Today was the prologue of the Paris Nice race won last year by Bradley Wiggins. World Tour races are run on closed roads so there is no danger to the riders from vehicles. Many races in the UK are run on open roads, today was the Severn Bridge Road Race. Sadly today a 23 yr old rider competing in that event, named as Junior Heffernan @theheffcyclist described as being a promising triathlete and cyclist riding for Herbalife Leisure Lakes Bikes.com died after a collision with a car. British Cycling have offered their condolences to his friends and family. I’ll be cycling to work tomorrow, acutely aware that i’m very vulnerable if a car misjudges how much space I need or I come off worse from hitting or trying to avoid a pothole. Every day cyclists are injured as a result of poor road layouts, inconsiderate drivers and yes as a result of poor riding but that shouldn’t put you off from riding. In 2011 Bradley Wiggins fell during the Tour de France and broke his collar bone, last year he was involved in an incident with a van pulling out from a garage resulting in the driver being summonsed for driving without due care and attention and Wiggins suffering a dislocated finger and a fractured rib. It sounded very much to me like a SMIDSY…. “Sorry Mate I didn’t see you”, it’s easy not to see cyclist’s if we don’t do our bit, black lycra may well be good for the Pro’s racing on closed roads but for the rest of us mere mortals a healthy splash of bright colours and high visibility clothing oh and it goes without saying for someone who works in a hospital that I don’t ride anywhere without my cycle helmet on. I used to wear it anyway but visiting the Intensive Care Unit and meeting a guy younger than me who had suffered a brain injury after a collision with a car now I really won’t leave home without it!
The Pro’s get to race on closed roads but if some of the plans being discussed at the highest level of the sport come to fruition the races may also be on closed TV’s or at least on subscription TV channels. According to Cycling News website Team Sky have left other teams such as Omega Pharma-Quick Step make the running in discussions over the plans for the new World Tour of cycling. While there is lots of cycling on TV currently, both on Eurosport and ITV 4 if BSkyB see an opportunity to recoup some of their outlay by moving cycling to sit alongside football and Formula 1 on a subscription basis then we may see less coverage of some of the road racing I personally enjoy watching and which is feeding in to cycling’s popularity at the moment,personally I think now is the wrong time to make seeing these professional atheletes at work on TV harder and accessible to less people. But who am I to argue with Dave Brailsford and teh changes to the highest levels in competetive cycling may well make sense for teh sport, I just hope they also make sense for its fans too.
Whatever happens not many people will have been out at the roadside to see the Severn Bridge Road Race today compared with one of the major stages races so whether it was televised and whethe rit was shown on terrestrial TV or a subscription channel is immaterial. Would more have been out watching if the roads had been closed? Maybe. Would the riders have been safer if the roads had been closed to traffic? Maybe. Our boys enjoy BMX’ing and ride in the safe environment of a skate park wearing helmets and pads but today one of their friends who rides a scooter had an accident, misjudged his trick, crashed and was airlifted to hospital. He hurt himself doing something he enjoyed (and was good at) Junior Heffernan died doing something he clearly enjoyed too. It’s not the same as the injuries sustained by our servicemen or women, or is it? You decide, and if it is you know how to help.
RIP Junior & thoughts to your family and to Max & his family.
Thanks for reading.