Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maybe I'd Be Better Off Racing

My teammate Jerry Lee took a tumble during today's Mass. Ave Criterium in Indianapolis. It's a tough course, with one 90 degree turn and two 130 degree turns. Those sharp turns mean lots of slowing down and speeding up during the course of a race. Apparently (I was not there to see it), Jerry slid out coming around one of the corners, scraping up the right side of his body. His injuries were not severe, but I bet he'll be plenty sore tomorrow.

What's interesting to me about Jerry's incident is that, according to his own report, he was going about 10 mph slower when he went down in the race than I was going when I crashed on a small group ride last weekend. I find this comparison a bit perplexing. First of all, what the hell are we doing going so damn fast when we're not racing? Second, if we want to go so damn fast, shouldn't we just enter races, where crashing is a more or less accepted part of the sport?

I don't want to commit a fallacy of composition here, so I'm not going to assert that group riding is as or more dangerous than racing, based simply on my own recent experience. I'm sure a thorough quantitative, comparative risk assessment would show that racing remains substantially more dangerous. What I do wonder, though, is why those of us who choose not to race in order to reduce our risks of serious crashes, don't object to riding upwards of 30 mph in small groups, which can be very dangerous. I'm not sure the Tuesday Eve World Championships at Nebo Ridge are all that much safer than a Cat 4 or 5 race. We can call it a "group ride" or "training ride," instead of a race, if we want to, but  "a rose by any other name" still has plenty of thorns.


  1. Dan,
    I think if you used a bike-miles comparison of racing vs group rides, you'd see that there are far more crashes in the racing.

    Thanks for the race pix. See you Tuesday at the Nebo Ridge Training Ride World Championships.


  2. I like Matt's idea of a bike-miles comparison, but I agree that the group ride isn't that different from a race in most respects. You have to consider whether it's a road race or a crit, of course. If we decided to do our Tuesday night ride around a one-mile rectangle, imagine what carnage would result.



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