Watching the absolutely brutal 2014 Ronde de Vlaanderen and gruesome Paris-Roubaix it was apparent that road cycling is a very dangerous sport to all those involved. Having been at it for four or five years already this far the closest I have come to a serious injury was having to swerve to a ditch to avoid collision. I think there has just been two other times when I have had to panic break in paceline. This far all these incidents have taken place going uphill. Still the web is full of horrible amateur crashes and pro tour races are no better. I realize I may have just been very lucky, but I hope this trend continues.
Some of my good luck might have to do with the fact that I mostly ride solo or in small groups. The only challenges are posed by the errant motored drivers (taxicabs, lorries and busses no less) and oblivious dog walkers/randow drunks. Dealing with people on bike paths is pretty annoying at times, but I try to be courteous. The professional drivers and other assholes are a bigger problem. It is not the way they squirt windows cleaner liquid in your eyes, honk right behind you or flip a bird, but the way they nonchalantly just ram right in front even if they see you is what scares me.
Second reason for having been so lucky might be the vocal members of the local cycling club. They have usually been quite eager to stamp out any divergences from good paceline form. The most horrific crashes I’ve witnessed were in sportives with people from different backgrounds and maybe trying too much. I’m considering doing the Vättern, TdH and l’Eroica sportives so I need to consider ways to minimize the risks associated with this sport. 300km at night and Tuscany’s gravel roads are nothing to underestimate.
I do wear a helmet, but also wearing gloves could avoid unnecessary road rash. Shaving your legs is supposed to help in recovery so that is another step I could take. While all these precautions are good the most important thing is still to ride wisely. Showing hand signs and staying focused is mandatory. Keeping close to the head of the pack is a way to avoid the yo-yo effect and its repercussions. As long as you can keep upright yourself you should be pretty safe as usually people fall when they bump into the wheel they are sucking. With all these elements thrown in this season is sure going to be exciting.