Crashing

22 Aug

There are a few things worth knowing about crashing on the track. Perhaps most importantly, most crashes happen (just like on the road) when one rider ‘hooks’ another by moving into their front wheel. On the track, this generally happens when a rider is moving up-track, and a rider behind him can’t get out of the way in time. To be sure, this isn’t the only way crashes happen – but it’s the main thing to watch out for.

In practice, this means two things. First, before you move up-track, check over your right shoulder for a rider that might get ‘hooked’. Second, beware overlapping your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in front of you – particularly on the outside. It’s natural for him to move uptrack at some point, and when that happens, you may go down. If you are overlapping on the inside, it’s less of an issue in practice – he can come down on you, but usually not as far or as fast as he could if riding uptrack.

One note for road racers on this point – specifically in relation to sprinting. It’s fairly common to “pull up” in a road sprint if you figure you have no chance of success, and on the track it might be tempting to do the same – and pull up-track when you do so. Of course, if you do this, there are likely other riders sprinting over top of you – and you’ll cause a crash by changing your line. So the advice on the track is the same as on the road – when in doubt, hold your line, and let others work their way around you.

Once a crash happens ahead of you, the only reliable way to avoid it is to go up-track. The steeper the banking is on a track, the more crashing riders will naturally fall down-track as they slide forward, taking out any riders coming through underneath them. The track is, in that sense, selfcleaning: it’s not possible for riders to wind up lying in the middle of the track post-crash. They all wind up on the apron or, at most, in the sprinter’s lane. Which means that trying to ride “under” a crash is almost  certain to end badly – the riders will come down into you. So – when a crash happens, always go up-track.

Beyond that, I will say only that if you crash on a wood track, get some tweezers. And it’s best if your wife/girlfriend is an EMT or vet tech or something – some minor procedures will be required. And a tetanus shot is recommended.

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