Alpine Dangers

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

I can’t be sure if it hasn’t happened yet but one thing to watch out for this season is the growing presence of street furniture in the Alps and Pyrenees in France.

Each time I visit France I’ve always been struck by the landscaped roundabouts that wouldn’t look out of place in the Chelsea Flower Show thanks to their their twee designs. French towns seem to love playing with the road and as well as hanging baskets, flowerbeds and more, one thing is this increasing use of raised sections or “sleeping policemen”. Usually these are just a bore for the cyclist – spare a thought for ambulances instead – but when riding down a mountain pass these bumps can be dramatic.

The photo above is from the Alps and shows where Richard Virenque took a bad fall when riding a cyclosportive event, descending at speed he bunny-hopped only to find his front wheel quick-release wasn’t done up and the front wheel popped out, leaving him to crash land with severe injuries.

Virenque’s accident was due to the Q-R not being done up but sometime soon a rider is going to hit a bump and the front wheel will collapse. Many go to the mountains with their finest wheels, the lightest carbon rims but remember that hitting a bump at speed can be a big shock, you have to time your bunny hop just right. I wonder if we’ll see any wheel breakages in the pro races this summer, an incident like this could unfortunately determine a race.

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