A race that passes without incident is usually a blessing. Just ask Tom Dumoulin.
This ‘no news is good news’ ethos is especially true at the novice level at which I’ve been competing. More often than not in a Cat 4 race there is a crash and at least one carbon bike that ends up shorn in half and “looking like a Brompton” (as another racer friend described it recently).
Indeed there are a lot of safety-related reasons to potentially talk yourself out of bike racing entirely.
Ahead of their own first race, someone asked me a few weeks ago if racing ‘smart’ could help you steer clear of the pile ups. Or to put it another way, if it was only the ‘bad’ riders that crash. My honest answer, based on six-or-so races, is ‘no’. If someone goes down right in front of you in the bunch you’re cooked, whether your bike handling is on point or otherwise. Just ask Geraint Thomas.
The only way you’re guaranteed to stay upright is if you are right at the front. And you try sitting on the front of a crit race for 45 minutes and see if you wouldn’t rather have crashed into the grassy verge.
My most recent crit, though, really did pass without incident. Great news if you’re just hoping to get through to the finish and be at work the next day – but a bit of a pain if you’re supposed to be writing a bloody column about your experiences racing!