By Neal Rogers, cyclingtips.com
One minute, Mike Allec was lining up for the sprint at the end of the Santa Barbara Road Race. The next, he was hanging over the side of a bridge, his bike in pieces, in a ravine 30 feet below.
A few days later, video of the crash, taken from a competitor’s onboard camera and posted to YouTube— and the catlike reflexes that may just have saved his life — had gone viral, covered by CNN, Deadpsin, and Inside Edition, and his life had changed in ways he couldn’t have expected.
Allec, a 51-year-old Category 3 Masters racer from Las Vegas, told CyclingTips that he attributed his potentially life-saving maneuver to “good reflexes and luck.”
“I’ve had some crashes before, and kind of bounced up from them,” Allec said. “This one here, I look at it, and I think, ‘I’m happy to walk away from that.’”
Allec, who rides for the Carefast-Storck amateur/elite team, explained that the January 28 Santa Barbara Road Race had changed its traditional start/finish location, due to issues with California Highway Patrol; instead of finishing on a larger, wider road as in years past, the finish was moved to a much smaller back road, Santa Maria Mesa Rd, just past a bridge over a ravine.
Making matters worse, the centerline rule was in effect, even on the backroad, forcing riders to use half the road to sprint for the finish. The net effect was a large group squeezed into one lane, sprinting across a bridge.