Tuesday, September 9, 2014

When Not To Time Trial.....

I sent this to a couple of the local bike lists.

Yesterday I was riding the moto to work (red BMW with full faring) and passed a cyclist in full kit and backpack riding south on Diamond. He was between Orange/Sandia and Central (where he turned left) in the bike lane. The guy was on his TT bars when I saw him, with elbows on the elbow pads and arms on the clipon aero extensions.

Being in such a position in heavy traffic and where there are numerous side streets and parking lot entrances makes you extremely vulnerable to being hit by a car turning across the bike lane from oncoming or parallel traffic (left cross or right hook crash).  It is far more difficult to immediately brake or or make a quick turn when on clip-ons than when on the drops or brake hoods. Try it. I’ve seen several people clobbered in that location by clueless motorists and have dodged a couple bullets myself using instant turns.

For complicated urban traffic, I suggest riding on the brake hoods (where you are more upright and can see down the road a lot better) or drops, but not on the tops and definitely not on the TT bars. Save the TT bars for the open road.  That is the beauty of clip ons--they don't take the place of regular drop bars, but add the aero position option to the existing choices. 

There are times when the bicycle is definitely not a piece of sports equipment, and this is one of them. Avoid being cut off at intersections and curbcuts by being situationally aware, in a good position to respond with bike handling, and trained to handle your bicycle.  

Good video on preventing right hooks is here thanks to Keri Caffrey.

Khal Spencer

Who, believe it or not, used to race.
League Cycling Instructor

In this video, the cyclist, who initially is tucked down in an aero position and moving fast, finally gets onto the tops when he realizes he is going to be cut off, but is not able to avoid the classic right hook. Remember, in the urban environment, your first priority has to be situational awareness and an expectation that other people will screw up.


Steve A said...

Even worse are the dweebs who ride their time trial bikes on the sidewalks of Ocean Shores, where it is illegal for anyone (even little kids) to ride on the sidewalks.

Jon said...

I'd rather be in the drops than on the hoods for hard braking or maneuvering: lower CoG, better in line for taking the braking forces. The victim in the video looks like he almost pulled off a quick turn and then straightened out for some reason; might have made it in the drops.

Your description of him in "aero" position, coupled with the rest of the post, made me think he was in aero bars. I'll usually go in them where I'm not particularly interacting with traffic: good wide shoulder and no turns coming in, or very empty road. Races, of course, are a different matter--last weekend I found myself doing a shoulder check in the aero bars at 30+MPH and was a little freaked out.

Khal said...

I don't see aero bars in the slow motion replay. It looks to me like he somewhat delayed deciding what to do and then braked hard. His rear wheel started to slide out from hard braking, reducing control. He may have let off the brakes and at that point was unable to turn.

I don't go into intersections so hard. If the cyclist is more alert, he could have braked hard earlier while moving the hind end behind the seat and then steered left to tuck in behind the car. In theory, anyway. One has to have a plan, even if one is making it up on the fly.