TRIATHLETE BIKING ACCIDENTS-FIVE MAIN CAUSES
It seems that every year there are more and more triathlon training accidents and here is a look at triathlete biking accidents-five main causes.
Most of the accidents appear to be happening in training as opposed to during an actual triathlon event.
There are several reasons that might explain why triathlon bike accidents are becoming so common.
There is no doubt that triathlon bikes are becoming capable of much faster speeds than the basic road bike was in the early days of the sport.
Today’s triathlon bikes are stronger and lighter and are configured for straight-ahead speed.
Carbon fiber frames, aero-bars, snap-in pedals, and lighter, stronger components all play a part in making even the average triathlon bike capable of reaching increasingly higher speeds.
You only have to look back at the history of the Ironman to realize how much things have changed.
In 1988, Paula Newby-Fraser became the first woman to go under 5 hours in the bike leg of The Ironman World Championships.
In 2010, Chrissie Wellington did the Ironman bike distance in Roth Germany in 4:36:33. Part of the difference is training and fitness, but mostly it is the bike technology that has most to do with faster bike times.
IMPROPER BIKE FIT
Proper fit is vitally important whether a triathlete purchases a state-of-the-are triathlon bike worth thousands of dollars or an inexpensive, used road bike.
Being relaxed and comfortable are important considerations especially on long bike rides.
State of mind plays a part in cyclists being more aware of what is happening around them and being able to react quickly when necessary.
Proper bike fit also means better control and being in control of your bike can make a huge difference in reaction time when it matters most.
LACK OF BIKING EXPERIENCE
Triathlon is most likely the fastest growing mainstream sport in the world. People who have very little experience biking out on the open road are coming into the sport and more or less learning on the fly.
It’s great to see people taking up the sport of triathlon and trying to better themselves, however learning how to bike properly from the very beginning of their foray into triathlon has huge benefits.
Many novice triathletes go right into a high-end triathlon bike with only the most basic biking experience to rely on. It is far easier to learn how to bike with a standard road bike as opposed to a bike that is configured strictly for speed.
As a rule, road bikes are much more forgiving than triathlon bikes.
The standard “drop” handlebars of a road bike offer a wider range of hand positions. That means more comfort and control and these are important considerations for the novice rider.
Road bikes also allow for a wider range of vision as compared to triathlon bike with their over-all lower configuration and aero-bars that keep the rider bent over as opposed to the more conventional upright position.
Just imagine 300 Tour d’ France riders in a pack all using aero-bars. They save the profile bars for the time trials when they are basically alone on the road and are trying for the fastest possible time.
Often when riders get tired they will have a harder time keeping their head up and tend to look at the patch of road in front of them as opposed to further up the road where glass, pieces of wood, pot-holes, vehicular traffic, or any manner of obstacle might be directly in their path.
There is simply not enough time to react if a rider is not looking far enough ahead.
It’s also important for the new rider to learn basic skills. It’s vitally important to learn how to maintain a straight line, climb and descend hills with proper technique, and corner safely at high speeds.
These skills are easier to learn on a road bike and once mastered the new triathlete will not only have a more rewarding biking experience, but will also be far safer out on the road.
INCREASE IN HIGHWAY TRAFFIC
In many parts of the world it’s getting harder and harder to find a place to ride your bike where you don’t have to share the road with a steady flow of cars and trucks.
This is especially true in larger cities where sub-divisions are spreading out further and further from the city core.
Cell phone use has also been responsible for serious run-ins between distracted drivers and the unsuspecting biker on the shoulder of the road.
It means that cyclists have to be aware of what is happening around them at all times so they can take evasive action when necessary. Unfortunately this gets more difficult when a cyclist becomes tired or is traveling at high speeds.
HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING
There are many triathletes in the world who are trying to be as fast as they possibly can when they enter a triathlon.
That means training at a high intensity and biking longer distances. This can lead to inattention and slower reaction times caused by fatigue.
They may be pros training so they can earn points for the World Championships(or to win prize money)in an upcoming race, or it could be an age-group triathlete who have his sights set on winning a qualifying spot in the 70.3 World Championships or possibly Ironman Hawaii in Kona.
Making it to the big show is getting harder and harder to accomplish and it seems that the faster and further triathletes bike in search or excellence, the more likely they are to be involved in an accident.
It seems like every year another high-profile pro triathlete is involved in a devastating collision with vehicular traffic or is involved in an accident on their own just by biking at very fast speeds.
Whether the accident is caused by a flat tire, other mechanical failures, or an inattentive automobile driver, the speed the bike is traveling leaves very little reaction time and an accident is often the result.
Chrissie Wellington has had sensational Ironman bike splits, but she has also had some sensational accidents. She crashed in January and May of 2010. she also had a serious crash in September of 2011 and later said, “I didn’t realize my front tire was flat and my wheel went out from under me.”
Dave Scott and Andy Potts crashed within months of each other. and pro triathlete Jordan Rapp almost lost his life in a bike crash and the list goes on and on.