Its been an interesting week over at Rio.
To start with, wasn’t it fantastic to see the beaming smile of Anna Meares.
Anna was only Australia’s second cycling (track) flag bearer behind Dunc Gray in the 36 Hitler Olympics.
With the Tour only finishing a few weeks back, its been hard to get excited over the cycling at Rio, but as it turns out, its been an entertaining week with plenty of stories to talk about.
The first was Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) crash in the Womans Road Race. Annemiek suffered severe concussion and three fractures to her spine after a nasty crash on the descent of the Vista Chinesa in the final 12km of the Olympic Games women’s road race on Sunday.
Annemiek was in the lead of the road race, heading for a potential gold medal with a 30 second lead on Mara Abbott (USA) on the technical, damp descent when she overcooked an entry into a corner, and unfortunately cartwheeled into the concrete kerbing in a dramatic fashion.
Her teammate Anna van der Breggen went on to claim gold over Sweden’s Emma Johansson and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy).
In a twitter update from Annemiek she was in high spirits from her hospital bed, obviously disappointed, however she was starting to come to terms with the fact she in all probability lost the gold medal, but wasn’t blaming anyone except herself “it is very difficult to accept this. I was so close, but gave it away and it was my fault”.
Over at the men’s road race, Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet snatched gold in an incident-packed men’s Olympic road race, out-sprinting Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang alongside the Copacabana beach after.
It looked as if the mens race would be won by Vincenzo Nibali as he descended down the Vista Chinesa, but Nibali and Sergio Henao careered out of control at speed leaving Poland’s Rafal Majka out on his own as the race returned to the ocean front.
Majka strived hard to solo to gold, but he was always up against it, in the end being caught by van Avermaet and Fuglsang who reeled him in with little more than a kilometer of the 237.5km race remaining .
Van Avermaet then applied the perfect finish, accelerating to an epic victory, with Majka hanging on for the bronze.
At the time trials, Kristen Armstrong won her 3rd womans time trial in a row, amazing effort for someone who turned turns 43 on August 11.
The American fought back to beat Russian Olga Zabelinskaya by five seconds in a time of 44:26.42. The Russian had only returned to cycling in 2015 after serving an 18-month doping ban.
And over in the MITT, a fitting win for someone who is retiring at the end of theis season, Spartacus.
Unfortunately for Australia’s Rohan Dennis, he came in 5th after a forced bike changeover after his handlebar broke, and whilst in his words he wouldn’t have wo gold, he certainly would have been pushing for a podium.
Bring on the Track.
Cycling Helmets at the Tour de France
Now helmets have been around for quite some time, but in the professional cycling scene, they were predominantly used on the tracks.
Cycling Head Injuries
Since my relatively minor accident a month back, I’ve given some though into cycling injuries and the impact a relatively benign accident has on our ability to operate in a world that is mostly designed to support the able bodied person. Whilst society has evolved to assist the disabled and incapacitated, even with this help it is difficult to get through the rigours of daily life. Simple things we take for granted can be it extremely difficult. My thoughts didn’t get me too far, and Its fair to say my injuries are a minor short term inconvenience, but upon reflection it wasn’t far away from being something quite major. A fraction of an inch here or there could have seen more sever facial injuries and a longer time in recuperation and rehabilitation. In my case, my helmet remained unscathed because I used my face as an air bag.
Got me thinking about helmets and whether they are the best we can get for a sport that is inherently dangerous. I don’t think so. The guys at Giro are looking at a new internal shell designed to stay stationary on the scalp as the outer shell moves, great for the side on glances.
So, i had a look at what other sports use to protect themselves to see if there is anything we can learn from them.
We all like the freedom of the wind on the face, being able to chat to your mate next to you, being able to clear your nose and spit, anything more would just be a damn nuisance. But, if you are looking to provide some form of protection to the face, i would have to say a cross between the Grid Iron and the Lacrosse, with perhaps some additional ventilation vents would provide that frontal protection but still provide some form of lightweight ventilated head protection. Just saying…..
Graham, a sculpture commissioned in Australia to show the perfect body for automobile accidents (Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission)
The human body wasn’t built to withstand the impact of colliding in an automobile with other objects at high speed. But that’s why artists and researchers in Australia have designed Graham, the monstrosity you see above. He represents the perfect human body-perfect for getting in a car crash, that is.
Graham, the dozen-nippled art piece, was built to raise awareness about road safety by the state of Victoria in Australia.
I reckon i know a few Grahams on the road!
An extract from http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=6892, by Anna K. Abramson M.D.
One of the most feared consequences of contact sport is traumatic brain injury. Concussions are a form of brain injury resulting from a direct blow or rapid acceleration and deceleration of the brain inside the skull and alters the cellular processes in the brain. Concussion can occur without direct impact or loss of consciousness, and can be present with normal hospital imaging. Concussion can result in symptoms that are evident immediately, or may evolve over the course of hours, days, and even months. Perhaps more concerning is that some symptoms are only evident with specific testing or questioning. Furthermore, after an initial injury, the brain is susceptible to repeat injury. Equally important, disequilibrium and slowed reaction times that may be caused by an initial injury increase the athlete’s risk for further head injuries.
By wearing helmets, cyclists significantly decrease their odds of head and skull injury, but cannot prevent concussion completely. Ideally, following any suspected concussion, a properly trained medical staff member would perform a complete neurologic exam. However, teams may not have access to a team physician and the peloton may not wait for this type of thorough investigation.
The following guidelines are intended for education of cycling team managers, coaches and athletes of the symptoms and management of concussion in athletes but are not a surrogate for evaluations by appropriately trained medical professionals. These guidelines pertain to adult athletes, as children and adolescents are at an even higher risk of concussion and protracted recovery requiring a medical professional. This concussion statement is based on current knowledge and best practices, and will need to be modified as more information emerges.
Actions to take in the pre-season
- Education of athletes on the importance of taking responsibility for their own health is imperative. Cyclists should be encouraged to be honest with any new symptoms they develop, especially after injury or concussion sustained during the season.
- Obtaining an assessment athlete’s baseline neurologic function. This is one of the most important aspects of good neurological care for all athletes. Establishing an athlete’s baseline neurological function allows for a more accurate diagnosis in case of future injury and helps guide for the safe return to cycling. Cyclists with history of prior concussion are at an increased risk of repeat injury, so it is particularly imperative for these athletes to have a baseline cognitive assessment performed with the SCAT2 (iPib note – SCAT3 is the 3rd generation assessment tool – link here – SCAT3) or computer based ImPACT testing prior to the start of the racing season by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of sport related concussion.
- Most accurate assessments would occur with a baseline functioning test by a trained neuropsychologist, primary care physician, or certified athletic trainer using established tests such as SCAT2 or ImPACT as a means of assessing baseline data.
- For athletes without access to formal testing, having a written account of at least the following two items reviewed with the cyclist pre-season would aid a trained medical professional in the case of a future concussion evaluation:
- Document history of possible head injury or concussions in the past, including when the injuries occurred, what symptoms the athlete experienced, what testing was done, length of recovery, and how the athlete was cleared for competition. Cyclists with prior concussions resulting in extended symptomatic periods are at increased risk for prolonged recovery after any additional injury.
- Romberg test of balance – can the athlete stand feet together, eyes closed for 30 seconds without tilting, becoming unsteady or falling. If athlete is unable to do this, he or she needs a professional evaluation.
Evaluation for concussion after injury
1. Communicate to riders and staff the importance of immediate assessment for possible concussion after a crash by medical staff. This includes any damage to rider’s helmet, face, or neck. In the event of a high-speed impact, an evaluation for concussion is warranted regardless of the rider’s complaints.
- Fast and effective evaluation can ensure proper triage and safety for the athlete.
- Cooperating with medical staff performing the exam will speed up the process. If the athlete is safe to return to competition following these guidelines will help him or her get there faster.
2. In many situations medical staff will not be on hand after a crash but team staff may be present. In these situations it is important to be aware of symptoms of severe injury to the brain or spine that can become life threatening. Should riders develop these symptoms, they need to immediately be withdrawn from competition and transported by emergency medical personnel to a medical facility. These include:
- Loss or change in consciousness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Severe headache
- Inability to speak or swallow
- Significant trauma to the head
- Clear fluid leakage from the nose or ears
- Inability to walk or ride their bike in a straight line
3. Riders, who have sustained a minor injury leading to concussion, can be more challenging to identify. The tests immediately following trauma are imperfect as symptoms of concussion can evolve over time. Symptoms of concussion listed below (see #5) should signal that the athlete may need medical attention, and if still on the bike, to immediately withdraw from competition for further assessment.
4. Cyclists suspected of a concussion would ideally be observed for 15 minutes following guidelines established in other sports. This may not be possible in the context of most bicycle racing. Those athletes that are suspected of having a concussion but do not demonstrate life threatening or initial symptoms of concussion outlined in #2 and #5, should have at the minimum the following brief exam prior to clearance to continue the race:
- Observe the athlete stand feet together, eyes closed, and head tilted back. If the athlete is unable to maintain their balance they have failed this assessment and cannot be returned to competition until assessed by a medical professional.
- Ask questions like the following four, to assess memory and comprehension (if you know this information, otherwise ask questions you are able to answer yourself): What is the name of this race? Which city were you in race in last week? Can you name four teammates in this race? Can you name all of the months backwards, starting with December?
5. Initial symptoms and signs of a concussion may include6:
- Any loss of consciousness
- Neck pain
- Poor balance
- Decreased reaction time
- Memory disturbance
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to noise or lights
- Head shaking, trying to “clear the fog”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability or anxiety
6. Regardless of if the cyclist finishes the race after a suspected concussion, symptoms can evolve for up to 14 days and persist for many weeks afterwards. Monitor for the following symptoms and signs as these suggest the need for further medical evaluation. Changes in mood or memory noted by team members/family, including:
- Increased irritability
- Disinhibited behavior
- Increased sadness, anxiety, or nervousness
- Change in sexual drive or behavior
- Ongoing headaches
- Fatigue or low energy
- Ongoing difficulties with concentration or “fogginess”
- Insomnia / trouble falling asleep
- Changes in reaction time, especially if athlete has increased number of crashes
7. Any athlete suspected of having a concussion should AVOID the following or consult a physician prior to:
- Strenuous physical and cognitive activity for at least 24 hours or until previous symptoms are completely resolved as such activity can delay recovery
- Consuming Alcohol
- Taking sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medications
- Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or narcotics. However, can consider using acetaminophen for headaches and general aches instead after evaluation for concussion
- Driving or operating machinery, including their bike
Return to sport considerations after concussion
The return to normal activities is a critical step in the recovery of concussed cyclists. However, to do this safely it requires supervision by a physician trained in the care of concussed athletes. Though each cyclist’s recovery has to be evaluated on a case by case basis, a few basic premises should be followed to maximize safety and allow for proper recovery. These should serve only as educational guidelines and not rules for unmonitored return to competition:
- The primary treatment for concussion is to rest the brain. Cognitively stimulating activities such as physical activity, computer work, e-mail, watching videos, school or work, or event attending loud or stressful events, continue to stress the brain and prolong recovery. Await complete resolution of post-concussive symptoms such as headache and dizziness prior to initiating any such activity.
- Once concussed cyclists are asymptomatic use a step-wise approach when increasing level of activity:
- Start with a low impact stationary bike or trainer, keeping the goal HR <70 percent maximum and monitor for symptom recurrence. If the athlete becomes symptomatic, stop the activity immediately, and rest the athlete for 24 hours. Reattempt exercise only if the athlete is asymptomatic
- Gradually increase level and duration of activity only if there is no recurrence of symptoms over the following 24 hours. Continue this daily progression until the athlete is able to train at pre-injury level without recurrence of symptoms. If the athlete develops symptoms during any stage of the step-wise progression, rest the athlete 24 hours, and then if asymptomatic, resume the progression at the last level the athlete could complete without symptoms.
- Pay special attention to the athletes balance and reaction times as these may take longer to return and ongoing deficits may cause repeat injury once the cyclist is back on the road or mountain.
- Delayed presence of symptoms or recovery may indicate ongoing trauma or mark another serious condition that requires attention by a physician
Australian Cycling Injury Patterns
Olds K, Byard RW, Langlois NEI, Injury patterns and features of cycling fatalities in South Australia, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine (2015), doi: 10.1016/ j.jflm.2015.05.018.
There has been an increase in cycling in Australia. This means that more cyclists are at risk of injuries, which account for a proportion of transport-related fatalities. In this study, all cyclist fatalities from 2002-2013 in South Australia where post-mortem examinations were performed were investigated. There were 42 deaths representing 3% of the total road fatalities over the same time. Of this total number of cases, 13 deaths (31%) involved collapse (mostly natural causes from an underlying medical condition) and 29 (69%) resulted from trauma. There were no cases of hyperthermia. Of the decedents 95 % were male, and the mean age at death was 47 years.
Fatal incidents were more likely to occur during April and November, and on a Monday.
The majority of riding fatalities were as a result of collision with vehicles (81%). Drugs (including alcohol) were detected in two (15%) of the 13 cases of the collapses, and in seven (26%) of the 27 trauma cases tested. In trauma cases, death was most often due to multiple injuries. The most frequent area for injury was the head (found in 90% of traumatic deaths). Despite the increasing numbers of cyclists on South Australian roads over the last decade, death rates have trended downwards suggesting that road safety campaigns and the provision of more dedicated bicycle lanes have had a positive outcome.
In a report conducted by the AdelaideUniversity in 2013 (AVAILABLE FROM Centre for Automotive Safety Research http://casr.adelaide.edu.au/publications/researchreports) Cyclists involved in crashes were generally found to be experienced road users who undertook road cycling activities on a regular basis. On average, cyclists self reported that their road cycling exposure involved close to 10,000 kilometres per annum.
Male cyclists between the ages of 36 and 55 years were found to be the group most frequently involved in crashes involving a motorised vehicle. Vehicle drivers undertaking a turning manoeuvre posed the biggest threat to cyclists who were generally travelling straight on a carriageway. Those drivers undertaking a right turn manoeuvre were found to pose the greatest threat, particularly those turning across multiple traffic lanes and in peak hour traffic conditions. These crashes were more likely to involve young drivers.
The most serious injuries incurred by cyclists were fractures, followed by those who sustained internal organ injuries. Close to a third of cyclists experienced a loss of consciousness following the crash. More than half of the cyclists involved in the crashes had an injury severity score (ISS) of five or less, however, five per cent of the crashes resulted in the cyclists sustaining injuries where the ISS was 21 or more. Those cyclists who struck the side of a vehicle were generally found to sustain more serious injuries when compared with other crash types and resulted in hospitalisation for longer periods.
So, its a dangerous game we play.
Wouldn’t give it up for the world.
The Soup Boys
It is the year 2013, in a university classroom tucked away in the back streets of Port Melbourne, Australia, when the powers of the Age of Mythology were at play again as worlds collided and when the Soup Boys Cycling Collective were founded.
The very first AGM was held over fish tacos and beers at an inner city taqueria, where and where a vision for the Soup Boys was forged.
Since that day, the Soup Boys have spread the message, of love, good times, going fast and banter on 2 wheels all across the country. Whilst staying true to their roots of Melbourne postcode 3032 (#represent), they are made up of members in South Australia, throughout regional Victoria and into New South Wales, occasionally meeting all together in the same place to give thanks to Zeus, Tom Boonen, and cause a gaping hole in the space/time continuum.
Through the bicycle, photograph and design they aim to celebrate what seems to be missing all too often in the (Australian) bike scene: where calories consumed at the pre/mid/post ride cafe stop hold significantly higher importance than those burnt on the bike, where banter is permitted, nay welcomed with no prisoners held, and where creativity & a distinct lack of seriousness and professionalism reign supreme.
They think of themselves as a growing team of “The Expendables” just only leaner, more creative, living a more action packed life, and with a little more wit. They like t think they are the cutest teens on 2 wheels, despite the fact we predominantly sit in our mid twenties, chasing local C grade glory, and morning bunch ride bragging rights.
They are borne of Instagram and Twitter notoriety, award winning photographers, creators of mass physical envy, great engineering prowess, powered by bananas, mangoes and cherries (by the box) and ruthless in the deliverance of power outputs, and banter.
You can check out their adventures on website soupboys.cc or on social media as @soupboyscc.
Las week I got a chance to have a natter with one of the Adelaide Soup Boys – Alex Toumbas.
Rider of the Week – Alex Toumbos
- How and when did you get started in cycling.
- Are you just a roadie, or do you cross over to other disciplines?
- How many bikes do you own and what is your main go to bike?
- How do you store your bikes?
- Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
- What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
- What is your favourite piece of cycling kit or accessory?
- What do you love about cycling?
- Is there anything that annoys you?
- If you could sit down with the local politician, what advice (cycling related) would you give them to help improve cycling in Adelaide?
- Other than yourself, who is your favourite cyclist?
- If you could have dinner with 3 people from the cycling world, who would they be?
- What are your craziest/fondest cycling memories?
- What is your favourite post ride coffee/tea spot, and what would you normally buy as a treat?
- Have you ridden overseas? If so, where? If not, where would it be?
- What is your favourite training route?
- What is the biggest cycling lie you have told your partner?
- What would you like for your next birthday?
I wouldn’t mind a trainer…
- Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?