RIP Sule Kangangi

“Kenyan cycling Team AMANI and #Abayomi Management mourn the untimely demise of celebrated Kenyan cycling legend @Skangangi in the United States of America after a heavy crash at the Vermont Gravel Race on Saturday.”

Such sad sad news :cry:

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Yeah super sad :disappointed:

He got 3rd at Dirty Reiver this year and since then I had enjoyed learning all about him and following his progress.
RIP Sule :pray:

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Extremely sad. There’s a GoFundMe for his wife and son.
https://gofund.me/db6b697c

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https://www.instagram.com/p/Ch0VrX8J13L/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

What a terrible, terrible tragedy. Is there any information on the circumstances that lead to his crash? Another bike involved, equipment malfunction, a particularly dangerous descent? This is no way meant to be morbid, just looking for lessons that might prevent this from happening to the next person.

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My condolences to the family. Just heartbreaking.

VO is a very aggressive course with super fast winding decent’s. In fact, the promoter sent an email out last week asking everyone not to race the decent’s, they are very dangerous. All of the decent’s were marked with signs to SLOW down and there were DANGER signs posted on all corners and switchbacks.

On the other-hand, the pros are there to race and I’m blown away at how fast these riders go over these gravel surfaces, it’s pretty impressive and VERY scary.

My heart breaks for Ian Boswell as well, I know he’s quite close with Sule and I believe he was housing Team Armani this week, I know he did some pre-rides with the three. Ian did not finish the race. I hope he did not witness this tragedy.

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I thought the same. I’ve been looking for details of the crash and was going to share here. I felt it was too soon to ask in this thread :man_shrugging:

I agree and don’t think it is morbid; trying to learn from the tragedy so maybe a bad outcome can be prevented in the future with what is learnt. I am surprised a gravel race could have a fatality. I thought gravel would be safer than road and mountain.

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Ansel Dickey has posted a statement on his Instagram sharing what he knows of the circumstances.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Ch3SOEvuXNT/?igshid=ZDg1NjBiNjg=

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Thanks. Can’t see that without having an account though unfortunately.

“John Kariyoki (@johnkariuki__ ) Sule’s teammate, was up the road with about a 2-minute lead on the chase group. Sule was just off the back of that chase group while riding down Long Hill Road in South Woodstock. Long Hill Road is a well-maintained, straight, downhill section of dirt and gravel, with good visibility. Sule crashed at approximately mile 37, about two hours into the start of the race. According to other riders, the chase group did not hear or see him crash, and neither did anyone behind him. The next rider arrived within less than one minute after his crash and immediately stopped to render assistance to Sule. Other riders who descended Long Hill also stopped to render aid. Local EMT’s arrived shortly after, followed by an ambulance.“

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I did Vermont Overland last weekend for the first time and was genuinely surprised at how difficult the course was. I knew it was going to be super tough, just not necessarily in the way I expected. There was a ton of climbing up some pretty steep, loose grades and such, but what really made it extra difficult was that it was mentally exhausting because there was nowhere to rest.

When you weren’t climbing you were navigating rock gardens, and there were some very steep, rocky, washed-out gullies that came up with little to no warning. It sounds like the crash happened on one of the roads, but the stress of the course would definitely have taken a toll running at pro race pace.

I’m still pretty shell-shocked by this, and it’s all so awful. Admittedly, I came through that section quite a bit later than Sule did, but there was no indication that anything happened. It also didn’t get mentioned during the podium announcements post-race, at least that I heard.

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I think the community benefits from a post-tragedy update. As a medical provider, it helps me understand the circumstances and how we as racers, medical providers, race organizers, etc can be better prepared for injuries during the race. Traumatic head injury would be harder to manage, but the ability to tourniquet a bleeding injury would be useful. @Jonathan recently posted a new MyMedic kit that mounts more easily to a bike and I’m going to start carrying. I also have started carrying a Garmin InReach2 on remote events since getting to cellular service can be very difficult in some gravel races I have done where it can take a half hour or more to get to an area of cellular service. Activating a satellite rescue device could possibly be of benefit in remote areas with serious injuries.

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At SBT GRVL, UC Health (one of the hospital systems here) had a booth at the expo and they were demo-ing how to handle injuries/pack wounds and such. I didn’t stick around to see the whole thing but I wish I had.

I saw reference on IG to a rider that was air-lifted out of that race after crashing.

I wonder if gravel bikes are appropriate for some of these courses or if we are collectively “under biking” and increasing the danger. As someone mentioned above, gravel was supposed to be safer due to the lack of cars. Are we replacing the cars with sketchy courses?

I am, to be completely honest, not a great bike handler. So I could just be projecting my own insecurity on what most people would consider routine gravel descents. I was a little scared with some of the Rooted Vermont sections.

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The short answer: Yes.
The long answer: Also, yes.

To steal someone else’s recent commentary - many races are taking the “out-suffer and out-epic” approach to courses. And there is definitely an appeal to that, to many people.

We have an event here that was using a stretch of course that was definitely a MTB segment. Then there was a big storm with erosion before the event and it ended up definitely not suited for gravel bikes on race day. I had thought about upgrading to that distance next year, but my inhouse DS said “There’s just no way.”

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I don’t think there’s a simple answer as rider skill, level of a rider’s risk aversion, equipment selection, mainly tires, course conditions, are among many variables.

I’ve done some gravel rides where the descents were awful on a gravel bike with big rocks.

But I know my bike handling limits and am pretty risk averse. Even with that, that doesn’t guarantee I won’t crash.

But I’ll add that on gravel even if you’re a skilled rider stuff happens. A tire blowing on a descent can easily toss you. You could not see a hole or bigger rock that tosses you. All sorts of things.

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I feel like some of this has to do with the sport’s pace of growth. The Class IV roads are something locals are used to, but other people travelling from out of state may not be. They’re only roads in the very loosest sense of the word. Some of them are kinda what most people would probably expect: chunky dirt roads or rutted, muddy jeep trails.

But a lot of them are basically just very long rock gardens with lots of washed out sections. They can get dangerous pretty quickly, especially if a rider doesn’t know what to expect when they come up on a section (which at VO included large washed out gullies and drops of a few feet at a time with very narrow paths around). I think this kind of riding isn’t on a lot of people’s radar when they’re doing a gravel race.

This is a screen grab from Rooted Vermont’s overview that’s a pretty good representation. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many miles of this there were on the VO course, maybe 10-20? It’s honestly hard to recall.

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My feelings exactly. There was no opportunity to recover. I’ve never been that depleted after an event, I lost 8 pounds.

Sule, crashed around the corner at mile 37 right after the hardest climb, of 1.6 miles @9-17% with a washed out rock garden at the summit. 5,000 ft of climbing in 36 miles!

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I really didn’t like the 2 or 3 miles of Class IV in RV. Can’t imagine 10 or 20 miles of that. That just goes to doing your research and making sure you know what you’re in for. And I’m guessing Sule knew, was certainly capable, and something terrible still happened.

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This stuff I don’t get…how can you ride this on 38 or 42mm tires?

I have a Cutthroat with 2.2" tires and I’d walk that (but I not the best bike handler).

I specifically bought the Cutthroat because gravel rides near me (New England) can go from hardpack to rock gardens in the space of a few miles :grimacing::grimacing::grimacing:

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