The Hell Ride

I used to be a strong advocate in defence of the North Road Ride (NRR) and The Hell Ride. As late as last evening when I mentioned to a mate I would be riding it this morning, I found myself defending his assumption that I (or the bunch) would be going through red lights in the morning.  “No… they are very well behaved,” I said, “despite the general opinion out there.”   How wrong I was.

I’m not normally one to judge other rides or other riders; God knows I take some risks and may have broken the odd road-rule myself - but today I couldn’t help but judge.

My very in-form brother-in-law and I got down to The Hell Ride today just for something a bit different.  I haven’t been for over two years.  I was met at Black Rock with greetings from a number of old mates who I used to ride with two or three times a week… but I couldn’t help notice the number of young kids ready to go – really young.  I felt like an old man… I guess I am. ; )

As we rolled off towards Mordialloc, Neil approached me whilst he was busy giving a full mouthful to the cops we’d just passed… just for my amusement (nothing unusual in that!) and he assured me nothing had changed on The Hell Ride “It’s as fast, mad and crazy as ever” he said.  I was also given this assurance when I chatted to Forbesy and others as we screamed towards Frankston.

The thing is, it has changed.  For starters, I couldn’t believe the number of participants.  I estimate 200 riders in the bunch and I felt like it was the start of the Warny.  Brakes, nerves, twitchiness, warnings, pushing and shoving.  It was impossible for the bunch to stay in one lane and at times there were riders riding in the oncoming lanes.  As we passed slower riders, some of the bunch went to the left of them in the parking lane – creating nerves and a lack of confidence in those slower riders, not sure of who was going to pass them on which side.   There were two occasions going down where the majority of the bunch went through lights that had turned very red (a few seconds worth), causing drivers to wait at their own green lights so riders could pass.  I stopped at the second of these and only got back onto the main bunch through a bit of luck and some severe pain.

On the way back, the whole bunch could have stopped at a red light… the very first rider could have stopped quite safely.  But idiots near the front decided they would continue through, which then sent most of the bunch through almost until it changed back to green again.  I stopped with about 15 other riders and observed near crashes as others struggled for a line through an intersection which was red for them and green for the cars sitting perpendicular.  Absolutely ridiculous and yes… I judged.

“What sort of example are we setting for all those young riders in the bunch?“, was one thought I had at that point.

It was really bad.  And that coming from a past strong defender.

A reminder to those who may chose to read this.  A few years ago, an innocent pedestrian was killed crossing the road with a green light at a ped crossing.  One stupid cyclist crashed the red and ran him off his feet.  Don’t forget about that.  On what I saw this morning – unless someone takes control to do something about the behaviour I observed – someone else is going to get killed.

Something else new for me… I never disclose on this blog the fact that I’m a cop.  Today I do.  I’ve seen the carnage and picked up the body-parts off the side of the road after someone has done something stupid.  I – nor my colleagues – do not want to be picking up the pieces of some young cyclist on The Hell Ride nor the person he cleaned up at 50 kilometers an hour as he screamed through a red light just so he didn’t get dropped from the bunch.

Get the message?

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35 thoughts on “The Hell Ride

  1. Not good mate :( I had an unfortunate experience a couple of years ago when a semi-professional rider and recent Warnie winner went straight down the middle of a bunch of cars stationary at the lights at around 40kph (while we were stopped) and hit the line just as it turned green to then be at the front of the group… Very poor form, especially considering his name. I had a few words with him but was told in no uncertain terms that he knows hot to ride… Haven’t done one since.

    On the other hand, we had a fantastic morning MTB with no issues with traffic ;)

  2. Good call Diesel. I was with you and we had a solid effort back to the clock. Better than the Hell Ride anyhow. Poor performance from the bunch at Chelsea, yes they could have stopped, easy. I stopped and at least 20 wheels behind me went through. Cars and pedestrians waiting. Too many ‘hubbards’ scared of being dropped. Super (better than diesel)

    • AT LEAST 20 Elliot… and that bum rub between a couple of riders as they both struggled to gain balance in the middle of an intersection with cars waiting to come through was one of those incidents which could so easily end in tragedy. Thanks for the turns coming back… best part of the ride.

  3. I’m one of those ‘slower’ riders that got overtaken at high speed on both sides, and I was pretty much against the kerb, I got a nasty tap from a rider on my left shoulder, and a lucky tap on my right that kept me upright.. Crazy, I’m a confident rider but I was shaken by that.. And for what, not playing for sheep stations

  4. None of what you have described in this blog is necessary. In light of the CRAP that was started on the Gold Coast recently after a Journo (Gold Coast Bulletin) gave cyclists a spray and a war of words ensued involving cycling identities, the cycling community of the GC and cyclists all over Aus (via FB and Twitter). It’s just not good for the Sport, Cycling Clubs and Communities in general. It’s hard enough to stay safe out on the bike as it is without this SHIT going on! Even the Bay Ride is safer than that, even with the number of riders getting out of control. Then again I’ve been riding bunches for 20 odd years and I know etiquette applies to rides which is paramount to the safety of the bunch. I would think from the description of this ride (Hell Ride) that no etiquette or rules apply. But how do you change this culture ????

    • Completely necessary. The tool on the Gold Coast is exactly that. For a cop to describe events in a ride like this from within is just ridiculous. Group rides like this seriously need to pull their heads in before they get someone killed (dare I say again)?
      This is one reason why I loathe group rides. I commute and ride almost daily and the majority of bad cycling I see a groups that blast through lights as if they are above the law.
      It’s one (of many) factors why there will always be the Us vs. Them issue with motorists.

    • So because cyclist a minority, They should be allowed to break the law is that what your saying? You’re a joke mate like the rest of those drugged up cyclist on the hell ride.

  5. I believe that this sort of continual disregard for road rules and safety is a good reason why there is a constant battle between cyclists and cars/trucks. What does it take to stop the stupid behaviour – further major injury or death of the innocent?

  6. Was riding the other way when you guys were coming into Mordie. I reckon at least half the bunch went through the a red light just before the roundabout (southbound). Only about 20 riders stopped, just bloody stupid and totally dangerous. I did it last week and the footage I got on my camera and taking two lanes, red light runners (30+ riders passing me as I was stopped), just totally shocked me. It really shots me and when we caught them I gave them a spray (as we all should do) but no response. I’ve been side swiped twice in the last month (by tradies) where they have missed me by cm’s as I’m sure the above behaviour is their fuel. Please ride safe and set a good example

  7. To those who allowed common sense to prevail at some point on the ride today, Thankyou. Rides such as this deserve the full force of the law to be brought to bear upon them yesterday. Please do not encourage the wankers in the group any further by continuing to ride with them.
    The Hell Ride is known internationally as a result of the idiocy of those who participate, and for
    no
    other
    reason.
    And to those who’ll ride again next time and encourage others to do the same we’ll say it again. You’re wankers. Sell your bikes and find another “hobby”.

  8. Ah mate, not a good report to read on what should be a great ride. The actions of the few are sadly seen as the actions of the majority when something wrong is done. How can we campaign for better cycling infrastructure, when you won’t even abide by the laws that apply to all road users. (The “we” and “you” is us cyclists, not targeting “you” as an individual at all, as we all share in this responsibility.)

    In one way, a shame that you had to disclose your secret superhero id, but on the other hand, it may be a benefit if they now know that there is a cop amongst them who will be actively requiring them to stop? Depends on the attitudes of the riders I guess as to whether they think you will actually do something to stop them from breaking the law? Maybe just arrange for a few car loads of your mates to be at the major intersections to physically stop them for a few weeks, so they get used to it?

    We have a roundabout along a popular cycling route that the local boys in blue got tired of cyclists riding straight through, so they set up camp on the other side of the intersection, and commenced booking cyclists for not stopping. Pretty effective when they’re hip pockets are getting hit and it cuts into their coffee money!

    Keep the rubber side down,

    Smudge!

    • Provided there’s no other traffic on the roundabout, one is not required to stop. Nothing wrong with riding straight through if you give way correctly to other traffic. I’m sure that’s what you meant :)

    • Hmmmm…. as you can understand, there’s not a lot I or anyone else can do to control this ride as a rider in the bunch. As my good mate Neil put it in introduction to yesterday’s ride, “This ride is bigger than any one person.” – and ‘any one person’ has absolutely no control over it. It needs a bigger effort than that by many.

      Having said that, I am considering ways my profession may be able to ‘assist’ in communicating the safety and anti-lunacy message.

  9. Remind me how many pedestrians are killed by stupid car drivers running reds every year? I believe it’s around about 70 on average?

    That’s not excusing the Hell Ride or rides like it; personally not comfortable in groups larger then 20 or so, but pleas maintain a bit of perspective with regards to risk posed to 3rd parties.

    • Sorry Euan, but I’m not into comparing how many people are killed by cars to how many are killed by bikes and then saying we’re okay. If it’s unsafe – it’s unsafe, and the fact that something else kills more people is pretty irrelevant.

      I have full confidence in my perspective on yesterday and it’s how I described. Unacceptable.

      • I ride in the Hell Ride area regularly, but never in the Hell Ride. I would think you would be risking life and limb to attempt stopping at a red if you’re in the middle of the bunch, and the same or bigger risk running the red. That’s why I won’t ride in it. I think the only way to control it is to legislate for a maximum in a bunch. Hard I know but I can’t think of anything else, They are a blight on all of us legal riders in that we get convicted by assosciation.

      • I’m not talking about just yesterday, I’m talking about the fact that several years later the name of the victim is still on the lips of quite a few people, cyclists and non-cyclists alike. It was front page news for about a fortnight. That’s because it’s an extremely rare event, unlike getting run over by a car (well, comparitively anyway.)

        I didn’t try to excuse the behavior of the Hell Ride, I’m just getting a bit tired of the impossibly high standard that cyclists are held up to compared to other road users. As a policeman you should know where the majority of deaths on the road come from yet if you ask the average Australian what the most dangerous segment of the population is and far too many will say cyclists; the most benign road users there is.

        Different issue, really. I’m talking about the prejudice against cyclists that’s endemic in Australia. Never been on the Hell Ride, doubt I’ll ever want to paticipate yet far too often it’s one of the first questions I’m asked.

  10. I think he has. Saying that one group contains idiots does not actually condone idiocy by another group. And I believe the cyclist who killed Mr Gould has long left cycling and found another hobby.

      • Thing is… I still actually have some sympathy for that rider. He did a stupid thing and will pay for it forever. Not as much as Mr. Gould of course – but he’ll pay nonetheless.

        What really gets me is that others have failed to learn from it.

      • Really? Cant say I have seen the name on a start list. Pretty sure I would never buy him a beer or shake his hand. I would be sure and thank him for his services to cycling. Must say he has nerve. Class… not so much. And no there is no element of “there but for the grace of deity go I”

  11. Good blogging Rich – enjoyed the thread. And it was an an absolute pearler of a morning as well. You should let me know when you’re down Beach Road way – I was out too yesterday! (though perhaps not quite 6am.. bed has always been my weakness

  12. Pingback: 6am-ers Christmas Ride |

  13. Well said. I rode the Hell Ride about a dozen times before I gave it the flick, Cycling has become something else these days and the Hell Ride is a good example of it. Guys thinking only of themselves. It’s getting harder to get permits for races for various reasons and the antics of the Hell Ride sure doesn’t help.

  14. I do this ride and others along beach road on a regular basis and I have to stay I could not agree more, Being one of the stronger ones up front and as an A grader for well over 10 years I have a huge experience in all kinds of races and rides yet I feel almost unsafe on the hell ride I don’t whether it’s the 16 year old numnut kids who have know idea what they’re doing riding 30 hours a week trying to be the next drugged up superstar or the 40 year old something trying to hold on so he can go home and tell his kids how amazing and fit he is, There at least should be two rides now the numbers are so big one for the realists and one for the jokers. Also to the first persons comment I ride regularly with these Semi-professionals and I must say I agree that they should be the ones setting the example not turning these bunch rides into races.

  15. I think the solution to this might be easier than thought:
    A lot of the riders in the hell ride are cycling club members, many tri members and then joe public probably make up 20% or so.

    So, the clubs need to get active on this. They (or cyclesport/ Tri Vic, etc) need to make it a part of their membership conditions that participating in training rides that actively break road rules will result in a penalty from the association as well. Word of mouth, a few photos, and a couple of months will soon fix it. HAul everyone into the tribunal. Sort the facts and charge them.

    Imagine being a rider and being suspended from the Track season, Local crits, 1/2 ironman or whatever? You would be devastated . Wouldnt take long to get everyone out of the run-red culture. Then hopefully it would feed down to teh Joe Public, who are impressionable and led by the elite riders.

    This could extend to footy clubs too, as there are often riders from clubs as well.

    This also addresses the changing the culture at teh grass roots level. Not only for the Hell Ride, but for all rides.

    I used to ride the hell ride and the north road rides (2-4 times a week) when i was racing. I saw them both at their best and worst. It was only ever the ‘fast days’ that NRR went bad. I used to defend the rides, as they were fun, but the hell ride especially went bad most days. I always though the better riders were the ones who stopped and who could then work together to get back on…..

    Anyway, cultural change comes from the bottom up. No point directing all the effort at teh bunch- need to goto where the riders originate from, and in my experience its the clubs- bike, tri, footy. The public will take care of them selves, as they are the minority.

  16. I am also a rider and a police officer and it sickens me the way the people riding in the Hell Ride and North Road ride behave. One morning I was running whilst my daughter (7 years old) was on her bike and she nearly got cleaned up but the hell ride in Mordialloc near the park. We had the green pedestrian light (for awhile I might add) to cross and we couldn’t even cross because they ALL went through a very red light. She went to roll forward to cross as we had the green ped light and my heart stopped when the IDIOTS went through the light. NOW HOW WOULD YOU FEEL KILLING A 7 YEAR OLD. NOT TO MENTION THE MAN THAT WAS KILLED A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO STOP YOU GUYS FROM BEHAVING LIKE THAT. I, to this day don’t understand why on earth those riders believe they are above the law or have the right to think theycan behave that way. We are all trying to stay fit and healthy and I agree with setting examples, what do you think this is teaching the younger generation.

  17. The Melbourne cycling culture has gone down hill in recent years. Not to mention, Giant currently sponsor the guy who killed the 70 years old man on the Hellride a few years ago. Crazy. The old man is dead and he gets free bikes.

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