RBR Newsletter

Readers’ Most Embarrassing Moments on the Bike

In our April 3 issue, we featured a rundown of some of the RBR crew’s most embarrassing, bone-headed moments in (and mostly out of) the saddle. Ours included pratfalls in front of our kids, falling off rollers and smashing through a glass-top coffee table, earning the nickname Big Blue Butt on a tandem ride, and other memorable moments!

Not to be outdone – and proving the point that we roadies DO have a sense of humor about our inevitable “roadie moments” – a number of readers added theirs to the Comments page. Here they are:

Submitted by cwilly8

It was April Fool's Day 2009! On the previous ride, a spoke had broken on my rear wheel, and since I had not fixed it, I swapped wheels with my trainer bike. Unfortunately, I did NOT swap tires.  Apparently the trainer tires had "aged" enough that they had lost their grip. So as I was swooping down the S-curve about a mile from home -- where I had been perfecting my downhill turns -- the tires slid and I went down hard on my right side. I kept sliding and sliding (thinking, "Man, this is bad...") and finally came to a stop just before the ditch line.

I unclipped and stood up, and then noticed a car that a car that had been behind me stopped. It was an elderly couple. She called out, "Are you OK?" Making sure that my undamaged left side was facing them, I said I was fine and would call my wife to come get me. She got back in the car, he shook his head, as if to say, "You idiot!" and off they went!

Submitted by mooneyke

Having finally given in and switched from toe clips to clipless pedals, there was the usual breaking in period of learning the art of timing getting out of them and getting your foot down. With the first few attempts having all the grace of a gooney bird landing, I thought I had the hang of it.  Off I go on my daily commute.

Three days in a row, negotiating traffic and stopping at lights and stop signs go without a hitch. However, arrival at the [military base] gate is another matter. Now add in fumbling with an ID card while slowly moving along in line with the cars and trucks.  (A bicycle is a vehicle.)

The first fall was just as I crossed the fenceline into the base. The car behind me saw me clearly, and then, "Where'd he go?" as I dropped below his line of sight over his hood and sprawled on the pavement.  Fortunately, he waited for me to get up before trying to proceed.

The next day, careful not to repeat the prior incident, I unclipped and rested my foot off center on the pedal. Thinking this would allow me to soft pedal along in the slow moving line, I paid more attention to the other vehicles and promptly forgot exactly how my foot was positioned. When I got to the guard post, I went to lift my foot and heard that distinct click that tells you, "You may not have been clipped in before, but you are now."  And over I went.

Having learned my lesson(s), the third day, I got up to the guard and presented my ID with no problems.  Upon being told to proceed, I try fumbling to put away my ID, clip into the pedal, and get underway, all at the same time. I did manage to accomplish two of the three.  The initial push-off only got me so far before losing all momentum. And for the third time in three days, over I go.

Lesson learned? Follow the example of the motorcyclists. Don't fumble with anything (your ID, for example) until you are stopped in front of the guard. Then take the time to put it away before moving.  It's less entertaining for the vehicles behind you, but easier on the bike and the body -- not to mention your riding clothes!

Submitted by jeffinpgh

Clipless pedals, of course. When I started riding with them I was mostly fine, but starting on an uphill and getting my foot into the pedal as I did so would weigh on my mind. When rolling up to an intersection where I knew I'd have to start uphill, I'd begin thinking about how I'd do it, what gear I should be in, etc.

One night, commuting home from work I was so fixated on these concerns that I didn't realize I had reached the stop sign until I was about to run it. I grabbed the brakes, realized I was still clipped in, and fell over on my side (mostly on the ball of work clothes in my messenger bag, fortunately, since this was on blacktop) and realized I was right next to a car.  The woman in the passenger seat rolled her window down and looked out at me and said "Are you okay?" My reply, "Yes, maam, but I am an idiot." She had no idea what to say to that and just rolled up her window and continued on. My wrist hurt for a week.

Submitted by NewD

So last fall I rode the Hilly Hundred in southern Indiana for the second time. The year before I had trained a reasonable amount and was able to make all the climbs but one. That one climb is very steep, and I've heard only 25% of the riders make it up without walking. I had made it all but the last 20 yards before having to clip out and walk the last little bit.

Needless to say, making it all the way up was motivation for much of last summer's riding. When the ride came around I was well-prepared from having done as much climbing practice as possible leading up to the ride. It’s a two-day ride, and the first day went reasonably well, but I didn't fly up some of the climbs as I had anticipated and I was left with a little concern about making it up THE CLIMB.

So at dinner with friends that night I declared that I would not clip out during the ride the following day. I would make it up that climb or fall over trying. Toward the end of the day we approached the climb and I was totally psyching myself up, visualizing powering over the last of hill and cresting the top. A few minutes later, it happened, and I felt like I'd won a race. It was very exhilarating!

From that hill we had about 10 miles to the finish of the ride. As I crossed the finish line with two close friends, we saw hundreds of people taking pictures and congratulating each other for finishing the ride and decided to take a group picture. I moved to the side of the road and pulled into the grass. As I did this my tire basically stopped in the very mild swale and I fell over in the grass -- 10 yards after the finish line I fell over because I didn't clip out!

Everyone within eyeshot saw it happen, including the young lady I fell right next to. I very smoothly rolled over toward her and asked "How ya doin’?" and we struck up a conversation like we knew each other and I completely intended to do what had just happened. She was nice enough to take the picture of the three of us after we were able to stop laughing at what I had done. It was a very fitting end to a great ride with great friends.

Submitted by pcotton67

One of my earliest embarrassing moments is the same as my teammate David Ertl. In 1972 I had a new 10-speed from a bicycle shop (my first bicycle from a real bike shop). I was riding on a street that veered off both to the right and to the left.  I turned to the left and was headed to the apartment where I lived. I had my head down and was charging away and just after I turned left I ran into the back of a parked car.  

I picked myself and my bicycle up and looked around; my first thought was I hoped that no one saw me do this! I was relieved that there was no one else around. The fork on my new bicycle was bent and had to be replaced. The bicycle was a very low end 10-speed but at that time I did not have much money and it was a big investment for me. I believe that I spent around $100 for the bicycle, which was a German brand, Kalkoff.  I did have many good experiences with this bicycle after that, though!


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