Here is Hal's outlook...
You can't have been at Lakemont last Saturday and not have known of the horrific crash that occurred in the first group as they sped along SR 434 west of the Greeneway. An experienced and strong ASV team rider who was directly behind the leader went into a tuck position on a bike with aero bars. His front wheel touched the back wheel of the lead rider at 33+ mph sending him into the pavement face-first. Ten to twelve more riders went down; most were able to get up, dust themselves off and continue (some only discovered injuries after getting home). Unfortunately, the rider directly behind the guy who caused the accident did not fare as well. He broke four (4) ribs, chipped his scapula, has horrible road rash and, worst of all, sustained a collapsed lung. He was air-lifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center after the Winter Springs Police shut down the highway.
When something like his happens, it requires us to assess how we got here. Speed is a drug -- it's no surprise that people show up for their weekly fix and Lakemont has become the most popular ride in central Florida. Unfortunately, along with the popularity has come a large degree of danger which, when exacerbated by bad choices, results in very bad consequences. Anarchy reigns if the groups fail to police themselves. Seasoned cyclists have traditionally admonished newbies for dangerous or just plain stupid practices. That guidance has been lacking for awhile at Lakemont and cannot continue.
So that there's no question, here are the three (3) rules that have to be enforced by everyone or my association with this circus is over:
1. You must wear a helmet; this rule is violated rarely but, when it happens, it always seems to be by an "experienced" rider that I'm supposed to look up to or is regarded as "too cool" to confront;
2. You cannot wear earplugs and listen to your iPod or put one of those stupid phone thingies in your ear; we need your full attention to the task at hand; if you need more stimulation than Lakemont dishes out, you are not someone I want to ride with; and,
3. You cannot go into a tuck position on any handlebar/aero bar arrangement that limits your ability to control your bike and access your brakes; a standard road bike arrangement is the ideal; you may use a time trial/triathlon bike only so long as your hands remain spaced evenly with your shoulders and are immediately ready to access your brakes; to do less is to endanger yourself and everyone that rides behind you. Exceptions: you can go into a tuck only if (1) you find yourself at the front and must impress us; or (2) you are at the back and can only hurt yourself if you lose control.
I don't care how "good" or "safe" or "strong" you think you are. If you do not believe, in good faith, that you can adhere to these rules, you have no regard for the people that you ride with. This is not about you, it's about the group. I have no doubt that the rider who caused the crash last week was completely convinced (ignorantly so) of his superiority. I have great sympathy for him, for his injuries and for the fact that he's got to live with the terrible consequences to his teammate.