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Motorpace training
Last Post 10/17/2013 03:07 PM by Elle S.. 16 Replies.
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79pmooney

Posts:1082

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10/10/2013 10:59 PM
I have always thought that motorpacing on open roads seemed dangerous.  I never had the opportunity in my racing days, and I am glad of that.  Last summer I read that Alberto Contador had dropped that aspect of his training (either entirely or close to) because of concerns for his family.  Now we have lost Amy Dombroski.

I feel the racing organizations should ban motorpacing at all levels.  Only exception: on the track.  (And even that is dangerous: Eddy Merckx crashed and was seriously hurt and his trainer/pacer killed while motorpace racing.)  They should ban it for two reasons.  Health and welfare of the riders and for the public image.  (I guarantee you far more motorists are pissed off/upset by motorpacing than are thinking "cool" and embracing it.)  Incidents like this don't help at all.

I know no racers will want this, at least not any that have access to pacers.  Too much of an advantage.  But if no one can do it, the playing field is level.

Ben
jmdirt

Posts:681

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10/10/2013 11:29 PM
If you are pacing behind a scooter, is it any more dangerous than pacing behind a stronger rider/group? Pacing behind a car actually seems safer to me since you are protected.

I've motorpaced behind a scooter because it provides great, steady speed work but it sucked listening to the "bee" in front of me and eating fumes.
Dale

Posts:460

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10/11/2013 01:10 AM
Not sure what Amy Dombroski has to do with it... was her accident a motor pacing incident?

I've pacing behind a scooter on an open road but with little to no traffic. Yeah, the fumes were nasty but it was great training. I'd do it again if a scooter came available.
CarbonGecko

Posts:38

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10/11/2013 07:41 AM
Without knowing the specifics to Amy's crash (she was motor pacing behind a scooter) it is difficult to know the roll the scooter played.

As a 19 or 20 year old (many years ago) I have motor paced behind a team mates mother on a scooter. It felt safe at the time. It probably isn't as safe as "normal" riding but it is a bit of a slippery slope... If the goal is to be as safe as possible and not annoy the motorists then we should just hang up our bikes all together. A lot of people would say riding fixed on the road isn't as safe as geared. I have heard it said that fixed riders and the fixie crowd as a group "piss off" motorists more than other riders do... Ben... maybe you should start leaving the fixie at home.
longslowdistance

Posts:629

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10/11/2013 10:03 AM
My experience motorpacing c. 35 years ago was that it was a lot of fun and definitely improved sustained top end speed. Floating on the pedals in a 52 x 15!
Why wouldn't motorpacing be more dangerous today:
Riders are faster now, so I'm guessing motorpacing needs to be faster, too.
The current super aerodynamic positions probably don't help visibility, vision, or bike handling compared to the more upright positions of the past.
More traffic on the roads now.
jrt1045

Posts:361

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10/11/2013 10:19 AM
no jersey and no lid behind a hatchback for years back in the day. Before powermeters and this gluten free craze - when men were men - there was no better way to get some speed into your training

IMHO, there is no better way to get ready for Pro, 1, 2 crits and the bursts that you will need now and then in a road race. Additionally, you get the bike handling touch that you would get from the rollers and the feel of the speed/position when turning over the gears. Made a huge difference for me

As far as the safety of it, I never really felt it was unsafe. As with anything, you have to be smart about it. Location, type of vehicle, the driver and traffic potential should be taken into account.

Banning motorpacing fixes nothing, it really sucks that someone of Amy's stature (Godspeed) passed away while doing this but it sounds like more of a traffic thing than an inherently dangerous activity thing. My first thought was more of a WTF about the dangers of traffic and how this is a risk that all cyclists deal with every time they swing a leg over a road bike. If you want to ban something, a ban on vehicle traffic while we train would be more effective - for us

The UCI can't even deal with things like doping, they are definitely not prepared to police something like a ban on motorpacing

For the record, I find myself riding the MTB in the woods more and more as I get older because I do not have trust in the common american driver. There are way too many distractions and people are way too selfish
Orange Crush

Posts:1161

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10/11/2013 11:25 AM
Lots of mopeds around in NL, picking one up and then riding behind for as long as possible or until our paths parted again, was a great passtime. Yesterday I drafted for a couple kms behind a dump truck on the way to work.

As far as the dangers goes, what jmdirt said, it can't be more dangerous than riding in a high-speed peleton. So for the experienced pro I don't see why this should be banned.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1050

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10/11/2013 11:52 AM
Posted By Orange Crush on 10/11/2013 11:25 AM
Lots of mopeds around in NL, picking one up and then riding behind for as long as possible or until our paths parted again, was a great passtime. Yesterday I drafted for a couple kms behind a dump truck on the way to work.

As far as the dangers goes, what jmdirt said, it can't be more dangerous than riding in a high-speed peleton. So for the experienced pro I don't see why this should be banned.


I hit my second highest speed ever about 10 years ago while drafting behind a truck here in Chicago. He was gently accelerating away from a light as we approcahed it, so was able to easily latch on and get up to speed. Hit 52 mph and was still having to coast occasionally!! Rode it for about 5km, IIRC.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Gonzo Cyclist

Posts:196

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10/11/2013 01:56 PM
nice Cosmic, did the same thing about two weeks ago behind a big truck, early Sunday AM, a cop was coming in the other direction, gave me the whoop, whoop sound with his siren, guess he thought it was dangerous, but that was a blast!!
longslowdistance

Posts:629

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10/11/2013 04:45 PM
CK, good story. How close to the bumper were you? I've drafted trucks with trackies and downhill ski racers who were inches away - I never had the skill or nerve to get that close. They were coasting with a finger on the rear brake, I was 3 feet back pedalling hard.
steelbikerider

Posts:41

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10/11/2013 11:00 PM
Motorpaced as much as possible back in the day and still look to hop on a trustworthy bumper, last time was a charity ride with a women's race team. Just like any time on a bike, it is the rider's own responsibility to make the ride as safe as possible but when racing in the higher categories it is necessary. It is also possible to get ticketed here in TX for tailgaiting.
My personal favorite was pacing behind a motor on the velodrome. 4-5 riders would start at 22 or so and each lap increase the speed 2-3 mph. after 5 laps the speed would be around 35 and the motor would start to pull away - then it was spin until you drop, about like a keirin . Probably no more than 4 or 5 reps and you were done for the night( and the next 2 days). It was the closest I could get to parallel to the ground and still keep the rubber side up.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1050

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10/12/2013 01:20 AM
Posted By Frederick Jones on 10/11/2013 04:45 PM
CK, good story. How close to the bumper were you? I've drafted trucks with trackies and downhill ski racers who were inches away - I never had the skill or nerve to get that close. They were coasting with a finger on the rear brake, I was 3 feet back pedalling hard.


Not super close...maybe a couple feet off. But close enough that we wre getting sucked along nicely with it. Like you, I don't have the gumption to ride inches off a bumper!!
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Orange Crush

Posts:1161

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10/12/2013 12:16 PM
About 4-5 ft will do for a dump truck or a bus; they have a huge draft, you don't need to be super close. To get any benefit from an average car you'll have to be half that distance and for a moped clearly you need to be right up their rear.

Last year I drafted downhill on Burnaby Mnt behind a panel van; probably going around 80kph. The drafting was sweet but coming out of the draft and hitting the turbulence was effin scary and made me rethink that one.
ElleSeven

Posts:48

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10/12/2013 04:32 PM
Just to set the record straight, Amy Dombroski was killed in a situation in which she was not actually behind her motor-pacing driver. The accident occurred in a "versmalling," a sort of bottleneck, very common in Belgium, in which a two-lane road briefly (and with plenty of signage and plenty of forewarning) narrows. Riders have been pacing on that road for seventy-five years without incident. The drivers of both vehicles behaved in exactly the way they ought. Dombroski for some reason -- mind wandering, not watching? -- continued straight down the middle of the road directly into the path of the truck.

This brings to mind the death of Wouter Weylandt last year. Immediately after that tragedy, tweets and Facebook postings were similarly amok with comments about the dangerous Passo del Bocco. Many seemed, incredibly, to cast blame on the concrete guardrail that he crashed into. Wouter hit that concrete at 80kph while looking backwards. He was to blame. Which doesn't mean that he wasn't a wonderful person, that we didn't adore him.

I'm thinking of my kid, who is showing interest lately in following in mom's footsteps. Neither my daughter nor the world in general is made safer by our continually detaching ourselves from responsibility. As she took off the other day for her first ride alone, I caught myself saying "Be safe." What kind of an instruction is that? I called her back to the driveway and restated the edict in specific terms: Keep both hands firmly gripping the bar; keep your eye on the road; assume that you are unseen by drivers; and so on ...
Orange Crush

Posts:1161

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10/12/2013 05:07 PM
Excellent points Elle - my thoughts exactly on what drives road safety.
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