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Thread: Crashing!

  1. #1
    spins pedals Zomar's Avatar
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    Crashing!

    First a story...

    I crashed today 5 miles into my 15 mile commute during the rain

    I was going through an intersection and once I reached the other side, I was going really slowly but I lost control and my bars turned abruptly or something. I somehow jumped off of my bike and landed on my feet and was 100% fine (physically at least) but my bike hit the ground. I looked back at the road and I think my front wheel slipped into a pothole/rut in the road that was covered in water, causing me to lose control. I don't remember where my hands were on the drop bars when I fell, but they might have been on the tops, which offers the least amount of handling/control, IMO.

    Luckily, despite all of the cars (including the ones right behind me!!), I was able to get my body and my bike out of the roadway without any automobile running either over.

    At first it looked really bad. Both of my roadbrake levers got bent inward extremely (I don't know how it happened on both sides!!), my front light mount broke a little bit, and I scratched up the end of my pedal, a point on my rack, and my rear derailleur, and possibly twisted my bars out of alignment a little, and derailed my chain.

    I was able to twist my brake levers back into position, straighten my bike light, and put the chain back on, and I was good to go again after just a few minutes.

    I was wearing sunglasses to prevent water from getting into my eyes (I have full coverage fenders too), but the sunglasses were really hindering my eyesight because there was so much crap on the lenses, my wearing the glasses definitely played a large part in this crash. I ended up taking off the glasses after the crash and the rain didn't bother my eyes. The rest of the ride went pretty well.

    Once I got to my job, I was able to clean and look over my bike for any damage and make some more adjustments to straighten stuff out. Seems like the only permanent damage are just the scratches I mentioned before, which is fortunate.

    I'm a little bit shaken up thinking about it, but the weather has cleared up for the ride home from work.

    ------------

    I'm 20 years old. I've never crashed the same way twice since I started biking daily in September, but I've had a large number of crashes. So far I've...

    -Slipped in railroad tracks.
    - fell over at 0mph when stuck in toe clips several times.
    - been T-boned by a taxi at 5mph when I ran a red light (it came out of a blind spot.. but that's no excuse).
    - slipped on black ice my first day of bike commuting ever.
    - got blown over by a gust of wind when riding no handed.
    - and now... crashed from a pothole/rut during the rain.


    Only one of those accidents involved another person/vehicle, and I was completely at fault for that one. I've yet to get hurt or damage my bike severely so that is good, but I intend to ride my bike just about every day and be car free until I die.. I hope I stop crashing so much.

    I don't think I'm a very reckless rider, I use a mirror/helmet/lights/reflectors/brightcolors/etc, am knowledgeable and a student of safe cycling habits on the road, and I don't let emotions cloud my judgment when riding. Safety is almost always a top concern for me. I sometimes run red lights when it appears safe to do so, and I cautiously lane split between cars, and I ride at a quick but comfortable pace.

    Maybe I shouldn't do these more dangerous things at all, but I don't think that is really addressing the reasoning behind my crashes. I think these crashes are just my way of "learning the hard way" how to ride my bike. But I want to take control of the situation more, and not leave it so much up to fate and lack of years of experience.

    I'm not really sure what I'm looking for in responses, but I wanted to post this thread.

    What are your thoughts after reading this? Am I just gaining knowledgeable experience by learning the hard way, is this something everyone goes through when they start riding? I ride upwards of 200 miles per week, but I feel like I'm crashing way too much... it's been like 1 crash every 1-2 months, and I have been at fault for every one. How can I keep riding but stop crashing?
    Last edited by Zomar; 05-06-09 at 08:49 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    You're just young enough to need more learning and ride just enough miles to statistically put yourself at risk more. So ... can you ride smarter and do fewer miles? The deck is stacked against you and you're gonna have to cheat a little for a while.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Get older - this will be particularly useful for the pedal clip falls. It is easier to avoid the hazards when you are familiar with the route. Take more care on new routes.

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    L T X B O M P F A N S R apricissimus's Avatar
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    Just get back on yer horse, pardner.

    (btw, I don't think age has much to do with it, only experience.)

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    When I read "intersection" and "rain" the first thing that came to mind was how slippery those crosswalk markings can be when they are wet. The same goes for most other road markings as well. Just another tidbit to tuck away in your "things that can make you crash" file.
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  6. #6
    spins pedals Zomar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toyman991 View Post
    When I read "intersection" and "rain" the first thing that came to mind was how slippery those crosswalk markings can be when they are wet. The same goes for most other road markings as well. Just another tidbit to tuck away in your "things that can make you crash" file.
    Good to know, thank you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zomar View Post
    Good to know, thank you!
    Zomar, I had an accident a few years ago - similar time of year, raining. I had done some work on the bike during the previous weekend. I hit a pothole in an intersection which was filled with water, so it looked like a puddle. My hands were on the hoods and the shock pushed my weight forward. The brake levers had not been tightended down enough and slid slightly down the bars as a result of the impact, which immediately made the brakes engage. The result was my going over the handlebars. There were some minor injuries to both me and the bike. I am very careful about going through puddles now. Glad you came out of it with nothing much more than a good story.

  8. #8
    meandering nomad
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    If I can ask why the clip-ons if you ride at a relaxed pace? Why the drop bars to commute? Drop bars are to me unstable unless you are down outside the hoods. Train rails and manhole covers are very slippery. And once again helmet,lights and bright colors will never replace good riding skills and stop running red lights in Massholia it will kill you.
    Safety Nanny Checklist
    1.Two headlights major brand 100+ Lumens plus helmet light2.Two tail-lights at minimum but really you need more3.Mirrors on helmet, handlebar and back of glove.4. Reflective vest and tape on every surface5.Disc and caliper brakes just in case6.Horn, bell and train whistle7.Chicken Little’s Phone# 8.Wear a helmet at all times (you might fall out of bed)Because it's scary out there!

  9. #9
    spins pedals Zomar's Avatar
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    ^^billew

    -I use clips and straps because I ride quickly and I find them useful. I keep them loose enough where they aren't really a safety problem. The only times I have really fallen with them is when they were too tight, and I know what is too tight and what isn't. The times I have fallen have been on my fixed gear bike where it is a little more complicated. I commute on a geared cyclocross/touring style bike.

    -I use the drop bars because my commute is 15-18 miles long each way. I appreciate having the hand positions and added aerodynamics provided when I am down in the drops. I don't think I'd want to switch to wide riser/flat bars for this commute. I am in the drops 90% of the time, and I feel stable holding there.

    ------

    Thanks for the advice and kind thoughts everyone.

  10. #10
    Peripheral Visionary spock's Avatar
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    Maybe you just need to chill out a little bit. I have been riding for a year now about 150 miles a week and have never crashed because one of the first things I learned was to relax. Stretching before you go for a ride helps with that.

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    Val
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    You just started too late, and you're playing catch up - in my youth, kids falling off of bikes was considered normal. Hardly a day went by without one of us having some sort of crash. I used to keep count of the ones that were severe enough to require more than a week of healing time, but by the time I was 16, I had lost count. Falling is an important skill, and practice definitely helps. On the other hand, experience will definitely teach you how to avoid crashes better than any other form of study. These days, I seem to lose my vertical orientation less than once per year, and I still learn something every time.
    rollingjackass.com

  12. #12
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zomar View Post
    What are your thoughts after reading this?

    Am I just gaining knowledgeable experience by learning the hard way, is this something everyone goes through when they start riding? I ride upwards of 200 miles per week, but I feel like I'm crashing way too much... it's been like 1 crash every 1-2 months, and I have been at fault for every one. How can I keep riding but stop crashing?
    Just a guess of my part, but it seems to me you are thinking about your experiences and learning from them. That puts you far ahead of many people.
    George
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zomar View Post
    ------------

    I'm 20 years old. I've never crashed the same way twice since I started biking daily in September, but I've had a large number of crashes. So far I've...

    -Slipped in railroad tracks.
    - fell over at 0mph when stuck in toe clips several times.
    - been T-boned by a taxi at 5mph when I ran a red light (it came out of a blind spot.. but that's no excuse).
    - slipped on black ice my first day of bike commuting ever.
    - got blown over by a gust of wind when riding no handed.
    - and now... crashed from a pothole/rut during the rain.
    ...

    I don't think I'm a very reckless rider, ...

    What are your thoughts after reading this? ...

    -Slipped in railroad tracks.
    reckless in that you didn't realize hazard and it's reckless not to err on the side of caution. Now you do, probably won't happen again.

    - fell over at 0mph when stuck in toe clips several times.
    DOESN'T COUNT!!! Although "several times" makes me go hmmmmm. We've all done it, some of us a couple of times, some a few times. If you really mean several, well, what can I say but slow learner

    - been T-boned by a taxi at 5mph when I ran a red light (it came out of a blind spot.. but that's no excuse).
    Your fault, entirely preventable. I really doubt you'll put yourself into this position again - you'll be better at actually thinking ahead, being aware of possibilities, being totally defensive, etc.


    - slipped on black ice my first day of bike commuting ever.
    again, reckless in that you didn't realize hazard and it's reckless not to err on the side of caution. Now you do, probably won't happen again., but this can also just happen to anyone, just bad luck. Just be careful in icy conditions or get a mtb bike and put studded tires on it.

    - got blown over by a gust of wind when riding no handed.
    Your fault, reckless in that you didn't realize hazard. Now you do, probably won't happen again.

    - and now... crashed from a pothole/rut during the rain.
    like the ice, reckless in that you didn't realize hazard. Now you do, probably won't happen again, but this can also just happen to anyone, just bad luck, but can reduce liklihood to almost nil by just being aware and more careful.

    Well you're a little reckless, running red lights, not being defensive enough, but experience turns recklessness into intelligent safe choices. Crashes = experience, years on the bike = more careful and knowlegable. I firmly believe that virtually all crashes can be avoided by thinking ahead, experience and care. I probably haven't crashed in 25 years and often avoid simple hazards that cause other cyclists to crash. For example, just the other day, we were making a fairly slow turn from one road to another (90 degrees). The intersection had some residual loose gravel from winter. I knew enough to not only go very slow, but to also go straight ahead when actually passing through the gravel. I even yelled a warning. My partner, much less experienced, knew enough to slow down, but didn't know enough to avoid turning on that part, and he went right down on his hip. He will never do it again.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DX Rider's Avatar
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    Remember, just because you're young doesn't mean that you're indestructible.

    Quote Originally Posted by billew View Post
    stop running red lights in Massholia it will kill you.
    Wiser words may have never been spoken.

    If you're going to commute in this region of the US (I live in North Attleboro), you'd be best served to err on the side of caution and ride defensively, since you never know when someone is texting and driving.
    ********

    As far as, getting your cleat caught, enh that happens. It happened to me the other day and I've been car free/light for ten years. I was coasting up to an intersection and had rested my unclipped shoe on top of the pedal platform, not realizing that the cleat at reseated itself. Finally, when I went to stop and put my foot down, I couldn't move my foot off of the pedal in time and....finally TIMBER!!! The slow motion tilt of fame.

    I bashed my elbow pretty badily, which sucks since I've broken that same elbow twice, but other than that, no harm no foul. The cager who pulled up beside me at the light made some comment, but I didn't even listen and continued on my way.

  15. #15
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    I would emphasize what sauerwald said. Beware puddles, for there be much mischief hidden there! And hazards and traps and snares! Perhaps even dragons!
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

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    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    Just a guess of my part, but it seems to me you are thinking about your experiences and learning from them.
    True. Read about the crashes / near crashes of others and learn from their experiences too. This is much better than learning the hard way... first hand!
    Have Bike, Will Travel

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    Senior Member Eclectus's Avatar
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    You're young. Young people heal fast

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    Sounds to me like you are having standard beginner wrecks and learning from them. It also sounds like you're not getting injured in these minor incidents which is a good sign -- indicates that you might have a talent for tumbling without getting hurt, an important trick for bicyclists of all skill levels. Most beginner bicyclists will have these same wrecks eventually if they keep riding. They won't have them all in quick succession necessarily as you have, but most beginners don't do 200 miles/week. At that rate you will accumulate experience in a big hurry, trial by fire. You are riding four-to-five times more miles than the typical beginner bike enthusiast.

    Let's see you did the railroad track thing ... wiped out on a rain-filled pothole ... black ice ... got served while riding no-hands ... what else ... You are about to wipe out hard -- perhaps will have done so by the time you read this -- on a longitudinal crack. That's right, longitudinal crack. You'll want to watch out for those.

  19. #19
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Watch for right hooks... you are probably due one of those too.

    Of course you might consider taking a cycling course offered by the League of American Bicyclists... If for no other reason than to learn about some of these hazards before you encounter them.

    They can also teach you quick turns and quick stops... before you need them.

    http://www.bikeleague.org/

  20. #20
    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    There are only two kinds of cyclists out there:

    1) Those that have crashed.

    2) Those that will crash.

    I find that I get a case of road rash about every 1,500 miles or so on average. I'm a little overdue now.

    Most are related to wet weather and my failure to adjust for the conditions.

    I got a lingering injury a few weeks ago. I got hit in the knee with a baseball during a baseball game. It's effects were about as severe as any of my bicycle crashes. Every aspect of life has it's own hazards.

    I agree with genec's advice. A LAB course could reveal hazards and mitigation strategies you haven't been exposed to, and it could be a less physically painful method of learning. It couldn't hurt anyway!

    Tailwinds!
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

  21. #21
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    -Slipped in railroad tracks.

    always cross them at a 90〫angle. T

    -fell over at 0mph when stuck in toe clips several times.

    how about clipless pedals and shoes? there's a learning curve there, too, but overall a more manageable pedal attachment system.

    - been T-boned by a taxi at 5mph when I ran a red light (it came out of a blind spot.. but that's no excuse).

    well, you could stop running reds but if you choose to run a red be prepared for the consequences- running a red requires super vigilance.

    - slipped on black ice my first day of bike commuting ever.

    studded tires in winter will help with this. If not, you've got to pay close attention when the temperature drops below freezing. It seems with this crash, like most of your others, you're not concentrating. These kinds of accidents all belie lapses in attention. Snap to attention, keep your head up, your eyes ahead of you on the road so you can anticipate problems. Are you riding with headphones? If so, you might want to go without for a while until you get more disciplined in your concentration.

    - got blown over by a gust of wind when riding no handed.

    I think it's a good idea to occasionally ride no handed in order to improve bike handling skills. But choose when you do it carefully. Days with strong winds are not the best choice.

    - and now... crashed from a pothole/rut during the rain.

    sometimes completely unavoidable but, as you say, the sunglasses may have made your vision less than perfect. Best to treat each puddle as a potential pothole.

    Good luck with your riding, take care and don't be discouraged. Your crashes seem to be the result of the fact that as a relatively new rider you are riding a good amount of miles, which means you will get faster before you get "smarter" as a cyclist. This sometimes happens to people who've gotten strong in spinning classes and have little road experience. Then they are out and on the road and they have some pretty random crashes that other newbies might not.

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