When you are part of RedMonkey Sports, its all about caring for the broader cycling community and setting a good example. Over the past couple of years, there have been a few big crashes that have rocked the Orange County cycling community. One resulted in injuries but could have been way more serious and the other was, sadly fatal. Both may have been prevented by some simple altruistic behavior on the part of the cycling community at large. We can do better and we can make a difference. The root cause for both of these crashes was large debris in the road, specifically rocks causing flat tires and a loss of control at high speed. We must be the stewards of our own safety rather than relying on the city or county for periodic street sweeping.
So, what can you do? Remember, whether alone or in a group, situational awareness on a bicycle is life. Literally.
First - your front wheel must be protected at all times. You must have awareness of anything that may impact your front wheel including other riders’ wheels, debris, potholes, etc. Accomplish this by maintaining a view beyond the rider in front of you. I like to look around people’s hips, or over their shoulders during a group ride. Adjust how far down the road you can see based on your speed as the faster you are going, the more distance you will cover in a shorter amount of time. For reference, traveling at 22 mph, you are covering about 33 feet per second.
Second - if you are in a group ride, it is paramount that you call debris out for the sake of other riders around and behind you. Not only is this common courtesy, but it mitigates a huge safety concern. If you do point something out, try and do it well in advance to give people behind you a chance to react. The last ‘millisecond point-and-swerve technique’ isn’t going to do much good. Normal human reaction times vary in the .5 to 1 second range and referencing our 22mph rate of speed above, you would have covered 16.5 to 33 feet by the time you can actually make a reaction. Note that this reaction time value will vary depending on many factors like how long it takes to comprehend what you are avoiding and forming a reaction to avoid it in a way that won’t crash you.
Third - if you do happen to notice a large rock or piece of debris in the road, particularly on high speed sections, please make an effort to stop, turn around, and remove the debris from the path of other cyclists.
That's it. A small inconvenience, but with potentially life-saving consequences. Please consider it the next time you see a large asphalt colored rock in the bike lane.
Thank you from RedMonkey Sports and all your fellow cyclists.