Safety in the Caravan
30“He ended up chasing through the 40+ car caravan and was careened into a ditch by one of the follow cars!” Mike Barton, Cyclist, describing a teammate’s chase in the race caravan
Chasing back through the caravan can be like a respite with a motorpaced escort or like the worst road rage clash: cars on impact with riders, between caravan drivers, with a moto, and on and on. The screech and shatter of these incidents can be terrifying. There are some precautions but there are also uncontrollable variables so it ultimately becomes an exercise of faith as well as following rules.
The biggest warning is too often riders chase back opposite of the driver’s side in the caravan. The driver is concerned about safety but also strategy and is juggling more than a soccer mom on a cell phone with a van full of kids. A caravan driver usually has at least two radio systems, time pieces/technology/results/rosters/route to study and other tasks like feeding. Add press coverage to this mix, and it’s a multi-tasking nightmare driving in the caravan.
Make it easier for the drivers to see you by riding on their side – as is often the rule. You don’t get both sides of the caravan for a bike lane! As a rider, chase back on defensively. Allow yourself an out that escapes cliffs, ditches, guardrails, other cars. As a driver, flash headlights or beep the horn if that’s the appropriate signaling etiquette in the caravan. The average speed of the peloton is often lower than a some of the driving in the race caravan. The cars snake through switchbacks downhill at speeds that would make F1 drivers envious. They catch air chasing back after fixing a rider’s flat or nature breaks.
Most drivers are cautious as well as quick, but like an efficient racer, try to keep a tight caravan so that a chasing rider doesn’t have to bridge gaps between vehicles. My impression is that it’s more dangerous in the caravan than the peloton and it is often sheer madness. Many dangerous accidents have occurred between riders and cars as a result. Beware!
Prayer for Caravan Safety
“Caravans turn aside from their routes…”31Job 6:18
We are grateful for intra-race support, knowing that a willing helper follows behind our race. We confess we take safety for granted when focused on catching back. We pray for riders and drivers to have eyes to see and ears to hear, for all to stay on course, and for safety in the caravan.
Ponder Can I practice awareness under pressure? Affirm I can make safety as much of a priority as performance. Watch the road and ALL its occupants: riders, drivers, cars, motos, fans.
30“FBD Insurance Ras – Stage 2 – Emyvale to Tubbercurry,” by Mike Barton from Mike Barton’s Race Diary—53rd FBD Insurance RÁS—Tour of Ireland, News 2005 www.bostonscientificcycling.com
31The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society