no one line

Bareknuckle Sprints
February 9, 2010, 2:03 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash, sprints, t-town, track bikes, track racing, velodromes

For your viewing pleasure, a compilation of out-and-out bareknuckle match sprints:

2000 World Championship Match Sprints, Gane versus Chiappa. No love lost between these two, apparently.

In the 1994 World Championship Match Sprint tournament the sprinter’s lane seems to be a mere suggestion. Semifinals: in Darryn Hill v Jens Fiedler, Fiedler forces Hill to the blue band so Hill forces Fiedler well out of the sprint lane. Coming up over that line that far is a special type of sharp elbows. Following that, in the same video, Nothstein employs the same tactic against Michael “The Big German” Hubner.

Maybe there was something particularly slippery about that track’s Turn Four. The finals of this tournament are here, part 1 and part 2; and to round out the tournament,¬†Hubner and Fiedler duke it out for the bronze.

There’s also the famous match between Gordon Singleton and Koichi Nakano from the 1982 World Championships: round 1, round 2, round 3.¬†Much nailbiting sprints can be found at this youtube channel: “See all 167 videos” … good luck getting anything done at work today.

In the realm of full body contact is the 2009 collision between countrymen Kevin Sirreau and Gregory Bauge: a recovery slick enough for trickster fixed gear videos.

Of course, any mention of bareknuckle sprinting would be incomplete without the famous ‘keirin carnage’ incident at the Trexlertown Velodrome, and among classic Keirin dumpfests is this football match. As a parting note – since I got on the subject of keirin – I can’t do it justice unless I link to this stunning performance by Theo Bos, who’s currently hacking it out as a road sprinter with a sullied reputation.

Have any more? Feel free to link for me and our readers in the comments.

Bring Gabe Home: A Raffle and Fundraiser
November 9, 2009, 3:54 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash, teamwork, the cycling world

Gabe is a big, tall, smiling bundle of friendliness and subtle, simmering humor. Since a collision with a car while he was on vacation in San Francisco in August, he’s been working his way out of a coma, recovering from some fairly serious brain damage. Medical updates have been posted on Get Better Gabe by loving family members and his incredibly supportive and strong girlfriend, and they report so much progress.

I was incredibly proud to be a part of a benefit party in August that raised money to send to them, to help support them while they subletted, staying in a city far away from home to care for him. I posted some information on this blog and on twitter, and some of my readers, several of whom I’ve never met, had contributed to this get-well-soon, we’re-thinking-of-you, we’d-like-to-help-somehow fund. That generosity touched me.

A crucial next step is getting Gabe home, and an Air Ambulance is incredibly expensive. There is a raffle to raise money to bring him home where he can continue his recovery. The top prize? An all-expenses-paid custom frame from Maietta Cycles, built by Tony Maietta, a childhood friend of Gabe’s. I met Tony this past weekend at the Cycle-Smart Invitational, complimented him on his frames, admired his support of Gabe’s recovery, and drooled over the ‘cross bike that he was racing.

If you don’t know Gabe, and don’t know Maietta’s bikes, take it from me: you want Gabe back home, and you want a Maietta.

The full sized flier for the raffle is here, and there is plenty of information at Get Better Gabe and Tony’s blog. A ticket is $20, which is a small price to pay for either getting Gabe back east, or a shot at riding a Maietta. I’ve bought my ticket. Have you?

Rider Down. Help Needed.
August 17, 2009, 3:54 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash

I’ve seen bike people do some amazing things. No, I’m not talking about sweet wheelies, I’m talking about helping each other out. Last year, a bunch of friends were injured; people just up and gave money. “You’re in a hard place, your bike is wrecked, here’s a few bucks.” Add it up from a few dozen friends and it gets to be a sum that’s helpful in a rough spot. Maybe it won’t buy a new bike, but it will help – if only in making the small day-to-day stuff easier. With some extra cash you can order food instead of trying to shop for yourself while injured. Later in the summer, one local rider was almost crushed by a truck, severely injured, and in the course of about a week, enough parts were donated to build her a bike. Let me rephrase that: everyone chipped in and gave her a bike. A shop offered an extra frame, and everybody else chimed in, offering an extra this or that, lying unused in the parts bin, and in a few days she went from having a beautiful but crushed bike to having a new one, from friends.

Wow, right?

We’re doing it again. In times of trouble, when folks are in need, it’s the community’s responsibility to help shoulder the burden. When many shoulder it, it’s hardly a weight at all.

Hell, we can even do it with a party.

Gabe – an all-around great guy, regular out at the Kissena Velodrome – has been laid up in the trauma ward in a San Francisco hospital since a run-in with a car on Thursday.

Friday night at the Wreck Room, from 7 to 11 PM, there will be bands, DJs, dancing, beer, auctions, raffles, dates, and other sweet things. Money collected from this will be sent to Gabe’s parents and to his girlfriend, to help defray some of the expenses of keeping their vigil at his bedside. Housing, food, some ancillary medical expenses.

Those of you readers who are inclined to donate a few dollars to help out a stranger can do so by clicking here. Yes, it says “Gabe’s Vegan Cupcake Fund.” Don’t be confused.

Maybe we can raise a thousand bucks. Maybe more. It’s just money. But sometimes money can also be dozens or hundreds of people, from three thousand miles away, saying, “We’re thinking about you and we came together because of you.”

We’re all pulling for you, Gabe.

No Update Today
August 14, 2009, 6:59 pm
Filed under: crash

Writing about bikes takes a backseat to worrying about a riding buddy who got into a bad bang-up with a car yesterday, while out-of-town on some summertime travels. He’s currently receiving some intensive care. Scary, and I spent the day worrying until I heard some more news, but he’s a damn champ.

I met him at one of the first races I ever did, and he won a prize for the best shotgunning of a beer.

Needless to say, this was not a USAC race.

What to do after a collision?
June 2, 2009, 6:53 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash, the cycling world

This morning, on my way to work, I happened upon a collision scene. A schoolbus with a very mangled bicycle underneath it, and a scraped and bloody rider. The driver had, apparently, failed to check his mirrors before turning, and the rider got hooked. Fortunately she fell off before the bike got sucked under the bus’s wheels. She was scraped up but wasn’t majorly injured. I called 911 anyway, to get the police to come so that she could file an accident report. Well, because of either standard protocol or not hearing “no major injuries,” they dispatched an FDNY fire truck and ambulance, out of which tumbled six or eight people who proceeded to immobilize her spine.

Her bike is locked up on the SW corner of Bedford and S.10th street in Brooklyn, and if you see it, take it as a reminder to stay safe and smart out on the streets.

If you get hit, even if it’s minor, call the police and file a police report. It serves as an official documentation of the collision (I avoid using the word “accident”), which you absolutely need if you want to follow up with the driver’s insurance company. That is, if you want them to pay your medical bills or replace your bike. You never know what will hurt after the adrenaline wears off, and you never know what’s broken that you won’t see on the first pass over the bike. Maybe your frame is cracked. Maybe you’ve got a minor concussion. In New York, the car driver’s insurance company has the responsibility for covering those things. File a police report and then submit a No Fault Claim with the insurance company.

There’s lots more information floating around. I’d start by checking out the Know Your Rights manual, which is aimed at messengers. Also, Transportation Alternatives provides a list of cyclist-friendly lawyers, should you need one.

If you’re going to be on the street a lot, you entertain the possibility that you’ll get hit by a car. Know what to do so that you’re not left in the cold, with a broken body and a broken bike. Knowledge is power.

Giro D’Italia: Stage 9 Neutralization
May 19, 2009, 11:35 am
Filed under: crash, the cycling world

The internet world is abuzz with talk over the peloton’s neutralization of Stage 9 of the Giro D’Italia. Pedro Horrilo’s crash into a 150 foot ravine during Stage 8 prompted them to organize their concerns about the safety of the course. Apparently, Stage 9’s kermis-like circuit race had parked cars still on the course, among other hazards. I can’t blame them. Yeah, they’re the best in the world riding one of the most competitive stage races in the world. They don’t need to harden the fuck up. They’ve already done that. Probably while you were arguing on the internet. Okay, okay. Probably while we were arguing on the internet.

What they’re doing now is refusing to let their having hardened the fuck up be turned into an unnecessarily dangerous game of puppetry, a sport of profit that places the alleged kings in danger for heightened entertainment value that strips them of honor should they opt out. Basically they’re refusing to be rodeo clowns, NASCAR drivers, or prizefighters, and can you blame them?

Kissena Velodrome Opening Weekend
April 27, 2009, 6:09 pm
Filed under: crash, Kissena, track racing, velodromes

It was an action-packed Opening Weekend at the Kissena Velodrome this weekend. The weather was perfect, the turnout was high, and the racing was strong and competitive. I was racing in Category 4, and the weekend’s lineup called for a Kilo (1,000 meter individual time trial), Team Sprint, Points Race, Scratch Race, Match Sprints, and a Miss and Out – all spread over two days, to accommodate nearly 100 racers. The exceptional weather, though welcome at first, became difficult to handle, and by Sunday afternoon it was hard to stay hydrated, energetic, and focused on the racing.

Maybe that contributed to the three crashes that happened, and unfortunately, three Kissena members will be off the bike for a while with two broken collarbones, a dislocated shoulder, and a few broken ribs shared amongst them. Best wishes for their quick recovery.

Sending friends off to the hospital is a downer way to end a weekend of racing, and it was hard to focus on the final race, the Miss and Out (also called Devil Take the Hindmost), even though I had to score omnium points in order to protect my placing, and possibly move up. I had to abandon hope for second place after Luke Stiles scored second in the Match Sprint, beating my teammate Al but losing to the weekend’s strongman Colin Prensky, who won every race in the 4’s, and got the best time on the kilo out of all categories – by three seconds.

Al had bumped me out of the sprint tournament in a good two-up competition. We played with each other, trackstanding and cat-and-mousing, and chatting about the tension. I fake-jumped to try to draw him out and bring up the speed, but at turn 1 he jumped hard around me and I couldn’t follow fast enough. Had I reacted a bit quicker I could have gotten on his wheel, but he can keep accelerating and really dangle another rider behind him. When he crossed the line two bike lengths ahead of me I sat up and held out my hand, saluting him for an entertaining match and a strong sprint.

I recovered in the Miss and Out, my bread and butter. There are a lot of very strong riders in the 4’s – a lot who I would generally consider to be stronger riders than I am. But the Miss and Out plays to my strengths – positioning, pack smarts, and endurance. By the time the twenty-rider field had been whittled down to only 5, I still had enough of a match to burn with a sprint that, though it didn’t match Colin’s, left the others behind. I took second and secured third place in the omnium.

The photo above, by Gary Berger, shows Todd the Polish Hammer and Andrew LaCorte, the 35+ National Sprint Champion, during the 1/2/3 Madison on Sunday.

Tour of Battenkill
April 19, 2009, 6:22 pm
Filed under: crash, Kissena, road race, road racing

In only 5 years, the Tour of Battenkill has acquired the moniker of “America’s Queen of the Classics.” What’s more impressive is that they’ve earned it. It’s the largest race in the country in terms of participants, with multiple full (125 rider) fields for many of the categories. The course (map), which does change from year to year, has a reputation for devouring souls and bikes and hopes and dreams – steep climbs, dirt roads, fast descents.

It’s obviously the race I’ve been excited for since the fall. One goal: stay at the front, don’t get caught with my drawers down like at Fawn Grove. Stick with William and Crihs. Stick with the front. There were ten miles of jostling for position in the first thirty wheels of a 125-rider pack before we were hit with a big, sharp double-climb. I was fourth wheel over the top and the group that made it up whole was about 30 riders strong. The other hundred? Inconsequential.

In pro bike racing, there’s the pack, and there are breakaways. Wanna play it safe? Stay in the pack. In amateur bike racing, there is no advantage to staying behind. The race is always at the front, the strong will congeal and the weak will be smeared behind over a road already ridden.

At mile twenty, somebody behind me put his front wheel into my rear derailleur and crashed, almost (but not quite!) sliding out my rear wheel. The delirious and deleterious sound of bikes on asphalt. I glanced at my rear derailleur and saw the cage bend precariously toward my spokes. Crap. 44 miles remaining, major climbs ahead, and a low gear of 39×17 – 50% higher than the 39×25 I had equipped for the race. I muscled up the climbs, I cramped, and I doggedly hung on. It started to rain. We hit more dirt sections. The pace was manageable, then fast, then manageable again. More climbs. More struggling in a 60-inch gear. In between cursing I gave thanks for fixed-gear base miles.

Around mile 50 we hit a challenging dirt section and the 25-man lead group decided to start shedding some people. On a swift dirt descent with a sweeping left turn, two riders a few yards ahead of me started leaning into each other, then grabbing brakes and skidding all over the road. Two choices: barrel in to them or try to survive a wide line around them.

This morning I realized that the course description for this descent said, “Speed on a descent can easily be lost when you slam into a tree.” I didn’t slam into a tree but I surfed gravel off of the road and then flipped over my bars at 30+ miles per hour.

I got up, told the support car that I was fine, remounted, and rode the remaining fifteen miles solo – surprisingly fast, and in a surprisingly good mood which was further bouyed by seeing some familiar jerseys from our feed squad back at the finish line, calling my name and cheering. Hey. I clung on to the front despite mechanicals. I raced a smart race. I lost contact with the lead, but not because I couldn’t stick. I’ve got an excuse, and maybe by now I’ve got some bad luck out of my system in time for Bear Mountain.

And, after my first race crash, I’m surprisingly unhurt. It felt great to get up, realize my bike was undamaged, realize that nothing was broken or bleeding profusely, and be able to get back on the bike with no pain.

No pain, that is, until I dismounted, the adrenaline cooled down, and I realized that my hip and ribs were killing me.

Ibuprofen is quickly becoming standard recovery food.