Motorcycles Hitting Riders

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Last weekend, in two different professional races, support motorcycles ran into riders.  I’m not sure if this is happening more than it used to, but for sure we are all hearing about it more.  I think that it has been going on for a long time and now that social media is so engrained, we hear about each and every occurrence instantly.

It really doesn’t matter, it is bad.  Guys getting hit by motorcycles or support cars is always not a good thing.  It has never ceased to amaze me that more guys don’t get killed by support vehicles during a bicycle race.  And that more support vehicles don’t hit pedestrians either.  It is chaos, but mostly, it seems to be relatively controlled chaos.  But relatively isn’t good enough in some situations.

I’m not big on so many vehicles being intermingled in a bike race.   The race itself is very dangerous and adding a bunch of heavy, two and four wheeled vehicles to the mix, exacerbates it immensely.  I’ve always hated it.

But me not liking it doesn’t mean it is going to cease.  There are always going to be a certain number of support vehicles in a race.  Allowing those vehicles access to the riders is another thing.  The media seems to have a carte blanche ticket at races.  I understand the importance of media at sporting events, but not at the risk of the riders health.  Same with the police motorcycles.

This has been going on for a long time.  The problem is that many of the guys on the motorcycles are ex-racers and guys that are caught up in the competition.  These guys are riding their motorcycles like they are racing them.  It is somewhat normal reaction to a tense environment, but it just adds to the stress and danger.

I’ve never been hit by a support vehicles, but I can say that I’ve had a few very close encounters.
One year at Redland’s, at the Oak Glen stage, I was riding at the edge of the field, a break was 5 minutes up the road.  It wasn’t really going that hard and I was coasting off my seat, stretching my back.  There was about a meter or two to my left of open road.  I was going to go into the gap and move up, and for some reason I happened to look over my shoulder. A California Highway Patrol motorcycle was coming by the field at over 100 mph.  I shit you not.

The guy was passing the whole field of 175 guys at over 100 mph.  It was insane.  I just happened to glance back.  Normally I would have not done that.  If I hadn’t, I would have disappeared into a millions pieces, along with a bunch of other guys.

Anyway, races promoters need to figure this out.  I’m not sure it is up the UCI, as Jim Ochowicz, BMC manager, keeps addressing.  BMC has had a bunch of bad luck with their riders from this. But, it is happening at all races, not just UCI races.  I can’t see how the UCI can make a rule to address each and every support vehicle/rider interaction.

We just all need to be more cognisant of the dangers involved in the sport and try to work as a group to make it as safe as possible.

van avermaet


Tucker was too interested in KU smearing Texas last night to win the Big 12 conference outright. He was trying to recharge to use it little puppy teeth to cause damage.

Tucker was too interested in KU smearing Texas last night to win the Big 12 conference outright. He was trying to recharge to use his little puppy teeth to cause damage.

9 thoughts on “Motorcycles Hitting Riders

  1. Roger Lomshek

    I’d hazard a guess that more vehicles (motos and cars) cause wrecks when they’re driven by non-racers than by racers. While there’s always a risk of the moto racer getting a little too excited it’s far more common for the non-racing driver to lack the situational awareness, reaction time or knowledge to react appropriately.

    I remember in the Subaru Cup race in Greeneville, SC in ’91 Jonas Carney (I think it was him anyway) attacked on the back side of the course and an ESPN camera bike (Honda Goldwing – Not exactly the best crit bike anyway) driven by a local motorcycle club guy wasn’t able to get out of his way on corner #3 and took him down. The driver had no idea how to take a corner efficiently and was way behind the reaction curve. To his credit Jonas almost knocked the Goldwing with two riders out of his way but tonnage won.

    A similar thing happened to me in Springfield at the Queen City crit when a car slowed down for a lapped rider on the final corner of the last lap as I’m off the front. Bad initial line compounded by hesitation on the car driver’s part and no awareness of how quickly a cyclist (me) could close what they thought was a safe gap.

    Definitely we need fewer vehicles in races and they should only be there when they serve a legit purpose. It gives us the TDF cool factor but bites them and us in the ass to often.

  2. Ted

    That was a classic but I never viewed the video – it appears a police officer in an orange overcoat tried to stop the BMW from advancing further – then the driver just about ran him over as well – unbelievable!

  3. jeffc

    when I did race, I used to hate having support vehicles on the same travels as the racers…At La Ruta, support vehicles were allowed on the roads. Many of them had no concern for fellow cyclists… (also at La Ruta were live trains on day 3/4 )

    the hundred milers ( ) don’t typically allow for support vehicles, yet at 4000ft (Shanadoah 100) there is pizza at one of the aid stations – right on! and other treats! love that race.

    I don’t think support vehicles should be allowed on the race course, and if they are found on the race course they should be subject to a fine and the racer they are supporting suspended. Fair game.
    Motorcyclists offering essential services could be allowed on the course, but need to respect space (5ft) from racers.

    it just presents too much of a un-necessary hazard. its suppose to be a race, not a bunch of metal boxes with fanatics chasing after their kill… I’d say ban them from the race course.

  4. Steve Tilford Post author

    Mark – You have to remember what cycling was before 11 gears in the back and pre-EPO. With only 6 gears to choose from, I doubt Jesper was riding a 12-26. What would that have looked like? 12-14-17-20-23-26? Man, are you missing a bunch of important cogs there! I think half the reason I struggled climbing so much in the old days was because I was so overgeared all the time. Thinking back, it was ridiculous.

  5. mark

    That Skibby incident is a classic. I wonder if the front wheel survived that intact? The mechanic seemed more concerned with the back wheel.

  6. Krakatoa East of Java

    Amen. Anything uphill meant 2-3 options MAX. 19 and either a 21 or 23 (for BIG hills). And that was with a 42 up front!

  7. Mike Rodose

    The best moto rider is the guy who ran over Ryder Hesjedrug’s motorized bike.

  8. Randall Legeai

    I think there is a difference between the experienced motorefs and whoever the hell they get to drive the photographers around. Regardless, it is all supposed to be under the control of the Chief Referee who is supposed to approve the plan for caravan control which I think is often delegated to another official or a non-official Technical Service Director. Whatever, IMHO motos shouldn’t ever be alongside the riders unless absolutely necessary, but I think some of the passing problems come from well-intentioned motorefs trying to give time checks to the break and pack.


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