Editor’s Note: As mentioned last week, we’ll start the process this week of providing some instruction and ideas on how to prevent crashes by talking in some detail about the crash history of the RBR Crew – along with the Lesson(s) learned from some of those crashes. The idea is to lay out some of what we recognize as our own mistakes or various situations that led to crashes so that RBR readers can avoid those same mistakes or dicey situations.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll key on some of the specific situations, mistakes, etc., that we’ve identified as common to some types of crashes, and we’ll provide some specific articles that discuss skills that might help you avoid a crash, or at leastcome out of a crash better off than you might have otherwise.
For today’s article, I asked RBR Crew members a series of questions about their own crash histories (Ever crashed? Or know someone who has? How did you (or they) crash? What were the circumstances? Anyone (or anything) obviously at fault? What lesson did you learn?). Their responses follow.
As part of this package, today’s Question of the Week asks about how readers have crashed, with a list of selections of types of crash. Again, the idea is to see if there’s a common thread (or threads) running through this topic, so that we can use the information to provide useful follow-up.
Finally, we welcome and encourage readers to share your own crash stories and any “teachable moments” you can draw from them. We are a community of roadies, and any tips we can share with each other to help each other be safer on the road are worthwhile.
Links to previous articles in this series: The First Rule of Crashes; RBR Readers’ ‘Crash’ Commentary
My worst crash occurred before we were smart enough to wear helmets. Had I worn one, the injuries I suffered that day wouldn’t have been nearly as bad – and they wouldn’t still be nagging me today. The accident happened from lack of communication between me and the guy I was riding with. We were bombing down a hill at 35 mph. We both knew about the turn we had to make partway down. But he thought we were going right and I thought we were going left – and I ran smack into his rear wheel when we banked in different directions setting up to turn.
The impact stuffed my front wheel between his rear wheel and seatstay and launched me over the bars. A skilled track racer, my friend held his line, dragging my bike behind him down the hill, fighting for control and trying to stop. Meanwhile, my Superman flight ended with my head pinned on the pavement, held there by the full weight of my body because I landed upside down with my feet facing down the hill. I’ll never forget the feeling of my skull bouncing on the blacktop as I slid on my back down the hill to a stop.
The result was momentary paralysis, a pretty serious gash in my head plus neck and back injuries – all because we were too dumb to actually make sure we knew which direction we were turning.
The takeaway for me was to always make sure to know where you’re turning or at least never assume you know. If you don’t, ask, or wait and watch. And never lead if you don’t know which way the ride turns.
My second-worse crash, resulting in a broken hip, was caused by black ice – as the result of another stupid mistake on my part. Again, I was out with a roadie friend, mostly enjoying ourselves though the big thermometer on the bank we passed blinked 22 degrees, frigid for our home base of Santa Cruz, California.
When we stopped to warm up a bit, my friend, also named Jim, suggested that what we needed to do was head over to Eureka Canyon, an 11-mile climb nearby – so that we could warm up from the effort. “Brilliant!” says I, never stopping to think about the consequences of what turned out to be a really dumb idea.
We did the climb and warmed up just fine. But neither of us thought about it being even colder higher up, or about the possibility of black ice on the road. The black ice took me down and broke my hip. Jim was behind, saw me go down and rode off the pavement and onto the dirt to remain upright.
Consider how conditions may be different at different altitudes or geographic locations, or based on already “iffy” conditions where you are. Use weather apps – and your brain – to decide whether a ride might become unsafe because of the weather or specific conditions.
Two less painful crashes that taught Lesson(s) happened while I was actually trying to stay safe. On a weekly group ride, we were riding in a single paceline and slowing to cross railroad tracks straight on, one rider at a time. The 4th rider ahead of me fell on the tracks, then the 3rd, then the 2nd guy. I watched this and was still 100% sure I wasn’t going to crash.
But I fell just as hard as the others. It turned out that the tracks were covered in motor oil and even crossing straight, you couldn’t ride over them.
Even something that is usually safe can, for unforeseen reasons, become unsafe. If you see other riders having the same problem, try your best to avoid the situation – don’t think your incredible skills are so much better than theirs.
The other crash was a strange one. Approaching an abrupt little rise after a sharp right turn, I shifted from my 53 chainring to the 39 and simultaneously stood to prepare for the climb. I didn’t have enough momentum and had to get going a little faster. Unfortunately, the chain refused to find the 39 and the pedals spun beneath me. I lost balance and fell awkwardly. I’m still not sure how, but the large chainring cut my calf pretty badly.
That crash was a reminder to me that I can’t shift anytime I want. I need to anticipate and shift at the appropriate time. But I bet I make that mistake again sometime because shifting is so automatic, and I don’t always think about it.
Coach Rick Schultz
My biggest crash was at the bottom of a hill. I stopped to help out someone that had their quick release on backwards, and their front wheel was loose.
After fixing his issue, I took off again, and to this day I am not sure what happened. Either the back wheel lost traction in some sand or the worn rear cassette skipped a gear. All I know is that when I woke up, I was lying in the gutter with the bike under me, the top tube having cracked several ribs.
Since I’m still not sure how or why I crashed, I’m left with the thought that maybe I simply had lost concentration after helping the other roadie. Maybe I was fixated on thinking about his situation and wasn’t focused on the descent like I should have been.
I have two hard-and-fast rules. One, never take a wheel of someone I don’t know or trust. Two, if there’s a squirrelly rider in a group, stay far away or do my best to drop them.
With that said, in all my years of road riding I’ve only crashed once (hope this doesn’t jinx me), but unfortunately have seen my fair share of crashes.
My particular crash was only at about 15-16 mph. There were only three of us on a quiet side road, a very familiar route we did weekly. I was riding two abreast, chatting with a rider on my left. We took a left-hand turn, because going straight led to a dead end. As we were turning the rider on my left decided this wasn’t the correct route and quickly turned back to the right, t-boning me. It felt like it was in slow motion as I tried to regain my balance in the middle of a turn. I almost had it but ended up going down hard. I walked away with road rash on my hand, elbow and knee, as well as two badly bruised ribs. But the bike was OK!
Communicate your intentions before doing anything in close proximity to another rider that might put your fellow rider in danger. That could include turning, standing, slowing abruptly, etc. If the rider who turned into me had voiced his concerns first, I maybe could have gotten out of his way.
The crashes I’ve witnessed in my group rides have common threads. It’s either someone overlapping wheels or riding beyond their ability. We all know not to overlap wheels, but even the most experienced riders sometimes do it.
But I constantly see riders try to hang with the “A” group. They push themselves above the max of their ability, gasping for breath just to hang on. Exhausted, their head drops so they aren’t fully paying attention, plus their reaction time is decreased. That’s when silly mistakes are made and riders crash.
Obviously, avoid overlapping wheels. But learn what to do if, and when, you do happen to overlap. [That will be the topic of one of our upcoming “teachable moments” articles.] And, sure, try to push yourself if you want, but keep it within the realm of reason. If there’s no possible way you can hang with a group, accept it and find a group that’s a better fit for your abilities. Wearing yourself to the nub can be hazardous to both you and your fellow riders.
Coach John Hughes
My worst crash was about 8 p.m. on June 30, 1989. I was 3 hours into a 24-hour training ride for the Race Across America. I was riding alone – my crew chief was to meet me in about 30 minutes and drive behind me all night. I’d just ridden over Altamont pass east of Oakland, California, and was cruising eastward on my aerobars with a great tailwind.
I regained just a little consciousness in the ER in Stockton, California, where I had multiple transfusions. I was rescued by paramedics in a helicopter and nearly died from blood loss on my way to the ER. They stabilized me and wanted to do surgery to repair my crushed left leg in a couple of days. I insisted that I was an athlete and didn’t want a local doc to do it – I wanted the best orthopedic surgeons available. I was transferred to the UC hospital in Sacramento, where my left leg was rebuilt with 3 plates and 11 screws. (Fortunately they’re titanium, so they don’t alert metal detectors at airports.) The surgeon said it was one of the few orthopedic emergencies he’d ever seen.
I learned a truck entering the highway from my left had hit me and knocked me 80 feet. The driver told the California Highway Patrol he had stopped at the stop sign but didn’t see me with the sun setting behind me. He was cited by the highway patrol. No way he knocked me 80 feet if he was starting from a dead stop! The water company for which he was working at the time settled with me out of court. The truck destroyed my custom Richard Sachs ultra bike.
Never assume that another vehicle is going to obey the law. Ride defensively and never lose focus. I should have sat up with my hands near the brakes instead of staying on the aerobars. This still might not have saved me….
My second worst crash had a similar lesson. I was descending a hill going probably 30 mph. A road T-ed in from the right. A car stopped at the stop sign and then started forward and hit me. Just a collapsed lung and broken ribs this time. The driver said he didn’t realize how fast I was going.
Same lesson as before. Ride defensively and always be ready to bail. Watch a vehicle’s tires – that’s the first indicator of motion.
My first skin-to-asphalt encounter occurred when making a left turn at a stop light on my commute home from work. The left turn arrow changed to yellow before I entered the intersection and there was just enough time to stop, but instead I accelerated hard to make the light. It was summer and had just rained enough to wet the roads, but not wash away all the oil/gas from the road surface.
At speed I leaned into the turn and immediately both wheels lost traction and I went down on my left side, sliding across the intersection for what seemed like forever. I quickly got out of the middle of the intersection and assessed the damage. A little scrape on the side of my calf. Not a scratch on my shorts. Scuffed up bar tape. I was lucky.
Don’t make poor decisions because you are in a hurry. And pay attention to road conditions. That time right when it starts raining is often the slickest. I compounded the bad decision of trying to speed through the light with the equally poor recognition of that fact.
My second crash was a sweeping left turn at the bottom of a hill on a solo ride. I was riding on the generous shoulder and didn’t notice the sand and gravel on the pavement. In the middle of the turn my rear wheel started sliding out and I was able to correct and gain control but by then I was at the edge of the pavement and both wheels dropped off 4 inches (10 cm) and I was slammed to the pavement on my left side. Bloody hand and shredded hip, butt hanging out of a gaping hole in my bibs. Had to extricate my fender from my rear wheel and slowly ride home.
Once again, pay attention to road conditions. The more general lesson, perhaps, is to maintain focus.
I’ve also had two car interactions and both were on my bike commutes. Both in daylight, with bright front-facing flasher.
The first time was a morning commute, just at sunrise with the sun directly behind me. A guy made a quick left turn in front of me, but saw me at the last minute and braked, but too late, as I bounced off his front end. I was scraped up but otherwise OK. He said he was basically blind looking into the sun, so he just went for it.
Not a crash but similar sun situation . . . I was riding into the setting sun and a car passed me really close and then he slowed down and waited for me to catch up. As I caught up with him and braced for the yelling, he nicely informed me that I was invisible due to the sun. I thanked him and immediately turned onto a side road.
Pay attention to light conditions when riding at dawn or dusk, especially, but also when it gets dark because of rain or storms.
The final run-in with a car was a car pulling out in front of me from a side street. I was in a bike lane going about the same speed as rush hour traffic. A couple blocks ahead the light turned red and traffic started to slow. I was watching the car on the side street and he looked my way, waved with a friendly smile – and then pulled out right in front of me.
I barely had time to touch the brakes before I slammed into his driver side door and cleanly removed his driver side mirror. My bike was fine, but my shoulder was sore for weeks. Turns out he was not waving at me, but thanking the driver who stopped short and waved him into traffic. He never bothered to look up the street for bikes because the other driver gave him the “go ahead” wave.
Slow-moving traffic and fast-moving bikes requires extra caution.
In both the above car collisions, I called the police so the crashes could be officially reported, and both drivers stopped and were very nice/helpful. Both drivers were issued citations.
As I mentioned in the article that got this series started, I’ve had two significant crashes over my years of riding. And I’ve appreciated the chance to revisit both from the perspective of the factors that may have helped cause them – especially after reading about the various crashes among the RBR Crew. The entire process has actually helped me gain insight into my own crashes. (I hope it does the same for you!)
The first crash happened several years ago, on my annual birthday ride. I was riding on a dedicated bike path at Stone Mountain Park. My birthday that year, as it often does, coincided with spring break week for much of the Atlanta area. That always means big crowds of adults and kids at Stone Mountain, and lots of extra cars.
Despite the crowds, I was having a nice, normal ride and was finishing a lap around the Mountain on the bike path, which is right next to a pedestrian path (together, they were carved out of one lane of the 5-mile road that circles Stone Mountain.) Right next to the bike-pedestrian path is a wide sidewalk. The pedestrian path is between the bike path and the sidewalk.
As I was coming up a rise just after a short downhill, a 10-year-old boy walking a dog darted off the sidewalk, across the pedestrian path and directly into the bike path. Before darting off the sidewalk, the boy had glanced to his right to see if any cars were coming in the vehicle lane, but he never looked left before making the leap. I managed to avoid both the boy and the dog, but the leash between them snagged my head tube, and I hit the pavement all along my right side. I ended up with a deep thigh bruise, a scraped-up knee, elbow and top of the shoulder, and a separated shoulder.
I should not have been riding “normally.” I knew the park was full of people and cars, and I should have dialed it back, and doubled down on my focus. Instead, I let my birthday exuberance and desire to have a good, hard ride on my big day cloud my judgment. As others have previously mentioned re: the weather, traffic, etc., we all must ride appropriately according to the conditions at hand. And if those conditions warrant it, we need to be even more focused on potential hazards. I failed on both counts.
My second bad crash happened almost exactly a year ago, when I rolled over a wide white stripe in a fast curve just starting a short descent. Even though it was a dry day, my tires washed out instantly, sending me sprawling backward and to the left, hard into the pavement. I slammed directly onto the point of my left shoulder and fractured my clavicle into five pieces, and smashed up my helmet – but not my head. (A riding buddy who was close behind me and watched it unfold told me he saw my head bounce on the pavement – that’s what worried him most. But it was fine.)
I’ve puzzled over exactly what happened that day, coming to the conclusion that even though it was a warm, dry day, perhaps a car’s air conditioner had dripped condensation on the white stripe, making it wet. But there may be a simpler explanation, according to a comment from Premium Member Kerry Irons to my original article a couple weeks ago. He wrote: “While that pavement stripe might have had water from a car’s AC, it also might have just had a different coefficient of friction compared to the pavement. While most likely it was slipperier than the pavement, just the change in traction might have triggered the fall.”
So my take-away is this: I was feeling great that day and pushing it pretty hard (once again, within a week of my birthday; I need to be super careful around that time!). So hard that I carved that curve sharper than normal, rolling over that white stripe that I normally would not get near. In hindsight, I should have slowed down and not gone so hard into that curve. And, more importantly, I learned the corollary to “avoid all painted stripes on the road when wet.” Actually, they can also be dangerous when dry if you hit them while in a curve.
We look forward to hearing your lessons learned in the Comments below.
My worst crash still has me stumped. I spent the night in a hospital with a broken collarbone, broken shoulder blade, broken rib, and punctured lung. It happened while taking an easy right hand turn I knew well. Perfect weather, well-paved dry road, no other vehicles around, and no debris; but suddenly I was on the pavement surrounded by a yard sale. My only guess is that I wasn’t riding my road bike as usual but was on my gravel bike with knobby tires; there must have been just enough less grip to throw me down hard without warning. The lesson is know your equipment and how you must adjust your riding to it.
My bike stopped when I road into fresh asphalt on a hot day. I didn’t feel that I had gone down that hard. Later that night I felt a lump on my head. In the morning I checked my helmet. My helmet had fractures in the Styrofoam liner. I am a relatively new rider. I had listened to my biking friends who told me to buy a helmet before I road and to wear it everytime when on a bike.
My worst crash was due to a texting driver who took a left hand turn and hit us (tandem) while accelerating onto a state highway. We left body prints on the windshield, and I was catapulted 15 feet landing on my hands and knees. Lesson learned: Police did not do a thorough accident investigation after expressly asking for one on the scene. If you break your helmet, the police will not take/trust your statement. Using lights and hi vis gear does not work if someone it not looking (need to add noise)– And replacing a tandem is really expensive. Even if you do everything right, it is hostile territory.
Ray Green says
Regarding John Hughes’s surgery is it true that I can take a titanium knife though an airport metal detector?
Greg Titus says
Broken collarbone from a stealth attack by a dog who got in front of my front wheel. Now I carry small firecrackers that detonate when thrown down on the pavement. No problem at all with dogs since then. The ‘dog poppers’ scare them off, and they almost never come out to chase again. You can buy them online. Search for ‘adult snap pops’ or something similar. I coat mine in wax so they can get wet and till work, and makes them more durable so they’ll last in a jersey pocket indefinitely.
I’m almost embarrassed by this but feel its worth passing on,. Not all crashes are dramatic. On the last day of Ragbri a few years ago I found myself descending down a steep road into the beautiful Mississippi River valley. A Rock Wall lined the roadway and I decided to pull to the side of the road to get a few shots with my camera. I got out of my pedals, rested one foot and my front wheel against the wall, all the while remaining on my saddle. While playing with my camera the front wheel dislodged from the wall, the bike immediately rushed forward and I simply rolled off the seat over the back wheel and landed directly on my head. Four to 5 feet is a long way when the full weight of your body is driving your head to the ground. In all my years of riding I’ve had a few cases of the bike going down and the helmet hitting pavement, but never has an accident convinced me of the importance of that helmet as this simple (and stupid) fall.
Regarding John Hughes comment that the driver “didn’t realized how fast he was going,” this something I’ve observed on a regular basis. I’ve never crashed because of it but just the other day a driver made a turn directly across my forward path seemingly the last minute, and I’m certain he was thinking “I’m a fast car, that’s a slow bike, no problem.” I’ve seen this in many other circumstances. The idea that a bike could be traveling at something other than 10 mph just doesn’t occur to many drivers. I always try to consider that this might happen at intersections etc.
Jon Peck says
Three crashed in many decades of cycling. One, like Jim’s: riding next to a partner who thought we were turning. Took me down but with just a hip pointer. Communication. Another, tired, near the end of a tough century. I had done this ride several times before, but there was an unexpected route change requiring a sudden left turn, which I rushed as a car was approaching. Hit a patch of gravel in the turn and slid out, but just got a few abrasions. The last: on a quiet road, an approaching car stopped but then started up making a left turn right in front of me. I hit the front corner of his car at 25 mph. Flew over the bars and landed in dirt. Two lessons: never trust a car, and close your mouth if you are face planting in dirt. I had several abrasions and bruises, but the bike was totaled.
My crash happened on an ‘S’ curve. I was following the curve, but the car coming from the opposite direction failed to follow the curve. The driver later said that he must have pulled the steering wheel to his left when picking something up off of the floor of the car. As a result, the car kept going straight and just when I thought it might miss me, the area around the driver’s side headlight (Bronco) hit me in my hip. It caused be to knocked over and I slid across the road and into the ditch. I laid there a few minutes trying to figure out how many bones were broken (none, it turned out), and then, of course, I got up to check out my bike (Titanium Litespeed). The back wheel was pretty bent up although I was able to ride back to my ride start and my car. Very lucky. A few minutes earlier I had passed another rider and as she came on the scene, I could hear her screaming “Is he alive? Is he alive?!” Mainly lots of road rash. Driver gave me his name and info and I charged him for all the damaged parts, including a new helmet!
OK. Enough with the tales of crashes already! I’m pretty well scared by now and not sure that I should get on my bicycle and ride home from work! Maybe I’ll walk instead.
Hi All, one almost crash has to do with equipment and know your descent. Descending that day, I actually hit 49 point something miles per hour, shortly after achieving that high rate of speed, my bike shook and shimmied so much that I thought there is no way I will recover from this! At the bottom of the descent was a cattle guard followed by a sharp turn and I knew I would not survive either the cattle guard or the turn. Luckily, that day I was able to regain control and stopped within inches of the cattle guard! So, whew I survived! The next day I started out and within a couple of miles of the group start we hit a very rough road. I tried to stay with the fast group and boom my seat stay cracked and had to limp back to my truck. Every revolution would cause the seat stay to separate. It took me a while but I was able to get back. The shake and shimmy was so extreme the day before that I assume it partially cracked the frame.
Lesson learned: know your descents and make sure your equipment is in tip top shape.
My last crash has to do with wider than normal tires, and time trial forks. I was on the access to a city loop 17 miles from home finishing up a fifty-five miler. I slowed to take a photo of a place I had enjoyed. I was going to dismount. My front wheel blew out and the tire got stuck in the fork and I flipped so fast on to my back that my helmet didn’t even get a scratch on it. The forward motion was such that both my elbows were cracked, my right one only a centimeter or so and the left one a full crack that went all the way across the bone (a fracture, but not a compound fracture). Ouch! No surgery needed, but over a year later I’m still having trouble with holding my torso weight on the bike. My right arm was usable so I hobbled home. My left arm was very painful and I could not put weight on it that day and for months after. I built time on the arms in five minute increments (most of the time was spent in the tuck position on my time trial bike). My podiatrist wanted me to start putting weight on it right away within days of the accident. Honestly, I tried, but it was very painful. Now that my strength is close to normal in both arms, the right arm which was stronger at first is now weaker and the left arm that suffered the bigger fracture is now stronger.
Lesson learned: even though a 25 or a 28 will fit and rotate without problems it will not allow the wheel to pass when it has exploded.
John E Elmblad says
My worst crash happened as I was riding on a flat road in a local state park. No weather or light issues were factors. I was riding one minute, felt something hit my helmet, startled, and then I was down on my left side sliding. A worried motorist, nice enough to stop, told me a Red-winged Blackbird had attacked my helmet. He had seen the same thing the week before. I ended up with an elbow cut to the bone and road rash. My take-away: Look out for Red-winged Blackbirds.
I ride in a part of Australia where there seems to be quite an adversarial relationship between cyclists and motorists. While I’ve had a few scrapes with cars and buses due to them either not seeing me in my Hi Vis Cloak of invisibility or intentionally cutting me off whilst giving me the “bird”, my worst accident came from my own error. As I was travelling home on my regular commute, I left the paved road shoulder to join the designated bike path that lead along a creek on the way home. The local road authority had just that day placed some bollards adjacent to the entry to the bike path that crowded me up against some “road furniture”, greatly reducing the width of this entry. As I rode through this gap, my right leg got caught on this road furniture and my thigh was opened up to the muscle with a flap of skin the size of my hand. A trip to the emergency room with an operation, 25 stitches, a drain, an overnight stay and 3 weeks off work later, I have a scar that looks a lot like a shark-bite to show for my trouble. Needless to say, I take that particular route a lot slower now. Take Home Message: Ride to the conditions
Just one week ago, about 1-2 km east of Tanneron in the south of France, I had a nasty crash from which I’m not sure I know how to derive any lessons. This is because I don’t remember anything before waking up in the ambulance. I destroyed my front wheel striking something, and suffered scrapes to my face, wrists, elbows and knees, plus a huge bruise on my lower back. My helmet doesn’t look too bad but is junk now nonetheless. My phone, in the center pocket of my maillot, was crushed. The people with whom I was riding were too far back to witness the crash; they came upon me lying in the road and took care of my rescue, but no one had a theory as to how my accident might have happened. My fear is that I could have blacked out, causing the accident. If that’s actually what occurred, how do I prevent a recurrence? I don’t know the answer to that question.
John Klever says
I have had a several minor crashes and two serious ones, both self-induced. One of the minor crashes ruined a helmet without which I probably now be pushing up daisies, so always where a helmet; another involved a driver looking directly at me and pulling out from a driveway anyway, so cars are dangerous and drivers do unexpected things. My two major accidents involved having one of my hands off the handlebars as I made adjustments, so keep both hands on the wheel. Finally, most near crashes and crashes I have seen have involved riders riding too closely together, so keep your distance and be alert.
Cycling is dangerous, but so are driving a car, taking a walk, bathing, stairs, tobacco, alcohol, sugar, white flour, obesity, and living in general. I don’t mind exposing myself to cycling, which gives me so much joy.
I’ve read enough of the blood and guts, so I’ll just share the lessons learned, one of which is an addendum to the well-know advice “never trust a driver” — especially when they have a patch over the eye closest to you. The second should have been a given, but for whatever reason, I had to learn the lesson. Never trust adolescent boys jumping on fence posts adjacent the bike path.
Same type of attack happened to me as a kid riding a local prairie path. Red winged black birds are extremely territorial. just defending their nest.
PV rider says
Four significant crashes in my 70,000 miles of riding.
(1) Riding with a friend on an organized century ride on a highway with rumble strips. I remember thinking, “I hate rumble strips, they are so unsafe.” My friend was up ahead, and for whatever reason, crossed the rumble strip back on the highway, lost control, did a U-turn right into a speeding, oncoming car. He was killed instantly! It was a hit and run too. Not a good day to say the least.
(2) While riding in the early morning to a group ride, I did not see a pile of landscaping gravel that was placed in the bike lane. It was before sunrise, but I had good head lights. Ironically, a few miles earlier, just minutes before going over the handlebars I was thinking about all the riders in the group I was heading to meet that did not use headlights even in the dark! My headlights didn’t help me because I wasn’t expecting to have a knee-high pile of gravel appear out of nowhere, same color as the pavement. Speed: maybe 15 mph. Result: broken arm, smashed shoulder ball joint. A steel plate and nine screws and a wire mesh to hold my shoulder joint together. One year of three-days-a-week rehab to get any sort of range of motion back.
(3) Was riding mid-pack with a group down a flat road during a “sprint interval”. Probably 40-50 riders doing 27-30 mph. I was thinking, “This is really unsafe, I should drop back.” No more than thought that when some idiot up ahead decided to bunny hop a manhole cover in the road. Six riders went down. I almost avoided it, and was thinking, “Whew! Close call!” But the gal next to me got hit by someone next to her, and her bike fell in front of mine, and I ran over the top of her bike. Smacked the pavement hard with same shoulder than had been broken two years before. But the steel plate meant no pain, nothing. Lucky! Wheels completely tacoed, though.
(4) Was riding with a small group who decided on a route that involved road construction. I was wondering why they chose that route as there were plenty of alternative streets. I thought it unsafe. Turns out, it was! While riding at 5-6 mph through an unfinished, hard-packed, gravel roundabout turn, the group turned onto a side street with pavement. My back wheel caught the lip of the pavement and slammed my bike down hard. It was on the same side I had broken my shoulder a few years earlier. I remember thinking as I was falling, “I am NOT going to land my shoulder on that sharp curb over there.” I didn’t. I landed directly on my hip, breaking the ball joint. Now have titanium rod and screw. Took seven months to recover.
Main lesson learned: Listen to your inner voice. If it’s saying that the situation is unsafe, it probably is! BTW: Both crashes of mine that resulted in significant injury were less than 3 miles from home.
Nick North says
So far only 2 crashes. The first, though, had me waking up just as they wheeled me into the ER. It was a 26 miler on Thanksgiving morning in the year 2000. I’d promised to help with thanksgiving dinner. It didn’t turn out that way. I was approaching a store’s parking lot exit when a car entered the exit and stooped. I did not assume he saw me, but ya gottta keep going, but with caution. I was eye ball to eye ball with the driver but still did not assume he saw me, the “looking through you” comment from the Aussie earlier. The driver stayed where he was until I was just inches from his front bumper. At this moment he hit the gas. I had time for just 2 words, “Oh crap”. The sheriff’s deputy told me later they found me in the middle of the divider island. That would be about 30 feet of flight. My helmet was in 3 pieces, I had blue paint embedded in my knuckles for about 3 wees, T7 and T8 were crushed. But, I survived to tell the story. The lessons: helmets work and never assume anything. Even when you do it all right, try not to be dead right.
Jon Nelson says
One crash on my road bike — i did not protect my front wheel. Fortunately, it was at a slow speed and no damage to bike or person. Now my mountain bike is another story — several stupid, bad crashes caused by errors on my part.