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Enough crashes already(1 post)

Enough crashes alreadyfiltersweep
Aug 23, 2003 11:04 AM
OK- I read JS Haiku's thread yesterday and somehow was sucked into defending club rides for their general sense of safety. I may need to rethink my attitude.

Three weeks ago I rode in a road race that had two nasty crashes (each involved multiple riders) that I witnessed and that occurred near me. Two weeks ago I narrowly avoided a guy who went down in a crit after his tire rolled off. OK- those were races.

I've ridden around 1000 club miles this season- and it has been quite safe, although there have been a few one-rider crashes that have been no big deal. Today, however, it was a bit different. I was riding with two friends, we'll call Al and Carl, and two other guys who tagged along in our sub-group- we'll call them Bob and Dave (this already looks like a weird math problem). Al, Carl, and I are taking turns doing most of the pulling as the ride started. We've ridden thousands of miles together and know each other very well. Bob would take his turn pulling, but he would be very jerky- like swinging suddenly and wildly off-line to avoid a manhole cover (like it is THAT big of a deal). He is about in his mid-40s- and a fairly strong rider with a very jerky cadence. I didn't like being behind him.

Al and I started taking turns on some rollers- Al is small enough that he descends rather slowly (Isaac Newton be damned) so I'd usually pass him going down rather than having to brake, then he'd pull going up.

Anyway, in the middle of nowhere about 23 miles into a 42 mile ride coming down a roller at about 30mph, Al is in front, followed by Bob, Carl, me, then Dave. I allow a bit of a gap to form, since we are cruising down hill when Bob bumps into Al's wheel and gets all shakey- like his bike is suddenly made of rubber. A water bottle is launched. I'm taking complete inventory of all my options. In slow motion, Bob goes down hard. I'm hoping against hope that Carl can clear Bob, because if he can, I know I can. Everything looks good until Bob's bike breaks loose from him tangling up Carl and bringing him down hard. I'm braking hard, locking my rear wheel contemplating going down in a controlled manner or hoping a gap opens between the two of them. Carl's body skids across the pavement to the left, leaving me just enough room to squeeze by.

I stop and go back. Bob was apologizing to Carl. Carl is simply shaking. Bob received the worst of it- and he deserved it for following so closely on a descent and for not having the sense to keep his bike up after touching wheels. Bob's seat was torn, but that was the extent of the bike damage. Both had a good case of road rash (Carl's fingertips looked like they had been ground off). My wheel was rather bloody.

We debated what to do, but Bob and Carl decided to keep riding. Bob was just as squirrely after the spill as he was before, so I ended up riding solo. It didn't help that it took me a half hour to realize my rear brake was rubbing, but still, I didn't want to be anywhere near him.

I gave Carl a ride home afterwards. After sitting he was so sore he could barely move. We still could not believe how stupid it was to follow so closely going down hill, particularly when gravity will take you right into the wheel when sheltered from the wind.

Bob was rightly shunned after the ride. It will be interesting to see if he shows up again. I realize that accidents can happen, but this seemed so avoidable.