The NCNCA Board of Directors has asked me to send out an email to the clubs, teams and racers of the NCNCA regarding safe racing in our region.
As we have viewed in the Tour de France this year bike racing is an incredibly intense sport with great racing action. Yet it is a sport where accidents can happen at any moment and any time. The world's best racers are facing crashes and falls in seemingly every stage of the Tour and they are the most skilled and highly trained riders on the planet.
Safe racing is paramount for the NCNCA as the majority of our racers are amateur level and have jobs, families and regular life outside of cycling to return to after the local competitions.
Please consider safety first when taking part in NCNCA cycling events! Accidents can happen at any time as I mentioned above. Safe racing and consideration for your fellow competitors safety is of major importance and in the long run allows for great racing by all.
Below are a few standard safe riding practices that are listed on the NCNCA website. Thank you for taking a moment to read them and apply them at all times during the racing action. Always remember to keep it fun out there! Ride safe & Have fun!
The riding guidelines below are provided by the NCNCA Mentor Group- who are the very best Mentors of Road Racing skills and safety in all of the U.S.A. We are very fortunate to have these great Mentors!
How to Race Safely-
Do not make any sudden sideways movements within the pack. This is one of the most common reasons beginner racers cause crashes.
Do not brake suddenly unless absolutely necessary. It is easier to soft-pedal, sit up and slow down with a gentle touch of the brakes.
Go with the pack, moving as one group like a school of fish.
Hold your line through the corners; in other words if there are 2 riders inside of you give them room to get through the turn.
Keep your hands where you can reach your brakes quickly. Ideally you should be in the drops, where you have better control, and keep one or two fingers covering your brake levers.
Relax your arms and upper body, bending the elbows slightly.
Finally, there is one very important guideline: DO NOT over-lap your front wheel with the rear wheel of another rider. This is also known as "protecting your front wheel". You will need to constantly be aware of surrounding riders and make minor adjustments to continue protecting your front wheel throughout a race. It will become easier with practice.
The Mentors also have these following questions regarding safe racing asked during de-brief talk following Mentored races as well as during coaching sessions-
Q: How close do you follow behind the racer directly in front of you?
A: The general rule is if you have to stare at the wheel directly in front of you to be comfortable, you are too close. Back off a little so you can look up the road to where you are going. That's the best way to be aware of your surroundings while racing. We all have our own comfort level while drafting behind another wheel. Find the level that is comfortable for you.
Q: Can I avoid crashing if my front wheel touches the rear wheel of another cyclist?
A: Yes, you can avoid crashing. Obviously the best thing to do is avoid overlapping wheels in the first place. If touching wheels seems inevitable, lean your bike away from the back tire of the other bicycle. If that doesn't work out and your wheel is within an inch of the other rider's rear wheel, turn your front wheel INTO the back wheel of the rider in front of you. The laws of physics will help you regain an upright position away from the other rider's wheel.
We recommend you take a Basic Skills Clinic (also known as a Bike Handling Clinic) as the coach/instructor often demonstrates each skill and has you practice them as well. You can check for upcoming clinics by checking the calendar and filtering by "CLINICS" - you'll find the calendar here: www.ncnca.org/event.
Another place to learn good bike handling skills is the Hellyer Park Velodrome located in San Jose. You can rent a track bike and ride in a structured clinic environment at 8:30 AM on Saturdays. Bring your helmet and bike gear INCLUDING your pedals (or simply bring your road bike so they can transfer your pedals). For more information please go to www.ridethetrack.com.
Keep in mind The NCNCA and Velo Promo, a bike racing promoter, sponsor a bike training and racing series called the Early Bird Criteriums on Sundays in January and early February in Fremont. See the NCNCA Calendar in mid to late December through early February for more details.
Thank you for taking time to read these Safety Tips from the NCNCA.
Ride safe & Have Fun!
Vice President, Northern California & Nevada Cycling Association