Weeeeee!!! Oops…. Ouch. The Ravensdale Road Race.

image I raced a local Cat4 bike race today. While it was plenty of fun, the title of this post pretty much describes how my race went. I heard from the UW cycling team that they wanted to try to make something happen right out of neutral. It seemed like a good idea, since nobody in a Cat4 race really wants to hurt for a 40 mile race, so if a few people are up for it the pack will likely let them go away. Apparently UW was all talk, because only one of them went with me on the first hill, and we dropped right back in. The second lap I did the same thing on the first hill and managed to stay away for about 7 miles all by myself. I kept thinking someone would bridge up, but Phil Spencer (this is the second time I’ve linked to that website, but since my laptop speakers are broken, I can’t actually hear the video that plays. From the looks of it Phil and some woman are trying to convince me that decapitation would really improve the spacing between the vertebrae in my neck.) and a few other guys decided to simply tow the entire pack up to me. If the group was thinned out by my efforts, I couldn’t tell.

At this point (half way through the race) I figured that my chances for glory through breakaway were shot. I also refuse to contest a sprint, because it’s just not worth the risk of crashing before a race that matters, so I started going to the front and playing around with some tempo pace riding. It was all fun and games from there until about 2 miles to go in the race. The pace had picked up significantly, and there was a long line of guys out in front. A guy riding for Starbucks started accelerating to the left, and I saw a gap and went right. As we came up the pack was yelling something to the effect of, “jumping on the left, and another on the right”. All was well until I was passing the leader, a rider from Cucina Fresca (a team I managed to enrage last year after calling them “Cucina ‘no pull’ Fresca” for their irritating, though successful, tactics on this same course).

Now here’s the tricky part. Did he look at the Starbucks rider and come right into me, or did I bump into him?  All I know is that if I had not been passing him at that moment, The Cucina guy would not have clipped my bars and about 15 guys would not have hit the pavement. I would like to believe I was holding my line and that my fault was simply in not communicating my presence as I was passing, but either way I feel really bad about the whole thing.

So after looking back and seeing melee behind me (and that awful sound of beautiful bikes being broken) I followed the lead of the other men around me and started accelerating. We rounded the last corner and started up the first of two short climbs to the finish line (about 1500m away), I thought maybe I should just hammer from bottom, but by the time I saw the 200m sign I was fried and I fell back to about 10th-ish.

Heading back into the parking lot I heard some guys talking about this guy, “Ben Collins, he’s a triathlete, and he took down that Cucina guy, they’re talking about disqualifying him for aggressive riding.” I interjected, and asked if any of them had seen what happened – they hadn’t, but the guy that went down was apparently sure of himself that I had made the mistake. Oh yeah, blame the triathlete. To cyclists, being a triathlete is like being below Cat5 (not Cat6, but something like Cat100 or Catgoogleplex, which would indicate no chance of improvement – ever). It means you have no handling skills, will crash yourself out of a race with nobody else around, and are likely to show up to group rides with aerobars and a disc wheel. Nobody seems to care that I race mainly in Olympic style, draft legal triathlon, against cyclists that are each strong enough to race Cat 1/2. Even the local official in charge of upgrades, when I asked to be moved to the 4’s, went to her friends that race Ironman for their opinion on pack experience through triathlon (they said that in a race people are all strung out a few bike lengths apart, and aren’t really “drafting” – check out the videos on the ITU website and tell me if that’s what you see.) I digress – I already felt bad, but this news that I was being called “reckless” really made me feel bad. (To be fair, the guys with road rash and broken bikes probably felt worse – so poor Ben, right?).  It’s easy to justify in your head how you were not at fault, so in this type of situation I try to figure out what I could have done differently, ask other people if they saw what happened, and accept some responsibility regardless of what happened. I found a few other guys carrying their bikes, one guy said he was right behind the crash and didn’t think I had done anything wrong, “looked like you were holding your line to me”. Eventually, after plenty of apologies to bloody legged cyclists, I found the Cucina guy that crashed. His bike was in bad shape, he was a little bloody, but not broken. So I apologized, which I guess is all I really can do. The RD told me not to worry about a DQ. “It’s not a big deal,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault, sometimes crashes just happen.” I still feel badly.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. In my defense, I actually did try and go with you on your opening move but after about 3 minutes dropped back when I tasted blood from my lungs hemorrhaging from the effort. The second attack lasting almost the entire loop was unreal. There were a handful of us doing a TTT for all we were worth and not even making a dent….Remember, I’m the guy that puts the ME in tEaM! So after reeling in my teammate, he tries to take me out by throwing an entire peleton on the tarmac in front of me. I had a sphincter tightening ride OVER the wheels of the bike in front of me and like the good doctor I am…sprinted off for personal glory. After the race, I got my adjusting table out and did indeed try and decapitate Ben. Sadly, that thick neck held and it seems to be in tact at present.

  2. Hey Ben…
    I was the Cucina Guy who ate serious Pavement, have a shattered fork, frame and shift lever set, a nice collection road rash and a broken thumb.
    From every race experience that I’ve been in, you pretty much yield to the rider who’s bars are in front…especially if that rider is 2nd wheel. I did grab the Starbucks riders wheel. I was 2nd wheel and had been chasing everything down for 5k preceedeing the incident, so I grabbed it when it came past. You did have plenty of room on your right side and didn’t need to shoot up the middle to grab a wheel that wasn’t going to stick from that far out anyway. However, when you want to win a bike race, you follow whatever wheel you think is ‘it’ at the moment. That’s what you were doing. That’s what I would have done if I was you at the time and was feeling good, which it seemed you were. Riders that were working up front the last lap (namely First Rate, UW and Cucina) were making each other aware when we pulled through, or if someone jumped I’d tell my teammates “I got it” when hopping on. When riding without a team, and having the ITU race mentality, which you do…and that is fine because it’s your thing and you are damn fine at it….you hafta remember that communication is key in a sketchy ass group of 4’s that are about redlined at the end of a race. You may have been holding a line, but it was my line you should have been watching. I was right there, ahead of you, not fading and you had room.
    Anyway, although it sucks and I hafta find a new bike before Mt Hood SR, I understand. And anyone who straps on a helmet and enters a race knows that this can happen. It’s a fucking competition. I don’t hold any ill will toward ya.

    Now get me a set of Beyond Carbon wheels and we’ll call it even.

  3. the ironman triathlete consultants who say there is no drafting in triathlon have definitely obviously raced at the kona and clearwater world championships 😀

  4. Ben,

    Isn’t this pretty much how you won age group nat’s on ’07? If I remember correctly you ran some lady off the road to edge her out for the overal win. Pretty sure that was you. Sorry the husky guys all bailed on you, on the ride down they were talking about how they were going to jump out of neutral and take off and how even if it doesn’t work it’s better to go out in a flame of glory or something to that effect. Perhaps they tried and were unable, I hope their lack of effort in no way reflects poorly on me for trying to set you up with them, a few more races and I’ll be a 4 and unlike Phil I won’t help everyone hunt you down :). Anyway, I checked into the USAC rules and it doesn’t look like you should be DQ’d, but if I’m interpreting rule 10.30.5 correctly, you are officially unworthy of unconditional love for 15 days from the date of the crash for a first offense and 30 days for a second. Be sure to inform Courtenay.

  5. You were lucky to finish 10th considering 15 guys went down – you are not one of those triathletes that could race Cat 1/2 – you finished 10th and were fried? – your bike racing experience is lacking considering you thought you were going to “hurt” the field and solo your way to victory – your attitude about “no Cat 4’s want to hurt” seems a little arrogant – it seems the field of Cat 4 riders raced smarter than the “triathlete”- you have to qualify to race Cat 4 with some experience or winning some Cat 5 bike races – with your attitude you should be racing Cat 5 or as you wise crack Cat 6 or Cat 100 or whatever – as you commented “maybe I should have communicated” – something you may have learned racing Catgoogleplex” – you also commented on how you “enraged” the Cucina team last year – maybe you should stick to triathlons? I was sitting 14th wheel – not sure the point of your blog.

  6. “you have to qualify to race Cat 4 with some experience or winning some Cat 5 bike races” – Thanks for the info! You can also sign up for a 4 hour class at Cycle U and upgrade without ever racing. I did the winning one for my upgrade.

    “not sure the point of your blog” – Maybe I’ll write a mission statement.

  7. I think perhaps I should have incorporated lots of smiley faces into my post so it was obvious I was joking 🙂 . After reading Craig’s overly friendly post I want to make sure that I am not accidentaly lumped in with him 😉 . In fact after reading Craig’s post I feel saddened by all the hatred in the world and will probably go paint pictures of rainbows and kittens to cheer myself up 🙂 . Finger painting most likely 🙂 .

  8. I think to upgrade I have to race with the intention of winning, rather than just trying to prep my legs for a triathlon. I probably also have to demonstrate some safety skills to about 15 new found skeptics 🙂

  9. Ben,
    Considering probably only zero-3 riders actually know exactly what happened in the crash (no Versus or Universal Sports to show the replay) and accidents happen in a bike race, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on fault. Actually, even if it was your fault, plenty of bike racers who can’t swim or run cause crashes, so let’s forget about fault altogether.
    Problem is, bike racers are so strangely self important, euro-cool and neo-pro, that of course it was the triathlete’s fault. If only you couldn’t swim well or run fast you might actually be a good bike handler. Of course, all your training, group rides and races don’t contribute to your bike handling because you race triathlons and aren’t on a cool bike racing team.
    Now I am on a cool bike racing team and have raced plenty of triathlons and bike races. No way the Cat 5 crew, in general, are all better bike handlers than recreational triathletes.
    Just a bunch of BS because you wear a sleeveless jersey and spend a lot of time on a TT bike (or if only ITU races, with snubby areo bars on your road bike). Keep racing, kick some a$$, and that is all you have to say. Just remember, any crash you’re in will always be the triathletes fault…

  10. “All I know is that if I had not been passing him at that moment, The Cucina guy would not have clipped my bars and about 15 guys would not have hit the pavement. I would like to believe I was holding my line and that my fault was simply in not communicating my presence as I was passing, but either way I feel really bad about the whole thing.”

    You were overtaking the rider who’s bars clipped you. If he’s in front of you – it’s your job to respond to his line no matter what he does. Seems like this one is on you. I know of at least 4 full-carbon bikes being replaced.

  11. “If he’s in front of you – it’s your job to respond to his line no matter what he does.”

    No matter what he does?! Not true and scary ignorant. See USAC rules 1O6, 1O7, 3B10, etc. I don’t know anything about the crash you all are discussing, but you can’t interfere with another rider’s line even if you are in front.

  12. Ok, Ok….
    We all know that crashes happen. It sucks, but even the Pros go down…actually quite often. Ben was racing bikes, as we all were, and anyone else that day could’ve caused a crash as well…it was a 4’s race for eff’s sake.
    Lets just say I think I got the worst of it and after a couple days of healing, I, as well as everyone else, need to understand that that’s bike racin’.
    Coulda been worse. I could be in the hospital and some guy that is an asshole could have been ungracious and said that it was someone else’s fault. But that’s not the case. I’ll heal. I’ll rob a liquor store for the cash for a new whip. And Ben was anything but an asshole about the whole affair.

    go about your biznass, everyone. Isn’t there a race you should all be getting ready for?

  13. Wow, I just thought Id get in on this action. sounds like an exciting race at least exciting aftermath. Anyway anyone can talk poo bout it being someones fault. Heck it could of been a lil kids toy car that rolled out into the street and caused a 20 bike pile up and some riders would still get bent out of shape and scold that lil boy and scar him for life because it made them feel better.

    Bottom line.. Someone is always gona be blamed.
    I’m with ya Ben… keep on, keep’n on.
    and Don’t worry bout it…past is past.

  14. I think we’ve heard enough on this. There are a couple more comments in moderation, but I’d rather stop the name calling and malicious content. Thank you all for your comments, especially Big Dirty, next up is a blog about drinking stinky cheese water to regulate your colon. Try fighting over that!!

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