Unavoidable crash? - What would you have done differently?

I was in Cat 3/4 Crit race 2 weeks ago. I really like the course setup except for this one section of brick pavement. Every time we went through it back wheels were bouncing around.


I thought I would share the video since @Nate_Pearson talked a little bit about crashes on the podcast yesterday. I am not sure what I could have done to avoid it. Luckily I was okay except a chain ring tattoo but I did crack my BMC SLR in 2 spots. The good news is I bought a new bike!

I appreciate any thoughts or feedback around what could I have done differently. There was 102 riders in the race and I was in the top 30 at the time and this happened 19 minutes into a 50 minute race.




Yes Indy

I’m not sure you would not have made it out of the crash, but looks like you either thought you could squeeze on the left by the barriers, or was soft with the brakes and then slammed on them last minute. That what it seems like. Could be totally different.
Best case scenario, you’re in the crash, but you don’t really crash hard, you put a foot down and go back to the pits and get back in.
Or you crash, but nothing is broken like your body or bike, you go to the pit, and get back in.

My original thought was to try and find a gap on the left and when I finally decided to hit the brakes the brick surface did not help much at all.


That surface is more appropriate for CX! Lately, I’ve been experimenting with putting a 33mm dry conditions CX tire (like a challenge chicane) on the front rim of my road bike and leaving the 25mm pro one as the rear tire. I find it helps A LOT on sketchy road conditions. This specialization of front vs rear tire is common in the MTB world, so I thought why not. I haven’t raced with this combination yet though.

Of course, if half the field crashes in front of you at 40kph, no tire choice is going to help. :grimacing:

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I think that surface makes it hard to brake. I don’t think they should put road surfaces like that in a crit.

I don’t know how to avoid it, that’s just bad luck.

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Don’t be in the back in that section and don’t be on the outside. Easier said then done.


Glad you’re OK and congrats on the new bike!

Does look like the crash happened far enough ahead of you that you could have scrubbed speed off earlier which would have enabled you to either weave through the bodies on the left, stop completely or at least crash at a lower speed with less damage. But would also have likely meant the end of any chance of getting back to the lead riders, so if you thought you could get through at speed then that risk could have paid off - I’ve had some great results when I’ve ended up on the right side of a crash that takes out half the competition! Armchair quarterbacking is easy with hindsight though.

Other factor is race selection. If you ride a bike then crashing is a matter of when, not if. But there are still some courses where it’s far more likely than others. Large number of riders on a surface like that I’m guessing crashes are close to being a certainty. There’s a race near me with similarly large packs (no meaningful hills to split it up) and some high risk turns, it has crashes every year and somebody normally ends up in hospital. Did it once a few years ago and stayed upright through a mix of good luck and staying near the front, but 3 crashes happened in my group, 2 behind me and 1 in front which I just avoided. Decided that race is too much risk for me, I stick to races where the fields are smaller (or there is enough elevation to split the field early), or the course is less technical.

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You bring up a a few good points - I will definitely be taking a closer look at race selection going forward. I appreciate the feedback!

This rider is ahead of you and much closer to the crash when it happens


He immediately brakes hard and scrubs a lot of speed while still going in a straight line. It’s hard to tell if he ended up putting a foot down or not, but he definitely didn’t crash hard


You tried to get past the crash on the outside and when you realized that wasn’t viable you braked hard while turning to avoid some riders further outside of you which made the braking less effective causing you to crash into them

First - really never try to go outside of a crash. The momentum of the bikes and riders will always push them in a straight line (the direction of their momentum) which means the outside is going to disappear before you get by. Your only chance is to go inside, where the crash currently is, and hope the bodies and bikes all slide to the outside before you get there. This isn’t a strong choice, but is much better than trying to go outside

Second - with a crash that size that distance ahead of you, you should train yourself to brake harder sooner. Particularly this early in the race, where you can likely get a free lap - it is much better to risk losing the front of the group by over braking than to risk a crash by under braking

So, given that the inside line was blocked from you by other riders - brake harder and brake sooner - riders in a worse position than you avoided this crash by doing this on rim brakes with what appears to be carbon wheels - so it wasn’t a braking capabilities problem for them


Agree with @trpnhntr here.
Also, even if you don’t crash or fall, but are caught up, almost come to a stand still, and lose ground, just put your foot down. You’ll get a free lap. Too many people are quick to get back on after going around a crash or stopping, unclipping, and getting back on to chase. If the crash hinders you, put a foot down, you’ll get the lap.

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Looked like a big one. Glad no broken bones, but the chainring wound looks sore😬

Would have been difficult to avoid to be honest, and it’s easy in hindsight to see what you could have done differently. I’m not sure I’d be too concerned about the road surface. That’s one of the challenges of crit racing. But looking at the footage in close detail, I wonder if there may have been a way out…

The video didn’t look like you’d managed to slow at all. Did you brake hard and lock up or try and hold your speed through the bend? The crash seemed to happen a fair bit in front of you. I wonder if you’d managed to scrub off some speed you could have made that gap I’ve highlighted?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looks like you made a decision of what to do in the heat of the moment. Don’t worry about it too much. That’s racing.:+1:

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Hope the guy in the blue helmet was OK…looked like his helmet was cracked and he got his bell rung…concussion is the real deal.

Say whaaaaa? Boooo!:wink: Just ribbin ya.

This is pure personnel preference but, I think it makes it more interesting and therefore more fun with brick or cobbled sections in crits or road or circuit races. Just like racing in the rain you have to understand the limitations of what you and/or the bike can do.

In this case, as with nearly every crash, I agree this is bad luck. Looks like a guy on the inside of the corner hit the curb/barrier or just missed the line and locked it up and went sideways. I might have tried to go inside but, armchairing any crash not being in the moment doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what was going down and probably doesn’t help.

My only advise is keep racing and stay further up front if possible unless a wide open 4 corner type criterium.


I raced the Masters 4/5 race later that day. Here are my two observations. The first is that where that crash happened is a pinch point. It’s hard to tell on the video, heck it’s even hard to tell when your racing until you get in a situation like you did. You don’t want to be on the inside of that turn with that many people going through it side by side. You will end up in the barrier or taking out half the field. There’s just not as much room as you think there is. You ended up being the victim of circumstances. I don’t know that there was much you could do.

The second observation is that people are running way too much air pressure for that race. I ran 85 in the rear and 80 up front on my setup and that was too much. I should have been about 10 PSI lower. I’m 6’2", 195ish lbs running 25c Vittoria’s on wheels with a really wide internal width with latex tubes. A couple of years ago I literally watched a guy skip through that turn in front of me. That section of the course isn’t that bad if you’re running low enough air pressure. Now the next turn is a different story. I don’t care how low of air pressure you are running, it’s bumpy as hell.

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you appear too far back; you’re in the washing machine, that’s death row. Ride in the top 10-12 guys. You’re near the front, but not ON the front. This way you have the best chance of avoiding crashes and you can respond and go with any moves that attempt to get up the road.
Heal up and best of luck at the next race!