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Lexicon Devil
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Every year, the Ohio Valley USCF division hosts an event called the "Summer Solstice" - a three-day weekend of racing, with crits, time-trials and of course, road-races. This year being no different, there was a huge turnout to all the races, especially with Sunday's RR being the Ohio State RR Championship. And as one can expect with a bevy of events with fields numbering in the 60-70s, there were a number of crashes, some extremely serious.

Most of these injuries were due to tangled handlebars and from touching wheels, with road rash and a hematoma being most crash victims' souvenir from the race. A junior rider ended up having a surgery on his chin and a skin graft, as he was pretty banged up from the crash. However, tragedy struck - a Cat. 3 rider from Indiana ran into the back of a parked pickup truck on the final sprint and now lies in the hospital paralyzed, with a broken back.

I wasn't there, as I'm still nursing wounds suffered from crashing out in a local criterium, but a teammate of mine was, and he said the downhill runup to the finish line was like a bottleneck. Seeing that every single category suffered a crash or two (or three!), I don't doubt this assessment. With the field sprinting at 35+ MPH, a crash can be expected - but no one ever expects to come away from the race with a broken back and no feeling from below the chest. :(

It sucks, it really, really sucks.

Here's some information on the guy, Bret Neylon.

http://morristrucking.com/race/race.html
http://ohiovalleyracing.org/
 

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"a Cat. 3 rider from Indiana ran into the back of a parked pickup truck on the final sprint"
.
Sounds real bad.
 

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I was at the races and was involved in a wreck in the Cat 4 race just a short while before the 3's finished. About 5 or so guys ended up going down right in front of me and at that point there was nothing I could do. The bottlenecking was a result of cars parked on both sides of the road at the finish area. There were no cars elsewhere on the course and coming through the area I nearly hit the same truck as did about three people in front of me that all swerved out of the way. I was mad at being involved in my second wreck in as many weeks and ruining another pair of bibs and told the official that the cars had no business there, and he told me that the wreck wasn't due to the cars but jsut people bumping. I didn't hear about the Cat 3 crash until the next day and it is really sad for sure. The rider will me in my prayers for sure
 

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If...

gerbilonabike said:
I was at the races and was involved in a wreck in the Cat 4 race just a short while before the 3's finished. About 5 or so guys ended up going down right in front of me and at that point there was nothing I could do. The bottlenecking was a result of cars parked on both sides of the road at the finish area. There were no cars elsewhere on the course and coming through the area I nearly hit the same truck as did about three people in front of me that all swerved out of the way. I was mad at being involved in my second wreck in as many weeks and ruining another pair of bibs and told the official that the cars had no business there, and he told me that the wreck wasn't due to the cars but jsut people bumping. I didn't hear about the Cat 3 crash until the next day and it is really sad for sure. The rider will me in my prayers for sure
If you think a situation is not safe, don't sprint. It's that simple really. We do this sport for fun, and for love, not because we're making a living at it. We should all use our heads when racing and riding, and if a bad situation exists, we sit up, and save our skin for another day. Doesn't make the cars being on the course right, far from it I might add. I've never seen a finish where there were cars on the course, that's a bad move on behalf of the promoter, and he could be held liable for providing an unsafe racing environment. Based on the number of crashes that took place...

It's sad that the guy crashed is now paralyzed, that's pretty freakin' horrible actually. But, it is racing, there is inherent risk in this sport, and I hate that this guy got hurt that bad. It's a risk we all take racing and riding actually. My thoughts go out to him and his family.
 

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There are inherent risks in the sport, but the promoter is responsible for seeing that the inherent risks are the ones that riders face, not the avoidable ones. A parked truck in the sprint lanes? That's insane. And those releases we all sign -- not worth the paper they're written on as releases. All they do is serve to remind everyone that there are inherent risks; they don't excuse the promoter from being stupid and dangerous.

I also agree with Magsie -- if there is a bottleneck like that, sit the f*ck up.
 

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Awful news. I agree that we are taking risks by racing but also whole-heartedly agree that making the event as SAFE AS POSSIBLE is the responsibility of the promoter.

Bret and his family will be in my thoughts.
 

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Everything that has been said here is true and applies in this case. I was there. I saw the parked cars at the finish the three prior times we had been through there. The finish line was in a residential area, a small hamlet called "Port Prince" or something like that. I imagine the parked truck Bret hit belonged to someone who lived nearby-I certainly hope it did not belong to someone connected with the race. It did not help that the feedzone was just a hundred yards beyond the finish-family members were parked to do hand-ups.
The 3 field was very large to begin with, but most likely manageable. Due to it's size and the wind conditions, it caught the eight or so masters riders that took off before it. Most of the masters riders peeled off at the end of lap 3 for their finish, but not all. The 3 field also caught the 1-2 field that had taken off first. Most of the 1-2s let the 3s go ahead for the finish at lap four, hopefully all of them, but who knows? There was lots of confusion since at various times the masters, 3s, and 1-2s were all in one big bunch, taking up both sides of the road at many times.
With 20-20 hindsight, the race should have been stopped and re-staged with the fields split up again. With 20-20 hindsight, the race should have been stopped until the owners could be located to move the vehicles at either side of the finish line or until haybales could be placed around the "offending" vehicles. And without 20-20 hindsight, I can honestly say that I foresaw chaos and sat up at the sprint, though I tend to do that more often than not, not being any good at sprinting.
This is a tragic situation, plain and simple. From everyone I ran into on Sunday's State Road Race Champ. who have ridden with him or know him from Indianapolis, Bret is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He also has a long record of wins and top three finishes in local races. It turns out I've been in many of the same races as he, but didn't know him.
 

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bill said:
There are inherent risks in the sport, but the promoter is responsible for seeing that the inherent risks are the ones that riders face, not the avoidable ones. A parked truck in the sprint lanes? That's insane. And those releases we all sign -- not worth the paper they're written on as releases. All they do is serve to remind everyone that there are inherent risks; they don't excuse the promoter from being stupid and dangerous.

I also agree with Magsie -- if there is a bottleneck like that, sit the f*ck up.
It sounds like the event is growing. 60 people in a pack isn't really that much. Since i wasn't there take my comments with a grain of salt but how can the officials start an event with parked vehicles like that? No hay bales on them? They are cheep. Often found for free. You've got to protect racers from hazards. No two ways about it. Can't reasonable protect the racers, protect yourself, call it off. Events are lost because of things like this. Its sad to see growing pains for a promoter take such a toll on someone's life. Wishing the best recovery...
 

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