Learn to avoid the dangers of big cycling events

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 16:52 |
Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Mass participation cycling events and triathlons are thrilling events, but all of them have had mishaps with athletes injuring themselves and others.

Many of us love the feeling of being involved in a speeding train of two wheelers, feeling the adrenaline rush needed to match the challenge from your competitors and ultimately hand out some pain to those who dare to follow. But with speed and fun comes danger and risk.

The underlying risks and dangers often are associated with many motivated cyclists of varying abilities and skills (not to mention eyesight and hearing) pushing the limits on scenic but technical roads. We all love to play, but we all must be educated on how to ride safely.


Here are a few key tips to keep you safe on your next big ride.

Communication the Key

If you are looking to ride near the front of an event, you need to be comfortable riding elbow to elbow with other riders. And you must communicate well to manoeuvre and complete the course safely. So many courses are designed with hard climbs, fast turns and tricky technical descents that failure to communicate will result in a mishap.

Find Your Personal Space

If you do not feel comfortable boxed in with riders all around, try to position yourself near the road shoulder, allowing for some space, or at least the perception of space. In the Highwood Pass Granfondo, travelling in a pack of 30 riders at speeds greater than 50 km/h, I felt more comfortable riding closest to the rumble strips on the shoulder side. This created space for me to see what was ahead and have a buffer to manoeuvre away from danger.

Obey the Rules of the Road: Descending

I have seen riders become very impatient making their way up to the front of the pack on dangerous descents, crossing the centre line and ultimately risking the safety of all those around. Most events do not close the roads and car and truck  traffic is a threat. Descents are the most dangerous portion of any ride. Maintain position within your group, feather your brakes or sit up to keep order on all descents in a large group. Most of your repositioning should occur on the flats and climbs to move safely forward within a group of riders. If you know the course well, try surging ahead of large groups before the descent so you can ride solo with calmness and clarity. In at least half of the events I have done, there has been at least one accident on a descent.

Descend within your limits and comfort, but allow riders to pass safely
If you are descending, ride a metre or so into the traffic lane. Be aware of your surroundings and riders nearby. Do not change your line of travel or weave around cutting corners. Often, there are riders who may be faster who need to find space to safely pass. Those who are passing, should verbally communicate they are passing left. Passing on the right is not recommended.

Be Prepared for the Unpredictable

In the Whistler Gran Fondo, I remember cyclists hitting road signs and cones that mark the course. I was in a group of 80 riders and communication was difficult. Usually word travels too slow and often you will not see the hazard. Keep an eye on the riders ahead of you and detect changes in the flow of the group. Listen for riders communicating upfront and keep your eyes peeled for hand signals indicating road hazards. Try not to apply your brakes too aggressively. Feather the brakes and stay smooth when slowing. This allows more time for the riders behind you to react in the same fashion.

Varying Climbing Techniques

Be aware that on most hills the rider in front of you may elect to stand up. Often when changing from seated to standing position a rider will push the bike backwards several inches. Anticipate this risk when entering a hill by giving the rider ahead more space. If you plan on standing, try not to push your bike back underneath you. Make the transition smooth and keep the bike in the same position.

Wind and Rain Hazards

Often Mother Nature compromises riding safety. Strong winds increase the probability that riders will draft behind each other, but wind can also make the most stable rider unpredictable. When drafting in windy conditions, never overlap wheels or ride too close to the wheel in front. Wet roads and rain create problems navigating and from wheel spray from a rider in front. Be extra-cautious in the wind and rain, particularly on descents and fast cornering.

Lead Rider Responsibility

If you are the first rider, take this responsibility seriously by keeping speed constant riding smooth and steady. You should position yourself on the road so riders behind you get maximum benefit of drafting, particularly if there are crosswinds. Finally, you must be the eyes of those behind you and communicate by hand signals and verbally. Ideally your hands should be in a position that allows for safe execution of signalling road hazards. Hand signals should only be used if there are hazards that truly could cause harm to those behind. Every time a rider takes hands off their handlebars, they risk losing control or crashing. As a lead rider, crashing would be devastating.

Second Rider Responsibility

If the lead rider is working hard into the wind for the group, often their ability to signal road hazards is compromised. This is also true when someone is riding in the Time Trial position, which makes hand signalling difficult. The second rider should assume the responsibility of being the eyes for the group and helping keep the group safe.

Time Trial Position and Triathlon Bikes

Some events do not allow bikes with Time Trial bars due to the inherent dangers to others. There should be absolutely no no use of TT bars when not in the lead position or riding solo in a non-drafting position (when you are seven meters behind the rider in front).

Always be attentive

I often see teammates or friends chatting to each other, not looking at the road ahead or the riders ahead. This is a recipe for disaster and truly is not respecting the speeds and dangers of crashing. When operating a bicycle, it is very important to keep your eyes forward and anticipate any change in speed or direction.

Be Prepared for the Long Haul

I made a huge mistake in my first Tour De Victoria which put me into one of the worst bonks (no energy due to no calorie intake) ever. I was unprepared before the event with just a little water, one gel and nothing else. I assumed all the riders would be stopping frequently to refuel. But as the event went on and us frontriders rode with Ryder Hesjedal, it was apparent there was no stopping. Certainly I could have stopped, but I did not want to let this experienced group of riders out of my sight. Ultimately I paid a price with 20K to go. I had to ask a volunteer for some food just to be able to make it home (I wish I brought some money too). Always carry enough food to finish the event.

Ride within your Abilities and Choose the Proper Distance

One year at the Solvang Century, I had the misfortune of riding with several professional triathletes working together and racing like there was no tomorrow. I say misfortune because after burning so many matches, I literally had to sit on the side of the road for 30 minutes to complete the 100 miles. Yes, we stopped, refuelled and hydrated every 20 miles, but after too much riding beyond my abilities, I was a mess. Choose your riding partners wisely and know your limits. Often accidents happen when you are under stress to keep up or you are experiencing fatigue. Know when to let them go and start enjoying the ride and seeing the landscape rather than just the wheel in front of you.

Read 4787 times
Calvin Zaryski

CoachCal has been coaching for over 30 years. Not just focusing on athletes, but on individuals whose goals range from climbing Mount Everest to recapturing the power of active living.

Website: criticalspeed.com

Like Us


Latest News

11th Annual Ironspeed Hawaii Final Payment

08-02-2019 Hits:8035 Camps Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

  March 16th - March 24th, 2019 Travel Days are: Saturday March 16th and Sunday March 24thActivity Days are Sunday March 17th - Saturday March 23rdArrival Date Must be on or before...

Read more

NEW Saturday 12 - 1:30pm Bike Training Session

09-11-2018 Hits:1983 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

CriticalSpeed is offering a weekend 90' Bike Interval Session every Saturday start 12 noon. For more information please email coachcal@criticalspeed.com  

Read more

9th Annual Maui Camp

09-04-2017 Hits:4701 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Our 9th Annual Maui Camp was a huge success with some serious training volume and great weather. This year our very own Liam and Scott Cozens made it up the...

Read more

Women's IronSpeed Hawaii

03-11-2016 Hits:5753 Camps Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

  Sunday, Feb 19th - Sunday, Feb 26th, 2017 Travel Days are: Sunday February 19th and Sunday February 26thActivity Days are Monday February 20th - Saturday February 25thArrival Date Must be on...

Read more

How to Prepare for Early Season Racing

11-06-2014 Hits:4757 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

The 2014 season is here and no matter how many years of racing triathlons, the first few races are never easy. To have a great front end of your race...

Read more

70.3 World Championship

09-09-2013 Hits:5489 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Again huge congrats to Dawn A, who finished the 70.3 World Championship yesterday. She got beat up on the swim by the young men who started just after her wave...

Read more

Ironman Canada, Ironman Louisville and Penticton Challenge

09-09-2013 Hits:6920 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

WOW, what I weekend that was for many of you!  Ironman Canada, Ironman Louisville and Penticton Challenge were all happening on the same day.  Here are some of the results. Rick...

Read more

Ironman Mont -Tremblant

21-08-2013 Hits:4800 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Fantastic Day at Ironman Mont -Tremblant, Well done Jason and Dan.

Read more

Learn to avoid the dangers of big cycling events

21-08-2013 Hits:4788 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Mass participation cycling events and triathlons are thrilling events, but all of them have had mishaps with athletes injuring themselves and others. Many of us love the feeling of being involved...

Read more

Lake Chaparral

13-08-2013 Hits:23376 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Huge congrats to Leslie and Carolyn who raced at Lake Chaparral on Sunday.

Read more

CSR Race Results 5 GOLD, 5 SILVER and 3 BRONZE

06-08-2013 Hits:5677 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

We accomplished 5 GOLD, 5 SILVER and 3 BRONZE!  Well done team. We also had some first timers who go muddy and had fun!  Thanks to Marie for the great...

Read more

70.3 Ironman Calgary

30-07-2013 Hits:6185 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Congrats to Rick W. for crushing his previous time by 45 minutes (6:20 in 2012, 5:35 in 2013).  Chelsey went sub 6 hours and was 22nd in her age group...

Read more

CoachCal's Toronto Adventure

22-07-2013 Hits:5729 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

My trip to Toronto had its bumps. Because of lightening strikes, I was stuck on the tarmac in the plane for 1 hour at Pearson Airport, waited for bags for...

Read more

Results for July 21st Weekend

22-07-2013 Hits:4564 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Congrats to Danelle Kabush who was 2nd overall Pro female at the Beaver Creek XTERRA! Also congrats to those athletes who completed the 24 hour Mountain Bike race. Heard the...

Read more

Grand Fondo

16-07-2013 Hits:4609 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Fantastic weekend by CSR athletes! In the Grand Fondo HighWood Pass (Rocky Mountain House), CSRs Jon Firth won the 40km TT and the Overall 136km race. Tara Kabakoff was 2nd in...

Read more

GWN Results

16-07-2013 Hits:4500 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

I sure wish I could have given those who raced GWN a Hall Pass for todays work day. If you feel like me, a quiet day at home would have...

Read more

June Update

25-06-2013 Hits:4225 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Hi Team, Team CSR had an awesome weekend!  I am so impressed with the performances and it was thrilling watching Darren, Sylvie, Rick, Leslie and Mike P dig deep at IMCdA...

Read more

Chinook Triathlon

18-06-2013 Hits:23638 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

What a fantastic weekend our CSR team had at the Chinook Triathlon.

Read more

Healthy Sun Exposure

11-06-2013 Hits:4247 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Summer is here and with that we increase our outdoor activities.  More time outdoors means more sun exposure.  We all need a small amount of time in the sun without...

Read more

Wasa Lake Results

11-06-2013 Hits:23249 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Some fantastic results from Wasa lake this weekend, wow. Congrats to all those people who participated. Some notable results:

Read more

Kona 70.3 Report

03-06-2013 Hits:6562 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Well I truly was having a fantastic race. In my swim warm up I saw a huge manta ray gliding through the water. It gave me a sense of calm...

Read more

Police Half Marathon Results

29-04-2013 Hits:4293 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Thanks to all those CSR athletes who came out to support your teammates yesterday at the Police Half Marathon!  Was so cool to see many of you on the race...

Read more

Body Mass and Running Performance

10-04-2013 Hits:5649 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

My current morning routine usually incorporates a quick body mass check on the bathroom scale. Most often it indicates my level of hydration but it also serves as my wake...

Read more

Simulated Triathlon Dos and Don'ts

26-02-2013 Hits:4952 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

In a simulated triathlon when approaching the wall for a turn, try to swim a quick and short diagonal approach when coming into the wall for a turn. This results...

Read more

Xterra Canada

27-01-2013 Hits:5760 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Hi XTERRA Athletes, 2013 brings much change for off road racing.  Unfortunately, the XTERRA series no longer exists under the XERRA brand.  Many of you have already entered the World XTERRA...

Read more

Great Results from our Team

22-01-2013 Hits:4765 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Huge congrats to Shannon Winslade for smashing her marathon personal best at the Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon on Sunday.

Read more

Kona is HOT!

19-11-2012 Hits:5685 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Well duh!  But when the sun shines on your while exercising, it is an entirely different stress!  Secondly, I have to say this... every athlete present in Kona was elite...

Read more

To BRICK or Not to BRICK

19-11-2012 Hits:23663 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Back in 1994 my final project for my Masters Degree investigated the relationship between swim, bike and run individual time trials equal to the distances in an Olympic triathlon and...

Read more

In Memory of Janice Plewes, CSR Team Mate Forever

18-11-2012 Hits:6611 Blog Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

Hi everyone, Just wanted to take this time to thank all of you who came out to Janice's celebration of life. The formal proceedings were very well done but obviously sad...

Read more

Ironspirit Camp

18-11-2012 Hits:20619 Camps Calvin Zaryski - avatar Calvin Zaryski

IronSpirit Classic 7 Day IMC focus camp July 15-21st, 2013 Register Now Contact CoachKev This Camp offers the ultimate opportunity for event specific coaching and on-course training. Led by a team of accomplished Ironman...

Read more

About Criticalspeed

Criticalspeed provides a multisport training system that maximizes your time and stimulates improvements. The process includes a social and supportive environment to maintain consistency and motivation.

© 2015 Criticalspeed.com. All Rights Reserved. Designed By Wedge.a&d