CyclingTips podcast, Episode 25: Risk vs reward: What drives amateur bike racers to risk life and limb?

by Neal Rogers


The recent near-death experience of Masters racer Mike Allec highlighted the inherent dangers of bike racing — not just at the professional level, but across all categories.

Unlike endurance sports such as running, swimming, and Nordic skiing, bike racing brings with it the possibility of a high-impact collision at all times. Whether you’re 18 or 81, hurtling your bicycle into tight spaces at high speeds brings with it a very real possibility of road rash, broken bones, or worse.

And while younger riders are generally fearless, and may well be pursuing a career in pro cycling, for amateur and Masters racers, the willingness to risk injury for their passion is based on intangibles. To simply call it a weekend “hobby” just doesn’t do it justice.

In this podcast, Elden Nelson and U.S. Editor Neal Rogers speak with Mike Allec about his close call — which almost mirrored a fatal incident at the 2012 LOTOJA amateur race — and how, even for the team manager of a regional road squad, it’s changed his outlook on competition.

In addition to sharing their own “worst race-accident stories” — Elden at Leadville 100, and Neal at the CrossVegas Wheelers & Dealers race — our hosts also speak with elite amateur racers Frank Cundiff, from Virginia, and Sarah Barber, from Idaho, who discuss the rewards they get from racing, and how they reconcile that with the very real risk of injury.

Left: Neal Rogers, in the waiting room of a Las Vegas emergency clinic after a crash at the 2011 CrossVegas Wheelers & Dealers race resulted in a broken collarbone and a hairline fracture of the medial femoral condyle. Right: Elden Nelson, after a crash at the 2009 Leadville 100 left him battered and bruised, but somehow unbroken.

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Episode 25: Direct Download

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