It seems that whenever I show up for an organized ride, the pre-ride announcements always include a caution not to use aerobars in a group. And then, a few miles into the ride, I usually get passed by riders down on their aerobars. That’s not a great idea, as this video illustrates:
In the slow-motion replay, it’s pretty clear that the rider who crashed was on his aerobars. They gave him a little edge in speed, and he was about to pass the second rider in line when the second rider moved slightly left, to pass the lead rider. Aerobar man couldn’t control his bike and grabbed the drops, but his momentum caused his front wheel to overlap the second rider’s rear wheel, and they touched. The rider behind always comes out worse in these situations than the rider in front.
In this case, Mr. Aerobars almost saved himself. It looks like he got things back under control until he veered off onto the gravel shoulder and did an endo. But that’s not the whole story.
In the slow-mo, we see that the two bikes touched wheels not once, not twice, but three times before the rider slowed enough to separate himself from the other bike. And the force of those touches — especially the third — was enough to do serious damage to the front wheel. Half the spokes on one side of the wheel had broken. In a blowup of the video, we can see how the third touch knocked the wheel askew. The rim is clearly out of line with the hub.
So, two no-nos are apparent after watching this incident:
1. Don’t use aerobars on group rides (or in a paceline).
2. Don’t overlap the rear wheel of the bike in front.
A couple of my biking friends also noted that riders should consider sturdier wheels, too. One suggested 36 spokes on the rear and a minimum of 32 on the front. I don’t know how many fast roadies would go for that, but after seeing the video, I’ll continue to be happy with my relatively heavy rims.
It looks like the rider was not seriously hurt, I’m glad to see.