A 79-year-old cyclist was hurt on Monday after his high-end road bike, which he had outfitted with an electric motor, ignited in the middle of a ride.
Gary Ryan was riding his Pinarello Dogma F8, which he had retrofitted with a lithium battery for e-bike capabilities, on a popular climb near Adelaide, Australia, when the battery caught fire, a local news station reported. Ryan was burned through his cycling shorts before jumping off the bike and throwing it to the ground. Several CO2 canisters in his saddlebag then exploded, with flames reaching as high as 10 feet in the air, witnesses told reporters.
“He just managed to get off the bike before it actually burst into flames,” said Keith Harris, Ryan’s friend and riding partner.
Ryan had been attempting to ascend Corkscrew Road, a famous climb that appears in the Tour Down Under and attracts plenty of amateur riders each January. (The 2019 edition of the race begins on Tuesday.) Because of the local dry season, Ryan and his riding partners were concerned about a potential bushfire—indeed, the flames spread to some 30 meters of scrub along the roadside—but the CO2 cartridges made it difficult to put the fire out.
“We couldn’t get close to it because of the explosions,” said Dave Chandler, another cyclist on the ride. “If one of the cylinders goes off, it’s like a bloody bullet.” But minutes later, firefighters attending to another scrub fire nearby arrived on the scene and put out the blaze.