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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This past Sunday I entered my first mass start. It was a Cat 4/5 road race; 30 miles of flat roads. I figured it would suit me well as I am a bigger rider and the distance is fairly close to that of my fast paced group ride.

I was a bit nervous going in; not so much about myself but rather about the others around me. While I am not the best bike handler, I know my limits and know not to go past them. I don't enjoy putting my well being in stranger's hands but I guess that is bike racing. As I mentioned in another thread, I was really just nervous about someone doing something silly or stupid and me being unable to avoid it.

I start the race near the front of the group and position myself on the inside of the first turn knowing there is some sand that can cause an issue. I figure that I can make it through myself so if I block the inside of me, no one can sneak in and wipe me out. We get to the turn and my plan works! We accelerate hard to snap a breakaway (yeah, some guy tried to go solo for 30 miles) and everything is fine. I am riding close to people in the pack but I am confident and comfortable.

We get through the next set of turns and start heading up the long front straight. At this point I am near the front of the pack, but boxed in - waiting to move up for the first turn. The group is just rolling around at a comfortable 22mph when it happens. There is a massive slowdown in the front of the group. Instinctively I jam on my brakes to scrub as much speed as possible before I hit the wall of bikes and people.

It doesn't work and I go down. Slide for a bit and end up with my bike on top of me and riders piling on. I guess I was the fat guy everyone was aiming for. :p I feel ok and immediately know that no bones are broken but man am I pissed.

I get up and check myself - head ok - glasses, face ok - knee bleeding and hip sore
Check for mobility - I can move my limbs in all directions. This is good
I pick up my bike - wheel wasted - hood bent - chain off - guess I am walking

After talking with a few of the other guys that now had broken bikes, we came to the conclusion that someone probably misjudged an acceleration and mistakingly jammed on their brakes so as not to touch wheels or overlap. The ensuing pileup was exactly what I feared most - an unavoidable situation caused by such a basic mistake.

Fortunately I am okay although not without a healthy dose of road rash up my right side. My bike is also okay from what we can tell except that my front wheel is completely destroyed.

I keep playing the event over in my head and can't come to any other conclusion. I also can't help but feel skeptical about my involvement. Although I know I didn't cause the slowdown and pileup, I have to wonder if there was an out that I missed. IMO, it just happened too fast for me to react any more than to slam on the brakes and hope for the best.

A few things I learned for doing cat 4/5 races in the future:
- Stay in the top 10, or on the front of the pack
- Stay to the left or the right of the pack.
- Do NOT stay in the middle (riders to left and right)
- Watch out for people who misjudge accelerations and are inconsistent with their speed
- Be up front to keep the pace consistent. We kept accelerating to stop a breakaway and then would slow down when we caught the guy.

For those who are still reading and are interested, here is the data from the race.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/40947619

If it isn't obvious, the crash is when I go from 22mph to 0mph really fast. We walked for a bit and then got picked up by the wheel truck.

Btw, if you were in this race and saw what happened, I would like to hear a different perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A couple of reasons:
- Gash on my knee was fairly deep
- Didn't have a wheel in the truck, let alone a front wheel
- I had been dropped by that point
 

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All I wanted was a Pepsi!
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Man, that sucks. Guess I've just been very lucky.

So you gonna do it again?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
lemonlime said:
Man, that sucks. Guess I've just been very lucky.

So you gonna do it again?
Yes - absolutely. I was having a blast up until the crash. Not sure when though, maybe not this season. I definitely am already sick of not being able to ride though.
 

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Cross season is coming up. That is good for some guaranteed crash practice (solo and group). J/k

Unfortunatly crashing is a part of racing. The stupid crashes tend to decrease in the upper cats, but there are crashes there too.

Its always good to learn something as well. Good job, and glad you enjoyed it until the crash.
 

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Best quote of the year- " I just had enough time to think, Oh,this is gonna hurt..."
 

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Sorry to hear of your crash, jsedlak and I hope you heal up soon! That does certainly suck! And here I thought you'd be okay.
 

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I feel for you man. I hope you have a quick and full recovery. You'll be racing in no time. Sounds like you know exactly what happened and what to do in the future, which is good advice.

Another piece of advice, and this works for me, and will probably sound weird--envision yourself making that turn before making that turn. Basically focus on how you want to come in and out of that turn like a laser (and envision yourself leaning in on the turn). That little bit of extra concentration makes you a bit more aware of where you want to brake(before the turn)/decelerate, where in the apex you want to be positioned and how you want to exit the turn. It also makes you a bit more aware of your surroundings, and may give you a split second to react to any changes that may occur as you're entering a turn (e.g. a rider in front braking). Also when I'm entering the turn, my eyes are focused where I want my bike to be after the turn, and my peripheral vision is on any riders who appear to be getting in my line of where I am heading. I'm not saying that this would have prevented you from crashing in your case, but for me it definitely heightens my sense of my positioning in a turn. Also it makes you more confident in a turn, and others behind you will just follow. If you seem even slightly hesitant (in body language) people around you also get skittish and that itself may cause wheels to touch.
 

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Thats why I prefer a crit to a road race, unless we have a full road closure in the RR.

Squeezing 50 - 60 - 90 guys into one lane of a flat road means you get a really bad accordion effect.. and you know the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the support!

ping771 - I was essentially doing that with every turn. The turns were okay because they opened the roads and I could pick essentially any line I wanted. If it wasn't clear enough, this crash happened on a flat and straight section of road.

Creakyknees - Yeah I really did not like that it was a one lane race. It also made scooting up difficult as everyone was hugging the lines.

bmxhacksaw - true dat. But at least I get a new wheelset now!
 

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I was thinking that your race sounds just like a very local race that no one from my team wanted to enter last week. Picking on your link I see it was THAT race. Every time I have been to any of the races in that area there has been big crashes, and usually an ambulance needed. Not to blame the club, they do a great job running the races. I think every one of my teammates has crashed at one point there.

Flat and straight means the group will be 5-6 wide, not the best thing in a 4/5 race. I remember a few years back cruising along at 23mph mid-pack and everyone started skidding when the pace slowed to 18ish. You could still smell the rubber the next lap.
 

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Sucks donkey schlong that you didn’t finish, and the skin loss and bike damage add injury and insult. I’ve done only 7 RRs, but man are they exciting.
 

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Kai Winters said:
Crashes happen...

They do, they hurt, but life goes on. Best part is like you said you learned.

Not only take note of the pack lesson you learned, but take note of what caused the crash. When you race for a while, you develop skills to avoid the kind of crash (i don’t mean u in the situation, i mean the one who caused it). Calmness comes if you misjudge the situation ie the acceleration that backed off and you learn to brake just enough at the right speed not to cause a chain reaction of braking issue down the pack. Goes the same for standing on a climb, i can whip from 100pm seated climbing to standing without dropping more than an inch or so of the wheel in front. Not a talent, just a learned attribute.

Where is this going, dont be the guy that causes the crash. Take the time as time is needed to learn, but u will still get frustrated at those who dont do the same.
 

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not to be judgmental but a 20 mph average for a flat course is pretty slow. If a few people would work on the front at 23 it would string it out some and get rid of the elastic. I race 4's and can't remember any flattish race near 20 mph; 23-24 is the norm
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
DirtTurtle said:
Not only take note of the pack lesson you learned, but take note of what caused the crash. When you race for a while, you develop skills to avoid the kind of crash (i don’t mean u in the situation, i mean the one who caused it). Calmness comes if you misjudge the situation ie the acceleration that backed off and you learn to brake just enough at the right speed not to cause a chain reaction of braking issue down the pack. Goes the same for standing on a climb, i can whip from 100pm seated climbing to standing without dropping more than an inch or so of the wheel in front. Not a talent, just a learned attribute.
I think this is the only part that frustrates me about the crash. Someone probably made a silly mistake. Personally I wouldn't do a race without having these basic group riding skills.

Travis said:
not to be judgmental but a 20 mph average for a flat course is pretty slow. If a few people would work on the front at 23 it would string it out some and get rid of the elastic. I race 4's and can't remember any flattish race near 20 mph; 23-24 is the norm
I agree, but wasn't really sure what to do. Now I do. We kept speeding up and then sitting up. It was actually getting a bit annoying. Every time we caught a breakaway there would be a massive slowdown instead of folding the rider in and moving on.
 

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Attack

jsedlak said:
We kept speeding up and then sitting up. It was actually getting a bit annoying. Every time we caught a breakaway there would be a massive slowdown instead of folding the rider in and moving on.
It sounds like the established pattern made "the catch" a perfect time to launch an attack.
 
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