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Who to contact at BC about race safety?

HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
edited March 2013 in Amateur race
I find it worrying that anyone can just buy a licence without having any idea about what constitutes safe riding. Who can I contact at BC about this? The least they could do is send out a booklet with all race memberships, with useful tips along the lines of this http://www.cyclingtips.com.au/2011/03/crash-prevention/
CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
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  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    Anyone can enter a race - licence or not. I can't see that sending out a bit of paper will make much practical difference.
  • danlikesbikesdanlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    It is a good idea & I do think that we could do a lot to help improve this however about those on day licences who simply pay on the day.

    This does go back to the old argument of people learning race craft & those who are fit enough to storm a 4th Cat race moving up possibly too early & should they then be held back by a minimum amount of time/races.

    I'm not suggesting this is the answer, just that it has been suggested before by others for the same reason to improve safety.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • saprkzzsaprkzz Posts: 592
    This is my first year of racing, and I have spent hours looking on the BC website at rules and tips of racing, learning about Catagories and training programs etc etc, watched hours of youtube footage Cat4 & Cat3 racing and have been to hillingdon for coaching, and also I have set up training at MK Bowl.
    I spent months of riding with my club at speed in groups and chaingangs.

    My First race is in 5 weeks,(if my knee injury heals) so hopefully I have done enough to prepare, but I bet i still feel like an amatuer!
  • marykamaryka Posts: 745
    edited March 2013
    Contact your region's Competition Administrator and cc the Events Coordinator. These are the people who are directly representing your club and region at BC. See what they say and go from there. They are your elected/appointed regional officials so the equivalent of your MP. Every year BC has a National Council at which regional issues are brought forward for a vote -- and every year it entails things like changing the ranking system, changing the categories, etc. So now's the time to start lobbying BC for a change to happen in November for the 2014 season if you want to see 4th cats and new riders/racers' licenses handled differently from how it is done now.

    http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/member ... Contacts-0

    Fwiw I agree with you, BC is way behind the curve on new members and new racers and things need to change.
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    Do you want what we have in motorsport, an ARDS test which is a theory and practical test?
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    AK_jnr wrote:
    Do you want what we have in motorsport, an ARDS test which is a theory and practical test?

    only if it stops crashes - which it doesn't appear to do.. ;)
  • springtide9springtide9 Posts: 1,731
    I think the fact that you race in Cat 4 to start with is that you treat all of the riders around you as if they have 'P Plates' on (so expect the unexpected).

    I think for most people starting out, their first race is an eye opener... but it only takes a couple of races and they'll be up to speed. The three races I did last year it was fairly obvious who were the 'newbies' as people give them plenty of space.

    Personally I think it's a non issue for Crits but more of an issue for Cat 4 races on the road.... but there are very few Cat 4 road races, so it can't be a major problem.

    Out of interest, how many major crashes have people seem in races? And these crashes, were these causes by newbies?
    Simon
  • marykamaryka Posts: 745
    I think the fact that you race in Cat 4 to start with is that you treat all of the riders around you as if they have 'P Plates' on (so expect the unexpected).

    What about the poor guy who races lots and never gets any points -- why should he have to pay to race a bunch of P licenses all the time? I've know a few people who took a couple of seasons to move up from 4th cat and only because they entered races that were very unsubscribed, so they eventually got the points they needed. Perfectly safe riders, capable of riding in a bunch, not capable of winning or even top 10 in a bunch sprint. Typical pack fodder.

    Frankly this is why the system should change to mimic the American system more. Do 10 races and finish in the bunch, move up to the next category (in the USA it's 5th to 4th, here it could be 3rd cat I suppose as there's really no difference in bunch speed between 3rd and 4th). Doesn't matter if you win all 10 of them, it should be experience that moves you up, not points. There was a motion at BC a few years back to increase the number of points required for 4ths to move up (it didn't pass) but I actually think that's the wrong way to go about it. Make the points disappear and make it about experience in races and that will filter up to safer racing all around. Part of the crashes are caused by guys sprinting for 10th place from 20th wheel and that kind of thing.
  • danlikesbikesdanlikesbikes Posts: 3,898

    Out of interest, how many major crashes have people seem in races? And these crashes, were these causes by newbies?

    2 in 2 races - first by a newbie & second by an experienced rider but a new racer
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • springtide9springtide9 Posts: 1,731
    maryka wrote:
    I think the fact that you race in Cat 4 to start with is that you treat all of the riders around you as if they have 'P Plates' on (so expect the unexpected).

    What about the poor guy who races lots and never gets any points -- why should he have to pay to race a bunch of P licenses all the time? I've know a few people who took a couple of seasons to move up from 4th cat and only because they entered races that were very unsubscribed, so they eventually got the points they needed. Perfectly safe riders, capable of riding in a bunch, not capable of winning or even top 10 in a bunch sprint. Typical pack fodder.

    Frankly this is why the system should change to mimic the American system more. Do 10 races and finish in the bunch, move up to the next category (in the USA it's 5th to 4th, here it could be 3rd cat I suppose as there's really no difference in bunch speed between 3rd and 4th). Doesn't matter if you win all 10 of them, it should be experience that moves you up, not points. There was a motion at BC a few years back to increase the number of points required for 4ths to move up (it didn't pass) but I actually think that's the wrong way to go about it. Make the points disappear and make it about experience in races and that will filter up to safer racing all around. Part of the crashes are caused by guys sprinting for 10th place from 20th wheel and that kind of thing.

    I like the idea of a Cat 5, but a lot of the Cat 4 races are Cat 3/4 because (as you correctly point out), there is not enough people racing (under subscribed races). So it doesn't matter if it's a good idea or not, it's not practical.

    And if the experienced guys are racing a bunch of P riders, they should be more than aware of how to keep themselves safe. Even as a not very experienced racer, it was very easy to see who to avoid.
    And as you point out, if you really want to get out of your category because you consider it unsafe, race at an under subscribed race.

    TBH, I don't know what all the fuss is about... racing is not risk free, but it's considerably safer than many other sports with two wheels and pedals. It's probably also safer than commuting in the city.
    Simon
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    How do you find out which races are unsubscribed?
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    AK_jnr wrote:
    How do you find out which races are unsubscribed?

    Your local club guys will know.

    However it may well be that outside the south east of england where there's a lot of racing (3/4's are pretty rare even, although part of that is some of the big organisers not allowing 4th's in open road races) that your races are all pretty full until the end of the year as racing declines in popularity again.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    AK_jnr wrote:
    How do you find out which races are unsubscribed?

    You enter them - and then count the number of people around you when you line up. Other than that, there is no way of knowing. A weekly crit series might be under-subscribed one week, with a full line-up the week after...
  • HerbsmanHerbsman Posts: 2,029
    springtide9 you'd know what all the 'fuss' was about if you had to avoid a crash in about 50% of the races that you've been in and had to watch clubmates be taken away in an ambulance on numerous occasions.

    poor Martin Kingston went down in a race that I was in and ended up with a bad head injury, as a result of some other bloke who can't take a drink without touching wheels and falling over: http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.uk/20 ... imper.html this could have easily been me as I was actually right behind the bloke, when he fell over sideways into Martin's path.

    won't go into all the details of all the other crashes but i am a lucky censored to have avoided some of them. it's always the same thing, some mug either unable to drink without falling off, or someone darting through gaps that don't exist.

    If it's such a bad thing to make a fuss about people being seriously injured then sorry but tough censored , I don't like having my bones broken.
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • ScotskenScotsken Posts: 19
    I was in a cat 2/3 crit last weekend and the standard of riding was pretty shocking. far worse than cat 4 races I have done recently...
  • springtide9springtide9 Posts: 1,731
    Sorry, maybe it's my lack of experience or luck to have been in races that didn't have many beginners.

    And sorry to hear about your mate :cry:

    Although I've only done three:- two at Castle Combe (C.3/4) and one at Ilton (C.4) last year, they all went off without a hitch. There were a few yells when one of two people got a little nervous with the brakes (and they were given plenty of space), but other than that it was very clean.

    A general question.... Is it worse early session?
    Simon
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    I think BC should introduce a system similar to what they had in motorbike racing(been out of it for a long time so I don't know if it still exists)
    As a novice racer you had to do so many races before you could get rid of your dayglo jacket, your license was signed by the Clerk of the Course if you had raced safely or got a placing. I think once you got ten sigs' you could get rid of the jacket.
  • giropaulgiropaul Posts: 414
    markos1963 wrote:
    I think BC should introduce a system similar to what they had in motorbike racing(been out of it for a long time so I don't know if it still exists)
    As a novice racer you had to do so many races before you could get rid of your dayglo jacket, your license was signed by the Clerk of the Course if you had raced safely or got a placing. I think once you got ten sigs' you could get rid of the jacket.

    Actually, thinking about it, that isn't such a daft idea. Maybe some sort of armband?

    I'm sure that we want to encourage people into racing, rather than make it difficult, but this would work. A plus might be that more experienced riders were a tad more forgiving of newer riders, advice rather than rollickings!
  • Good luck, seriously.

    Riding standards have got worse and worse. The old route to racing of coming up through the club scene and learning your craft has disappeared. Races are full of people who have come to cycling through a variety of routes and are very reluctant to be told that they can't ride safely.

    All categories of race are affected, blaming 4th cats is popular but not accurate.

    There was an article in Cycling Weekly relating to Tony Gibb that covered this sort of thing. It is ironic that he got banned yet the people he is complaining about are left untouched to ride however dangerously they like week after week.

    In my opinion, race officials should be more proactive in enforcing the rules and pulling out dangerous riders and ensuring that they are educated or banned. When riders are told that their riding is dangerous, they usually reply with an expletive and carry on.

    The UK is now one of the leading cycling nations yet our bunch races are the most ill disciplined I've ever ridden in.
  • danlikesbikesdanlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Good luck, seriously.

    Riding standards have got worse and worse. The old route to racing of coming up through the club scene and learning your craft has disappeared. Races are full of people who have come to cycling through a variety of routes and are very reluctant to be told that they can't ride safely.

    All categories of race are affected, blaming 4th cats is popular but not accurate.

    There was an article in Cycling Weekly relating to Tony Gibb that covered this sort of thing. It is ironic that he got banned yet the people he is complaining about are left untouched to ride however dangerously they like week after week.

    In my opinion, race officials should be more proactive in enforcing the rules and pulling out dangerous riders and ensuring that they are educated or banned. When riders are told that their riding is dangerous, they usually reply with an expletive and carry on.

    The UK is now one of the leading cycling nations yet our bunch races are the most ill disciplined I've ever ridden in.

    I agree that standards have gone down. I am one of this new bread of racer & have come through my club to learn my road craft but at races see people riding like twunts.

    However I have also marshalled at quite a few races & TBH standing on the side of the course you will not always see riders with poor skills who could have caused a crash and then all you hear afterwards are different points of view. So whilst we all would like to make the officials have greater power but its an amateur sport & I too have often seen the same response from riders being told off. Though too be fair our main official will quite happily void a dangerous riders results & despite the moaning from those riders they do take it on the chin.

    I do like the idea of leaving the points system as is, but making riders wear something that marks them out as being new to the cat they are in. I'm only a 4th Cat myself but think it would at least mark people out & if they were riding dangerously would make them easier to spot in the even of an accident if they were the cause, though your never going to get over the type A Alpha male type of dangerous riding that does occur at all levels as people try and cut in at the last minute.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    So long as BC are only interested in participation, then they will never do a thing that may lead to reduced numbers - BC need the money!
    REO's and RCA's are just as keen on this approach as anyone else in BC.

    How anyone can just turn up and race in a bunch with up to 80 other riders, none of whom wear anything in the way of protective clothing (helmet aside) is a complete mystery to me.

    There should be compulsory training for new riders and this should extend up through the cats as well.

    Its done for track, so why not road?

    Aside from this subject, does anyone from BC ever come on here to state their case?
  • I am Martin Porter, the Thames Velo rider who had a bad smash in the Willesden 3/4 road race last September. A youngster in plain kit who had signed on the line fell sideways into my path on a dead straight level part of the course. I went over the handlebars landed on my head was knocked out and woke in intensive care at the John Radcliffe in Oxford with tubes sticking out of me. I did have a lot of conversations with BC about lessons to be learnt from this but BC knew next to nothing about the incident, not even the identity of the youngster because the Comm had gone to some pains to protect his identity. The Comm spoke to him at the scene, sent him on his way, told the police (incorrectly) that he would advise me of his identity and failed to identify the rider in the BC incident report. The sign on sheet went..erm..missing between the Comm and BC.
    Obviously I have no recollection of what happened, all I know has come from the organiser and other riders, most of whom were good enough to fill me in (though one eye witness rider free with his descriptions back at HQ chose to tell me he had seen nothing).
    I trust the Comm felt that it was worth paying with his credibility to protect the rider - perhaps he thought his actions were in the interests of the sport in discouraging litigation but in fact I have no interest in litigation and his attitude reduces the chances that meaningful lessons will be learnt. So far as I am aware nobody has asked the rider why he fell.
    BC did share with me the limited information they had got and did tell me that Comms would be reminded of their responsibilities.
    In a way the novice did identify himself as such because he was riding in plain kit but that was not sufficient to protect me. I favour some demonstration of ability to ride in a bunch before being permitted to enter a road race. I now avoid road races which 4th cats are eligible to enter although the vast majority of them can ride safely. Those of us involved in organising races can perhaps be wary of giving race entries to 4th cat unaffiliated riders with no track record.
    Of course some accidents will sadly happen, as recent events have so tragically demonstrated, but we do all need to ensure, as particularly does BC, that the risk of accidents is reduced to the lowest practicable level.
  • Sorry to jump onto this thread, but I'm really interested in all of this. Call me a wuss, but one of the main things putting me off of getting into road racing is the probability of getting caught up in a crash. And given I'm a 4th cat with less than half a race under my belt in several years (punctured in my first ever race of Chertsey - bad luck!) I know that statistically I'm more likely to be one of the ones caught up in an accident than others.

    What I wanted to ask was a question that no-one seems to have raised so far, which is: do you think having smaller fields (but more races) might help?

    I'm assuming that a bunch of 80 riders travelling at 25mph is more likely to result in issues than a bunch of 40 riders? If so, could they be some kind of requirement not to merge 3rd and 4th cats, unless the numbers are so low that it's not viable to run them separately?

    In other words, make the 'maximum group size' bigger as you go up the categories and can prove greater competence in bigger bunches?
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    In reply to the above...

    99% of bunch crashes are caused by one person's mistake (or stupidity - delete as appropriate). On that basis, it wouldn't make any difference if that person was in a field of 80 or 40.

    To be blunt - when you line up at the start of a race, you are implicitly accepting a certain level of risk. If you can't accept it, don't line up.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 745
    On the topic of crashing, I agree with the above about accepting the level of risk.

    However I'm a believer in luck (good and bad) being made rather than assigned, so I believe that you can do a lot to avoid most crashes in races. Improving your own bike handling skills is one -- cyclocross racing is brilliant for this as you're racing on drop bars and more or less solo, when you crash it's a lot softer and you can really learn the limits of the bike and yourself. Being more vigilant in races is another -- you can pick out the dodgy guys a mile away so don't be near them! And don't be afraid to be vocal, letting people know where you are or asking people to hold their lines. Being vocal doesn't mean being a bully, it just means communicating.

    When the race slows stupidly for no reason, don't be the guy who sits up, looks around and wobbles while reaching for a bottle. Be the guy who attacks and strings it out again. Same goes for a bunch finish if you're a non-sprinter and you know you have no hope of a result -- be the guy on the front who keeps the pace high and safe, or takes a flyer with a lap to go. Bunch safety is everyone's responsibility though I know many people don't understand that.

    And finally just improve your fitness so you can be near the front without killing yourself effort-wise, and you can be more aware of what's going on around and not buried in your own tunnel of pain trying to hang on to the wheel in front.
  • danlikesbikesdanlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Imposter wrote:
    In reply to the above...

    99% of bunch crashes are caused by one person's mistake (or stupidity - delete as appropriate). On that basis, it wouldn't make any difference if that person was in a field of 80 or 40.

    ^-^ Tend to agree with this, whilst I am only a Cat 4 myself and relatively inexperienced most accidents tend to be a single rider running out of talent & trying to make up positions by making a poor move.

    It might make a bit of difference if a group size was say 20 not 80 if the rider thought that they could easily make up the spaces they have lost. However most races tend not have such big bunches IMHO after the first lap or two so the bunch in which the accident could easily be 10-20.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • dulldavedulldave Posts: 949
    I agree with the OP. Road cycling has changed dramatically since the system for entering racing was 'designed'. It needs to be redesigned to account for the current reality rather than the way things used to be.

    In Scotland there are several APRs in the early season which is a good place for people to start. In an APR the groups tend to go through and off which is a little safer than a bunch to my mind. I reckon 4th cats should have to start with a number of APRs before entering a normal road race.

    I also think that course design of 4th cat races can make a difference. There should always be a fairly difficult hill to break the race up a bit I reckon. I'm no climber but until you can stick with a bunch of 4th cats on a climb you're not ready to be a 3rd cat (as the current categories stand). Having large bunch sprints in 4th cat races is just asking for trouble.
    Scottish and British...and a bit French
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    I The Comm spoke to him at the scene, sent him on his way, told the police (incorrectly) that he would advise me of his identity and failed to identify the rider in the BC incident report. The sign on sheet went..erm..missing between the Comm and BC.
    Obviously I have no recollection of what happened, all I know has come from the organiser and other riders, most of whom were good enough to fill me in (though one eye witness rider free with his descriptions back at HQ chose to tell me he had seen nothing).
    I trust the Comm felt that it was worth paying with his credibility to protect the rider - perhaps he thought his actions were in the interests of the sport in discouraging litigation but in fact I have no interest in litigation and his attitude reduces the chances that meaningful lessons will be learnt. So far as I am aware nobody has asked the rider why he fell.

    To be fair I can see why a comm might feel it's not up to them to help you identify a rider who you believe caused a crash. Crashes happen in races - and a 3/4 race is by definition open to novices so there is inevitably a risk that some of the riding will fall short of the standard you might hope for. OK maybe the way the commissaire went about this was wrong - they should have told you straight out that they weren't about to give you the information you sought - but if comms start giving out names of riders who others think have caused them to crash then you can imagine the possible implications.

    As far as safety goes maybe we - as clubs and teams - need to start doing something. How many of us provide training or coaching to adults on bunch racing? There is lots available to kids and teens but very little for the vast majority who come into our sport in their 20s, 30s or older. I've helped coach some youth sessions on closed circuits and I think a lot of adults would benefit from similar - you don't have to be a novice most people could improve even if they aren't too bad as it is. We all train our fitness but less so our skills.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    To be fair I can see why a comm might feel it's not up to them to help you identify a rider who you believe caused a crash.

    It is specifically part of the commissaires role - this is the report form sent to BC
    http://www.southeastcycling.co.uk/sedoc ... t_form.pdf
    Comm's are supposed to highlight riders who were unsafe etc.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • marykamaryka Posts: 745
    dulldave wrote:
    I reckon 4th cats should have to start with a number of APRs before entering a normal road race.
    This is what happens in the Surrey League in the SE, the only open road races that 4th cats can enter are handicaps and it is indeed a good way to ease into bunch riding on the open road.

    In women's racing, most races are all-categories and I will admit to being one of the higher cat riders who make the race hard right from the start just to shed any unskilled and unfit riders and make the bunch safer. After some high-profile crashes in past years, 4th cats have been banned from some women's races, rightly or wrongly.

    But that's getting harder to do, a typical new 4th cat is probably stronger than he/she was in the past -- due to fit people coming over from other sports (rowing, triathlon, running, etc.) or the increase in cycle commuters and sportives, at least around London anyway.
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