06 View Post
Please excuse the horrible video quality...that course wasn't very smooth (EventServices should recognize it)

I got lucky, but I saw the tiny gap between rider and bike and rode through it.
Classic mistake: scalloping the turn.

Watch (beginning @ 8:05) as the riders make several micro-turns or adjustments as they begin the turn. (you have to look beyond the camera-shake) This creates a lot of little side-to-side motions within the pack, so riders get nervous and overreact to what the guy ahead of them is doing. This comes from looking at the rider immediately in front of them instead of watching the rider 5 places ahead.

In the Pro-I-II races, riders know where the correct line is in that turns, and they know how to make tiny adjustments through the turn.

The big guy in red gets 'out of shape' and can't make the turn because his adjustments are too grand.

BTW, Wylde, I miss that course. Some great memories out there. And you DID get a bit lucky - which isn't easy to do in Ann Arbor. ha ha ha
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Old 02-24-15, 10:22 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
BTW, Wylde, I miss that course. Some great memories out there. And you DID get a bit lucky - which isn't easy to do in Ann Arbor. ha ha ha

You and me both. Im hoping that the roads in that business park get repaved and it gets moved back. Im not a fan of the new course..big doesn't go up that hill very well!

..with that said im looking forward to racing there this year.

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Old 02-24-15, 10:43 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
It matches my experience, at least in masters fields as compared to 4/5 fields. Last year in a 40+ field somebody overlapped wheels while fumbling with a bottle and went down right in the middle of the pack on a long straightaway. Nobody else went down. I was behind and just to one side, my buddy was directly behind and bunny hopped him. What I really enjoyed was that nobody even commented on it, we all just rode on. One of his teammates dropped off to make sure he was OK and paced him back on, with the help of a moto ref.
That's great, but I'm not sure what it proves. That your friend can bunnyhop a downed rider, I guess? Good for him - I doubt most would be able to pull this off. I've never done a Masters race, but I have done other open category (1-4) races, and my impression was not of great smoothness and experience but of great sketchiness and fear. There are lots of inexperienced racers in most any open field, and age doesn't count for much when you're a n00b, IMO. I kind of hate those open fields, because they're mostly ok, at the front, but with so many guys mixed in who are inexperienced and are turning themselves inside out just to stay on the wheels at speeds they simply aren't accustomed to, it gets scary. And the further back you are in the field, the worse it gets. I think the idea that Masters fields are safer might have held water ten or fifteen years ago when many more had been racing for years or decades. Today, with so many new racers being 40+, I'm not so sure.
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Old 02-24-15, 10:54 AM
  #37  
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"That's great, but I'm not sure what it proves" could be a stock response to any comment on this forum. My reply to that response would be "that's great, but I'm not sure what purpose it serves." We could go on like this all day!

If you hold the premise that crashes are basically acts of god and can't be avoided regardless of experience, then obviously this conversation is pointless for you.

However, that premise does not match my experience. That doesn't prove anything, but it makes me predisposed to believe that experience helps in avoiding crashes. Strongly predisposed. To the point where it seems practically self-evident.
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Old 02-24-15, 11:13 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
"That's great, but I'm not sure what it proves" could be a stock response to any comment on this forum. My reply to that response would be "that's great, but I'm not sure what purpose it serves." We could go on like this all day!

If you hold the premise that crashes are basically acts of god and can't be avoided regardless of experience, then obviously this conversation is pointless for you.

However, that premise does not match my experience. That doesn't prove anything, but it makes me predisposed to believe that experience helps in avoiding crashes. Strongly predisposed. To the point where it seems practically self-evident.
The best racer I personally know hasn't crashed in a race in a decade. He almost exclusively races in big crits and wins out of field sprints more than any other way. It's not luck.
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Old 02-24-15, 11:31 AM
  #39  
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My (very small) insights form racing many years ago and being blessed to learn (indirectly) from John Allis: Relaxed grip, yes! I was taught to have a firm but not death drip on the bars, but to keep my arms loose and elbows so if someone bumped my elbows or I hit a pothole, it was no big deal. I got too close to a passing rider once and his thigh hit my HB end three times and nothing happened.

I learned to look at the shorts of the rider ahead. Completely uninteresting. Meant that I could be open and aware of all in my peripheral vision.

The vets in my club taught me to observe who were good riders and stay close to them. My gut often told me that I was in a good place and should stay or that I was not and should move up. (I did this once and soon after I moved to a place that felt right, I felt a nudge on my rear wheel and heard a big crash. I was afraid I caused it, but a vet who watched the whole thing said my riding was fine; that the guy who touched my wheel was an accident waiting to happen.)

And crashes? I never looked at them; always had my eyes up the road. And went past many. Three times the wheel I was on went down. I don't even have images of those crashes, just the awareness of it happening as I went past. These approaches seemed to work, My only race crash happened when rider cut across in front of me, not remotely clearing my front wheel. There were no other riders around and no reason for his move at all. I don't know what I could have done differently without ESP.

Ben
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Old 02-24-15, 11:44 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
So obviously it's a skill that you can learn
Crash avoidance is not a "skill" in isolation but part of a well rounded racer's automatic reflexes, which are trained along with everything else necessary to compete.

"Back when" >45 years ago our club competed on the track, road, time trials and in cyclo cross.
Everyone was strongly encouraged to race in all disciplines to develop into a well rounded rider and learn the skills each discipline would offer.

The city closed a small park to motor vehicles one evening each week during the season for rider's clinics and full on training races.
When our new riders pinned on a number and lined up for the 1st time they knew what the racing line and an apex were, had paceline experience and could ride a straight line.

There was little carnage in the team, the program worked for us without over emphasizing any one "skill".

-Bandera
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Old 02-24-15, 12:14 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by EventServices View Post

BTW, Wylde, I miss that course. Some great memories out there. And you DID get a bit lucky - which isn't easy to do in Ann Arbor. ha ha ha
Oh man. Preferred going the other direction.
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Old 02-24-15, 12:46 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by globecanvas View Post
If you hold the premise that crashes are basically acts of god and can't be avoided regardless of experience, then obviously this conversation is pointless for you.
If you think that's the premise I'm starting from, I must not be communicating my point effectively. I don't think crashes are unavoidable regardless of experience. I disagree specifically with the theory that lower category crashes are fundamentally more likely to become big pileups. If someone goes down in front of you, being able to bunnyhop is great but there's a definite element of, yes, luck as to whether that bunnyhop will save you. Which is why I said, good for your buddy but that doesn't mean much. If there's a wheel or a limb sticking up in the air or something, that bunnyhop might not matter.

My other point was that it's probably wrong to take for granted that the skill level in an open (1-4) Masters race will be much higher than the skill level in any other open field in today's USAC peloton. Which again isn't to say that it isn't true or isn't possible in many or most cases, but the issue isn't the average skill level across all those wizened 1s and 2s. It's the 4s and some 3s that are the wild cards, and for the most part a 4 with gray hair is still a 4. Nothing wrong with being a Cat 4, and they aren't necessarily the ones causing crashes in these races, but if we're talking about the benefits of experience with respect to avoiding crashes, I think field composition is kind of relevant.
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Old 02-24-15, 01:44 PM
  #43  
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imma tape this whole thread to my stem, and read the tips during the race.
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Old 02-24-15, 01:53 PM
  #44  
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Classic BF, an attempt to start a discussion turns into a debate over the validity of the premise used to start the discussion.
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Old 02-24-15, 01:55 PM
  #45  
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It's been a hot minute since I was a crit rat. Let's get that out of the way.

But, back in the day, when I was racing 100km P/1/2 SuperWeek crits, there were far less crashes there than in the Cat 4/5 races, both in the local scene and at SuperWeek. I'm talking, at a minimum, 100 man fields, with the largest being 160 or 170 guys in the P/1/2. Lots of domestic pros, some Colombian track racers, Milram's stagiares, and plenty of weak sauce CAT1/2 pack fodder like myself. 28mph average for 2:15.

I witnessed one semi-serious crash in the P/1/2 the entire series of 15 or so races. A dude's tire blew out when the field was trying to chase down a break and it took out a dozen guys. Broke my rear wheel. Everyone was fine, though. The few others I saw were guys jumping off the front, hitting a corner they hadn't run through solo yet, and sliding out.

In the lower categories, crashes aplenty. Huge ones.
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Old 02-24-15, 02:24 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
Crash avoidance is not a "skill" in isolation but part of a well rounded racer's automatic reflexes, which are trained along with everything else necessary to compete.
OK, I can go along with that. There are certainly a lot of skills that will help you.
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Old 02-24-15, 02:29 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
imma tape this whole thread to my stem, and read the tips during the race.
mattm, your avatar makes sense to me now.
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Old 02-24-15, 03:00 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Duke of Kent View Post
It's been a hot minute since I was a crit rat. Let's get that out of the way.

But, back in the day, when I was racing 100km P/1/2 SuperWeek crits, there were far less crashes there than in the Cat 4/5 races, both in the local scene and at SuperWeek. I'm talking, at a minimum, 100 man fields, with the largest being 160 or 170 guys in the P/1/2. Lots of domestic pros, some Colombian track racers, Milram's stagiares, and plenty of weak sauce CAT1/2 pack fodder like myself. 28mph average for 2:15.

I witnessed one semi-serious crash in the P/1/2 the entire series of 15 or so races. A dude's tire blew out when the field was trying to chase down a break and it took out a dozen guys. Broke my rear wheel. Everyone was fine, though. The few others I saw were guys jumping off the front, hitting a corner they hadn't run through solo yet, and sliding out.

In the lower categories, crashes aplenty. Huge ones.
EDIT: That it took me so many words to explain myself makes it clear I didn't have a well-formed opinion here to begin with. So feel free to disregard everything I've typed in this thread. But if you actually care to understand what I was trying to get at, read on I guess.

Yeah. I think I'd better clarify again what I was trying to say, since it is really much more narrow than how it's being construed. That's my fault, sorry.

It is only this: my experience is that huge stack-ups are rare, PERIOD, and most crashes involve one or two riders across all categories. More crashes at the 4/5 level than 1/2, sure, I'll buy it, that's my observation as well. But the huge crashes that take down a big swath of a field, I just haven't seen a lot of those at all. To any extent that they are more common in lower categories, I think rider skill does play an obvious role there, but I don't think it's in ability to avoid a rider that's going down, I think it's because lower category riders are more likely to crash due to a failure of pack riding skill, period. And that can happen in a situation where mass carnage is difficult to avoid.

Just as an example, I've had maybe two crashes ever that were unequivocally unavoidable for me at the point that they happened. One was a teammate who hit a thick stick on a climb in a curb-to-curb 1/2/3 field. He went down and took me with him. We were the only ones who crashed. Later that same month (2013 was so ridiculous), I was in the qualifying race for Athens Twilight, the Cat 3 field. Tight pack on a slight downhill, a guy maybe three or four wheels up from me in a big pack just loses it and goes down. I'm not sure if he overlapped wheels or tangled bars or what. The result there was a big pileup. At least 10-15 guys in a big heap on the ground, including me. There was just nowhere to go for most of us.

Another example. Category C Men Div 1 at the ECCC UVM Mt. Philo Road Race in 2008. Roughly Cat 4/5. Some dude next to me zoned out while we were cruising down a straight downhill, at maybe 30 mph, not crazy-fast. He hit a gas line head in a hole in the pavement, normally not a big deal but apparently he wasn't really holding onto the bars, because he completely let go of them, flopped down onto his brake hoods and went totally ass-over-teakettle. He hit my back wheel on the way down, but I got clear, no problem. Behind, it was a different story. Big wreck, lots of guys on the ground. Same deal as that Athens crit, the group was spread out across the whole lane because the speed was pretty moderate, so there was simply nowhere for many of them to go.

Each of these crashes happened because of an error that I would chalk up mostly to inexperience - failure of pack handling, failure to pay attention, failure to observe the road ahead. These are crashes that I think are simply much less likely to happen in a 1/2 race. But I don't think they became pileups because 4/5 riders need better skill at avoiding developing crashes. Send a really good rider in a very fast field to the deck under the same kind of circumstances and you'll see the same thing happen. We see it every summer on TV, if you have a lot of people in a very tight space with lots of people close behind them, one rider going down is going to cause havoc. The difference is it takes a lot more to send that experienced rider to the ground to begin with.

TL;DR I'm trying to say that I don't think the most productive way to develop crash avoidance is for inexperienced riders to work on their bunnyhopping skills or other handling abilities. Of course they should, and that helps, but once you've got a crash started in a big pack, plain old luck really does have a lot to do with how that's going to end up for you. These crashes in the lower categories happen mostly because of a failure in basic skills, like overlapping wheels, or tangling bars, or not being ready if you hit a hole or debris you can't see, or failure to hold onto your damn handlebars. So, I guess that it wasn't a useful point to make, since I still think it's smart to work on all of these things, but in the service of trying to be clear on what I was trying to say... there you go.

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Old 02-24-15, 05:40 PM
  #49  
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Experienced racers know where and where not to stick their front wheel, as well as being able to control it under pressure. They mostly crash because they attempt advanced maneuvers that go wrong or have a mechanical in a bad spot that causes a domino affect to happen because they're packed so closely together. Rarely do they crash because of inattention, whereas cat 4/5, and most 3's too, will not be as comfortable with their front wheel being in tight places or cornering with someone leaning on their hip/shoulder (4/5's will probably go down, 3's might keep it up and then make a big fuss about it, and 1/2's will act like nothing happened, unless someone goes down). There are many near crashes in the p12 that would be actual crashes in the 3/4/5's, which is a big difference in the racing. Also, higher skill racers will know not to rubberneck or freak out and over correct thus causing a crash themselves, which is how you get people crashing in front of the original crash and crashes when it's not even very tight.

Last edited by zitter; 02-24-15 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 02-24-15, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
I'm trying to say that I don't think the most productive way to develop crash avoidance is for inexperienced riders to work on their bunnyhopping skills or other handling abilities. Of course they should, and that helps, but once you've got a crash started in a big pack, plain old luck really does have a lot to do with how that's going to end up for you.
This is where we diverge.
I think that you can remove a lot of the luck with working on the right skills. As Lee Trevino used to say: "the more I practice, the luckier I get"

I'm trying to get the conversation away from "crashes come with the territory - it's just a matter of time" to "what skills do I need to have to be a safe rider and reduce my own chances of a crash?"

Mike Walden used to teach evasive skills and tumbling drills. And he used to tell us "If you're going down, aim for something soft, even if it's another rider".
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