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Meridian / Tri Athletes / Crashes(24 posts)

Meridian / Tri Athletes / CrashesBrokenSpoke
Jul 18, 2002 6:25 AM
Well, it finally happened, the expected crash involving the tri-athletes who have been mixing in with the Meridian training ride. A woman tri-athlete overlapped wheels on the last lap, went down, and took out 5 other riders. In addition, there have been far too many near misses. Now I have nothing against these riders from a fitness standpoint, and I am happy to see the sport grow. Where I take issue is that they are developing their pack riding skills at my expense. For that reason, I propose the following guidelines for tri-athletes riding out at Meridian on Tuesday / Thursday.

1.Learn to ride in a straight line.
Go out by yourself and see how long you can ride paint stripe that separates the shoulder from traffic. This skill is essential when riding in a peleton (field, group, pack, etc.) Practice at all effort levels. Try climbing in a straight line; it is harder than it looks when you are out of the saddle. When you have mastered this skill come on out and ride with us.

2.Start out in the back
Whether you start with the main field on the first lap, or join in on top of the hill, blend in with the back of the field. I know you are a strong rider who has learned to ride in a straight line, but riding in the peleton is a very different experience. Riding in the back typically will give you more room between your fellow riders and your learning mistake will not have as great an affect on others. Once your are very comfortable riding in a large group, then gradually start working your way up toward the front. The closer to the front you get, the closer riders are to each other and the margin for error is greatly reduced.

3.Do not sit up in the middle of the field when you get tired
At one time or another everyone has had a bad day out a Meridian to the point where they had to drop out in the middle of the lap. Out of courtesy to the other riders safety, move to the edge of the peleton when you think you are tiring. If it gets to the point where you are going to drop out, get to the curb and stay out of the way. There is nothing scarier that having a rider sit up in the middle of the field and the peleton must split and pass the rider on either side at 30+ mph.

Please take the time to read, and hopefully follow, these suggestions. Just because you can TT solo at 28 mph does not make you a strong (read safe) rider in the peleton. Everything you do in the peleton has an affect on every other rider. One last thing, if you have any questions, ask someone out there. I would much rather spend whatever time it takes to help you become a better rider that go down in a crash you caused at Meridian. At my age, healing takes longer and my kid does not appreciate Daddy coming home all scabbed up because you screwed up.
The bomb finally went offBipedZed
Jul 18, 2002 7:04 AM
Totally agree. The paint from her bike is still on my rear dropout and QR skewer. I was on the right side of her when she went down, her bike hit the rear of my bike but luckily I stayed up. My teammate wasn't so lucky.

They apparently come up with their coach from the Springs in a big van. In the aftermath as I was helping out the woman that overlapped and crashed looked rather sheepish. She seemed to understand that she had overlapped and caused the pile up. It'll be interesting to see if they are there again next week, and if they are, I don't think they will be received very warmly.
The bomb finally went offBrokenSpoke
Jul 18, 2002 7:44 AM
She went down directly in front of me and I braked hard and swerved to the left to just miss her. A Casati rider to my rider t-boned her and the last I saw of him was as he went over the bars. The overlap was not a big deal. All she had to do was steer into it and she would have been ok. Instead she turned away and boom, down she went. Glad to hear you missed her.
Another crashBipedZed
Jul 18, 2002 7:58 AM
Exactly, inexperienced riders tend to panic and over-react if they touch wheels. Meridian is NOT the place they should be practicing and if I see them again I will make my point very clear.

There was apparently another crash earlier that may have been on the 2nd to last lap in that section where it kinda moderately chicanes with the median on the back side. It was completely squirrely there last Tuesday as there were at least 3 times as many riders last Tuesday compared to the week before.

It's enough to make me seriously consider making the drive to Mead from now on.
Another crashBrokenSpoke
Jul 18, 2002 8:06 AM
From what a friend told me about that crash is that a tri-athlete in the middle of the field sat up due to fatigue. The field split to go around the rider and evidently someone did not realize the guy had slowed and rear ended him. Whether the guy that hit him wasn't paying attention or was following another rider who avoided him at the last minute, my friend did not know. Either way, it is getting far too crazy out there. Mead is not a viable option for me due to the time I get off work so I am stuck with Meridian. Maybe I will just attack off the front, blow up and get caught / dropped, and do it again lap after lap. Might be safer though not as much fun.
Alternative to Meridian - Sara Kay courseBipedZed
Jul 18, 2002 8:20 AM
The Casati guys have been doing the Sara Kay course backwards on Tuesday nights at 6pm. Currently about 25 guys show up and it's supposed to be pretty hard due to that hill that's normally the long downhill. For me it's tough to go to Golden or Mead since I work 10 minutes from Meridian in rush hour traffic. Other Casati guys must feel the same way as there are still several showing up to Meridian.
Alternative to Meridian - Sara Kay courseBrokenSpoke
Jul 18, 2002 8:25 AM
I work in Castle Rock and get off at 4:30. No way to make any other ride that I know of. Sara Kay would be a great training ride though. Like the race and I have done solo training rides out there in each direction. You are right about the hill.
Sara KayPack Meat
Jul 18, 2002 8:42 AM
I don't want you two squirrels there ;) We've actually had our share of triathletes. I don't want to say that we were rude to the guy that showed up with the full aero kit but I was less than accomodating.

The hill isn't that bad. It's been alot of Casati, Denver Spoke and RRV guys. If we could get about 10 more guys out there consistently it would be a lot more fun.
re: Meridian / Tri Athletes / Crashesski4x
Jul 18, 2002 8:53 AM
My question is how many other other crashes have happened this season so far? Were they all innocent and because they were roadies, then okay? If this is the first crash caused by a tri-athlete, how is it different than the one by a roadie 1,2,3 or 4 weeks ago?

I used to race triathlons about 7 years ago and remember riding a siilar type training crit. I stuck with my line and remember someone going down a couple of bikes in front of me and ended up about 6 of us going down. OF course a lot of people looked at me as the scapegoat, why?, just because I was a tri-athlete and thus obviously was a likely cause of the crash. Being a tri-athlete, I still rode in group rides 3 times a week.

It seems every week I read on this BB about a new crash at a crit race or ride. In crit type rides/races there are a lot of crashes and thats just part of that type of riding. I race MT Bikes now and stay far away from those types of rides, purely because of the risk that comes with the territory.
I'll bite, with advance apologies to LFRBipedZed
Jul 18, 2002 9:10 AM
There have been other crashes this season, but I wasn't there to witness them. This particular situation involves a group of 5-6 triatheletes, mostly women, that show up from Colorado Springs with a coach. The first time I encountered them a little over a month ago it was the scariest Meridian to date. 5 or 6 strong but dangerous riders can completely affect the safety of the entire group. Pack riding is obviously a new thing for these riders and they switch wheels with no regard for other riders, sit up without warning, and at one point were squealing to each other (yes, squealing) about how "fun" it was to be in such a large pack. I didn't see them again for awhile and Meridian all of a sudden got much safer. Then last Tuesday they showed up again and I just knew something bad was going to happen. They didn't prove me wrong.

Not to say that it's only the triatheletes that cause problems as there are plenty of dangerous riders at Meridian. Most of them aren't strong enough to stay at the front and are quickly shelled. The triatheletes are very fit women that can hang near the front for the most part which makes it difficult to get away from them. Last week on the last lap I was behind the woman that crashed and I just knew I had to get away from her. As I was passing her on the right side she overlapped and crashed.

I accept the risks of participating in an informal training race. But lately these women are making the risk too great.
Squealing tri chix are HOT...tihipscrew
Jul 18, 2002 10:20 AM
...squealing tires and grinding metal are not. Unless the metal is like, Slayer, which is HOT again.

There were far too many people (more than I think I've seen in 9yrs of Meridian, possibly) of far too wide an ability range for any other result. Compounding this was a wind that was very tough and encouraged people to dive for shelter pretty aggressively. I totally agree with you all though, what I saw wasn't a lot of the typically aggressive/intionally risky behavior of 3s and 4s, it was the clueless/in-over-my-head behavior of total newbies.

Realistically, what can be done to improve this situation, besides avoiding Meridian or just being unpleasant enough to make poor pack riders go away? Hand out flyers? Post to triathlon groups and contact tri clubs? Separate packs on the course by self categorization- you could do (P,1,2,vet) and (3,4,W, open) with a 1 minute gap? If each road club put forward one or two riders to discuss the issue and come up with some proposed solutions, maybe we can improve it. Of course, those not represented by road clubs might not want to be "bossed around", but I think the road teams should be a little proprietary about Meridian, we are the bread and butter users of the training venue.

Whose wheel did she nick Zed? It sounded real close behind me and to my right...
Separate fields? HmmmmBrokenSpoke
Jul 18, 2002 12:45 PM
Since Meridian is basically an unorganized, unofficial, 'race,' I don't think you could ever realistically turn riders away. I don't think that would be good for the sport either and would only perpetuate the perception that racers are snobs to newbies.

What I have seen work is 2 separate fields. It doesn't need to be anything official just defined at the start. Most riders will initially jump into the faster group (who doesn't over estimate how fast they are only to be humbled quickly) and once they discover they are in over their heads drop back to the second group. It may take several weeks but it does work.

The two field plan provides a better environment for both groups of riders. The faster group will work harder due to the smaller fields, while the second group may have riders that are tempted to attack which they would never do in a large single field.

One other advantage for the second group is that since the ability level is more equal, a rider may be more willing to ask questions or more receptive to constructive critisism. Who has not seen a rider that needs help but won't ask for fear of looking stupid.

There is no quick fix for this problem though I think your idea of getting the riders together for a discussion is a great idea. I would also suggest including the tri-athletes. Has anyone, or any team, offered to work with these guys on their skills? Maybe their coach would be receptive. I realize another poster mentioned he knew these riders and they had a holier than thou attitude, but after the crash on Tuesday, that may have changed.

One thing I can guarantee is that if someone ever really gets hurt, we will lose the course. I have seen it happen several times before in CA. A couple of injuries where the paramedics had to come out and suddenly the local cops took a large interest in the traiining crit. We were shut down in a business part that was vacant after 5. The reason? We were speeding and a lot of us did receive tickets. The cop made it clear he would be back every Tuesday / Thursday night for the rest of the summer and he would be happy to continue to write us up.

Lastley, I think we sometimes forget that Meridian is a public road and everyone has a right to be there. If I see a rider during warmup that is just out for a casual ride, we have all seen them, I chat with them and let them know about the training ride. Most are more than happy to rider counter clockwise to stay out of our way. It makes it safer for us and it doesn't scare the snot out of them when we rip by.

We need to work with the newbies rather than chase them off.
Meridan CommentsSherpa23
Jul 20, 2002 6:56 AM
I was out of town this week so I missed both days at Meridian this week. I am glad. The last few weeks at Meridian have been relatively safe, IMO, but then again, I conciously try to make it that way. I use Meridian for my interval training so I ride in the top 10 or off the front, I don't let anyone cut in front of me, and if I see a potential scary situation developing, I assert myself and get in front of it. Obviously, nothing guarantees that I won't get caught in a crash but I try to hedge my exposure as much as possible. I, too, have noticed the the triathletes have been excessively squirelly but I thought that it was the guys from Mammoth Multi sport in Littleton. Another super squirrels that I have noticed: A "Go Fast" (kind of ironic, isn't it?) guy who always wears earphones and has almost taken out a few people that I have seen because he didn't know they were there. He was coming over into me one time after he surged to the front and I gave him a moderate bump on his hip and the guy was so shocked that there was someone next to him. He is so caught up in his earphone world that he doesn't know what's going on around him. That's the stuff that has to go as much as aerobars in the pack. It's too bad that these crashes happen out there because Meridian is really the only alternative for those of us who live in Denver. I ride out from my house near downtown and back and, together with my morning training, I always get at least 110 miles for the day. And it's an EASY 110 (motivation wise). I go out and ride and without even trying for a long day I get in some miles. That kind of convenience is hard to beat. I would be up for supporting the 2 fields but how many 1's and 2's and fast 3's are there for a high level field? I wouldn't mind of there were 10 or us but I have a feeling that there may not be that many on a consistent basis.
no need to apologizelonefrontranger
Jul 18, 2002 10:55 AM
haven't you seen my many rants about the lack of handling skills in the womens' fields?

The worst part is, there are many, many instances of this sort of thing. It's worse for us because these gals *never* learn to handle their bikes. The fields aren't big enough or deep enough in talent to force the natural weeding out process that occurs in the mens' cats.

So what happens is you get your gung-ho Spinning instructor / tri-geek / national champion XC skiier, etc, etc... who's strong enough to just ride off the front, upgrade in 3 or 4 races, and never has to learn to deal with things like pack experience or handling skills (the name Alison Lusby mean anything to you?). I've bitched about this stuff for years, to no avail. 80-90% of women racers are flat out dangerous in a large group, and that's no joke.

As far as Meridian goes... well my armchair theory doesn't mean much I guess, since I live / work within easy reach of Mead. Meridian is a controversial topic with me, because let's face it, it's not a legitimate race. I have a hard time with a so-called "training ride" that this large and (apparently) squirrelly peloton rides on open roads and treats like a crit, where they blow through a stop light each lap. Someday there will be repercussions.
speaking of women racers...lonefrontranger
Jul 18, 2002 1:32 PM
These are the ladies I get to contend with each week... talk about some fast women!!
oh yeah, these chicks too :-)lonefrontranger
Jul 18, 2002 1:36 PM
Team Diet Rite. Just in case Veritas isn't intimidating enough. I'm just glad Jeannie Longo doesn't race / live nearby anymore - tho she tended to take out her aggressions on the Men's III field...
Next time we buy Vertias software...SnowBlind
Jul 24, 2002 11:51 AM
I'm gonna ask for a training ride as a kickback!
re: Meridian / Tri Athletes / CrashesBrokenSpoke
Jul 18, 2002 9:42 AM
Actually, this particular training ride has been pretty safe this year. The point of my post was not to single out tri-atheletes as necessarily bad riders, but to point out that the skillset they bring to training rides (very strong but without group riding experience) may need a little development before they jump headlong into this type of ride. I tried to be very constructive with my suggestions. In fact, the suggestions I posted were what was told to me when I jumped in a training crit the first time 14 years ago and scared a lot of riders, including myself. I went out and worked on my technique, jumped in the back of the training crits, and as I improved, moved up. As far as I am aware, I have never caused a crash. I have been in many, usually the 3rd or 4th rider into the pileup, that have been caused by either a mechanical problem (flat, broken chain, etc) or sheer stupidity. In any case, the rider who caused the crash knew what he did was wrong. In the situation with the tri -athletes at Meridian, the don't understand just how dangerous their riding style currently is to the rest of the field. Hopefully, they will take the suggestions I posted seriously, master the skills, and come back out and join us.

On a side note, there are quite a few other ti-athletes who are extremely competent riders out at Meridian also. I have no problems riding next to, behind, or in front of these individuals. In fact, given their stength as solo riders, they are great to use as a lead out.
re: Meridian / Tri Athletes / CrashesGV
Jul 18, 2002 9:50 AM
I have ridden with most of the people you are refering to on the springs group rides. You are right they constantly overlap wheels and do not pay attention to what they are doing. Several people have offered advise but it seems if you are a pro athelete taking advise from amateurs is a little hard .
re: Meridian / Tri Athletes / Crasheseurochien
Jul 18, 2002 11:28 PM
Remember the Sydney Olympics? 'Nuff said. No socks, aero-bars, anything that says Speedo, seatpost water bottle cages: stay away from them, those are your warning signs.
Wasn't there ... fill me in ...sacheson
Jul 19, 2002 11:18 AM
OK ... I missed it ... obligation with the better half ...

So, which one was it? The super strong, yet super squirrely girl on the Ti bike (Tri-Shark or something)? If so, too bad for the others that went down ... but I can't say I'm sorry she fell. This is my first year at the Meridian things (just moved down from The Fort), and I have to say I'm surprised people haven't said anything to them before. Aside from being a danger on the road, they really screw up the flow of the ride. I don't wish harm on anyone, but it gets a little frustrating worry about all the crap that goes on in a race, then adding the ignorant rider component to the mix. Hopefully the riders that frequent Meridian can use this to constructively work with people on riding technique rather than turn it into an "us, them" issue (see the last paragraph, initial post).

Any one know the condition of others that fell? Anything serious?

Also, did anyone here see the guy that took himself out a week ago Tuesday on a cooldown lap after the race? He just rode into a curb and fell onto the grass.
re: Meridian / Tri Athletes / CrashesRockyMountainRacer
Jul 22, 2002 6:41 AM
Well, I'm glad I didn't go on Thursday! I was there on Tuesday though, and that was scary enough. A million people, very squirelly, not a lot of fun. I was almost in a crash on Tuesday. I was riding in the middle of the pack next to a large guy from Vitamin Cottage on my left. The guy next to him on his left suddenly decided to swerve to his right (maybe to aggressively get out of the wind, I dunno), causing the Vitamin Cottager to swerve into me. I leaned into him, but since I weigh 145 and he weighed about 185, both my tires started scidding as I was pushed to my right. Needless to say, it is quite scary to be in a two-wheel drift at 27 mph! Fortunately the guy to my right got out of the way and I didn't go down (I'm a mountain biker!). When the Vitamin Cottager asked the person who swerved what he was doing because he almost caused a crash, all he got in respone was some profanity, and then the guy attacked up to the front. So I don't know what that was all about, but it wasn't too fun. I left about halfway through after the squirrelyness appeared to be getting worse.

So I am new to Denver this year, and this is my first year at Meridian. For much of the year, it seems to me that it has been a very safe ride, with most people very courteous and not taking too many risks. I agree that lately it has been getting a bit crazy. The tri chicks are pretty scary (especially the one with the hairy legs and hairy armpits). And Zed is right, even if you do get away from them, you can still hear them squealing!

I would support the idea of 2 seperate packs. I think the suggestion of a previous poster that the local teams should have a meeting and decide what to do about the situation is a good one. The ride is pretty much controlled by the teams already. Anyway, if somebody does get hurt we will probably not be able to ride there any more. Also, there was a cop there watching us on Tuesday if anyone else noticed, so someone must have complained about the way we've been riding (probably a motorist).
"training crit" for newbies?Mr Good
Jul 22, 2002 12:19 PM
I don't live in your area, but I've seen this type of thing before.

In the interest of growing/helping the sport, a couple of clubs could hold an official "training crit" once or twice a year (or early in the season?)

Invite new people to do drills, practice paceline skills (like a class), then race with "mentors" who give advice.

You could create safer riders while converting strong athletes from triathalon to real racing. One day spent doing some quality mentoring with these riders (and other newbies) could pay off in increased safety and good vibes for everyone.

And then when a new squirrely rider shows up on a weeknight you just say "Oh, you haven't done the training crit? You need to do one before you can join this ride. I hope to see you there!"
That won't fly in Denver,TJeanloz
Jul 24, 2002 1:03 PM
Everybody on the Front Range thinks their a pro, or about to turn pro. Even if they're in their first race. That's a big part of the squirrels problem- is that they know they're better than everybody else, and they take it as an insult if it is implied otherwise.