Thursday, January 3, 2008

TRAIN, RACE, TRAIN, RACE, Practice the Emergency Stop.

Which will it be this weekend? Hmmm, somewhat of a no-brainer, right? First 'racing' weekend of the season, with stories of last year's broken collarbones, and femurs, and yea, the Early Birds.

Here's the mantra in positive semantics: "I always have my rubber side down," "I remain upright at all times." "I can bunny hop large piles of cyclists".

But, when the mantras don't cut it:

I'll say this: getting out there in the mentoring clinics, before you race, will certainly be useful in the area of reminding the nervous system about the whole going fast and turning right and left thing.

In the event of a mishap in front of you, choose to hold your line...Easier said than done. But, hold my line when I'm about to go down? What? Why is that? Well, when you decide to swerve to avoid someone, or a group of someones flailing in a pile in front of you, you force the rider behind you to T-bone you, or swerve as well. If there's a curb where you swerve, or another rider, then guess what? More people are in danger of going down than might be, if you held your line.

Stopping Your Bike in an Emergency. Remember your front brake has more stopping power than your rear brake. If you apply them evenly, you can stop the bike effectively, very quickly.

Practice slowing down fast, to a strategically applying even pressure to the brakes, pushing your weight back over the center of the bike, hunker down toward the top tube. You can stay upright, while holding your line, track stand for a millisecond before putting your foot down, or before rolling to safety while still upright. Avoiding the whole pile-up by simply braking strategically. The pile-up simply won't be as severe.

So, what about getting hit from behind? Well, take the width of your body from behind: It's roughly between 12-18 inches, no? Maybe a little more for some folks. Then, take the width of your body looking at say, the show-side of your bike, if you swerve to the right: It's probably 4-6 FEET, based on the length of your wheel base. Which 'area' is more likely to get hit by a moving object from any direction? I think the wider one.

So, practice using those brakes strategically....NOT in corners or in response to someone yelling some goofy thing in the pack, or anything, but in the event that you have to save your BOOTIE, and the ones behind you. Say yes to SAFE BRAKING, before knee-jerking to swerve in an emergency. Practice, Practice, practice!

And, I repeat: This is not to be done while the pack is moving forward in the regular cycling direction in response to some 'fear' of something happening. I only recommend this strategy for response to an impending position on top of, or into the center of a pile of downed cyclists, or those in the process of becoming a pile.

Battle Scar from doing in Wrong: Final sprint, slightly downhill, very wide road, 39 miles an hour, tried to go around, go around, go around the carnage, and whammo, front end hits a curb, and there I go...onto the local bike path neighboring the race course in a Superwoman Swan Dive: Stitches in chin from nice friend who was a Physician's Assistant, DNF, no racing for a few days, had to get skull bones reorganized.

Battle Scar from doing it Right: Final sprint, 30+ miles per hour, flat, very wide road, burned a hole in my sew-up, rolled around the pile, finished 25th (and they paid 26 deep...kidding). But, you see, I had my sense of humor intact, simply from the pleasant memory.

Keep The Rubber Side Down.


Tall & Manley said...

Gotta love the squirley birds! Teach a few folks that braking while coming into a corner is a no-no when there's no reason to.

velogirl said...

such good advice, Laurel!

martina said...

always save the booty.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Ouch. We will have to compare chin scars one of these days -- mine is from a childhood skateboarding incident.