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Cyclists crash, suffer injuries, after tacks tossed on Md. course

Josh White

The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office is investigating a bizarre case of sabotage at a Leonardtown bicycle race over the weekend that involved someone tossing numerous thumbtacks onto a roadway in various spots apparently aimed at causing crashes.

Officials said tacks were thrown along the race course during the Patuxent Velo Cycling Club's Leonardtown Criterium event on Sunday, causing cyclists to crash.

The crashes damaged some of the bicycles but also caused numerous injuries, including one cyclist who suffered a broken bone, according to the sheriff's office.

Cyclists in such road races can travel at speeds up to or even exceeding 30 miles per hour, and sudden crashes can cause serious injuries.

Authorities referred the public to a video that one of the race's participants recorded while riding. It depicts a multiple-cycle crash at one of the racecourse's turns. In the video, riders are seen turning to the right and then crashing as they hit the tacks.

Leonardtown Crash from Bryan Vaughan on Vimeo.

St. Mary's authorities ask that anyone with information about the incident call Corporal M. Smolarsky at 301-475-4200, ext. 1960 or the Crime Solvers tip line at 301-475-3333. Callers could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.

-- Josh White

By Josh White  |  May 18, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  Crime, Seen , Josh White , St. Mary's  
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Nice spelling...

It's Corporal, not Coporal.

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | May 18, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

ever hear of a typo?

And in any case, who would do something like this? Ridiculous.

Posted by: awiseman1 | May 18, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Josh, Thanks very much for posting this story. It's a positive development for the cycling community when a reporter refers to this kind of hateful behavior as a crime rather than a prank. The public should know it will not be tolerated.

Posted by: bikergal101 | May 18, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the guilty party will open their big mouth(s) and get what's coming to them!

That's messed up. Does anyone sell solid core tires? If so, are they really expensive or heavy?

Many non-road race bikes have suspension, which might make it more comfortable than with a rigid frame.

Posted by: hatchlaw | May 18, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Little doubt that it is intentional. Every cyclist knows the intensity of some people's animosity toward us.

Posted by: krickey7 | May 18, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? What is WRONG with people!

Posted by: Clairebell | May 18, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Ahahahaha.... thats pretty funny

Posted by: rockettonu | May 18, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

that's St. Mary's County for you......SMIBville USA!!! Gotta say though, that's hilarious.

Posted by: jakeyrotten | May 18, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Leonardtown looks like a really crappy place to live.

The suicide rate is probably astronomically high there.

Posted by: kenk3 | May 18, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I hate the bikers too; however, this is evil and sick. I hope they catch this person.

Posted by: FiatBooks | May 18, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

anyone know the whereabouts of tony kornheiser when this happened?

Posted by: slim4 | May 18, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

What hasn't been mentioned is that a large portion of the pack goes by without a hitch. Could it be that the perpetrator is on the video? Maybe the tacks weren't on the course ahead of time.

Posted by: n8dawg | May 18, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Too bad there are deviants out there who are happy to spoil a healthy competition. I hope they find the perp(s), get a conviction, and a fine and jail time.

Posted by: DecafDrinker | May 18, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Probably some kids, hopefully the biker has a speedy recovery. Biking is great exercise but I have always wondered why they dress like circus freaks. Do you really need to look that dumb when you exercise? Do you really need to shave your legs to save a fraction of a second? I mountain bike all the time and this is something I will never understand with road bikers.

Posted by: osheehan1 | May 18, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

The main purpose of cyclists shaving their legs isn't to shave time off but rather in the case of accidents, to prevent infection once the road rash starts to heal. This seems like a perfect example of why they do it. It falls under the same concept as when the doctor shaves a area of your body before surgery.

Posted by: TriGuy2 | May 18, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I would look at one of the bikers that was ahead of that pack that crashed. That biker got through without incident, and that biker would have an incentive to lessen the competition.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | May 18, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunate that people got hurt. That's a prank gone too far.

I think this should be used as a reminder to cyclists that they aren't doing enough when they are sharing the roads with cars and motorcycles.

There is a reason why you are hated. Just be a bit more aware.

Posted by: Gary34 | May 18, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"Bikers aren't doing enough when they're sharing the road?" "I hate the bikers too?"

What's with all the animosity toward bikers? Is it a city thing? I live in the DC suburbs and it's usually car drivers being insensitive by driving too close to bikers, since we don't have bike lanes on most roads.

Posted by: shantybird | May 18, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Did race officials at Pope Street see anyone in the area where the tacks were found? There appeared to be so few other people in the video except for the race officials and participants, anyone one else should have stood out. Why had a large number of racers passed thru the area seconds earlier without any problems?

Limiting the use of one car w/ over 250k to the Leonardtown/California area, I have picked up several tacks and nails in the tires in the past year.

Posted by: AStMarysConstituient | May 18, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I was there racing on Sunday. Leonardtown is actually a very nice little town with an attractive main street; many of us felt lucky to be racing there again as this race was not held from 2007-2009.

Fortunately, I did not flat or crash, though a teammate did get a flat from one of the tacks.

The tacks reappeared in the corners at several points throughout the day; race organizers/course marshalls swept the corners on a couple of occasions but more tacks were apparently dropped.

The video shows only one of the many crashes that occurred over the course of the day; there were races from 9:00 to 4:00 and there were tack-caused flats and crashes in every race. Fortunately, "only" one resulted in a broken bone, as far as I know, though equipment damage for the crashed riders was easily in the thousands of dollars.

I'm not going to comment on motive, but am as impressed with the integrity of the person(s) who did this as I am with those who reflexively look to blame the victim(s) in responding to this article.

Posted by: billyluke | May 18, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I hate bikers too when they ride down the middle of the street slowing down the cars behind them. I also hate drivers who do equally selfish things in their cars. And motorcyclists who use entire spots for one bike. And pedestrians who run across the street expecting all traffic to just stop. And people on buses and trains who sit in the aisle seat and leave the window seat empty then act as if they don't notice when the bus/train fills up.

Basically I hate all of you. Everybody sucks except me. There should be a set time when the rest of you are allowed out - say between 4 and 5 AM - and then get the hell out of my way the rest of the time.

All that being said, whoever did this should get dragged across a tack-strewn path once for each cyclist that fell.

Posted by: noybizz | May 18, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

what is the purpose of this video? My childish side could not help but laugh. Also, what is up with bikers? Kornheiser was joking about you guys and you got Lance Armstrong on him. Seems like you are all taking this a little too seriously. Believe it or not, riding a bike on a street with cars is never going to be safe. This is why our mothers discouraged the activity. I myself ride my bike in the city and i must say i see some stupid drivers. I also see some pretty stupid bikers. They act as if having the right of way on your side will prevent injury against a freakin f150. Bikers need to understand that in a perfect world Cars would never hit bikers, but until we get there dont weave in and out of traffic with this odd "i own the road" kick. A car will also beat a bike, even if the car is breaking the law.

Posted by: Pathavi | May 18, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

What's with all the hate from all these Einsteins claiming to hate bikers. Are these the same so-called Christians who's so-called Lord said to love thine enemies? It's sad to see a community or nation of self worshipping folk who think the world exists for their private whims and may everyone else be damned. I guess that explains how we got two presidential terms from our last idiot prince and two senseless overseas invasions that will continue to blight humanity for many decades.
Guys (no gals expressing such childish thoughts) if you can't share the road, then walk or crawl or find yourselves some other planet where you won't have to share as a member of a species numbering six thousand million.

Posted by: renderedright | May 18, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

the tacks and the idiots on this comment page just goes to show that cyclists have a LONG way to go before we're seen as equal users of the road.

Posted by: emcb1230 | May 18, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me, equal users of the ROAD? You are on wheels powered by your skinny bikey legs. I am in an SUV and I have to get to Whole Foods to buy my Brazilian olives =)

I respect your will to exercise, but seriously, it's dangerous. I don't want to go 5 mph so you get your heart rate at a certain place on your charts. These bikers have also ridden so close to my car that I'm scared to hit them. I'll be liable and they'll sue me into Haiti.

Posted by: FiatBooks | May 18, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

i laughed my ass off at that video

Posted by: slim4 | May 18, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen such ignorant posts in my life. Pathavi, this was a bike race. There were no cars allowed on the course. Korheiser may have been "kidding" in his rant and we're all accountable for our won actions. However, this is the second time that he has "kidded" while actively advocating running over cyclists. Why do we force Imus off the air for using racist comments, but Korheiser is funny when he advocates killing people because of their mode of transporation? Both are wrong. Tony's a jerk. So's Imus. People should quit making excuses for either one of them.

Posted by: RedinPDRM | May 18, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if this means anything, but this is 17 years almost to the day of another Washington Post article about 'tack attacks' against bikers. The article was "Bike Trail Turns into Mean Street: Tipper Gore Among Many Victims of Rising Tensions and Tacks," by Steve Bates, published on page A1 on 15 May 1993. That article described tacks being thrown on the Mount Vernon Bike Trail, and one of the victims was then-Vice President's wife, along with her Secret Service guardian.

Concerning the theories that this may have been one of the lead bikers taking out the competition, I don't think that is sound. From what I understand, this race consisted of 42 laps around the same course. If one of the bikers left tacks on the trail, he or she would have to drive over them several times. Also, the video that shows a wreck in a turn shouldn't be interpreted to mean the tacks were in that turn. The tacks could have been anywhere on the course, but when the bicyclists entered turns with compromised (tacked) tires, the dynamics of the bicycle-to-road relationship were weakened, causing failure in the turns. That's not to say there weren't tacks in the corners (like BillyLuke says), but it's more likely to cause a slow leak rather than a blowout, resulting in tire failure later than at the incident of contact with the tacks. Even though road tire have extremely high PSI, they're not bearing that much weight to cause a complete disintegration of the tire material.

I rarely comment about other users' comments, but seriously, why are there so many people taking delight in people being injured and having their bicycles damaged? What if something like this happened to all y'all or someone you knew? Would you still be laughing? What if the injuries were more serious? Seriously, grow up and contribute something useful to our society.

Posted by: Final_Option | May 19, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

billyluke - I seen your camera on the news last night - what brand and model is the camera

Posted by: rnbenoit | May 19, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Whether in DC or Michigan or California, the hostility towards cyclists is sadly ubiquitous. I agree that this was not a prank gone bad. This was an assualt with an intent to incur great bodily harm. No one commented that a death could have occured. I hope that the reward money brings forward a witness and this criminal gets prosecuted or at least his address gets published.

I loved the email from the fellow who requested to be advised when we can ride safely. I've proposed a similiar idea that Facebook could be used for a "get out of my way" message. Say you are driving to 7-11 to get some cigarettes. You can post that you are heading out and what route and I'll be notified and if riding that day and time I'll be happy to pull over when you come riding through or I'll take a different route. After all it is all about YOU!
Bloomfield Hills, MI

Posted by: EJLMotiveForce | May 19, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

The fact that a biker went through it okay ahead of the pack that fell and kept looking back shows that it was another biker who did this. Many of them are so competitive and by their use of illegal drugs it shows they are ready to break the law at every turn. The guilty one is within the harem.

Posted by: bobc123abc | May 20, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

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