Great Lakes Ultra Cycling


		
	

Safety - Core Values

Safety is one of the most important aspects of cycling, so much so that a focus on it is part of our new club bylaws!

The focus of safety changes over time.  Only a couple of years ago, it focused almost exclusively on road safety - that is still extremely important!  Today, the focus on safety spans a number of areas sharing the stage.

Above all, we believe it is important for everyone to understand the process that our plan was created. 

GLUC's Safety Policies encompass the following:

Road Safety

This should always remain a priority for any cyclist!  As a small vehicle on the road, cyclists are subject to a lot more damage when things crash into us - very simple laws of physics tell us this.  In the last year, there are more bicycles on the road than ever.   

Here are some statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  You can (and should) read their discussion here.  

  1. Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  2. Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%) in 2017.
  3. Bicyclist deaths were 8 times higher for males than females in 2017.
  4. Alcohol was involved in 37% of all fatal bicyclist crashes in 2017.

GLUC's focus on safety starts with the law and complying with it but we also add to that as a safety focused organization.  We incorporate this approach into our Code of Conduct.

Mandatory Safety Rules
  1. All GLUC riders MUST wear a helmet while riding
  2. All traffic laws MUST be respected and followed
    1. This includes proper lighting and night safety!
  3. The use of cell phones or texting while riding is forbidden

GLUC also strongly recommends the following:

Recommended Strongly
  1. Gloves!  These protect your hands in case of a fall 
  2. Ride Single File!  Make it easy for other vehicles to give us that 3 ft of space
  3. Signal your turns!  This is for other riders as well as vehicles
  4. Ride predictably! Don't swerve or be distracted by GPS, cue sheet, scenery, etc.  Call out passing other cyclists

Failure to heed any of these is a huge problem.  This is a recreational organization, we can't fine you for violating our rules.  But it is your responsibility as a rider to help all of us stay safe too.  GLUC's policy is:

  • Violations of the Code of Conduct can become a basis for suspension from rides
  • Violations of our recommended practices will be noted and called out because we care

Other good reads on safety:

Low Light Safety

Many think of this as night riding, but low visibilty conditions can happen during the day too!

  • Poor weather (particularly heavy rain)
  • Tunnels
  • Riding into the sun when it is on the horizon (morning or night)
  • Others

Being seen is an important aspect of safety!  It's horrible to hear the phrase, "I didn't see him/her" when it comes to accidents.

GLUC's approach to safety follows both the law and best practices:

  1. All riders should come equiped with lights (front and back) on all rides.
    1. For rides that are mainly in the day, these can be small, battery powered ones with limited life
    2. For serious night riding, front lights should be easily visible for 500 ft and rear lights should remain steady.
  2. Wear bright clothing!  The stealth cyclist look is not a good one.  All GLUC kits will use bright colors.  This is very important in dim conditions (like rain) where reflective patches are less effective.
  3. Bring a reflective vest!  This can be any bright vest with reflective tape on it.  Buy or build!  You should have an area of refletivity about the size of 2 post cards visible from front and back, sides are advised too. 
  4. Wear reflective anklets!  These are moving and highly visible to cars during the dark.
  5. Be aware in the dark!  Ride with extra caution.  Headlights typically give a cyclist warning that something is approaching.  Use that to your advantage and get to the right as far as possible.

Reflective vests and gear are easy to find on Amazon and can be shipped to you quickly.  They change all the time, but looking for certifications such as EN-1171 or Class 2 are good points (though not completely necessary).  It's really good to have an area about size of 2 post cards in reflective material on the vest as well as bright colors (which help more in low light.

Examples:

When buying a vest, remember you wear it over clothes like rain jackets so a bit bigger is good.  Also helps it to dry out if you get a little rain.

Anklets are easily found too.

Wellness on the Bike

Everyone has a bad day on the bike where they don't feel well.  In Ultra Cycling, this is particulary of concern.  There are a few things that can really ruin your ride:

  1. Deydration
  2. Hyponatremia
  3. Gastrointestinal Issues
  4. Bonking

Our area is famous for both heat and humidity during the summer months.  We recommend:

  1. Drink frequently - at least one 22 oz bottle an hour when it is hot.  Stop more frequently if you can't carry that much water
  2. Maintain salt - this is personal.  Eat salty snacks at stops, take endurolytes or salt sticks
  3. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer before you touch food
  4. Eat what you are used to on an endurance event
  5. If you eat a larger meal, don't hammer immediately - give food 30 minutes or so to digest - this is called "digestion pace"
  6. Wash or rinse the cap of your water bottle when you refill
  7. Eat lightly and frequently, if you feel a lag in energy, eat and drink something and back it off for a little while

The Coronavirus Pandemic

No discussion of safety in 2021 can be without reference to the ongoing pandemic.  GLUC was able to run all its rides last year due to the vigilence of its members.  For many reasons, we believe 2021 will be the more dangerous year of the pandemic from a club perspective.

  1. Pandemic Fatigue - It's a thing!  A lot of people are sick of lockdowns, masks, and vigilence.
  2. Vaccinated Immortality Syndrome - If you are vaccinated, that is a great thing!  But it doesn't mean that you can relax and do whatever you like.  Vaccines work by stopping the spread of a disease when it can no longer find hosts, not by protecting individuals.  Until 80% or so of the population has been vaccinated, everyone still need to be vigilent.  Don't spike the ball on the 5 yard line!
  3. Increased traffic!  Those that rode last year know that there were fewer cars.  This year the cars are back and bike traffic is up.
  4. Travel is increasing.  We love travel.  But traveling cross country continues to be a problem.  We don't want to spread variants.

GLUC's policy for addressing the pandemic focuses on these issues.  We care not only about liability of the club, but even more about the safety of our members and the communities that we ride in.  

Avoiding pandemic fatigue was a major part of the reason GLUC did not shut down last year.  Endurance cycling can be a huge boost to our mental health and that is really important.  Last year when traffic was light and people were vigilant we developed some key safety principles and tested them:

  1. The Safest Route Policy
  2. BYOS (Bring your own start)
  3. Pre-Ride Zoom meetings and dynamic changes to the route for safety
  4. Electronic Proofs of Passage and Touch Free riding

Above all, we have to recognize that everyone is impacted differently by the pandemic. Thus, a wise approach will take that into account.  The goals of our plan:

  1. Minimize risk to riders and the community acknowledging that we can't eliminate it
  2. Provide flexibility to accommodate the differing risk levels
  3. Maintain consistency and transparency for our plan
  4. Keep our riding strong but local!
RUSA

RUSA is open this year.  While in some ways that is good, in many ways it presents challenges to our plan, particularly around travel and keeping consistency in place.  While travel and exploring the country are great, this isn't the year to do it (don't spike the ball on the 5 yard line).  GLUC has already received inquries from K-Hounds looking to travel into our area; this is currently discouraged by CDC guidelines.

We also want to preserve the spirit of randonneuring!  It's an interesting subset of ultra cycling based on a set of procedures and traditions developed in France over 100 years ago.  If we abandon all those traditions, we aren't actually doing the sport at all.  2021 has no impact on Paris Brest Paris qualification or pre-qualification.  

To summarize:

  1. If we hold RUSA events, we can encourage travel which increases risk
  2. If we don't hold RUSA events, we encourage our own riders to travel to do them increasing risk
  3. We are reticent to limit the procedures that kept us safe last year - of the 4 major policies we had last year, we cannot do the first three for a RUSA ride

The Plan for Brevets in 2021

We have flexibility to still keep on our bikes in 2021.  A good compromise leaves everyone both happy and unhappy.  

We will continue the procedures that made us so succesful last year refocusing our club to ultracycling so that we can keep clear on expectations without losing the spirit and tradition of randonneuring.  2021 has no impact on PBP which is the cornerstone of the sport.  Sacrafices this year mean that next year will hopefully be more normal.

  • We will highly encourage everyone to ride our preferred ultra cycling rides that follow the Safest Route Policy and give the most options for flexibilty and distancing in lieu of brevets following our Current Ride Procedures which follow all 4 of the approaches used last year
  • RUSA Certified routes are for the convenience of GLUC members only!  We have them on the RUSA calendar.  If an existing member (active or inactive in the 2 years before March 15, 2021) truly wishes to ride a brevet, contact us.
    • Taking the brevet option will be more expensive to cover cost (RUSA is charging, we will have to preview multiple routes)
    • We will decrease the visibility of our RUSA options to limit participation and thus reinforce social distancing
    • We will validate membership in GLUC before sending a registration link to the rider, arrangements must be made 1 week prior to the ride
  • GLUC members riding according to RUSA rules are acknowledging that they are choosing to ride what may be less safe routes with highly variable services that cannot be guaranteed.  We are subject to the constraints of RUSA with approved brevets and are offering other options to brevets as the alternative.

If you choose to contact us to do a RUSA brevet, the ride description on our calendar entry will include a notation "brevet available" with the RUSA ride type. The following will be the procedures, you should notify us at least 1 weeks before the ride day.

  • You MUST be a VALID RUSA member and a local rider to do a RUSA brevet at GLUC.
  • Registration for brevets will be sent to you in response to your inquiry once we validate your membership - we may contact you for additional details.
  • The RUSA brevet version of the ride will not use the same route as any other rides offered by GLUC on that day per the Articles of Randonneuring.
  • Riders MUST start a brevet at the start location posted.  The GLUC start location flexibilty does not apply.
  • Riders MUST start a brevet between the posted ride start and up to 1 hour afterwards. No exceptions.
  • Riders may NOT ride in a group of more than 2 riders or in a tight group.  Anyone seen riding in a group of more than 2 will automatically be DQ'd.
  • Riders MUST wear a mask indoors - even if it's an outhouse.  Failure to do this is an automatic DNF.
  • Riders MUST socially distance at all times (that means 6ft), whether or not you are vaccinated.  Failure to do so is an automatic DNF, no warnings, no tolerance (the virus does not respect warnings and neither can we).
  • Riders MUST turn in your brevet card signed via the mail with receipts and it MUST be received within 7 days PLUS you must notify the ride leader by text or phone at the finish if they are not present.  Your brevet card and receipts must remain clean until the finish and we highly recommend a plastic bag.  If it looks like it was handled poorly or is drenched in food or sweat, it's an automatic DNF.  If you do not want to deal with a brevet card, you are more than welcome to do the ride as a GLUC ride only with full electronic proof of passage and never touch anything.  The brevet card and controls are a key part of what makes the sport randonneuring.  
  • All aspects of our Current Ride Procedures that can apply will still continue to apply
    • Guidelines for how to enter a business
    • Guildelines for general safety
    • Reporting requirements
    • Attending the pre-ride Zoom

If you would like to ride a GLUC route as a RUSA member, you must contact GLUC via email at info@greatlakesultracycling.org 7 days before the event date.  A special link for registering will then be sent to you for the purposes of registration and waivers.  A brevet card will be sent to you to print via email.

Updated April 13, 2021