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Crash on club ride last night.

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Crash on club ride last night.

Old 06-18-08, 10:33 AM
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Crash on club ride last night.

I am looking for a little input from the more experienced group riders out there. I have been riding in my club's Tuesday night ride for about 2 months now and last night we had our first crash. Ten of us were riding on a down hill at about 25-28 after completing a big climb. I was behind the main group by about 15 feet when a cat darted out into the street from the left. It stayed in the middle of the street for a second and then turned around and darted back the way it came. At no time did it cross into the path of our group. But as soon as I saw it start to cross I instinctively go on my brakes. Thankfully. I'm not sure exactly how it happend but I think two of the people in the first group either jammed their brakes, swerved or both. Three people went down. One guy who hit his brakes too hard went over the bars. I was JUST able to squeeze between one of the guys who was down on the road and a huge curb on my right. I was really lucky i didn't hit him and go down too.

My question is what is the correct tactic to use when riding in a group and faced with something darting into the street that size? Should people just stay straight and run the cat over? I could care less about the stupid cat, I am just interested to know what is your best chance at not crashing. Thanks

Last edited by roubaix-ron; 06-18-08 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:36 AM
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Real easy to be an armchair quarterback on stuff like this, you never really know.

I would probably have rode over the cat.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:40 AM
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What the group should do is hold your line and slow down. The first that sees it should call out as a warning. The problem with group rides is you don't know what others will do. There's usually a wide variety of experience. But panic stops and quick turns without warning causes crashes.

When riding in a group, people need to constantly remember they are in just that - a group, and be aware where others are around them at all times.

By the way, don't run over a cat. They are big enough to stop your front wheel almost immediately. I went over the bars and the cat ran away.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:44 AM
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My rule of thumb is squirrel sized and smaller-hit it. Bigger than a squirrel- avoid it if at all possible.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:45 AM
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Instinct takes over and it's all but impossible not to react and grab some brake if it happens quickly enough.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven
By the way, don't run over a cat. They are big enough to stop your front wheel almost immediately. I went over the bars and the cat ran away.

Thanks. That is exactly the info I was looking for. How about squirrels? Are they big enough to knock you down as well?
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Old 06-18-08, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven
By the way, don't run over a cat. They are big enough to stop your front wheel almost immediately. I went over the bars and the cat ran away.
+1

We have pheasants and peacocks here that dash about when they get scared. Stupid birds. But you'd go down very badly if you hit something that size. (and a male peacock with tail is like five feet long)

I'd vote for holding their line. The animal may zig-zag unpredictably, as instinct would be to evade a wolf or whatever that was trying to chase them down, but they'll no doubt get themselves out of your way. That or natural selection will make the roads safer for when you're back riding again in a few years.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:48 AM
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Stuff happens, sometimes there's nothing you can do to avoid it. You swerve to avoid hitting the cat you take the chance of taking out people on either side of you. You run over the cat you take the chance of going down and taking out people.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by roubaix-ron
Thanks. That is exactly the info I was looking for. How about squirrels? Are they big enough to knock you down as well?
Squirrels can end up in your spokes if you hit them - especially with long tails. That's a very unhappy situation for all involved.

(and messy - enjoy getting the guts out of the nooks of your brake callipers)


Edit: 'Squirrel in bicycle wheel' brings up a disturbingly large number of hits on Google - including Suicide squirrel in opera-hating kamikaze bike spoke mangle
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Old 06-18-08, 10:50 AM
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^^ bladed spokes FTW.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:52 AM
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There were about 8 of us riding along and a squirrel darted out in front. 4 of us ran over him. None of us crashed, but it was damn scary. We all just held our lines as there wasn't much else we could do, which probably helped us avoid a massive pileup. The squirrel ran off in the bushes but probably died of a broken back.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:56 AM
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You might not be so keen to hit a cat if it was your daughter's, wife's, neighbor's, maybe.
Then again, if you're out riding, it's just a stranger's cat.
Instinct tells us...
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Old 06-18-08, 10:59 AM
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Last week, 6 of us were riding back to my home after competing in a 10 mile TT and a groundhog ran out in front of me. I was leading the group down a hill going about 25- 28 and didn't have time to react. I ran over it's tail and that made it stop and do a back flip into the guys behind. Nobody hit it or each other, but, it gave us another reason to have more beer when we got back to my house.
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Old 06-18-08, 11:05 AM
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Hindsight is 20-20. But from your description, the people fell from over reacting to the Cat, not from the cat itself.

As much as possible try to be smooth, realizing that's hard to do in a panic situation.

Another option not mentioned is jumping the cat. Bit of an all or nothing strategy in this instance. But in general the ability to jump obstacles is a good skill to have riding in a pack or a race when you're suddenly confronted with an obstacle, and stopping or swerving isn't an option.
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Old 06-18-08, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Slackerprince
You might not be so keen to hit a cat if it was your daughter's, wife's, neighbor's, maybe.
F the cat. As long as I get my front wheel past the cat, its the cat's problem to avoid the chainrings and the rear wheel.
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Old 06-18-08, 11:29 AM
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Bunny hop the cat.
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Old 06-18-08, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Another option not mentioned is jumping the cat. Bit of an all or nothing strategy in this instance. But in general the ability to jump obstacles is a good skill to have riding in a pack or a race when you're suddenly confronted with an obstacle, and stopping or swerving isn't an option.
True, but actually pulling this off without having time to actually think it through is quite another thing.

I know I should go for a hard swerve or jump when a guy goes down in front of me, but in practise I've only ever gone for the instinctual brake-grab.
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Old 06-18-08, 11:31 AM
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You might not be so keen to hit a cat if it was your daughter's, wife's, neighbor's, maybe.
If you like the cat, keep it indoors! It will live longer on average than an outdoor cat.
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Old 06-18-08, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
F the cat. As long as I get my front wheel past the cat, its the cat's problem to avoid the chainrings and the rear wheel.
+1. Amen brother.
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Old 06-18-08, 12:26 PM
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Group rides have too many skill levels for a situation like this to be handled in a predictable manner. Even the A group rides here have riders that don't often ride in groups but are really strong, and they can cause havoc.
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Old 06-18-08, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by dipy911
If you like the cat, keep it indoors! It will live longer on average than an outdoor cat.
+1

Like up to 10X as long. People let their cat out, it's their loss, not mine. It's no more irresponsible letting you car run in the road as it is a kid. You took the cat on because you love the stupid thing, take care of it, keep it alive, keep it inside. And yes, I have 3 of the stupid things.
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Old 06-18-08, 12:38 PM
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It's hard to do but hold your line. Remember whats-his-face hitting that dog in the TDF last year? I swear, if he had held his line he would have ridden right past the dog.

Many years ago I was driving our jump master to the jump site for my 1st (and almost last) jump. We were on a long, straight two-lane highway and a squirrel strolled out into the center of my lane, faced me and stood up on his hind legs and stared at me, from about 100 yards. I was doing 60 and knew that any move I made he would probably counter and I'd wreck...so I never waivered my direction or speed...and he never moved. I saw him tumbling along the highway in my rearview mirror after I hit him. The rest of the jump group behind me jumped out of their car when they got to the jump site and said "Didn't you see the squirrel? We were behind you and saw it!".

I still remember, as we approached the squirrel, the sideways glance of the jump master, probably thinking "Doesn't he see zee squirrel???" (he was French). Then probably thinking "I have to go up in a plane with thees guy??? He's crazy!".

He made me jump first.
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Old 06-18-08, 12:48 PM
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Actually, the rule that "cat sized and down" just run over it has some truth. Probably the best thing to do with these little, quick creatures of nature is to just bore down on it. It'll move, that's guarenteed. That means if you aim at the spot it's sitting at presently, you'll miss it.

Apparently the US Navy used this approach against the Japanese in WWII to avoid artilliary. The Japanese gunmen were constantly adjusting their aim, so the path to best avoid the shells is to connect the dots between shell splashes.

As to avoiding obstacles in a group, move only as fast as absolutely necessary, and only as far as absolutely necessary. If you have two seconds to make your move, take all of the two seconds. If you only have to move a foot to the right, don't swerve over five feet; move just a foot. People tend to overreact in response to an obstacle, be it a cat or a car pulling out of a parking spot.

Also, learn to move your bike (and wheels) without moving your body. A good skill to have. Don't overlap wheels. If you find yourself riding up on a person, get at least up to where their hip contacting your hand is the first contact if either of you don't hold their line.

Other than that, it's just luck. Sometimes you'll keep the bike upright, sometimes you won't. If you ride a lot, then expect that you will hit the ground at some point. And if you ride regularly in a group, expect that at some point, the group will experience a crash. Learn the best you can how to minimize the risk, learn to fall to minimize the injury, learn how to bump people and stay upright, and protect your head (not to bring helmets into this, but if you don't wear a helmet, or perhaps, even if you do, learn to fall so you don't hit your head; tuck your chin and roll with the fall).
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Old 06-18-08, 01:12 PM
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In 99.99% of all cases, hold your line and bunnyhop the object if you can.
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Old 06-18-08, 02:31 PM
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i ran over snake a few weeks ago - just one of those little black-racer types, sunning itself in the road.

i thought it was already dead, but when i looked back it had jumped up and and scurried into the bushes - oops, hopefully it's still out sunnin somewhere.
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