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38 mph field sprint crash!(8 posts)

38 mph field sprint crash!Steve Davis
Aug 30, 2001 9:47 AM
I posted this on cyclingforum, but would like to get feedback from the racing board as well.

Yesterday was the last of the Wednesday night training crits in our area. I’m a cat 5 and had only done two of these this year. I placed third in my first race and second in my next one. Last night I wanted to win. Heading into the final corner, I was in the fifth spot and feeling very confident. As soon as we came through the corner, the guys in the first two spots started their sprint and I followed staying in their draft. With about 50 yards to go I pulled around them and was closing fast for what I felt would be me first win.

What I didn’t know was that another guy (last week’s winner) was on my wheel and was now coming up my left. We were elbow to elbow when our handlebars hooked and down we went. It happened so fast that it is hard to know what really went wrong. We took out three other riders but none were as bad off as the two of us. I got several stitches in my left elbow and a ton of road rash on my back. The other guy was bleeding from head to toe, but nothing was broken. The bikes seemed okay except for a tacoed rim and cut tires. My speedometer broke off its mount and showed a max speed of 37.6 mph. Ouch.

After we were all scraped off the road, the race organizer asked the group what went wrong. One guy said, “Somebody didn’t hold his line”. Most felt that it was just part of racing and that no one was at fault. After we got cleaned up I approached the guy whose handlebars got hooked with mine to see if he was okay and to get his opinion on what happened (he’s a real nice guy and we spent a half hour talking and warming up together before the race). He said that he was on the yellow line and had a straight shot to the finish when I drifted into him. I honestly don’t know if I did move into him or not. I suppose it is entirely possible, as I had come around the two lead out guys so that I could make it to the line first, just as he had come off my wheel seconds earlier.

Here is my question. Was I wrong to come around the two lead out guys and does that constitute “not holding my line”? I really feel bad about this and want to learn whether I should have done something differently.

P.S. Learning from my mistakes may be a moot point as my wife is ready to forbid me from racing crits ever again…
Sounds like he made a mistake.jw25
Aug 30, 2001 10:57 AM
If he was behind you, and coming around, he needs to be watching you, and not assume anything. That's what keeps the finish interesting - watching everything around you, not just the line.
Possibly you did drift, but there again, everyone needs to pay attention, as he shouldn't have cut things so close.
Having said that, it's a moot point, since you've already gone down. Hope you heal quickly, and gain some experience from this, but don't feel guilty. All in all, it is a part of racing, and much better to do in the lower ranks.
re: 38 mph field sprint crash!pmagnien
Aug 30, 2001 12:02 PM
Not enough data to determine fault. If the two of you were sprinting as hard as you say you were, then I'd deem it "mutual combat" and call it a day. I'd estimate that both of you didn't hold your line, as that's what happens in a "nuts-out" sprint.

If the other guy had a "straight shot", then it was up to him to move over far enough not to risk locking bars as he passed. Likewise, you can't sway from your line significantly either.

Of course you were not wrong to try and come around the leadout guys. that's your job. You just need to do it intellgently, and it sounds like you did. When you do come around, though, your path should be straight. If the guy who was on your wheel was jumping at the same time you started yours, well, that aint your fault.
re: 38 mph field sprint crash!Red Baron
Aug 31, 2001 7:30 AM
Where was this race held? The reason I ask is that I was in a race on a Wed night crit where I was right behind a sprint crash on the line at 38mph. I avoided it by riding off to the left into the woods and managed to stay on my bike ok. Not a nice crit season ending!

That would be quite a coincidence!
Lincoln RI (nm)Steve Davis
Sep 4, 2001 11:51 AM
Lincoln RI (nm)Red Baron
Sep 5, 2001 4:19 AM
Lincoln RI too!

I ride for Union Velo. Red Trek
Union is a great shopSteve Davis
Sep 5, 2001 11:21 AM
I shop at Union and like Rick a lot. In fact I broke my Campy pedals in the crash and ordered a new set just the other day. I plan to join the club next year. I ride a Merckx.
Elbows outspookyload
Sep 6, 2001 10:09 PM
If you can keep your elbows out, it will prevent handlebar lock ups. You will merely glance off the other rider. It isn't as aero, but it allows your lungs to fill up and expand better, and The final sprint sounded more like a short dash, in which having more lungs would be better than aero. If you do find yourself locked up relax and don't make fast moves away, or you will crash as you found out. You can slow down and unhook or the other person can slow down and unhook if his is the aft bar. I know in a sprint you aren't thinking that way, but it isn't catastrophic to lock handlebars. If you have a friend and a beater bike, go to a grass feild and practice at slow speeds. It is also a good time to practice leaning against each other. In big sprints as you progress, people (especially big strong sprinters) will move you by bumping and leaning into you, so slow speed practice on grass will teach you how to handle that too. It sounds to me like you weren't at fault in this crash. If you didn't know he was near you, than I will assume you were in front. He has to make his way around you, not you yield for him. That is assuming you weren't making some huge swooping manuver around the lead out like a NASCAR finish. Hope you heal fast, and don't let the crash make you timid in sprints. It was a fluke, and now you really deserve that win you were going for.