Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grudge Cross 2008: 5 Stupid Things I Have Done

I am feeling duty-bound to share a bit of advice with my fellow race enthusiasts. Actually it might be considered more of a warning. There are certain things you might – in the spur of the moment – be temped to try. Don’t! You might live to regret it. I am not talking about the obviously crazy and foolhardy stunts where some moron pulverizes their face against the cement. If that is your type of thing... there are any number of these floating around on U-tube. Let’s just assume neither of us is ‘that’ stupid. I am referring to things you might be tempted to do or try, but are likely to be shaking your head sometime later thinking “what was I thinking”. This ‘warning’ is the bittersweet result of ‘experience’. However, it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive treatment of the subject, and I will be happy to hear and add your suggestion.

1. Don’t try and break by placing your flip flops against your rear tyre. Don’t ask.

2. Don’t ride tight single track with one hand, on a fixed gear, while trying to adjust you Ipod. In fact riding fixed gear off road is a questionable choice.

3. Don’t file off the dummy tabs (a.k.a lawyer tabs) off your fork. They are not called dummy tabs for nothing. Yes I have done this, and yes the wheel did fall off!

4. Don’t try to urinate while racing offroad while still on your bike! Trust me it doesn’t work, and is very very messy.

5. Don’t race fixie in the snow and on the ice with slicks.

You really really shouldn’t do this. Get life insurance first. Be prepared for a North shore style lumberjack tough-guy course layouts. Be prepared to repeatedly crash.

But if you will not listen to reason and insist on partaking in this “irresponsible” race... be aware. A bike crash is a complex event involving the interaction of human, bike, and environmental factors (e.g., trees, rock, ice, cement, poles, dogs, people working dogs who refuse to get the hell out of your way, other bikes, bushes etc). While there is no “typical” bike race crash, what is “typical” is that a bike crash is a ‘violent’ event. More than 80 percent of all observed crashes result in injury or death to the cyclists. Ok maybe not death but crashing hurts like hell. Furthermore, the bike itself provides no head injury protection to the rider as would a car. Ejection from the bike is a common injury pathway. Just ask Luk. If a bike comes to a sudden stop and the rider is ejected from the bike, the rider will forcibly strike objects in the path as well as the ground, other riders, small dogs etc.

All bikes (cyclocross, mountain bike etc) lack the crashworthiness and occupant protection characteristics of an automobile. Obviously an automobile has more weight and bulk than a bike. It has door beams, a roof, airbags, and seat belts. Just try putting a seat belt on a bike. A car is also more stable because it is on four wheels. Wheels with tracking… slick have NO TRACTION! It is true that what a bike sacrifices in weight, bulk, and other crashworthiness characteristics is somewhat offset by its agility, maneuverability, ability to stop quickly, and ability to swerve quickly when necessary. But not with slicks!

Causes of bike crashes.
Many of the causes of bike crashes may be attributed to lack of experience racing slick in the snow and on the ice, or failure to appreciate the inherent operating characteristics and limitations of such a profoundly stupid choice of rubber. These factors require cyclists to take special precautions and place more emphasis on defensive racing. I hope it is obvious that a helmet is a must. Also consider that a cyclist has to be more alert at intersections (this was an open course), where most pedestrian – cyclists – dog – child collisions may occur. About one-third of people I hit (opps!) were the result of other cyclists crashing onto the path in front of me. The other third... well they were in my way ;) More than other any other vehicles, cyclists must remain visible at all times, and anticipate what might happen. For example, cyclists must anticipate that other racers making turns may see them and prepare to make defensive maneuvers (e.g., hip checks, shoving, snowballs etc). Thus, if you are foolhardy enough to race slicks in snow and on ice, you must place greater reliance on your helmet, eye protection, and clothing to reduce the severity of injury (e.g., shoulder pads, spinal protection, knee and elbow pads) when you become involved in crash after crash after crash.

Bottom Line:

You have been warned!

Until next year.

Battered – swollen – foolhardy Coach Dave.

2007 Grudge Cross Reporter Here

Results and more pics from the Training Coop Below

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