Velo Birmingham risk alienating triathletes with bans on triathlon equipment

Velo Birmingham

Velo Birmingham Alienate Triathletes

Velo Birmingham risk alienating triathletes with bans on triathlon equipment. Sportives aren’t the sole property of triathletes but many use them as part of their training program, especially those preparing for a 112-mile Ironman.

However, in keeping with many of the larger sportives, the organisers have excluded certain triathlon equipment. The list of items forbidden under Section 6.8 of the Event Terms & Conditions include; “.. any unconventional handlebars, including triathlon bars, aero bars ..”, “bikes with disc wheels” and “bottle cages under or behind the saddle”.

Section 6.8 Event T&Cs

Terms & Conditions are notorious for being long-winded, written in legalise and generally difficult to comprehend. This often results in them being unread and ignored.

I was a little intrigued by what the Velo Birmingham Event T&Cs included so I grabbed my Barrister’s wig and gown and waded through the 3,664 words on your behalf.

Section 6.8 is where the most interesting content lays, here it is in full.

6.8 he/she understands that the following are forbidden at the Event – bikes with disc wheels, recumbent bicycles, electronic bikes of any kind, unicycles, penny farthings, tricycles, quad cycles, BMX bikes, fixed gear bikes / singlespeeds / fixies (allowed with two independent brakes and a freehub); any unconventional handlebars, including triathlon bars, aero bars, clip-ons, prayer bars, Spinaci bars and cow bars, bars without Bar end plugs fitted; handlebar extensions, any attachment parts that endanger other riders (e.g. kick stands that stick out), bike trailers, child carriers, bottle cages under or behind the saddle, drinking bottles that are made of non-breakable or hard materials like aluminium or hard plastic; pets or animals of any kind; and any other items which the Organiser considers may be a danger to the safety of other participants.

Velo Birmingham is a sportive over 100 miles and with upto 15,000 cyclists participating, it is perhaps understandable that some types of bikes are forbidden.

Whilst I’ve nothing against cyclists riding recumbent bicycles, unicycles, penny farthings, tricycles, quad cycles or BMX bikes, I don’t want to be in a situation where we may clash.

However, I’m quite perplexed at the exclusion of some of the equipment listed, including fixed gear and single gear bikes.

Ban Explained

The event organisers have responded to my request for more information and have offered the following to explain the ban.

Tri Bars / Aero Bars

In a sportive when surrounded by up to 15,000 other riders, we feel as experienced cycling event organisers that tri bars are dangerous.

Quote: “Tri-Bars are designed for time trial or triathlon style riding where drafting is banned. It allows riders to stay on their tri-bars, away from their brakes, with less control and encourages a body position where riders are likely to be less aware of their surroundings. We feel this poses a danger to the participant concerned and the other 15,000 riders riding.”

I think this is a fair position (no pun intended) to take but couldn’t the time trial cyclists be allowed to start ahead of everyone else? The counter argument to this is that the faster sportive participants are likely to catch the slower TT riders and we’re back to square one again.

Disc Wheels

Quote: “Disc Wheels are banned because in strong winds – which we may well encounter at the end of September – disc wheels have been known to be extremely dangerous to the participant involved and the riders around them. Disc wheels are generally used in time trial events or on the track as they are more aerodynamic. However, when its windy, disc wheels can often blow a cyclist sideways or even blow the bike from under them. This is potentially a hazard to all who take part in the event.”

Again, this is sound judgement based on the likely weather next September.

Saddle Bottles

Quote: “Many saddle bottle cages are of such a design that we feel they provide a danger to cyclists who often have the kind of accident which propels them over the handle bars towards riders in front of them. In an event where there are so many riders likely to be close to each other, we believe the chance of such incidents are higher. We believe there are safer places to attach bottle cages to bikes, which provide less of a hazard to the rest of the participants.”

This is probably extending the point too far and I’m not sure this is absolutely necessary.

Our thanks to Ali Foster, Marketing & Communications Manager at CSM Active for the explanation.