Cycling is a fantastic sport to be a part of. There’s simply no better way to see the world than on a bike.
Owing to the exposed nature of a cyclist though, things can get hairy in the blink of an eye. Competitive riding is getting more intense by the day, and when you’re riding as fast as the pros are, even the slightest of tumbles can have disastrous results.
Here are just some shocking scenarios where riders have missed a serious smash or worse by nothing more than a hair’s breadth. Not all the close calls below ended in disaster, but they certainly produced some memorable moments:
1. Danny Hart, Val di Sole, UCI DH World Cup, 2010
The ‘Redcar Rocket’ Danny Hart is well known for his flamboyant, full-attack riding style which makes him great to watch whatever the circumstances.
The World Cup track at Val di Sole is a beast; long, steep and rough. It has all the hallmarks of a classic. At the World Cup there in 2010, Danny Hart almost replicated Sam Hill’s crash from two years previous on the penultimate corner.
Nothing is unusual about Danny Hart getting sideways, but this drift got a little out of hand…
Rather than opt for the safer, if a little rougher, outside line, Hart hugged the tape and opted to risk the off-camber apex that his chosen line offered. What followed can only be described as ‘clinging on for dear life’.
Nothing is unusual about Danny Hart getting sideways on a bike of course, but this drift got a little out of hand, as you can see in the video above. Those spectators sure got a fright! The best thing about this video is that Hart never takes his foot off the gas.
2. Joe Barnes, La Bresse, UCI DH World Cup, 2009
Back in 2009, Joe Barnes was yet to make the jump to the World Enduro stage and was almost at the height of his downhill career. Not one to get wild on a bike, but definitely doing all the steering with his rear wheel, Barnes is a great rider to watch.
Now, the La Bresse course is a little different to most modern downhill courses. It’s a new twist on the classic open Alpine piste of the early 2000s and late 90s, and timing is everything on the track.
Luckily here there was plenty of run out over the field, and the cameraman managed to step aside quickly…
At first site this featured corner looks fairly innocuous, but the complex of sharp compressions make it a tricky one to get right. After Joe’s bike hits the first two bumps, his suspension didn’t react quickly enough to the ones that follow, sending the rider all over the shop.
Luckily, there’s plenty of run out over the field, and the cameraman managed to step aside to let him through.
3. Blind-Turn Warriors, Tour de Heife, 2014
This video serves to prove that you don’t have to be the best cyclist to have a close call on a bicycle – something I’m sure you’re all very much aware of.
The Tour de Heifer is a relatively entry-level affair that follows a weekend of the Strolling of the Heifers in Brattleboro, near Vermont. Most of the rides are on forest roads and are gentle family affairs, but the 60 mile ride, in the video above, is for more experienced cyclists.
From the off, the way these guys are cutting blind turns is a recipe for disaster. Skinny tyres and gravel roads don’t offer the shortest stopping distance when things go wrong.
Also, there’s very little worse you can hit than almost three tonnes of American-made steel.
4. Mr. Mobility Scooter, Stage 3, Women’s Tour of Britain, 2014
The Women’s Tour of Britain is the premier ladies’ cycling event in the UK road racing calendar, so you would expect the security and route marshalling to be pretty tight.
So, how does a near miss come about in the land of excessive barriers? Well, it’s hard to make out just how this gentleman, sat in his mobility scooter, has been allowed to wander into the path of the oncoming peloton.
The scooter driver seems oblivious to the women flying past him at great speed…
Let’s just say that whoever was managing that crossing may well have found themselves out of a job shortly afterwards. It is a small miracle that the leading pack of two had enough of a gap to allow this chap through before the chasing pack come through hot on their heels.
What’s even more amazing is that the scooter driver seems oblivious to the women flying past him at great speed. Unbelievable…
5. This Small Dog, Stage 3, Tour de France, 2013
The Tour de France is a fast-flying event. Given that fact, it’s unlikely that the peloton would be keen to stop for a dog in the middle of the road when they’re flying at some ridiculous mph.
Luckily for them, this terrier lookalike managed to find his way off the track before he could cause any terrible crashes.
Note to owner: If there was ever a time to keep your dog on a leash, it’s probably when a wave of the world’s fastest cyclists are riding your way.
6. Chris Froome And Alberto Contador, Stage 16, Tour de France 2013
Almost went over your head @albertocontador.. Little more care next time?
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) July 16, 2013
Chris Froome and Alberto Contador were two of the main contenders for the yellow jersey last year, and things got heated between the rivals when the latter almost caused the former to crash during stage 16 of the competition.
Contador has been going flat out riding narrowly ahead on the eventual Tour winner and bailed on the Col de Manse descent, forcing Froome to skid behind him and only narrowly avoiding a major crash.
In the end it wasn’t major, but it could’ve been a lot worse. Contador took a knee knock and carried on, while Froome had to stop at the side of the road but was quickly back in action.
7. This Mountain Biker, Unknown Location, 2014
Undoubtedly one of the most viral mountain biking videos in the past year, many of you will remember when this anonymous rider came outrageously close to crashing into a bear mid-run.
To lay it out simply, this is just not the kind of thing you want to be worrying about when you’re spending a day on the trails. You want to concentrate on nailing lines and perfecting that whip, not the fact that you might be thrown from your rig and mauled by a bear at any given moment.
Anyway, have a watch and laugh hysterically as the rider dramatically panics and turns around after coming across his furry new friend.