I trashed the rear rim on my road bike on Sunday. I'm wondering if it will do any good to formally complain, especially since this was not a pothole that I hit, but a man made obstacle.I was riding the return leg of my ride on Sunday on RR114 North in Cumberland, Rhode Island, which is a heavily traveled, winding two lane route, when I wrecked my rim.
Here's what happened:
As I approached the intersection with RR 120, I was riding down a hill that curves to the left at about 20mph on a fairly shady stretch of road, when I spotted a darker patch of road at the bottom of the hill. Since there are alot of patch jobs on the roads in RI I didn't initially think too much about it. As I got closer, I realized that the dark patch of road wasn't the tar patch I thought it was, but was actually a 4x6 foot square hole,about 4-6 inches deep, that had been cut by a road crew across the right wheel track in the lane of the road.
And to make matters worse, there were two man hole covers, side by side about 8 inches apart in the square cut out, they were raised above the level of the dirt base about 1 inch, so not level with the road. By the time that this all came into focus, there was no room to stop. Additionally, there was traffic on my left, traffic in the other lane, and a guard rail to my right. So I did the only thing I could do, I aimed for the space between the two man hole covers, stood up on my pedals, grabbed my handlebars and pulled up on my front wheel for all I was worth. The front wheel made it through fine, the rear wheel didn't.
I hit the facing edge of the hole so hard with my rear wheel that it slammed my front wheel onto the pavement. The impact popped my headlight out of it's bracket. The light went flying through the air, landed in the opposite lane, and smashed into a few different pieces. Which were than further crushed by passing traffic. As I was coming to a stop, I thought I had blown the rear tire, since all I could feel was thuda-thuda-thuda-thuda.
It turns out that my rear rim was destroyed by the impact with the square edge of the whole. The rim is bent so far out of true that the tire rubs the chainstay, there is a flat spot on the rim (it's out of round), three spokes were bent, and there is a noticable dent in the edge of the side wall, which is obvisously from where the rim contacted the edge of the hole. I haven't removed the tire, but given the damage to the sidewall of the rim, I think there must be damage to the hook inside of the rim as well.
I hated the headlight, it was only a being used a day time running light, so it's no big loss. The rim wasn't a huge loss either, since it was a 1982 era single walled, 32 spoke, aluminum hooked rim, which was manufactured by Rigida. I had already planned on building new rims this winter since I knew single walled aluminum rims wouldn't hold up on the roads around here.
I thought about asking for compensation for the rim, but that's not my biggest concern, and I've decided not to do so. I think this is truly a public safety issue, given the fact that there are no signs warning of a road hazard. There was no orange paint around the whole warning of the danger. There were no cones or barrels near the hole warning of the danger. And this hole is at the bottom of a stretch of a road that curves as well as goes down hill, so the only visible warning is about 50 feet before the hole.
There are schools in the area, if what happened to me happened to a child or other inexperienced rider, they most likely would have kissed the pavement, and fallen into traffic.
I've been asked by a couple of friends who ride if I fell. I didn't, but I think that was due to years of riding off road on techincally demanding terrain and a whole lot of luck. If I hadn't gotten my front wheel up, I probably would have crashed badily. Also, I credit the toe clips for keeping my feet on the pedals. If I was riding with clipless I think the jolt I received would have popped the cleats right out of the clips. My back hurt yesterday, but my legs absorbed the brunt of the shock, so it seems fine today.
I'm considering writting a letter to the State DPW, the town DPW, and the senator for the state. That road is not safe for public travel and shouldn't be left in that condition. I just question whether a letter would do any good.