Wednesday, May 21, 2008

USA Cycling Rule Check

After the crit in Saturdays Le Tour de West Lafayette I got to thinking a bit about the fact that the race was run on an open road. Sure I can understand holding a road race under such conditions, but a crit? Especially a crit with a downhill section!

I did a quick check of the USA Cycling Rule Book for 2008 and the very FIRST rule states:

3D. Criterium

3D1. A criterium is a circuit race held on a small course entirely closed to traffic. The length of the course is between 800m and 5km. The minimum width throughout the course should be 7m.

I don't know about you, but an entirely closed closed course seems pretty obvious to me. In the Men's 4/5 race I encountered two vehicles on the course, and there are reports of more. The first instance was as we crested the first rise and began to make the turn in corner 2 leading to the climb. A car was coming down the hill towards the pack which was swinging wide to start the climb. Luckily for us there were some observant fans standing near the corner to stop the driver. Shouts were heard up and down of "car up!", something you may normally hear on a group ride, but never in a crit. The second instance was after turn 3 as we were heading downhill towards turn 4. The police allowed a vehicle to enter the course, however this time they were on our side of the yellow line. This to me is just dangerous and completely avoidable by perhaps choosing a different course. Why just 3 blocks away was the deserted campus of Purdue University.

The fact that there were no incidents with any vehicles on the course was probably due to luck more than any other reason. USA Cycling has rules in place to protect the riders from serious harm. I know every time I race I risk injury to myself, but I expect that there can be crashes caused riders or by a tricky course. I certainly don't expect to racing along with traffic. Shame on Benga Sports for allowing this to happen.

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