Author Topic: Audax - night riding/sleep deprivation/tiredness and possible calamity  (Read 7894 times)

Perhaps the simplest solution would be to ban all starts before 9am, so that at least riders aren't starting an event sleep deprived from the night before - why the ludicrous obsession with 6am starts? 

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
The problem IMHO is INSTANT dozies and a fatigued driver might be unaware how quickly they can fall asleep.
This is no problem on the floor of a village hall but another matter at the wheel.
Familiar roads lack any stimulus to promote alertness as do dull motorways.

I think it’s fair and reasonable to warn ALL riders of the risks of instant dozies.

I have vague memories of some post-Audax horribleness elsewhere a while back.

jwo

If AUK was to issue guidance at what point would it stop?

I think the point here is that driving while tired risks significant damage to others too, so is not just about personal choice. It's why we have laws about drink driving but not drinking and walking down stairs. There is precedent with the Vatternrundan and in the case of Audax it does feel like a culture of tired driving is too often left unchallenged.

I think I would dispute a solution that relies solely on self-judgement. The OP demonstrates very clearly why this may not be sufficient. And it does echo the arguments we once heard about drink driving - that drinkers knew when it was and was not safe to drive. It's also one we still hear about speed limits.

AUK events already usually either provide car parking or advice on where to park your car while you’re riding. The idea that it’s “outside the event” is laughable.

They’re also routinely held at times and places where attendance without a car is tricky or expensive or both.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
A 6am start maximises riding in daylight for most distances. Most folk ride faster in daylight than between midnight and dawn.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

telstarbox

  • Loving the lanes
Absolutely - my evening commute is a few minutes slower in dark winter than light summer on the same route. 

Going back to the OP (and not trying to stick the boot in), that could fit in the definition of the existing "dangerous driving" offence.
2019 🏅 R1000 and B1000

Perhaps then this is where safety, including on the journey home from the event, needs to trump speed...?

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
that could fit in the definition of the existing "dangerous driving" offence.

Gary Hart was convicted of dangerous driving for being the cause of the Selby train crash. He fell asleep and his hand rover and trailer ran down the bank of the M62 onto the train tracks. "He served 30 months of a five-year jail term after being convicted of 10 counts of causing death by dangerous driving."

I seem to remember that at the time there was discussion about whether the punishment was harsher because of the severity of the incident.
It is simpler than it looks.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
A 6am start maximises riding in daylight for most distances. Most folk ride faster in daylight than between midnight and dawn.

It does, but for myself, the 11pm start for the Dales 400 worked very well. It hardly gets dark in the North or in Scotland, this time of year and pushing through the twilight and into the dawn when fresh, doing a full day’s ride, then hitting the hay for midnight seemed fine.

 

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Perhaps then this is where safety, including on the journey home from the event, needs to trump speed...?

Over the past three decades, I have started 400s at most hours of the day. There isn't a big advantage for any particular start time with regards to driving home but finishing around 2-3am means I can nap at the finish before driving (or riding) home.

I have fallen asleep while driving after supporting teethgrinder through a 24hr TT (no riding on my part). Driving home around 5pm, I put two wheels on top of the kerb in a microsleep before taking the first possible layby snooze. The return to London was punctuated by several naps in motorway services, rather than while driving.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

6am to midday start for a 400 allows at least some time to build up a time buffer for sleep on a 400.
I think that what makes 400s often feel harder than 600s is a reluctance to get some sleep on a 400.Liz Crease, in her day used to like 400s that started at 10am the most of all events.
Start at 1 after a good sleep and breakfast. Rattle off 300km by midnight, or 2am the latest (she was fast, knew the routes well and wasn't known to be a fan of extra hilly rides, though she did ride some) then at least a 4 hour sleep before bashing out the last 100.

Whether you'll get sleepy or not depends on so many things. It's nothing like as simple as having rules about start times etc.
Fitness will help a lot. Note that our hero mentioned that he found this ride harder than usual. That's extra physical and mental strain.
400s are usually ridden before 600s, so most will be less fit riding the 400 than on a 600.

6am start means that faster riders can finish around midnight and sleep before going home or at least do the Liz Crease method.
Later start times force everyone into night riding. Altering start times is swings and roundabouts.
Porkers 400 is a 2pm start. Riding it as a permanent with a 2am start has crossed my mind

Going by feel doesn't work.
A wearable device that tracks sleep might help.
My Whoop strap said that I had a poor recovery every night leading up to my attempt to do the Cymru and Porkers double.
The morning of the Cymru, I felt good but Whoop gave me a poor recovery so I wasn't sure I would make the double so I decided to pace myself by perceived effort and see what my power meter and average speed turned out at.
I was just about fast enough and comfortable enough but felt more tired than I thought I ought to be so I knew it would be touch and go. So I decided on enjoying Cymru.
It turned out that I was just about fast enough to do the double, even with my longer than usual stops. But I knew I wasn't quite right.
I slept at the last control of Cymru and finished.
I could have made the start of Porkers. But it would have been tough and I knew I was going fast enough and putting out enough power to complete the Porkers in time. But I also thought that I wouldn't be able to stay awake through the night on Porkers.
So I took my time to ride the 200km home over 2 days instead, spending a lot of the first day sleeping.
I felt good and was going well enough. But the HRV reading never seems to lie. It flagged up that I might not manage the double well before I might have worked it out for myself during the ride, which meant I could make several plans ahead and not run myself down to try a very challenging ride when although I felt OK, knew that I was most likely not going to perform well enough to make it.


Another factor is facilities on the event and what you carry. Ironically, I had to carry things so I could sleep rough, which made me slower on the road and have less time for sleep. Though I could have used hotels and traveled faster and lighter, it would have cost me several hundred quid. (Free speed is expensive!)
An overnight sleep at the start and finish would make a difference.

It's a very difficult issue to deal with because there are so many factors and variables.

But yes. I think that cars have something or several things that are sleep inducing.
If you go onto You Tube, there are "Brown Noise" videos.
It's a steady noise that's thought to help you get to sleep (I use them myself sometimes)
It sounds a lot like car tyre noise. I don't know if it's proven to help induce sleep, but I think it helps me and they seem very popular.
Lowering core temperatures will also send you off to sleep. If you're cycling, it will increase core temperature. I would think that sitting in a warm car would lower it, just as a hot bath before bed does.
Muscular fatigue from tired legs will prompt sleep inducing hormones too.

The lethal reality of tired driving was brought home to me very early in my medical career.
One colleague had 4 months off work after falling asleep at the wheel and crashing.
I did a locum post in Cambridge, replacing somebody who had been promoted to a post in Leeds.
He died on a motorway between the two cities as his girlfriend was in Cambridge.

Tired doctors crash cars a lot...
Working in pathology laboratories 'back in the day' it was common for us (before we were called Biomedical Scientists) to start work at 9am on Sunday and finish at 5pm on Monday with snatched dozing in the wee small hours. It was considered 'wimpy' not to be able to hack it at full gas.
Both Mrs M and I can recall needing to pull over to gather our senses before continuing the drive home.

But back to the cycling - I sense that some of this macho attitude persists in a (tiny?) minority of riders who push themselves to limits.
While I would fully support an AGM motion seeking to minimise the risks how do we deal with the tiny minority? Or is this going to be another 'mudguard' rule that becomes impossible to police and falls by the wayside?

On the other hand, would AUK making a lot of noise about such a rule spark a wider debate in the cycling world about driving after long Sportives and TTs?

Is there anything that needs to be fed into the LEL organisation about driving at the end of the event?

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Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

Perhaps the simplest solution would be to ban all starts before 9am
That could encourage people to drive 3 or 4 hours to the start rather than getting a hotel locally

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Perhaps the simplest solution would be to ban all starts before 9am, so that at least riders aren't starting an event sleep deprived from the night before - why the ludicrous obsession with 6am starts?

I don't see why? My normal waking time is 5am, I can be on a start line in Essex or Suffolk at 7am with good prep the night before and getting out sharpish. Waking at 4am is only one hour less sleep, or a slightly earlier night

The start time is not the issue, its the elapsed time without sleep. I've run several 50 mile plus events and driven home, they take maybe 9-10 hours but if starting at 8am are over by early evening. A bit of rest watchingbthe late finishers and no issue. 

My confession is after last years Dunwich Dynamo return fromTomsk towers. Out was OK, return i had a half hour rest on a grass triangle in one village. My problem was the day before, too much caffeine derailed an afternoon nap. A 4-shot Americano from Dunmow tescos should have done the trick?

Not quite, the rumble strips woke me on the A11 as I drifted left, I pulled in at the next layby and had a half hour kip.

Will definitely look for public transport or sleep options next time.

@Garry, glad you are relatively unscathed, and also willing to share
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Wycombewheeler

  • PBP-2019 LEL-2022


Over the past three decades, I have started 400s at most hours of the day. There isn't a big advantage for any particular start time with regards to driving home but finishing around 2-3am means I can nap at the finish before driving (or riding) home.


fine if you can finish at 3am, not so good for people who finish at 7 or 8am, because the control may close at 9. leaving sleeping outside or sleeping in the car.

Eddington  127miles, 170km

There's a tendency to endlessly tweak rules or procedures in the hope that they change behaviours. The success rate of regulating for change in most walks of life are low until attitudes change. 

Gary's post reminding people and getting people talking is a much better reaction than AGM motions, changes to rules or denying that people do people stuff . It's about getting people to understand safe practices and make it easier to do the right thing (e.g quiet areas where people can have a kip after long events, timing events to suit the rail timetable, telling our friends that we don't like the idea of them driving tired).

But then, I suppose that given that most of us too sheepish to call out flashing tail lights we are probably best demanding that AUK takes responsibility, rather than having a quiet word with the rider who mentions the distance they are about to drive...

There's a tendency to endlessly tweak rules or procedures in the hope that they change behaviours...


with respect, this is different, it's literally about life and death

No need to be respectful.

Maybe I should have been blunter.

We can change or tweak rules all we like and pontificate on the best start and stop times or whether additional clauses in the rulebook are needed. But experience shows that change happens faster and better when behaviours change for other reasons.

One of those reasons may be the attitude of peers.

We've all seen people we've ridden with climb into a car. We may have been glad ourselves that no one pointed out to us that we could benefit from a rest. 

So perhaps as a community we can take responsibility for asking people not to drive when we see it happening?

I have gone back to the notes I produce for LWL and notice I say more about my attitude to flashing lights than I do about not driving. And I recall that I was dubious last year at the end of my bare Bones ride about one rider who drove home but I was pretty lame in my protestations to him.  Behaviours change shouldn't be something we delegate to other people in distant committees...

Well done to Gary for putting his hand up and for highlighting to me that even 10 miles on a familiar route can be too much.

jwo

I don't think these are mutually exclusive. We can both nudge our peers and have firmer statements in the regs. I think what persuaded me that this might need both is how the OP so effectively demonstrated that we are not good at self-evaluating our fitness to drive when tired.

I think the parallel with drink driving is apt here. This required both legislation and peer pressure to shift culture.

I agree though that tinkering with start times is not going to solve the problem.

Behaviours change shouldn't be something we delegate to other people in distant committees...

I don't think it's either or. We can do both. I'd support a well-worded motion to AGM as discussed above, and will personally continue to bang on to riders on my events about the dangers of sleepy driving.

Behaviours change shouldn't be something we delegate to other people in distant committees...

I don't think it's either or.

I'm not saying it is. My point is that if we think changes to rules will help without changes to personal and collective attitudes it won't work. This is something we all have to take responsibility for

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
It would appear from the OP the distance a tired driver might go is immaterial.
IMHO there’s less stimulus to keep a driver alert on home territory.

That’s certainly true. In the distance past (over 30 years ago) when I last drove to work rather than cycled. I’d get to the office and have no recollection of some sections. A flawed auto pilot.

Earlier today, I sent out my final email for my 400 in a couple of weekends.   I’ve put more emphasis on the train option (which I always mention first anyway), mentioned post event rest / sleep (which may involve a hotel), before driving home. Mentioned how sleepy we were after Route check.  Mentioned there are a number of nearby hotel options post event.

I suppose this is nudge theory, with Gary’s story being one such nudge. I can’t police what riders choose to do, but I can at least nudge them to stop and have a think on it.

I don’t mention lights in my pre event info, for riders on a 400.

telstarbox

  • Loving the lanes
I suppose we often make the assumptions in Audax that a) anyone on the ride will be doing regular on-road riding, and b) their experience increases proportionately to the event distance.
2019 🏅 R1000 and B1000