Saturday, August 29, 2009

Burlington Vermont Man Sentenced in Hit and Run

Good news: Adam Desjardin, the Vergnnes VT man who hit and nearly killed UVM Cycling team member Rose Long and then drove off, was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday. (Click the title of this post for a link to the story.) Rose Long sustained severe personal injuries and required $500,000 in reconstructive surgery. It is good to see criminal conduct of this type being prosecuted.

Who Causes Cyclists Deaths?

I saw an interesting blog piece by the Freakonomics guys in the New York Times relating to bicycle accidents. According to the statistics, 52,000 bicyclists have been killed in bicycle traffic accidents in the U.S. over the 80 years the federal government has been keeping records. While cyclists are often blamed for these accidents--reckless or aggressive riding is frequently cited--the statistics paint a very different picture.

An analysis of police reports on 2752 bike-car accidents in Toronto found that clumsy or inattentive driving by motorists was the cause of 90 percent of these crashes. Leading causes were running a stop sign or traffic light, turning into a cyclist's path or opening a door on a bike rider. Also notable is that motorists cause roughly 75 percent of motorcycle crashes as well.

These statistics bear out what I have said in the past--when bicycle riders get hit by cars, it is usually not their fault. Unfortunately for cyclists and motorcycle riders who have been injured in an accident, lawyers can be just as biased as the general public. Choose a Boston lawyer who is informed and educated about cycling issues. Injured riders should not need to apologize for being a cyclist.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

MBRC Wompatuck Training Criterium

Raced at Wompatuck for the third and final time in 2009 with Trish Karter, JP and some others from Blue Hills Cycling Club. Wompy is great because the course is in the woods, inside a state park. This is always a fun race, and very low key (but there is always the rare exception who treats the race like a tryout for Astana).

Most riders are from the south shore and seem to know each other pretty well (which is probably why it is so low key). Although the race is called a criterium, it has more similarities to a circuit race. The course is long for a crit, approx. 1.2 miles, and there is a brief rise on the back of the course before a long straightaway. The rise is not significant enough to break up the field.

The finishing sprint is just after a sweeping left turn, just after which there is a short riser. The rise is just enough to cause a selection, and it can get tricky here because there can be large speed differentials between those riders who've timed the sprint well and are still accelerating and those ahead who went too early and are starting to fade. The fade can be pretty dramatic when it happens right on the riser. In my last race the guy whose wheel I was on faded quite suddenly and I ended up needing to pass him very closely on his left to avoid hitting the brakes. After this short sharp rise the road continues to tilt up, but much more gradually for the remainder of the sprint. This is good because it is just enough to slow down the field.

The last few times I have raced there, there was a lot of jockeying on the final two laps to get good positioning for the sprint. Lots of fun. This coming Tuesday and Wednesday are the last two races.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blount Seafoods Crit Winner

Congrats to Sam Morse of Corner Cycle, who won the Masters 45+ division at Fall River. I met Sam last week and this is the photo of him crossing the line first at Fall River. That is his brand new Boston Bike Law water bottle in his bottle cage!

Boston Bike Share Program

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Bike czar Nicole Freedman recently issued a press release regarding the bike share program which is planned for Boston. According to the press release, the plan is to create a “green mass transportation system” by creating a “dense network of over 150 stations, making 1500 bicycles readily available through the swipe of a card”. The City of Boston’s goal is to expand the reach of this program to neighboring municipalities to make metro-Boston a safe and inviting place for Boston bicyclists.

According to the City of Boston, the bike share plan will result in a 300% increase in the number of bike trips. At we find this statistic to be important because we think that having more bicycles on the road will actually lower the likelihood of Boston bicycle accidents. Drivers will become accustomed to bicycle traffic, and a greater share of Boston drivers will come to identify themselves as bicyclists as well.

Also, according to the City of Boston, the program can lead to the elimination of 315,000 car trips annually, a reduction of 750 tons of greenhouse gasses and the creation of 50 new green jobs. Bike sharing programs have worked well in the crowded cities of Europe, many of which are laid out similarly to Boston, and there is no reason to think we cannot find success with such a program as well. This is a great concept and we wanted to acknowledge the efforts of Mayor Menino and Ms. Freedman!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Salem Witches Cup Race Report 2009

2009 Salem Witches Cup Cat. 4/5


This was the 30th anniversary of the Salem Witches Cup race. I remember reading about this race in the 1980’s in Winning Magazine when Team 7-Eleven raced there. The race was defunct for a long time but was resurrected a couple of years ago, so I made it a point to get there this year for old time’s sake. Notwithstanding what happened there, I’m glad I made it.

I got an early start from my office so I’d have time for a good warm up on the rollers, but a claw foot tub fell off a truck on 93 and traffic was backed up almost all the way from Boston to 128. By the time I pulled into Salem I was minutes from the number pickup cutoff, after which all remaining numbers were to be released to standbys. I parked the car and hauled myself at terminal flip flop speed to the registration tent. I made it just in time, and there was more than one disappointed standby waiting there.

By the time I had the number it was 20 minutes to race time. The only warm up I’d be getting today was the race back to my car to get kitted and numbered. Thankfully I did not flip while intending to flop, and it actually made for a pretty decent warm up.

I managed to get in about 2 laps around the course before the riders started lining up for the start. We had a maximum field of 75 riders and most of them were on the line by the time I got there.

We were scheduled to race for 45 minutes today around the Salem Green, which is a scenic and historic park in the center of town. The park is lined by brick row houses on the outside and wrought iron fences on the inside. The loop was .75 miles in length and somewhat triangular. Turns 1 and 4 were 90 degree angles; turn 2 was very gradual and sweeping and turn 3 was the tip of the triangle. I suspected from my review of the course map that turn 3 would produce the most accelerations and my suspicion later proved correct.

Personally, turns 1 and 4 ended up being more problematic.The problem with turn 1 was the manhole cover. It was before the apex so it was not a safety concern; it was just that for some reason I kept hitting it square on lap after lap. My aging anatomy was in full rebellion after 40 or so of these “kerplunks”. Then, just after turn 1 there was 10 seconds or so of full blown headwind which I found to be extremely draining.The problem with turn 4 was the crash, but I haven’t got to that yet.

We started fast and the field strung out. I expected massive pain for the first 10 minutes, but I have been racing a lot lately and I came through it ok. I kept an eye on Michael Brier and tried to do what he was doing, which was staying up front. After 20 minutes or so I began noticing more of the racers watching from the side of the road. Of the 75 starters, 31 ended up as DNF’s.

We congealed into a smaller and tighter group and I kept finding new and interesting ways of hitting the manhole cover.The prime bell was rung on several occasions and although the prospect of some new Tifosi sunglasses or a floor pump was tempting, I thought better of it. I spent most of the race fine tuning my entry and exit from turn 3 as I felt it would ultimately be the decisive area of the course. For the first 20 minutes or so I was getting swarmed on the approach to this turn. By the last 10 minutes I pretty much had it nailed down to the point where I was able to block the swarm and pick my line through the turn. I figured I'd at least be in the hunt come finish time. The legs felt good and I was on my game from a technical standpoint.

The lap card said 2 to go and there was no detectible change in the pace. I nailed turn 3 and was in good shape entering turn 4. In the apex of turn 4 two riders just ahead and inside touched wheels and one of them went down. I was in no danger and my reflexes told me to accelerate. This is when my ride got a little bit strange.

The rider who didn’t go down slowed up and pulled to the outside. I was still outside of him, just behind. He was clear of the crash by now, hadn’t lost much speed and I could not figure out what he was doing. With 35 riders in tow he could not possibly be stopping. That was in fact what he was doing and I was now getting squeezed into the curb. I hit the brakes hard and skidded. I broadsided the curb and heard my rims and spokes crunching against granite. I slowed to a stop just before touching the guy’s bike. Just before falling over I unclipped and put a foot down. He was alright, I was alright and the pack was gone.

I had a few words for the guy about pulling off the course in this manner before my sense of sportsmanship kicked in and I asked him if he wanted to try to chase back on. As I uttered the question I realized how ridiculous it was to think we could catch the pack.We both took off in a sprint.

I looked back after 15 seconds to see if he was there and saw one of the strangest things I’ve witnessed in a race. He was about 40 yards back riding up the middle of the road and he was crashing. His hands were out and he was in mid air. As I turned around and looked up the road I heard the unmistakable sound of metal on pavement. I saw race officials sprinting toward the two crashed riders and someone yelled if I was alright.

Meantime, all of this happened within view of the announcer’s platform and the crowd at the finish line. I crouched my aging body into the drops and put my head down as I passed the platform. I heard the announcer say my name and he was definitely playing up the drama. I finished out the lap and never caught the pack. Of the 75 starters, 44 finished and I came in 44th. The officials were kind enough to list me as "same time".

Crack o' Dawn Video

This is my morning ride group. This video was embedded in a recent article on the group on

Monday, August 10, 2009

Boston Bike Law Water Bottles

Here are the new Specialized Big Mouth bottles which just came in. I have already given 150 of them away! Sign up to follow the blog to keep updated on free giveaways.

Idaho Stop--Your Own Private Idaho?

Much buzz lately about the Idaho Stop. If you are not familiar, in Idaho apparently bike riders may legally treat stop signs as yeild signs.

Most bicyclists believe at some time or another (sometimes multiple times during a single ride) that they can safely break one of the traffic laws. The scenario is analogous to that of the jaywalker who knows he can scoot across ther street without getting creamed by that truck 500 yards down the road. According to the argument, bike riders and pedestrians each have a very strong interest in their own safety, and don't need a law to tell them not to do something foolish. As a wise friend of mine once observed, "cars hurt".

From the standpoint of a trial lawyer, I can say that a jury is not likely to be very sympathetic to a cyclist who rolls through a red light or stop sign, regardless of whether it is legal to do so. With all apologies to Fred Snyder of the B52's, it's best to avoid living in your own private Idaho.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

2009 Gate City Cyclone Criterium

Gate City Cyclone Criterium—Cat. 4/5


The Gate City Cyclone Criterium is held in tax free Nashua New Hampshire, thus providing an opportunity to combine bike racing with the task of restocking my humidor with cigars from the 2 Guys Smoke Shop.

I thought about trying out the masters field today (age 35+), but that field is notoriously stacked with the best riders. I figured I’d be better off racing cat 4/5 today, where the competition might be a bit less intense. We had a large group—I am told 70 starters. I recognized a few other masters in the field, plus a few others I remembered from the Working Man’s Stage Race. After the first turn, the course tips slightly uphill and rolls up to a minor league baseball park. The course then turns right and wraps around the stadium, which is only feet away at one point (so close they strap hay bales to the walls of the stadium). Next comes an “S” turn followed by a straightaway, a hard right turn then another straightaway into the finish line.

Can’t really say what the issue was but I felt a little off today. Part of it was that there were a lot of riders doing their first race today and I saw some real sketchy bike handling, which can screw up the rhythm. Also, some kid—the future of America—rolled onto the course on his skateboard, only to be passed on all sides by the pack. Part of it had to do with me, just never felt right. Maybe racing at Wompatuck three days before was a mistake. Anyway, there were many primes up for grabs in today’s race but I did not contest them.

The pace was fast (maybe because of all the primes) and a lot of riders ended up dropping out. Somehow I hung on and I got myself into pretty good position for the last lap. I was in good shape as we hit the “S” turn, but someone got bumped and swerved wide. I ended up needing to swing real wide in the middle of the "S" and there was hardly any room for me to exit the turn onto the backstretch. I was still squeaking through there when the hammer was dropped and I lost 8 or 10 spots in the blink of an eye. There was no getting back in the game after that. I counted 19 riders ahead of me on the warm down. I had hoped to fund the cigar purchase with prize money, but that wasn't going to happen today.

2009 Workingman's Stage Race

Workingman’s Stage Race—Cat 4

This is a great race for anyone who is curious about what it is like to race a stage race but doesn’t want to spend the 4th of July weekend out at the Fitchburg-Longsjo ( or can’t handle the climbing that race entails). Although it is called the “Working Man’s” Stage Race, it could more aptly be called the “Underemployed” or “Soon to be Fired” Mans Stage Race as it involves three days in a row of cutting out of the office early to get up to Amesbury Massachusetts by 6 p.m. Here’s the summary:

Stage 1—Time Trial: It had probably been about 20 years since my last time trial. The time trial is known as the “race of truth”, and it is true what they say—the truth hurts. I spent the 45 minutes before I started riding the rollers in the parking lot, occasionally catching a glimpse of the competition. I have to say I was pretty blown away by the equipment some of these guys were riding—full carbon bikes, deep dish carbon wheels, aero bars, the pointy time trial helmets…c’mon, really? Personally I borrowed some old aero bars from a Crack o’ Dawn compatriot, which didn’t actually fit my Cervelo because they were so old. Figuring the bars would be more important than riding the fancy new bike, I dusted off an old Giant which I’d been scavenging for parts, put it back together and installed the aero bars. I was definitely riding slag iron that day. The squeak of my chain definitely provided a contrast to the hollow whoosh of the full carbon Zipps which seemed to surround me.

Oh yeah, the race. It would be fair to say I came out strong. I looked down at the Garmin (which I had duct-taped onto the aero bars) after the first couple of gradually rising miles and saw I was averaging over 25 mph. This was much faster than usual but I figured maybe the aero bars were working for me. I looked up the road and saw I was closing on the rider who had started one minute ahead, a 25 year old from Cambridge Bike who clearly spends much more time than I do riding a bike. Before I could even consciously ease off the gas I started to fade. Not too long after that the Cambridge Bike guy was out of sight. At about the halfway point I got passed by the rider behind. I squeaked along (literally) for the next 3 miles, summiting the hill at a snail’s pace. I probably made up some time on the descent (on the downhills gravity is actually my friend) but then I ended up getting stuck in a rush hour traffic jam on the main road through town. During a time trial?!? I slowed to a crawl there waiting for traffic to clear (and actually was happy to have an excuse to ease up a bit, truth be told). I couldn’t stick around for the results (and I wasn’t all that eager to get them) so I packed up the bike and went home. I’d wait for the next day’s email recap from the organizers...

Stage 2—Circuit Race. Back on the Cervelo tonight. The circuit race was run on essentially the same course as the time trial, except they extend it out another couple of miles, crossing the state line briefly into New Hampshire. There’s one significant hill on the course—the same one that destroyed me in the time trial the night before, and there were two screaming fast downhills. I was feeling pretty good and was happy to have learned earlier in the day that I did not finish last the night before. That was all I wanted, not to be last.

There was an early break that really didn’t go anywhere. They were gone for two or three miles before they got reeled in. Soon after that one of my Boston Road Club teammates, John Starvish, got in a break with some guy who it turned out had just finished the Race Across America (RAAM). (Of course this tidbit of info, which I didn't learn until later on after the stage was over, begged the quesiton what a downtown lawyer like me was even doing in a race like this.) There were three of them and they quickly got out of sight. Another teammate and I went to the front to do some blocking. Since blocking essentially means going slow, it turned out I was pretty good at that. However since blocking means riding at the front, I was only able to manage that for a couple of laps before I had to fade back a bit. Also, I figured that by then the break was either going to stick or it wasn’t, and wearing myself out at the front probably wasn’t going to make much of a difference one way or another.

After drifting back into the pack I spent a lot of time recovering, taking advantage of the draft. I wanted to crack the top 10 since my performance the night before was so horrendous, so I figured I’d let Cambridge Bike and Threshold tire themselves out chasing the break. That’s pretty much what happened. We came down off the fast descent and into town (where I previously got stuck in the traffic jam) and I had pretty good positioning. The pack really tightened up and we were all elbow to elbow over the last mile. A few small gaps opened up which I took advantage of, moving up to second or third wheel. There was a gradual rise past the middle school and then the road tilted slightly down for the finishing sprint. We picked up speed and I dropped into my biggest gear and stuck out my elbows just as we hit about the 200 meter mark. A fellow BRC rider was just ahead and to my left. There was quite a headwind and two riders in the front row ahead and to my right both faded at the same time. I was feeling good and could see we were approaching the finish line. Basically, it was now or never. I jumped out to the right and put myself way over on the right hand edge of the road. I took third in the bunch sprint but I passed so close to the camera that it must not have picked up my number, and another rider was credited with my finish. Officially, I ended up with 9th place. Still not too shabby…

Stage 3—Points Race. The points race took place at Star Motor Speedway in Epping New Hampshire. This is a ¼ mile banked auto track (not sure what kind of car can run on a ¼ mile track--must be very small ones) and the races were run under the lights. I’d only done a points race once before, at Wells Avenue, and I knew that in order to do well in one of these races you have to be in pretty phenomenal shape--able to sprint hard and recover fast, because you are sprinting for points every few laps. Whoever has the most points at the end of the race, wins. In other words, a points race exposes a rider like me for the hack that I am. I tried sprinting a few times but I was pretty tired from the night before. Basically I rode around in circles for 80 laps, trying to hold on. We were hammering the whole time and there was no break from the action. My teammates actually scooped up some serious points and John Starvish actually won the race. The highlight for me was hitting the rumble strip at the bottom of the embankment at about 30 mph. and getting bounced around like a rag doll. Ouch. That pretty much summed up the race.

Overall a great race, extremely well run, and a great chance to pretend for a few days that I was a serious bike racer. Will I ever do it again? Long shot but I wouldn’t rule it out. As for my finish, I think I was 18th in the G.C.

2009 Attleboro Criterium Cat. 4

This was my first crit since doing the Harpoon B2B and my first race since upgrading to Cat. 4. Definitely an adjustment!

The course started with a short incline—not a bona fide hill but pretty notable for a crit. At the top there was a sharp turn (turn 2) which put us onto a pretty flat backstretch. There was a nasty right-handed crosswind up there, making it very difficult to hold position if you happened to be riding on the right side of the peloton. Another sharp turn (3) put us directly into a stiff headwind through a gradual descent. Then, there were two sweeping turns at the bottom of the slope which put us onto the final straightaway. There was some tree cover down there which blocked the wind. The course was 7/10 mile and we were racing 30 laps.

We started at what felt to me like a blistering pace and basically I began fading right away. I was mostly taking an inside line up the incline and through turn 2. I was gaining some ground this way, but I was getting hammered by the crosswind on the backstretch. I was losing all the ground I gained going up that small hill and by the time I got to the sharp right at turn 3, I was so far back in the pack I was getting completely whipsawed.

After turn 3 the peloton was stringing out on the descent, providing little shelter from the headwind. After a few laps of this, I looked back (ok I know you're not supposed to look back in a race) and realized I was the last rider in the peloton. First I thought it was a mistake but alas, it was no mistake. I was last, hanging off the back by a thread for about the next twelve laps. There were a few times when gaps opened ahead of me and I was really dangling. I closed those gaps but I didn’t think I was going to be able to hang on much longer.

Then, at about the halfway point I suddenly started feeling much better--the feeling of actually being warmed up and ready to race. I should have known when I saw the whole Cambridge Bike team riding trainers before the race that riding up and down the street a few times wasn't going to cut it. Next time before getting myself into a crit I vowed to make sure I dusted off the old Kreitler rollers. Dumb mistake, and I paid for it.

Once I was warmed up I began filling some gaps and positioning myself better for the windy areas of the course. Having spent so much time at the rear I had no idea what was going on in the race. For all I knew the pack was about to get lapped by a breakaway. I was just happy to no longer feel like I was on the verge of coughing up a lung.

The bell rang for the final lap and my positioning for a field sprint was actually not too shabby. I was in the front third and I gained some ground up the incline. I knew I could pick up more ground through the last two sweeping turns before the final straightaway. At the top of the incline I rounded turn 2 and was planning to tuck myself in nicely on the backstretch, saving myself for those turns and then the sprint. After entering the backstretch, one guy just ahead of me caught a pedal on the pavement and went down. The guys who were ahead of the crash hit the gas and were gone. I was behind it and got a bit interrupted. Those of us who got through without too much trouble charged down the backstretch, rounded the final turn and churned over the line with everybody pretty much holding their position. I had no idea how I finished, and since I had to get home for dinner I could not wait for my result. Later I learned I was 16th. Same as in the 2008 Norwell Circuit Race.


Welcome to Boston Bike Law, the blog of I am John DiSciullo, a full time trial attorney and (very) amateur bike racer. My plan with this blog is to discuss legal issues pertaining to bicyclists, post my race reports, and share other info that will hopefully entertain and inform. So keep riding and enjoy my blog!