The bike dismount area at today’s National Triathlon Championship was the scene of crashes, "near misses" and equipment going in all directions. However, race officials did the smart, safe thing – the changed the course for tomorrow’s USAT Sprint National Championships which will be contested at high speed and on wet pavement, as the forecast calls for rain (and cold, which can cause racer’s hands to lock up when trying to brake and steer !).
The Olympic Distance "Bike Dismount" zone was where Doug Landau watched and waited for his cousin to finish her bicycle portion of the race. The course had been set up with bicyclists making a sharp right, downhill, and then being told to get off their bikes immediately before the red line or be disqualified. Because the cyclists could not see the red dismount line, many had to brake hard, going downhill out of their shoes, or even side-saddle ! Doug Landau saw several bikers fall to the ground, others lose equipment and a number of "near misses." When a racing cyclist drops a shoe, water bottle or other piece of equipment, they face penalties for "abandonment." So, running back to retrieve equipment not only cost National Championship triathletes precious time, but created additional safety concerns as they were going "against the flow of traffic" or standing still in the narrow bike dismount area. Luckily, for the Sprint race the next day, where the bikers speeds could create even more danger and increase the likelihood of crashes and injuries, the race officials moved the red line up to the straight-away. This action not only improved safety and bike race injury prevention, but probably improved times as well. While some GPS equipped racers might complain that this action shortened the "official" bike race course, Loudoun bike crash lawyer Doug Landau applauds this move as it increases the safety of the event, for the athletes competing, the volunteers and the spectators.