Bunch safety rant

A few weeks ago I posted about the influx of new – and newly-returned – riders that typically arrive at the start of a new year (New Year, New Riders to Look Out For).

Whilst that particular post was largely praising the restraint shown by several experienced riders in a race situation who were only too happy to help out the new folks, something happened yesterday morning which has compelled me to write again on the subject, sadly this time in not-so-glowing terms.

After a heavy weekend of riding I rolled out to Sydney Olympic Park yesterday for an easy spin on one of my club’s sanctioned training rides. Whilst typically I’ll ride Group Four, on this occasion I chose Group Five. Within moments of starting it became clear it was to be a sketchy morning as, without so much as a hand or verbal signal, several riders began to brake suddenly and sharply on more than one occasion, leading to a cascading effect of overlapping wheels down the rapidly-following paceline. I went within an inch of coming down at 35km/h and, not surprisingly as a father who’d like to get home to his kids in one piece, spoke up about it in very polite terms – only to be abused. I recall responding to this with something rather tame and sensible along the lines of “Hey mate, I just don’t want to crash, do you?” at which point I was abused once again. Who do these clowns think they are?

Having a very bad feeling about the ongoing lack of care or safety being shown by the offending riders, I opted to exit stage left, riding alone for another lap or so before heading home to fume. Later I would discover there was indeed an accident in the very same group about one lap later, caused I’m told by a careless touch of wheels, resulting in several people coming down, bones being broken and an ambulance being called.

Whilst it gives me no satisfaction whatsoever that I was right, I was right. Their behaviour meant Group Five was an accident just waiting to happen. And unfortunately it happened. I’m no fortune teller. I’m just experienced. To the muppets who abused me, I hope you felt suitably small after the accident.

Accidents will always happen. But plenty can be avoided through safer riding practices, which can be learned by listening to people with more experience than yourself. Maybe next time you should swallow your middle-aged pride and heed the warning of someone who knows better than you do?


5 thoughts on “Bunch safety rant

  1. Spot on… its a shame the bunch couldnt respond by speeding up and spitting the offending riders out the back. The rider in question should think himself lucky you were polite, the G2 guys wouldn’t be so nice about such stupidity, and if he arc’d up in response, it’d be bye bye!!

  2. Who were these muppets and how do I avoid them?

    I’m not exactly the most serene of bunch riders (having been yelled at several times for getting overenthusiastic and splitting the bunch) but even I know half-wheeling, riding unpredictably and braking suddenly are recipes for disaster

  3. Always a problem in slower groups. Most experienced riders are not in Groups 5 or 6. It is harder to get respect in these groups. Thought it’s an LACC ride, always wear club kit, speak up, remind them they are there by invitation and support anybody who is being abused in such a case. Sorry I wasn’t there.

  4. I remember one rest week, instead of doing the usual group 1 I did group 3. After pulling my turn I move over to the right abs go into the rest line. Nek minit the guy chops my front wheel and managed to stay upright. I tell him what he did and he gives me the “old guys know best treatment”. So next turn I decided to half wheel him up the hill and he popped. Then instead of the usual critasism the guys behind me said thanks because he didn’t want to come down. I think a leading factor to the wobbles is the bikes they use. Most of them are top of the line bikes that are designed to have the stem slammed. Most of them run like four 10mm spaces with the stem flipped up(aka a “flipper”), along with ridiculously deep dishes. This must make their centre of gravity higher than the bike was initially designed for. Throw that in with a lack of bunch awareness and sloppy bike handling you end up with essentially a time bomb.

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