Almost two weeks ago now I crashed while I was riding to work. I was going down my normal route through a quiet residential area at somewhere between 15 to 20 miles per hour. Suddenly, I noticed that I could seem to feel every little bump in the road with my butt. I did a quick check to make sure my back tire hadn't gone flat. It appeared normal so I calmly went into a right turn to follow my normal route. That's when my front wheel went sideways, the bike flew off to the left and I went down on the right. I hit the pavement hard and scraped up/bruised my ankle, knee, hip, elbow and shoulder on that side. I knew right away that I had at least broken my arm on the right side. Interestingly, the x-rays showed that i had not broken my ulna, which actually made contact with the pavement, but rather the radius bone heads on both arms, presumably from trying to brake my fall. I came home with splints and slings on BOTH arms. It was absolutely ridiculous. Luckily, the orthopedic surgeon told me three days later that the radial heads set fast and that the splints/slings were unnecessary. Still, despite that fact that I'm not completely immobile, I am significantly debilitated even two weeks later.
Anyway, sparing you anymore details, I can't wait to get back on my bike again but I am plagued with the thought that this situation could easily happen again. As soon as I could get off the pavement after the crash I went to look at my bike and noticed that my FRONT tire was completely flat indicating that I had some sort of blowout. Considering that this mechanical failure was certainly the cause of the accident (it was fine weather that morning, the pavement was dry, and the street was pothole/gravel free) I've been trying to think of how my own behavior could have lead in some way to the crash. All I have come up with is this:
1. Ipod - I really enjoy listening to music during my commute. I listen to it at a volume level that allows me to hear pretty much everything that is going on around me on the street but, apparently, too loud to hear the fizz of a flattened tire. If I hadn't had the ipod on perhaps I would have HEARD that it was the front tire that had gone flat and hence i would not have gone into the turn knowing for sure there was something wrong with my bike. It's lookin like no more ipod for me in my riding future.
2. Flat tire = go straight - When I felt all the bumps in the road with my butt I sensed there was something wrong with my bike, but after checking the read wheel and seeing that it looked fine I assumed I had just been imagining things. I guess the lesson is, if you SUSPECT a flat, slow down and come to a stop while going STRAIGHT. This policy seems to open the door to flat tire paranoia but, truly, my injuries are debilitating enough that this simply CAN'T happen again.
Lastly, the culprit tire was a six month old, rarely used, always kept inside out of the sun and elements while not in use, Continental Gatorskin. I have not been physically able to take the tire off and inspect what happened. I recently put the tire on to my daily rider and saw no evidence of damage to the rim tape so I'm assuming the flat was due to something external. I ride Armadillos front and back on a bike I use to get to the surf (i.e. when I don't want to bring any tools/materials to fix flats) and I have never had a flat with this bike. However, I really don't like the way they feel on the road.
Anybody got any opinions on how I could have avoided this accident or mitigated my injuries? Any suggestions on flat-free tires?