How to avoid injury during a big cycling event

With a mass of determined riders travelling at speed, it's no wonder injuries at cycling events are a common occurrence. Elite racing cyclist Andrew Marriott offers some advice to help you steer clear of injury.

So you're taking part in a big cycling event such as a sportive or a road race? You've prepared with long rides and been careful with your nutrition for weeks - you are feeling fit and strong and ready to go! But the one concern everyone has with a big event is how to stay safe and avoid injury.

The problem with any big cycling event is the volume of other riders on the road, so staying upright is always the priority.

In mass participation events there will always be people on the road who don't have much experience in group rides. Often they represent a threat, by swerving all over the road or speeding up and slowing down, risking putting you off your own tempo or even knocking you off. So you need to know how to ride in a group and stay safe.

Look up, ride straight

The best advice I can give you is to look ahead so you can see whats coming and anticipate any obstacles. Riding in as straight a line as possible will also help, so that you don't cross wheels with someone in front of or behind you.

It's also advisable to try to follow other experienced riders, they will be looking to stay safe so you cant go wrong following their lead.

Observe the rules

Most well-run cycling events will have rules that include maintaining a certain distance from the next cyclist, and not obstructing the route. These rules are there for your safety and the safety of others. British Cycling has a list of rules for sportives, so familiarise yourself ahead of your event. 

Stay energised

One other concern for event riding is the inclination to power ahead. You will have a long ride ahead of you and finishing the event is the priority, so pacing your effort is the key to ensure you don't run out of energy and risk exhaustion.

If you are out of gas you're also going to make mistakes, such as crossing wheels with another rider and falling off. Always pace your effort and keep your energy levels topped up with energy gels or bars.

Last updated Friday 14 December 2018

First published on Friday 29 April 2016