Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finish Line Safety

Alright people, another discussion topic: Taking your hands off the bars in sprints. Not acceptable. For example, this is what you should not do:

(photo by ?)

Even if you don't care about those around you, I do not need to receive multiple emails every Monday from Mark Abramson, trying to regulate ECCC finish line safety from the West Coast via finish line photos. I get enough conference email. Chebot, Gurcsik, Whiteman, you're all on notice...


  1. Hmm, but cyclists are gonna have to have some way of expressing hubris. How about unclipping and lifting one leg into the air instead, or perhaps jumping off the bike at the last minute, hefting it over the head, and jauntily galloping across the finish line? Just some visual indication that they are so full of WIN that they are no longer working hard.

  2. It's OK, Chebot is a PRO.

  3. how else is one supposed to win with appropriate euro style? Mark A. is clearly not versed on necissary euro methods of winning a race...

  4. From now on the only acceptable finish line salute will be to preform an epic rear wheel skid. Truly exceptional victories get a 180 or possibly a 360. This is accomplished by moving your hips to the bar and locking the rear wheel. To get rotational movement shift your weight via your hips to one side while using your feet to pull the bike to one side.

    That will be real safe

  5. I thought a good ol' fashion victory salute was ok in the A's and B's. Apparently I was sorely mistaken.

  6. The guys behind Jesse have their mouths open and are breathing hard, that could be dangerous and unhealthy. Seriously, what are the statistics for crashs caused by the winner taking their hands off the bars in a sprint? Does this warrent regulation? I think it should be left alone. Everyone who bike races expects this to happen. It's a right of passage.

  7. I think it warrants regulation because:

    1) Cost/benefit/risk analysis says it's a bad idea. There is a decent chance the winner will regret it.

    2) There aren't THAT many people watching.

    3) Don't put your wheels/bike/body/season at risk.

    4) Saluting on the podium might be better but you need to be standing/conscious to do that.

    5) Isn't winning a race good enough?

  8. About #2, there aren't hoards of people cheering and TV cameras rolling.

    Also, most of us don't have experience for this and the pavement is probably not as good as Euro finishes.

    I recently had an accident where the cost is climbing into the $100K area plus 2 years of ortho work. And my injuries were still not as bad as one Penn State kid in the C2 race at Penn State last year.

    There are some risks and then there are silly risks.

    Also, statistical collection and accident analysis (and posting this info) would be a real help to new racers.

  9. But I was two bike lengths ahead of everyone else, technically considering it not a field sprint...

    Would I do it again? Maybe... Would I have the chance to do it again? No...

  10. As someone whose sprinting abilities will always put him behind the no-handed celebration, I'll wholeheartedly agree with Joe. I don't want to get crashed because someone decides to emulate the much-more-skilled pros.

    More importantly, I would like to point out that the wicked crash that took place behind this sprint was absolutely the result of an attempt at "pro-ness". Someone from one of the leadout trains just sat up after his train came around him. Sat up and shot straight back through the middle of the field, causing chaos. Sitting up after you've finished your lead out is SO PRO that it destroyed a couple of bikes and put someone in the hospital.

    If you're the cause of that sort of crash, then it will always happen behind you, and you probably won't even be aware that you've caused it. You'll never learn your lesson, unless someone calls you on it. Which I'm doing. Now.

  11. Here's a handy flowchart to decide if you should do a victory salute:

    (1) Am I winning a race in the highest cycling category awarded by the UCI and/or my local/state/federal governing body?

    If yes, salute.

    If no, proceed to (2)

    (2) Upgrade. Goto (1).

  12. this rule is discriminatory against UVM riders.

  13. "George Bush hates black people"- Kanye West..... "Mark A. Hates UVM"-ECCC

  14. Hey, come on. A victory salute is fine. Just so long as you aren't second place...

  15. Guys, this can't be a "No UVM" rule, the team would have to win more races for that to be the case...

    Like a bunch of people said, it's not worth it. If you're a minute up on the field sprint, sure, go nuts. At even a couple bike lengths, there's way too much risk for it to be worth it. Sure, the probability may be low of a mishap (that's very debatable), but this is a risk we can trivially eliminate at no cost. Unfortunately for one reason or another I haven't been at the finish line much at the past couple races, but expect this to get clamped down a lot more in the coming weeks. Riders *will* get relegated for dangerous riding if this continues to be a growing problem.

    Also, like Don said, it's awesome to see more and more team tactics showing up in the B race and even the C and D races. Just be heads up and keep it clean. In particular, everyone needs to keep moving in the sprint and not let up on the pedals. One of USMA's B racers is out the whole season now because someone else caused this kind of problem.

    As far as collecting crash statistics, Caitlin and I actually talked about that a fair bit before the season. One of the things we wanted to do was get John F or Alan track some simple numbers on # crashes, category, severity. In the end though we couldn't make it really workable since so many people just slip off to the parking lot after they have a problem, and there's no way even a reasonably sized set of observers could detect everything. We're lucky if we can accurately figure out who gets transported. This is definitely something that would be interesting and worthwhile to do though if anyone has ideas on making it work.

  16. Ok, I went onto the ECCC website to look for the document specifying ECCC road rules (because I haven't read it, 'cause I just get on the bike and ride). And Couldn't find it. Searched Google and also couldn't find it. Maybe I need to look harder, or look at the USA Cycling website, but I think it should be on the ECCC website. Ok, so let me ask stupid questions: can A riders finish a bunch sprint no-hands? Do B riders need to have BOTH hands on the bars in a bunch sprint? Thanks.

    I must say honestly, that I believe the act of reaching for a water bottle during a race to be more dangerous, and to cause more crashes, than riding no handed across the finish-line. But that does not mean we ban the use of water bottles; it means that each of us takes responsibility for behaving with due caution relative to the assessment we each make of our own ability. I must cast doubt on my own argument though, because it is true that some people make poor assessments. However, I think it important to stress responsibility over rules, otherwise the pursuit of safety might lead back to the mother's breast, and we all be children [with rules to guide us, and no responsibility].

  17. Darn it, 'onto' should have been 'on to.'

  18. Marshall,

    Links to the rulebooks is definitely a good idea for the website; it's on the to-do list. The 2008 ECCC rulebook is at [1]; it has not been revised yet for the decisions made at the two planning meetings. The USAC rulebooks are at [2].

    There is not (and has not been) a specific ECCC rule about no-hands riding in sprints. Previously there was a general USAC rule {rulebook at [1]) prohibiting riders from taking their hands off the bars in sprints, but that rule was removed last year. Instead, problems are covered under Dangerous Riding, Abrupt Motions, and similar rules. The idea is that there's no reason to penalize riders well up in a break for celebrating (which a strict interpretation of the rules previously required), and true problems are still covered under those rules.

    Note that you don't need to actually cause a problem for it to be dangerous riding, and taking your hands off the bar in an Intro, D, or C sprint is definitely dangerous. For B and A it's maybe less clear and dependent on the specific circumstance and conduct, but why risk it? Many riders in those categories that might win a race might be able to safely ride na-hands through the sprint (a very questionable claim). But it only takes one that can't to ruin a lot of people's seasons. More importantly, can all the riders behind deal with the sudden deceleration? That's questionable.