Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Riders wipe out in Bill Bone final turn

Bill Meyers shot some remarkable photos in the last minutes of the Bill Bone Pro Am race at Hobe Sound over the weekend. Trying to get permission to use one here, but meanwhile, see the series at Facebook. Peter Schuetz analyzes the shots as follows:
It looks to me like the trigger happened in the fourth picture with the two riders on the outside of the turn. Black-Helmet-No-Glasses squeezed past Gold-Glasses who was clamping his REAR brake which caused the back wheel to slide. When back wheel slides all control is gone. Maybe that's a Cat 4 error you wouldn't see in a more experienced rider but others say the higher cats crash in the same spot anyway. When a front rider goes down there are always lots of bikes piling up because it's hard to stop at 30+ mph. I'm surprised no one broke a collarbone, especially Red-White-S-Works who snapped fork.

Orange-Blue probably made the same mistake as Gold-Glasses: rear brake only causing skid and slip. In pic 6 you can't see Orange-Blue's right hand but you see his left hand is not on its brake lever. Other racers are braking through the turn so he must have been on the brakes too which means right brake lever only. In pic 8 you can see two of his right fingers still on the lever as he hits the ground. Two riders passing him on each side as he falls are using both brake levers for better control. They stay upright because their back tires didn't skid.

It's a good lesson in extreme braking that applies to more than just racing. I've needed maximum braking to avoid hitting cars that turned into my path without warning as I'm cruising along. Most cyclists are overly afraid of an endo over the handlebars from too much front brake when a skid fall from too much rear brake is much more likely as these pictures show.

How to brake was covered in the LAB Road Bicycling 101 course and I disagreed with their instruction to ease up on the front brake when the rear skids. That might avoid a slide but reduces slowing rate too much in emergencies. You should do most or almost all braking with the front brake. Motorcycle racers are the experts in two wheeled braking and they know that your focus should be on the front wheel which has 80% of the braking power. Letting up on the rear brake avoids rear skids without the dangerous reduction in slowing rate that happens by letting up on the front brake. Endos can happen but are almost always from applying brakes abruptly instead of quickly and progressively.

No comments: