The unspoken truth is that we all crash eventually. Some of us more often than others. If you race for long enough, dumb luck is going to run out and the odds are going to get you.
Sometimes it is entirely your own fault, as when we overcook the final corner in the last lap of the local criterium. Other times it is clearly someone else’s fault, like when that idiot overcooked the final corner of the criterium and crashed out half the field.
Even more complicated is when you are crossing wheels and the sketchy rider in front of you swerves into your overlapping wheel thereby taking you out. Sure, dude shouldn’t be squirrely in the pack, but neither should you be crossing wheels, especially with the guy with the black, baggy, possible-non-bib-shorts, the unshaven legs, and the oversized non team issue jersey. Most crashes fall into this category--indeterminate blame.
A couple of recent events have brought me around to my current reflections. Firstly, my good friend and fellow competitive cyclist, Colin H. Murphy sustained some serious injuries during the Tour of the Battenkill. Reports indicate that Colin was in the lead group of the cat 2 field and riding well. The rider who’s wheel Colin was on apparently hit something in the dirt road and swiftly took out Colin’s wheel. Knowing Colin, even if the rider in question was clearly at fault, Colin is likely not harboring a grudge.
I mention Colin to illustrate how quickly our sport can deal you a crappy hand. One minute you are in position to get a great result in a prestigious event and the next you are being hauled off in a meat wagon and kept in the hospital for an extended stay. Colin: get well soon.
Secondly, a few weeks ago at the Wells Ave training criterium, there was a horrendous crash in the last lap of the A race. There was a 10ish man break up the road and the field was winding up for a sprint. I was near the front, sitting in about 3rd or 4th position glued to Kyle R. Smith’s trusty, fast and steady wheel with about 400 meters to go. We were in the inside lane in the middle of the long steady final corner.
Adam Myerson, came by me and was overtaking Kyle. Adam was not yet sprinting, but he was getting into position. As Adam passed Kyle, Kyle and another rider (I believe Corner Cycles) both moved to get on Adam’s wheel, as Myerson was the fastest sprinter in the pack. Kyle and the other rider collided. It should have been a simple shoulder bump, but the other rider lost control and crashed (the pavement is not great, which easily could have contributed to the loss of control). Kyle remained upright and unflustered.
Since Corner Cycles was in an inside lane and near the front of the pack, he took out about a dozen riders. In the end, 4 riders left the race in ambulances and 2 on backboards. According to hearsay, all of the crash victims seem to be healing.
While this crash was unremarkable, it set of a round of accusations. Over social media, Adam Myerson was blamed for the crash.
Obviously the crash was even more ridiculous when you consider that this was a training race AND that the top ten were up the road. This was a perfunctory sprint, entirely pointless.
I was there; the whole series of events occurred 3 feet from my front wheel and directly in my line of sight. There was no way that the crash could have been Adam’s fault. Nor do I believe that it was Kyle’s or the Corner Cycles rider’s fault.
It was dumb luck. Part of the game.
We all play the game and we know the risks. And we all make mistakes sometimes. These mistakes can have dire consequences for our friends and rivals alike. But even the sketchiest rider isn’t sketchy on purpose.
I am not sure of my point here. I am the first to bark at a sketchy rider. I am also the first to apologize for my own transgressions.