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Wednesday Is All About Pushing the Boundaries of Tardiness

Posted by on May 17, 2017
There has been much hand-wringing in the Fred community since Toms Skujins's nasty crash in the Tour of California:

Luckily the riders were able to avoid him and Skujins, who had torn most of his jersey apart and lost a lot of skin attempted to ride off. Almost hitting a kerb, Skujins the slowly made his way down the descent looking worse for wear.

Meanwhile, there were floods of messages across social media from shocked viewers who were clear the Skujins shouldn’t have been allowed to continue the race.

Yes, this was definitely a "Down, down, stay down!" moment:

And it's inspiring the cycling world to take a look at the sport's post-crash protocols, or lack thereof:

Changing this culture would undoubtedly take years to accomplish, and perhaps even changes to the rules. If a rider sat down after a crash, could he reenter the race the following day if he was deemed to be OK? The change will also need to come from within. Can directors convince riders to abandon their ambitions in the wake of a crash? Can riders train themselves to react with extreme caution after falling off the bike, rather than with the frantic desire to catch back on? Will teams ever grant riders a pass on bad results in order to recover from a head injury? Could we see a day when Toms Skujins simply walks over to the side of the road and forgets about the stage win? Time will tell.

I suspect the answer is probably "no," since the sport of cycling does not have a strong riders' union.  Nevertheless, in the meantime, elsewhere in the same publication one writer suggests a possible solution:

But when it comes to riders who matter--you know, the ones sponsored by property funds management businesses--he believes the solution is crash-sensing helmetry:

A helmet sensor would remove reliance on the judgment of a potentially concussed athlete in a high-stress situation. There is no way to definitively link a certain level of force with a head injury, so pulling a rider based exclusively on sensor readings would be medically and ethically questionable. But such a sensor would at least alert medical staff of the need to check out a rider immediately.

We may be closer to this type of solution than you think. There’s already a commercial product that does this: ICEdot. The sensor is packaged in a yellow disc about the size of a strawberry and links up with your cell phone to communicate directly with an emergency contact if triggered.

Astute readers of this blog (I have five total readers and of those maybe one or two is astute) may recall seeing the ICEdot system mentioned on these pages, and if not here it is again:

Since the riders are already wearing helmets I suppose adding some impact sensor isn't a bad idea.  But would it actually work?  As the writer points out, the riders don't carry phones, so "the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means:"

A racing application of ICEdot’s tech would need to be modified slightly. Riders don’t have phones in their back pockets, for example, so the sensor would need to transmit its warning by another means. Luckily, forces within cycling are already adding telecommunications to pro bikes, sending us power, heart rate, and speed data for TV broadcasts. There’s no reason this system couldn’t also send notification of a rider in distress.

Though in the case of Skujins it doesn't seem like any means would have worked since they were in some sort of telecommunications Bermuda Triangle:
I also wonder how well devices like the ICEdot actually work.  For example, I tested a Coros LINX, and I couldn't get that stupid hunk of foam to call anybody:

Though I suppose it's possible nobody was taking my call, since as you might imagine hitting the "Decline" button when I come up on the caller ID is pretty much Pavlovian for the people in my life:

Furthermore, whenever you write a blog post or newspaper article about how you don't need to wear a helmet, 20 people immediately weigh in with a "BUT MY HELMENT SAVED MY LIFE!" comment.  Yet after consulting The Internetz I couldn't find a single testimonial about an ICEdot helping somebody after a crash.  Even the testimonials on the ICEdot website just talk about stickers and stuff:

The ICEdot sticker was the selling point for me.  I placed my sticker under the bill of my helmet.  First responders know that in a motorcycle accident, the helmet is not to be taken off until the physician gives the OK.  That sticker under the bill is small but VERY noticeable against the black interior of the helmet!  What an awesome idea.

And the VeloNews review of the product just seems to assume it will work without providing any real evidence:

The Crash Sensor will likely outlive your helmets — assuming you replace your helmets after each crash, as you should. At $150, the Crash Sensor is not cheap, but this is a device that can save your life should you take a spill on your next solo adventure. That $150 also includes a year-long ICEdot premium membership. Additional one year premium memberships are $10.

So are helmet sensors a scam, the latest way for companies to cash in on Helme(n)t Hyster(n)ia and sell you a "premium membership" along with your expensive hunk of EPS foam?  I have no idea.  (Though I suspect "yes.")  Anyway, Strava seems to have them beat anyway:

Beacon, our newest Premium feature, is the note on the fridge for the connected athlete. Instead of a lonely sticky note, Beacon safety contacts will get to see where you are during an activity in real time on a map. If you aren’t back on time, they can check to see where you are or if you’re stopped. If something were to happen to you, they’d be able to see your GPS location.

Seems like something that would actually work--though it could get Fred in some trouble if he takes a detour and loses track of the time:

Lastly, in Giro news, a rider was fined for scrawling a message on his emaciated torso:
"You call that a chest?," the organizers were quoted as saying.  "This is a chest:"

The Giro organizers most certainly do have an image to uphold, and it's muscled and oily.

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