12-15 mph NW wind – rather blustery. 

Tragedy on the F1

At the time I left home, it was a pleasant sunny and quite warm morning, albeit rather windy for fast times on the F1.  Unfortunately, as events turned out, weather conditions were the least of the competitors’ concerns on this spring morning.

Everything was pretty much as usual for my first visit of 2009 to the Tempsford Village Hall (the usual HQ used for the F1 courses, which are all based on the A1 dual carriageway): the wind was shifting the treetops, it was a bit cold, and a few rain drops had begun to fall.  I was riding my Planet X frame with Corima disc and trispoke wheels.  Yes, I was risking puncture disaster.  In fact the only mechanical issue I had was the fastening on one of my cycling shoes snapped, and I had to strap it up with gaffer tape kindly supplied by Simon Cannings.  I was also giving the new Assos skinsuit a tryout on a relatively dry morning.

The current version of the F1/25 heads onto the A1 southbound to the Sandy roundabout, then north, crossing the Black Cat roundabout to turn at the Buckden roundabout, returning southbound to cross the Black Cat once more before finishing near Tempsford. On the day, traffic levels seemed quite light.

Pretty soon after starting, I realised that I was going to be struggling, though in both southbound and northbound directions, the wind was enough of a side wind to both help and hinder at different times.  I had reached roughly the halfway point and was on the northbound leg when I could see that an accident had happened on the southbound carriageway – there were the usual emergency services present, and a large tail back of traffic.  As I passed the accident I could see it was serious.  I don’t want to go into the details, but it really left me with a chill.  

At that point, I gave up racing and rode the the next exit, from where I returned to Tempsford with a group of riders, all of whome were rather shocked.  Back at Tempsford, it became clear that a rider had been taken out by a motorist presumably trying to exit the A1 – he’d apparently died at the scene or soon after.

I think what’s particularly upsetting is that as cyclists near brushes with accidents are nearly a daily experience for us.  Later in the day, local news reports were appearing.  On of these, in Cambridge News Online (Cyclist killed in crash on A1) was particularly upsetting, seeming to be more concerned with disruption to traffic flow than the fact that a rider had died:

Insp Terry Furlong, of Cambridgeshire Police, said the build-up of Bank Holiday traffic had formed long queues.
He said: "For the effective investigation of the incident it was necessary for the road to be closed.
"I understand there were some difficulties with the diversions relating to this accident and we know it has caused a great deal of disruption, and the police apologise for this.
"This is out of our hands but the road closure was necessary for the safety of the ambulance staff, doctors, and highways staff dealing with the incident."
At this time police have been unable to confirm any details about the cyclist apart from the fact he was taking part in a time trial.

There’s a discussion over at the timetriallingforum.  This is by far the saddest report on a time trial I’ve had on my blog, and I hope it doesn’t happen again.