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Open courses are scary.(19 posts)

Open courses are scary.Alex-in-Evanston
Nov 5, 2001 9:39 AM
Did a race this weekend on a course that the promoter could not have closed to the public. Horses, walkers, dogs, other bikers - it was pretty crowded. I figured these folks would see that a bike race was going on and cede right of way (there were about 50 of us on the course at the time), but that wasn't the case at all. An old woman even yelled out at me to "slow down!". There was one point on the course where we made a blind hard right onto a gravel road, and sure enough, on lap 4 I went down hard in an emergency brake to avoid a couple walking their dog. I think they were as startled as I was.

Not a rant, but just an observation that what we may consider right of way (a large, well organized race on a marked course) doesn't necessarily fly with other park users.

re: Open courses are scary.climbo
Nov 5, 2001 12:24 PM
I would guess that the bike race organisers paid to use the park, the dog walkers did not. If it's a specific event you should have right of way and plenty of warning tape etc. Race in NJ Sunday had a few problems like that too but luckily nobody went down. Just a few stren YELLS from the front riders.
re: me toorpironcladracer
Nov 5, 2001 1:36 PM
Same deal, raced Sunday in an open course, lots of walkers and joggers. I wonder what folks are thinkin sometimes, they don't seem to have any awareness. The worst are the guys with the headphones on. But I avoided any wrecks, smiled and waved, and it was all good.
re: me tooWayne
Nov 5, 2001 3:36 PM
"they don't seem to have any awareness"
Of course they're oblivious, the idea of people riding a bike around a park, over grass, on pavement (coming from unexpected directions), etc. at anything more than 2 mph is inconceivable to most people. Add to this the almost total lack of course marshalls (or even warning signs) at cross events and you get the potential for disaster. Every race I've ever attended with any number of people around other than racers (and their significant others) has suffered from this problem. The Highland park, NJ race this weekend did a fairly good job of putting the race in a "corner" of a crowded park but there didn't seem to be anybody "guarding" the course. With the growth of cross, it's only a matter time before a fellow venue user gets whacked and some well-intentioned promoters gets their pants sued off. Which brings me to the National Champs. venue, which is a city-block size park in the ghetto and last year featured a number of little kids and dogs running around unsupervised and unrestrained. I hope they do a decent job of blocking the course off to avoid any potentially ugly situations because there certainly seemed a high potential for them last year.
I've never had problems with Vittorias (nm)Gomer
Nov 5, 2001 1:47 PM
Where was this?!?!?!?rollo tommassi
Nov 5, 2001 2:22 PM
You should definitely speak your mind to the promoter.

I hit a deer, once, years ago, racing in LaBaugh Woods (at Foster and the Edens). Damn thing jumped out across the singletrack right in front of me and her rear legs clipped by handlebars. I wasn't sure, had I crashed, if that would count for a free lap or not. ;)
Queeny Park Cross Series, outside of St. LouisAlex-in-Evanston
Nov 5, 2001 7:37 PM
I've got no beef with the promoter, we knew what we were getting into. He told us that the park disctric was permitting the race, but they wouldn't close the course to the public. It was on a mixed use equestrian/biking/running trail for much of the loop, and the rest on open grass field. The entire length of the course was marked with flags and banners, but walkers were everywhere.

The field was very large, I'm sure somebody here was there this past sunday.

Oh dear!rollo tommassi
Nov 5, 2001 8:13 PM
That promoter should be hanged! Why endanger everyone? That promoter took your money and risked your safety. Can you imagine if an equestrian and mount had been spooked?

If I were a resident I'd be mad at the park district for permitting something so half-assed (can i say that on the board?). Banners and flags can only do so much, as people are generally clueless, and very territorial ('but I walk this path every morning, blah blah blah'), but the onus is on the promoter to put a little thought into things.

It is so hard to get courses for races, period, and doing this I'm sure made it absolutely certain there will never be one again in that park.

On the other hand - how did you do? ;)
Queeny Park Cross Series, outside of St. LouisWayne
Nov 6, 2001 6:06 AM
I agree with Rollo, that sounds like a race that should have never been put on. When you pay to do a race, I would think it's assumed that the race course will be reasonably safe. I've never heard of holding a race on anything but a closed course. That's just plain negligent to have racers knowingly mixing with other park users. It's bad enough when people unknowingly get on the course but if it's anticipated that others will be using the same paths as the racers (and you can't stop them) that's asking for trouble.
only game in townrpironcladracer
Nov 6, 2001 9:10 AM
We really don't have the option of racing on a closed course in the St. Louis area- they did give us a corner of the park to work in, and the race was very well-posted and marked. We were fortunate to have no accidents with pedestrians. But the racers were all very aware and careful (as can be).
Nov 14, 2001 2:21 AM
I was there toorpironcladracer
Nov 6, 2001 9:07 AM
Yeah same race! How did you like the course, otherwise, and did you use a cross bike or a MTB? I went with my MTB with a rigid fork and a wider front tire, because of the singletrack sectiosn that I could bomb with impunity. But I think I probably lost ground on the pavement.
Fun courseAlex-in-Evanston
Nov 6, 2001 9:56 AM
I dreaded climbing that hill every lap, but what else is new.

In regards to accidents with pedestrians - I just missed hitting a couple walking their dog and went down on my right hip. If you recall there was a barrier/stump combo right before some singletrack, followed by a fast dip and a right hand turn onto gravel. I startled them coming up out of that dip onto the gravel and went down braking.

Anyway, I was just in town visiting my GF at Wash. U and thought I'd give it a shot. Big Shark seeks to be very prominent in race promotion in that area. It's great to have an active shop/staff nearby.

See you around,

Fun course, Big Sharkrpironcladracer
Nov 6, 2001 1:59 PM
Yeah, the hill was tough but at least it was paved! No spinning out. I worked the hill hard then tried to recover in the gravel around the corner till I hit pavement again.

I know the corner you mean. Tricky enough! Big Shark does a lot of the race promotion here- they are a very good shop and have some really good racers,too. Lots of other shops have dropped off a bit in their racing teams and in promoting racing, so we're glad they have kept the ball rolling.

What category were you? I did the 4/5 race, although I'm a geezer.
re: you got third, eh?rpironcladracer
Nov 6, 2001 2:03 PM
I just looked at the results and only found one "Alex" so you must be the guy who got third in the 4/5 race- I got 7th. Ralph, the 6th place racer and I were at least a couple hundred yards back from you. Were you close to Doug and Guy?
I didn't know my place until they told me.Alex-in-Evanston
Nov 7, 2001 7:09 AM
The 1/2/3's that went off early got me on the 5th lap, and I stuck with them and finished with the winning group. I didn't know if there were any 4/5's in front of me, and for a moment I fancied that I had won that category. In fact, when I finished one of the promoters told me I had done an extra lap.

But yeah, they gave me third, and I'll take it.

re: Open courses are scary.bigsharkracing
Nov 7, 2001 9:23 AM
Alex, I appreciate you coming down for the race. In response to the notion that all open courses are uniquely bad and that I, the promoter am irresponsible,etc..

Of course we want as closed and as safe a course as is possible. St. Louis County Parks has a huge network of parks but they have only agreed to allow us to race at Queeny Park this season. The course was marked with over 800 flags,orange directional arrows, several hundred feet of tape, cones, and large orange ski racing signs that said "race in progress.' and "caution bike racers". Essentially the race course was closed, however we cannot physically remove people who choose to ignore the obvious and place themselves and others in danger. I'm sure we have all seen the buffoons who drive out into the middle of a criterium course despite every indication that the road is temporarily off limits. In the future we will try to have more volunteer course marshalls. I did the race myself and was not very thrilled when some horseback riders proceeded to use a field that was clearly part of the course.

The race attendance was the highest in recent years and I encourage anyone to attend.

FYI- The park has an open policy for all events like this that are held in the park, cross county races, running races, etc.. and we have been holding cross races there for 5 years and a ranger was present so I don't think that there is any danger of losing the venue. It seems as if the people who live in closest proximity to the park regard it as if it is an extension of their front yard and not a public park that you can buy a permit to reserve. Some of these people definitely were walking on the course in "protest' of the event going on, in most cases it was very easy to avoid them.

Please, before saying a particular event or course sucks, you might want to physically be there to judge first, eh?

Alex Candelario will be coming to race on the 18th after the Chicago SUpercup on the 17th.

just my two cents.
re: Open courses are scary.Wayne
Nov 7, 2001 9:59 AM
Well, the original account made it sound like your typical city park with roller-bladers, joggers, recreational cyclists using the paths and then some crossers flying in amongst them. Your account sounds quite a bit different and does indeed make it sound like proper precautions we're taken. I don't think any race promoter can physically remove people from a course if they choose to knowingly ignore signs. We're people really intentionally using paths that were marked as part of the race? That's just plain stupid!
It was all good. Look hererpironcladracer (rich)
Nov 7, 2001 10:01 AM
Check it out- a good time had by all!