Training rides, novices and crashes

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Tom Butcher
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Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Tom Butcher » Fri Sep 20, 2013 08:25 am

Our evening training ride/chaingang has gone from half a dozen of us from one club 6-7 years ago to up to 60 riders (typically 40 plus every week) turning up. A lot of the riders now are novices, many you don't recognise so no idea if they are in a club or ride with other groups.

All to the good so far, but with the increase in numbers has come an increase in crashes. Not on the "fast group" - I don't think I've ever seen a crash on that and we can have 20 riders averaging over 26mph no problems. It's the next group down - still fairly fast. Last night there were two crashes on it - which is ridiculous, if yousaw that in a year you'd think you were unlucky.

It's got to the stage now where I'm sure some people who don't have the legs for the fast group are put off coming out. Anyone else seen this problem with the increased popularity of the sport - what have you done about it? Like most chaingangs we've mostly let it grow organically but maybe it's time to impose some structure.
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Imposter
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Imposter » Fri Sep 20, 2013 08:31 am

The numbers sound too big for a fast group ride on open roads. I personally think 10 is about right for a chaingang. Any more than that and a) you don't get a decent workout and b) you begin to cause problems for other road users.

Tom Butcher
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Tom Butcher » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:21 am

Yeah we normally go as two groups and then a few slower riders in a small third group. Agree though the groups are getting too big, the fast group normally thins out anyway and it's fast enough that your average 2nd/3rd cat can get a good workout - not sure about the faster lads.

It's more the so called middle group that seems to be a problem safety wise - wondered if anyone had a similar problem with numbers and new riders - did you actually impose a Limit on group size? We've always been reluctant to as it implies you are organising the ride and then do you take responsibility if it goes wrong?
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e999sam
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby e999sam » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:59 am

I was out on your CG last night didn't see the second accident but the first was on the hill up to Ripley on the first mini roundabout. I was about 20m behind but I guess at the point of contact there were around 10 riders because it had split on the hill. The second incident I think happened behind the main group so again probably not to many riders. The accident that happened a couple of weeks ago was also in a small group.
I've done 4 rides now in the slow group on Thursday night and I would say the standard was good even bearing in mind the obvious novices. Maybe it's just been an unlucky couple of weeks.

BrandonA
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby BrandonA » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:58 pm

Sounds like you need someone to take control and state what is expected.

I've never ridden a chain gang as I don't know of one in my area (I'm sure there is but I don't want to join a club as club runs are too slow and I don't want to stop at cafes half way around a ride). If I were to find one and turn up, I'd hope someone would explain to me what is expected of me in terms of the average speed, how the group rotates, how many wide they ride etc. If no one is to tell me this then how am ride then this might increase the chances of me riding in a fashion which your specific chain-gang does not like or expect.

Also, it does sound like you are being a bit elitist and not liking all the new people turning up. If you don't know the facts about the crashes you have no idea how caused them and why they occurred. It could have been the experienced riders that caused them. It could have been a fluke mechanical failure.

Maybe you should split the group into smaller groups and keep the numbers down.

celbianchi
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby celbianchi » Fri Sep 20, 2013 13:56 pm

Many newcomers do not seem to like being advised what is expected from them. Try telling some of the choppers in a road race bunch of a fast chain gang and you get a right mouthful.

Tom Butcher
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Tom Butcher » Fri Sep 20, 2013 15:31 pm

BrandonA wrote:Sounds like you need someone to take control and state what is expected.

I've never ridden a chain gang as I don't know of one in my area (I'm sure there is but I don't want to join a club as club runs are too slow and I don't want to stop at cafes half way around a ride). If I were to find one and turn up, I'd hope someone would explain to me what is expected of me in terms of the average speed, how the group rotates, how many wide they ride etc. If no one is to tell me this then how am ride then this might increase the chances of me riding in a fashion which your specific chain-gang does not like or expect.

Also, it does sound like you are being a bit elitist and not liking all the new people turning up. If you don't know the facts about the crashes you have no idea how caused them and why they occurred. It could have been the experienced riders that caused them. It could have been a fluke mechanical failure.

Maybe you should split the group into smaller groups and keep the numbers down.


I do have some idea about what happened as people have told me and I know the people that have crashed have largely been novices. I don't want to put people off turning up, on the contrary I've always told anyone interested to come down and join in, but I'm now starting to wonder if that really good advice. Maybe we've not been elitist enough, I've always argued all should be welcomed as we all have to start somewhere but maybe a fast training ride in the dark isn't the place to start.

Mainly I just wondered if anyone else had experienced similar in their area - and what you did about it if anything. To be honest saying maybe split into smaller groups is obvious but actually imposing that on an activity that nobody officially organises is not totally straightforward - though probably possible.
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Ric/RSTSport
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Ric/RSTSport » Fri Sep 20, 2013 16:10 pm

have a coached ride, on a shorter circuit where the coach explains before what is to be done (purpose of ride) and what is expected of everyone. that said i've never been on a chain gang where anyone has explained anything, other than perhaps "RIDE FASTER"!!!!!!!!!!! ;-)
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Negativelycra
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Negativelycra » Fri Sep 20, 2013 22:42 pm

Op, the club i'm in has chaingangs on 3 nghts, mon is "intermdiate", weds "fast", thurs "beginner". The beginner ride will split up if it gets too big, but a dedicated club member runs the biginners with a very tight ship.
Some people seem to ot like having instructions barked at them, but chris is clear - do as your told, or do another ride. It works really well, and the beginner ride is a great stepping stone for lots of people.

Form the sounds of it, your group might feel the benefit if you can find a few leaders who are able / willing to orginise the ride as captain?
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Toks
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Toks » Sat Sep 21, 2013 03:44 am

As Ric says someone needs to take charge of the group and explain whats required. Experienced riders know what their doing and it not uncommon to hear one word muttered apart from "clear" in a 90 minute work out. Perhaps you should volunteer your services to the medium paced group next time

Tom Butcher
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Tom Butcher » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:10 am

Toks wrote:As Ric says someone needs to take charge of the group and explain whats required. Experienced riders know what their doing and it not uncommon to hear one word muttered apart from "clear" in a 90 minute work out. Perhaps you should volunteer your services to the medium paced group next time


Doing similar, taking a slower group round (averaged 20.4 this week) on Tuesdays, keeping the numbers down and giving advice. Last race for me this weekend so I don't mind taking it easy and in selfish terms I find doing that safer than riding in the middle group .

I think the solution is to try and split the groups before they set out. The taking charge question has been discussed but nobody seems sure of the legal implications of leading a ride when it's not just club members - plus the experienced riders who have raced a lot and maybe don't mind giving advice tend to want to ride in the faster group which to be honest works really well as it is. I don't know, e999sam above suggests the general standard in the middle group isn't as bad as all that so maybe smaller groups will do the job.
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Jim C
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Jim C » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:22 am

Hi Tom
To clarify, if its a club ride with only club members, and maybe a few guests giving it a try out- basically a club ride - then its covered by the clubs BC insurance

If regular riders are not our club members, then club insurance would not cover it. Anyone who takes on some level of responsibility or coaching - either formally organising or even giving advice on the road , which some non members might perceive to be 'coaching' - could find themselves on dodgy footing with a no win no fee type accident solicitor.

For me the way forward is I ll ride chaingang only with club members (like our youth ride on Wed)
I can't afford to take the current risks

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Mikey23
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Mikey23 » Sun Sep 22, 2013 12:36 pm

Have quite limited experience of club riding in a large local club but it seemed to be the everybody goes wellying off at their own pace, regroup at the top of the next hill/ layby , wait patiently for the noobs to wheeze up then set off again. Whatever the pace schedule of the group you are in it will always be riding significantly faster. If it looks like you won't keep up you will be politely but firmly asked to go back

It seems to me that the problem will always be to have suitably qualified volunteers to lead groups who are assertive and pro active about what goes on in their groups and know the area...Most will come to the group and want to 'do their ride' and assume that others will do the hard work. It is quite a heavy responsibility and many will be put off by the heavy responsibility if things go wrong ... I'm a running coach and would have no probs with runners but would never take a group of cyclists out on the roads

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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Jim C » Sun Sep 22, 2013 13:35 pm

To clarify - for me he issue isn't our clubs riders . from advice taken, those riders are covered on club runs by BC insurance. The issue is the inclusiveness of the chain gang - anyone can, and do rock up to ride - young and old, newbies, some who seem to want to do their own thing and won't take advice. In the event of a significant incident, someone might (will?) be found to be legally responsible - whether they realised that before the ride or not

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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby jibberjim » Sun Sep 22, 2013 15:20 pm

Jim C wrote:To clarify - for me he issue isn't our clubs riders . from advice taken, those riders are covered on club runs by BC insurance.


I think you may have misconstrued what insurance BC provide clubs, the coverage is for 3rd parties only, two members within the club get no coverage - only if they are individual members would they get anything. Of course if they are individual members then they would be covered even if there were uninvited non-members on the ride.

Tom, our club doesn't do chaingang at night (normally, there's been a couple but lots of people won't do them) the route available to us is not really suitable due to surface and potholes. It only rides pacelines as most of us feel it's safer (you've the whole width of the road to ride in, have more freedom to miss holes and only have more freedom to move up the line when traffic) With pacelines more able to have a mixture of abilities and everyone get a good workout we can split the groups into even smaller ones, so rarely have more than 6 in a group. We try to ensure there's always an experienced person in those groups who dictates the ride (generally simply by riding an awful lot of it on the front, and handing out tips...) In the 5 years of doing it I've only known of a couple of accidents on the rides, so it seems to have worked so far.

We don't normally welcome non-members, other than occasionally friends of members - although with no set start day/time it's unlikely they'd ever find out.
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briantrumpet
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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby briantrumpet » Sun Sep 22, 2013 15:40 pm

jibberjim wrote:We don't normally welcome non-members, other than occasionally friends of members

We've had this discussion in our club - I'd be for an exclusive policy in this instance, given the technical nature of chaingangs, but at the moment we have a more welcoming policy (the status quo). We are fortunate to have two fairly 'safe' courses, but even so I question the wisdom of allowing inexperienced non-club members just to pitch up and join in what is a club activity for club members. Group sizes do tend to be small, though - up to about 8.

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Re: Training rides, novices and crashes

Postby Jim C » Sun Sep 22, 2013 18:12 pm

Jibberjim- thanks for the clarification. To clarify from my end- im trying to make sure that anyone from our club (same club as Tom's) that knowingly takes on responsibility by leading the ride/ a group , or does this unknowingly in a low key coaching role - isn't held responsible for an incident- particularly if a 3rd party is involved (IE a driver of a car or member of the public - maybe via their insurance company). Incidents between riders in the group are just that - no one can hold anyone else responsible within the group - although riders could claim they were not informed of the risks, therefore it must be somebody elses fault).

My caution is partly as a result of an mountaineering incident on the north side of Crib Goch (Snowdon) around 20 years ago involving a university climbing club - basically a group with no leader. Resulted in lengthy legal wrangles

Tom - good post. I'm thinking this points to the status quo not being an option


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