Rider Safety and the Tour de France

Following the “carnage” of the last two Tour stages, I asked on Twitter

Wondering what other sport puts their athletes at such risk without innovating safety equipment for them? Shoulder pads, rib protection?

Our followers were wondering the same thing:

  • @rosspdx – there’s plenty of body protection innovation coming out of the downhill mtb companies.

  • @SDVeloSocial – safety equipment exists, downhill Mtb uses it, if the roadies want to wear the restrictive extra weight it’s there.

  • @Chrismurphy101 – Is there any rule against wearing such protection?

  • @bonggg_com – i just thought about that. some sort of protection for collarbone breaks is warranted

  • @bpotstra Rugby? Skeleton/Luge? I dunno… I still can’t believe it wasn’t until 2003 when helmets were mandatory in road cycling!

  • @svdodge Rugby. In any case, your point is very valid. TdF organizers have apparently thought

After two deaths in the past decade, the UCI finally forced helmets and only previously required them on the flat stages. Races would toss them off before the climbs.

The point of my tweet and question is with the sport maturing into good TV and attracting big money, there is tremendous risk and loss for a rider to crash out in a grand Tour. Losing Shleck cost Specialized what in lost marketing dollars? I’m sure more than we’d think. As a bike racer myself, you never want to see racers crash. All that’s between them and the road is lycra, a helmet, gloves, and shoes.

Photo: Leon van Bon

Couldn’t a Formula 1 type R&D effort take existing body armour from mountain biking and modify it for the road? Helmets used to weigh twice as much and not long ago look like you had a ice chest on your head. I don’t think the UCI or race promoters want anyone to crash, but sending Pros onto roads where crashes are expected seems irresponsible at best; especially when you consider what’s a stake.

NASCAR has made considering improvements to safety. Also see the work on Airbags for Alpinestars.

As we wrote earlier, we’re not covering the Tour as much this year – we are discussing it on Twitter with related links and on Facebook.

Photo uploaded by Leon van Bon | more from the Bike Hugger Photostream.

Maybe It’s Time for Phil to Go On Holiday?

I’m getting a tad bit worried about Phil Liggett. In the last four days of Tour coverage I’ve heard him make more mistakes than in the last four years. I think that perhaps the riders aren’t the only ones affected by the Tour’s heavy-hitting stages. Anyone else noticing this?

In Belgium he’s mentioned that the riders were in France. He’s calling people by the wrong names. The capper was listening him (at the finish after the cobbles) saying (this is a paraphrase) ‘Contador is pulling Wiggins, which isn’t good for his teammate Alberto.’

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Phil is unquestionably my favorite thing about professional cycling, so I’m hoping it’s just been a long season for him.

A Bike-Trailer Celebration Concert

This Saturday, 8 p.m. Saturday, at Gallery 1412 there’s a special concert for a Haulin Colin bike trailer built for John Teske’s double bass. John is on a mission with the bike and his music:

Teske hopes the spread of a bike-only transit ethic will help spur improvements in the biking infrastructure in Seattle. He cites Copenhagen, Denmark, where bike paths are clearly separated from motor and pedestrian traffic, as inspiring in this regard. He fondly recalls a woman he met there who was moving from one apartment to another entirely by bike. Everything but her bed, he marvels.

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The trailer project is also on kickstarter and funded. We haven’t met John, but did meet Brad Hawkins who is a Seattle author and often rides around with a cello.

For more of Haulin Colin’s work, see the Madison Market bicycle-powered float he made and read more about John in a Seattle Times article.

Giant Bike Cyborg

Wheeled Victory, or The Cyborg of Interstellar Justice, is a bike sculpture made by Luke A Idziak.

Avenge the Universe with a Fixie!

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and a cargo bike inside …

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Hat tip Boing Boing.

Worst Case Scenario in Le Tour

Frank Steele wrapped up yesterday’s chaotic stage well on the TDF Blog and it was a worst-case scenario: wet, narrow, slippery roads with oil from a crashed motorcycle.

Behind, the descent of the Col de Stockeu looked like the train station scene of “Gone with the Wind,” with riders all over the roadside. Some reporters estimated 70-80 riders went down, and there were reports of soigneurs climbing out of cars to help their riders, then falling down themselves. Some riders (and Eddy Merckx) have suggested there must have been some sort of oil on the road (leading to my favorite tweet of the day), because the road seemed so much more treacherous than when it’s been raced in LBL in the past.

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AP Photo via Daylife.

I’ve crashed with a whole peloton before and it is surreal. Our Tuesday Worlds is ran on a car race course with a drag strip. They use detergent to soften the dragster tires for grip at 200 MPH and over the years, a layer of polished rubber has been laid down. Add water to that polished surface and it turns into a well-lubricated skating rink.

Why I Don't Race in the Rain

My injuries weren’t that bad and I didn’t have to get up and ride a stage on the cobbles the next day, but I’ll never forget how that crash happened in slow motion. Racers fell in front and around me, until I went down myself with a thud. As I tweeted earlier when the crashing started, “never want to see racers go down, they’re not surrounded by sheet metal, like in car racing.”

They’re hurting out there today and also worried. Regarding CVV, who seems to crash out of a Grand tour every season, I’ve broken ribs too and that really hurts.

5 stitches and a pimpin' Ryan Air exit row. I am smiling on t... on Twitpic

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