Dear Fellow Members and Friends,
Endless Summer Watermelon RideSM planning is ramping up. Jonathan Tomassetti is working on the routes which will be similar to last year’s but may include the trail on Little Talbot Island State Park for at least some of the distances. John Ginn is working with Mike Pikula on permitting. Jade Stanly, our Event Director, will send out a general call for volunteers soon. We need your help to put on a successful ride. When you consider whether to volunteer, just remember there are many volunteer slots which will still allow you to ride.
This past weekend we had a serious crash on the Tour de Durbin Crossing Ride, bringing down four cyclists. There was a rock in the bike lane on Longleaf Pine Parkway the same color as the pavement. As a result, it was not seen until too late. The crash prompted me to review our club safety record. It also raised another issue, non-members on our rides., as two who crashed were non-members who joined the paceline several miles into the ride.
Despite the recent crash, our club has a good safety record. We have had no reported crashes on the last four major rides involving over 3000 riders. Since 2011 we have filed incident reports involving 120 cyclists with our insurer. Some of the injuries were trivial and others serious requiring hospitalizations and surgeries. Fortunately, there have been no deaths on our club rides.
While we are always worry about interactions with cars, only three incidents involving four riders involved cars. Two were fortunately trivial but one incident resulted in serious but non life-threatening injuries to two club members.
Many of us roll our eyes at the umpteenth repetition of our standardized safety briefing which among other things addresses the two commonest causes of crashes, touching wheels and road debris. If you touch the wheel of the rider in front of you, you can recover if you don’t panic, steer into the wheel you bounced off of (sounds counter-intuitive but that’s what you should do) and shift your body weight in the direction you’re steering. And the riders following you need to remain alert to avoid a domino effect. For debris it is important not only for the lead rider to call and/or point it out (both is best), but the warning needs to be transmitted down the paceline.
While we allow non-members to try us out for up to three rides before joining the club, they sign our liability waiver and listen to our safety briefing. That is quite different from cyclists, non-members (and members), who join a ride in progress. While the roads are public, that doesn’t mean that non-members are free to join our rides in progress. I don’t see a way to enforce that except for members in the paceline to decline if someone wants to join an ongoing ride. A basic tenant of paceline riding is to know with whom you are riding. Your safety may well depend upon it.
This might be a good time to review your paceline practices. There have been two series of articles in Wheelspeak over the years (July 2013, August 2013, September 2013, July 2014, August 2014, and September 2014). And an internet search would surely provide many more.
I welcome your input. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road.