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  1. #1
    Velophile Epicus07's Avatar
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    Tire-Swallowing Storm Drain of Doom

    When I was growing up my dad always told me to watch out for storm drains with slots large enough to eat your tire. Seattle has replaced most of these along the side of the road and I can't remember the last time I actually saw one...

    Until I went to ride my sweety home from work. Turned down a dark alley Downtown at 11:30pm and started slowly towards the back door to her work. I had a high powered LED light so visibility was good.

    I saw the storm drain very clearly as my front wheel dropped into it. It was such a weird feeling falling into the street. I went over the bars and managed to get myself pinched between the handlebars and the top tube of my bike. Since i was lying on top of the bike on its side, my body weight was keeping the top tube pressed into my thigh.

    I didn't have time to sit there disoriented. My leg started to really hurt and i couldn't lift myself off of my bike enough to get free. After a few minutes of struggling i managed to pop my front wheel out of the drain and turn the bars enough to get free.

    Sadly this was not my beater I was riding but my beloved Roubaix with its fancy White Industries wheels.

    Conclusion:

    Front rim utterly trashed. Just had the frame inspected (since its full carbon). Not a scratch on it anywhere. Everything perfectly aligned. thank god for that

    Nasty bruises on my leg and my ribs ache pretty good (felt them really compress and strain during the impact) but nothing broken or seriously damaged.


    Watch out for those Tire Eating demons folks! The streets may be getting rid of them but alleys sure aren't.
    2009 Specialized Roubaix - Long Distance Bike
    2002 Rodriguez Adventure - Touring Bike
    1996 Guerciotti PRX - Italian Steel Joy ride
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  2. #2
    Senior Member northbend's Avatar
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    Glad you're ok! That could have had a much worse outcome than it did. You need a MTB for those midnight forays downtown.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Drillium Dude's Avatar
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    Reminds me of a Gordon Lightfoot lyric: "Beware of strange faces and dark, dingy places..."

    Glad you're okay after that little adventure. Wheels can always be replaced; body parts, not so much

    A lot of this going on with our C&V crowd lately. We'd better start knocking on wood, it seems...

    DD
    My Flickr pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30331021@N08/

    "You can't buy happiness, but you can buy a bike and that's pretty close"

  4. #4
    Senior Member rootboy's Avatar
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    I've got to stop reading these crash threads. I'm afraid of crashing. Glad it wasn't worse.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chris_in_Miami's Avatar
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    Glad to hear you didn't get too badly hurt, and it's really cool that your bike largely survived!

  6. #6
    Restore, ride, repeat... elguicho's Avatar
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    Pictures or it didn't happen. Just joking, I hope you get back on the saddle soon.

  7. #7
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    I was in a group line once, and the guy in front of me said "drain" just as I saw it, seemingly under my front wheel.
    It was the wide slot type that will never go out of vogue here. Somehow, my front wheel rode the iron, but not the back.
    Like one of DD's employer's anchors, it dropped, I stopped. Scratch one rear wheel, probably a Matrix, on my Trek 510.

    One of my friends, who's forgotten more about bikes than I'll ever know, took me to his house,
    and we laced in a Weinman concave. I still have flashbacks of that whenever I see one of those grates.
    Since then, I've never ridden the concrete edge, always the asphalt road portion.

    I'm glad you're somewhat all right, and the frame's not toast. It seems they could have angled those slots.
    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻
    Perhaps you didn't really hear what you thought I said...

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  8. #8
    Ride More seedsbelize's Avatar
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    Just this spring the city fathers tore up the streets of old town Mérida, and put those grates in where there were no grates before. Wide gaps, parallel with traffic flow, right in the bike lane, inside of the parked cars. There might be more bikes in Mérida than there are in Portland. You gotta wonder...

    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
    "Get off of me and go ride your damn bike."

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    I hit one of those last year, and they're the majority here unfortunately. Amazingly I saw it at the last second, and the front tire rode the grate, but the rear? WHAM!! I had enough forward momentum to keep moving, but ouch! Warped the rim somewhat, but was able to be straightened. I also hit one the other day, but a different type. Made of aluminum or some silver material, with doglegged plates running parallel with the road. It was scary! The front tire briefly jerked to the right, then as quickly as it started it was over. I stayed upright thank goodness. Aside from that there is one spot on my usual away from traffic commute. A grooved blacktop road patch about 8 feet wide all the way across the road. Really freaky if you're not ready for it. Feeling a 23C front tire squirming back and forth under you is not fun. I grab the hoods and ride it out every time, but I still never get used to it.,,,,BD
    "Whale. Oil. Beef. Hooked!" The Rumjacks

  10. #10
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    I remember hitting one of those on my Continental. Had to ride the rest of the school year on a potato chip shaped rim. Somehow i didn't fall
    Pronounced "Murkle"

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    I thought those grates were long gone. Back in the 70's Bicycling magazine often reminded readers of the dangers of sewer grates.

    In my neighborhood, growing up, just about every kid wiped out on the railroad track spur that lead to the quarry. It crossed the road at an acute angle. I swear those tracks were alive. They reached out and grabbed your wheel.

  12. #12
    Senior Member rootboy's Avatar
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    I guess I should feel lucky. We have the cross pattern ones here.

  13. #13
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Good that you were not physically injured, probably mentally scarred for life with the sight of the front wheel burned in to your mind forever. Sorry you wrecked the wheel, this will set you back a bit but look at the bright side of getting a new wheelset for your baby. Stay safe, we don't really like reading these reports.

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  14. #14
    Senior Member jpr1379's Avatar
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    For the most part be have the waffle grates but we still have alot of the slot grates. Havent hit one yet but they are sneaky and jump out the most unexpected times. I'm pretty sure they colaborate with trees on who jumps out and when.
    Stay alert! Stay alive!

  15. #15
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Glad the damage isn't worse, but sorry about the rim Taco. Sometimes I feel like urban commuting is like that old videogame...Paper Boy...where everything is an obstacle.

  16. #16
    Senior Member gaucho777's Avatar
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    Glad you & the bike weren't hurt too badly. I hate those storm drains. I had a much less severe incident with one recently. I was pinched between a big truck and a "slot-type" drain. I managed to ride just barely outside the storm drain on my right, almost up against the truck on my left. But there was a lot of sand and gravel on the road, and my rear wheel slid right into the drain anyway. Fortunately, the tire landed on a lip and didn't go all the way in, but it left some really nasty scratches on my Araya Gold rim that needed to be polished out of the braking surface.

    -Randy

    '72 Cilo Pacer • '73 Speedwell Ti • '74 Nishiki Competition • '74 Peugeot UE-8 • '86 Look Bernard Hinault 753 • '86 Look KG86 • '89 Parkpre Team Road • '90ish Parkpre Team MTB

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  17. #17
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Bummer man. There is one of these grates at the corner of Vanderbilt & Willouby in Brooklyn that I ride around every day. Both these roads are bike routes, and it's in a dangerous spot. I noticed recently that someone has placed a construction-orange mat of some kind over the grate. It looks "official." I'd bet someone complained and this is a temporary fix. If I was you, I'd also complain.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson) San Remo Plus, 1989 Trek 520, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

  18. #18
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    The director of county roads here in Essex County told me (by email) that I can report defects and hazards to him. I've begun to blog them, and I'll be sending him a pointer to the blog. The photos I shoot with my iphone automatically have geo-location embedded in them, and picasa displays the locations automatically, next to the photos. Nifty, huh?
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  19. #19
    Senior Member scotjonscot's Avatar
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    This was one of my great fears as child after witnessing a cousin take a really nasty header.
    ars longa, vita brevis

  20. #20
    Senior Member mazdaspeed's Avatar
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    Not to be overly litigious but perhaps you could convince the city to compensate you for your wheel? Those things are a real danger to cyclists. There is one by my house and I always imagine how bad it would be to hit that thing... ouch.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
    Not to be overly litigious but perhaps you could convince the city to compensate you for your wheel? Those things are a real danger to cyclists. There is one by my house and I always imagine how bad it would be to hit that thing... ouch.
    I agree. The city should have insurance. That kind of grate is a liability. It isn't unheard of to be compensated for injury resulting from a bad sidewalk (pedestrian not cyclist).

  22. #22
    Senior Member GrayJay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
    Not to be overly litigious but perhaps you could convince the city to compensate you for your wheel? Those things are a real danger to cyclists. There is one by my house and I always imagine how bad it would be to hit that thing... ouch.
    In this day and age, it seems blantantly neglectfull of the city to leave those drain grates as-is. It would be a fairly simple project for the city to go around and retrofit them by welding on additional perpendicular flat bars onto the grates. Better that you sue them for minor bike damage and body injury in order to get thier attention to do right and fix the problem, rather that letting the city wait for the grates to kill or permanently injur a biker and leaving the city with a much, much larger liability suit.

  23. #23
    Biker
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    I realize this is a pedal bike forum, but I ride both kinds of bikes and the same dangers apply to both when it comes to tire traps. Check out the suicidal cattle guards recently installed on county roads in New Mexico. Even my relatively fat tired motorcycle is placed at danger of slipping between the rails that parallel the line of travel. I have protested to the local hwy folks but so far have not received much consideration or response other than we will look at it.

    This one would break your neck at any speed. Tom

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peruano View Post
    I realize this is a pedal bike forum, but I ride both kinds of bikes and the same dangers apply to both when it comes to tire traps. Check out the suicidal cattle guards recently installed on county roads in New Mexico. Even my relatively fat tired motorcycle is placed at danger of slipping between the rails that parallel the line of travel. I have protested to the local hwy folks but so far have not received much consideration or response other than we will look at it.

    This one would break your neck at any speed. Tom
    That is bad. Most cattle guards I've seen have the rails perpendicular to the road. parallel is just asking for trouble.

  25. #25
    Velophile Epicus07's Avatar
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    Hey Guys,

    Thanks for all of your thoughts and support.


    The storm drain in question is not in the road itself but in the center of a downtown alley. I'm very careful around drains at the side of the road but didn't even think of one being in the middle and it totally blindsided me.
    2009 Specialized Roubaix - Long Distance Bike
    2002 Rodriguez Adventure - Touring Bike
    1996 Guerciotti PRX - Italian Steel Joy ride
    1996 Litespeed Natchez - Titanium Speed Demon (pics to come)

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