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RAGBRAI accidents and the blame game

<FONT face=Calibri>A co-worker who recently got into road cycling asked me about RAGBRAI; and I’ve  given him the low-down about how much fun the ride can be.  He asked about the crowds, and the possibility of accidents on the road.  I told him that yeah, the early part of the day is packed, and can be hazardous, or stressful, and like everywhere else, accidents happen.  </FONT>

<FONT face=Calibri>I told him about one particular incident I remembered.  Back on the last day in 1997, a buddy and I were in a town on the side of the road watching the ride go by, when right in front of us, someone yelled out to a cyclist riding.  This cyclist did a complete 90 degree right hand turn to meet up with her friends on the side fo the road, when some  guy “JRA” T-boned her.  His bike was totaled; frame, fork, and front wheel were obviously bent.  The rider who turned in front of him got up pretty much unscathed. Of course, this had to happen on the last day when the end is so close.  </FONT>

<FONT face=Calibri>His next question made me think. How do people on the ride resolve the liability when incidents like this happen, and what would I do?  Luckily I’ve never had to experience that but if I’m to blame for something I’d do the right thing.
 If someone runs into you and ruins your bike do you beat the cash out of them?  Take their bike, and finish the week? Get their name and resolve it after the ride?  </FONT>

<FONT face=Calibri>To me fault is fault;  but if you were riding or ran into someone with say a 1970’s 10 speed they pulled out of the barn or some fancy Campagnolo carbon rig with a 50 gram saddle, would the perception or blame be different? Fixing a bent steel wheel is obviously cheaper than a replacing a carbon wheel with 16 spokes. </FONT>

<FONT face=Calibri>Just curious what people think, if anything this is a different thread that has nothing to do with the buying or selling of wristbands or vehicle passes.  </FONT>

8 Replies

RJBTrek, June 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Crap Happens


John L, June 4, 2011 at 4:52 am

Great questions!  I have a 2005 carbon bike and my spouse just got a new aluminum bike with a carbon fork. If either of us delivered a t-bone that destroyed our bike, we would just sit and cry.  I found my bike used for a great price in Houston….anyway it would be very hard to replace them.  I think I will slow down in and try to enjoy the ride more AND look out for others!!!


Paul, June 4, 2011 at 8:15 am

Try to have the only precious thing your group brings on the ride be your own skins. Be prepared mentally to be okay with replacing or doing without everything else. Control freaks and liability freaks can get frustrated with the herd. Folks that just show up and try to make it work all the way around are the reason the ride can be such a blast.

See you in July!


KittySlayer, June 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Probably the most important thing you can do is train to avoid a crash. First off that means riding with groups of people. So many people put in their training miles solo and never practice riding with other riders. Next go find yourself an old school Masters racer and have him do some bumping drills with you. Once you learn that contact on the bike does not mean contact with the pavement you willl have new confidence. Also have the old guy help you practice some wheel rubs so you know how to react when someone hooks/rubs your wheel (counter intuitive, you turn into the wheel). Finally spend some time off road, learn to bunny hop, make hard turns, improve your handling skills.

With regards to the bike, it is a tool, not a work of art. You should not be riding anything you cannot crash without crying over (Tim Rutledge). While luddites moan and groan about carbon, a crash with steel, Ti or aluminum may also end your week and a repair will take time and money too. Also remember that a crashed bike is not a total loss, rather it is just a wheel, the fork or possibly the frame, a good deal of the bikes value may still be in good condition.

Who pays? Well the right thing would be the moron that causes the crash. In reality you typically pay for your own bike. There are some folks that step up and do the right thing, but generally someone that makes such a stupid move is clueless and will not acknowledge that it was their fault. I suppose you could go to court but good luck with that.

Blame is for God and small children (Dega – Papillon).

Watch out for the squirrels.


jeffreydennis, June 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I would hope the at fault person would “man up” but my faith in people is slight at best. Sad but true. As for the rest of the comments; I’ll be there with carbon fiber but I suggest NOT riding in a peloton. Last year I stayed solo most of the time. Also, the crowds only get bigger throughout the day…I start early. 


orion12521, June 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

My road bike has a carbon frame.  It is my only road bike and I also race on it.  While I don’t want anything to happen to it, I accept that something could happen to it every time I ride it whether that is a solo ride, group training ride, race or organized event like RAGBRAI.  The alternative is to never ride it but admire the really nice bike I have.  It is way more fun to ride it so I accept that something may happen to it.  That being said, I have crashed in races on it three times.  Nothing more serious than bending the derailler hanger happened to the bike.  The most recent event was a pretty bad pile up when the pack was travelling at 28 mph.  In that one the bike was unharmed while I ended up with a grade 2 shoulder seperation.  Carbon fiber frames  are a lot more resilient than most people give them credit for.

I will say that in regards to liability, there should be some amount of assumed risk on the part of every cyclist.  With as many people as there are that ride RAGBRAI, things happen every year.  If you can not accept that you may have to replace some part on your bike, you may want to reconsider participating.  I look at a potential crash with a destroyed component or frame as a potential opportunity to upgrade something.  :)


SFC JKL 2, June 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I’ll agree with most that it would be nice if the “at fault” person would step up, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.  Everything I have on Ragbrai is disposable, including the bike.  I would miss my Trek, but I also have two better bikes sitting in my basement.

I also don’t have to worry about someone trying to steal it or having it scratched when it gets knocked over in a crowd.  It’s not a race, so leave the thoroughbred at home.


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