After reading a thoughtful article about the benefits of unplugging, shared by a friend who’s recovering from a broken collarbone after crashing on the NPR, I switched everything off last night around 7:00 PM and didn’t turn back on until I woke up, just after five. I woke up without an alarm.
Then today I powered down at 4:30 PM, plowed through thirty more pages of a book that is dense but that, as one friend put it, “Is a hairbrush for the tangled mind.” I did some other etceteras and was looking forward to bed when I realized I couldn’t very well blog on paper.
During those few hours of relative mental calm I reflected on the terrible chain collision that happened on Tuesday’s NPR. A big chunk of asphalt didn’t get called out, one rider hit it, another launched over it but didn’t fall, and a third went down hard. At least five other riders hit the deck. One left in an ambulance with a fractured scapula and broken ribs, another broke a clavicle, and a third suffered a severe concussion.
There was plenty of blame to go around, but none of it resolved a key question. Does the Big Group Fake Race belong on the streets anymore?
Leaving aside for the moment that no one was killed but easily could have been, and leaving aside for the moment that the NPR has been the site of many bad falls, one serious car-bike collision, and at least four huge gang pile-ups … wait, we can’t really leave that aside because that’s pretty much the point.
If the pace is slow, everyone bunches up and it’s sketchy as hell. Then the group is frisky for the sprint and people who shouldn’t be going full-gas in a packed group are. It’s scary.
If the pace is fast, everyone from mid-pack back is gassed and can barely keep their head up. Any irregularity in the road, large rock, or sudden change in speed up ahead can cause the kind of catastrophic chain reaction that we saw on Tuesday.
For a few months we had a police escort, but the powers that be eventually quashed that and now the group is back on its own. At least now everyone stops at red lights.
We all know that riders assume the risk and that when you’re feeling good the risk is worth assuming. It’s when everything goes sideways that you really have to wonder.
- Why am I here?
- Why are you here?
- Are there too many people?
- Is it time to euthanize this ride and do something else?
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