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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-23-10, 11:51 PM   #1
aley
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Crash Report

I had a nasty little crash on my way home this evening. I had crossed to the middle of a fairly busy street (Central at Buena Vista, for those who know Albuquerque). At this particular intersection, I normally turn left in the bus lane and go a hundred feet or so to a parking lot exit that gets me to the loop road around the western edge of the university

It was shortly after 5, so traffic was heavy, but I saw a gap in front of a car that was driving in the left lane. As I committed to crossing, though, the motorcycle behind the car changed lanes and accelerated hard in the right lane. I decided to clear the lane as quickly as possible and sprint for a sidewalk cutout that was more or less in front of me - a full-on sprint would leave me going to fast when I reached the bus lane to make my turn. As it happened, though, I was not positioned right to get a good line on the curb cut, leaving me aimed at the right edge where the curb was maybe 2" high. I figured on unloading the front wheel at that point to ease the impact on the front wheel, and figured that I'd have no problem rolling over it.

That, unfortunately, was not how it worked out. In the instant I had to make the decision, I failed to notice the pothole where the asphalt had separated from the gutter, leaving a hole perhaps 5" wide and 2" deep. My front wheel hit that, bounced, and was on the way back down when it hut the curb. The downward movement was enough to keep it from rolling over the curb- instead it stopped dead. I, of course, did not, as I was probably moving at 15 mph by this time. :-( I ended up flying forward into, then over, the handlebar, and landed hard on the sidewalk on my forearms.

The end result is that my frame is bent - both the top tube and down tube buckled in the collision. As the bike had a carbon fork, I'm going to write that off as well. Other damage to the bike consisted of a bent cantilever brake arm, probably from when it fell on its side after the crash, and a hop in my front wheel, which is significant enough that I think I'll have to lace a new rim to it. Damage to me consists of some scrapes on my left arm (not really bad enough to even call proper road rash), a very, very sore upper torso, and a nasty welt on my left temple where I left a nice head-shaped impression on the inside of my helmet.

I called my mom to pick up my kids from daycare, and my stepdad came and picked me up and drove me to the emergency room. I got more X-rays than I think I've ever had before, but ultimately they decided that I'd broken neither a collarbone nor my sternum. So now I'm home with hellishly sore shoulders and a bottle of Vicodin to take the edge off.

In hindsight, I probably should have been more patient about waiting for a longer gap in traffic, and/or more observant of where the motorcycle was positioned so that I could have better anticipated his passing the car on the right. Still, though, I'm a little mystified as to why I crashed - despite the motorcyclist's boneheaded move, I had time to get out of the lane before he got there, and other than a slightly poor choice of line on the curb cut, I should have been fine. I'm not sure what other lessons to take away from this - maybe that the potholes around UNM suck.

On the bright side, now I get to pick a new bike. I'm torn between hanging all the components from my Jamis Aurora on a Surly LHT frame, or springing for something a bit racier, maybe in carbon fiber. Finances will probably dictate the former, and I suppose the latter is less utilitarian for commuting anyway.
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Old 07-24-10, 12:27 AM   #2
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I left a nice head-shaped impression on the inside of my helmet.
If the inside of your helmet wasn't already head-shaped, you might want to consider something different next time.

You didn't mention how long your commute is, but if you're going to be cutting through parking lots, hopping curbs, and riding on poorly maintained roads, a tougher hybrid might save enough in repair costs to be well worth it. After all, every time you do something that would have damaged your all-carbon-fiber dreambike, you can toss half the would-have-been repair cost in a jar, and watch the dreambike fund grow while you still save money.
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Old 07-24-10, 04:53 AM   #3
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Glad to know you came out of it in one piece. Hope you're feeling back to normal soon.

And hey, you have a new bike to look forward to!
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Old 07-24-10, 08:51 AM   #4
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Still, though, I'm a little mystified as to why I crashed - despite the motorcyclist's boneheaded move, I had time to get out of the lane before he got there, and other than a slightly poor choice of line on the curb cut, I should have been fine. I'm not sure what other lessons to take away from this - maybe that the potholes around UNM suck.
I had a crash this year that evidently also involved going over a curb. I can't be sure since besides the broken ribs and punctured lung I got a nasty concussion and have no memory of that afternoon at all. I remember having lunch with my wife and I remember waking up in the hospital many hours later. So the memory you have of the crash is a gift. I wish I had the same but my crash left me with no clue as to what went wrong. The good news is that ribs heal, the effects of a concussion pass, and you get back in the saddle again soon enough and go on with your life. You should be fine after a hopefully speedy recovery.

Ken
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Old 07-24-10, 02:34 PM   #5
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"Central at Buena Vista, for those who know Albuquerque). At this particular intersection, I normally turn left in the bus lane"

Is this the left turn Bugs Bunny always talked about in "Albakoykey"?


"I saw a gap in front of a car that was driving in the left lane. As I committed to crossing, though, the motorcycle behind the car changed lanes and accelerated hard in the right lane. I decided to clear the lane as quickly as possible and sprint for a sidewalk cutout that was more or less in front of me - a full-on sprint would leave me going to fast when I reached the bus lane to make my turn"

It sounds like you think you were wearing one of those airforce helmets with a heads-up data display, virtual target aquisition, radar guided, multi-task tracking, wire guidance, computer-enhanced vector control. In other words there were far too many variables to estimate, and the pothole was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Too many decisions too quiclkly to process. You shoulda pulled back or over to a safe area instead of proceeding. Aborting early sometimes wins the day.

Last edited by fredgarvin7; 07-24-10 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 07-24-10, 03:15 PM   #6
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It sounds like you think you were wearing one of those airforce helmets with a heads-up data display, virtual target aquisition, radar guided, multi-task tracking, wire guidance, computer-enhanced vector control. In other words there were far too many variables to estimate, and the pothole was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Too many decisions too quiclkly to process. You shoulda pulled back or over to a safe area instead of proceeding. Aborting early sometimes wins the day.
Unfortunately, some of those variables can pop up very quickly. One minute your are on a nice quite street and a few seconds later it's chaos.
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Old 07-24-10, 08:54 PM   #7
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I tee-boned a Range Rover Friday on my way in. I was in the wrong, I was on the sidewalk and the Rover pulled into the drive-through to get some McDonalds...those things are tough, I managed to twist my upper torso and handlebars to the right before impact and though i saw stars a bit, I was ok. I took the hit with my shoulder mainly. The driver was totally cool and the Rover?....not a scratch. My shoulder has hurt a bit for the past couple of days...but I guess I have to watch myself out there!!
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Old 07-24-10, 10:18 PM   #8
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If the inside of your helmet wasn't already head-shaped, you might want to consider something different next time.
Well, it was head-shaped - it just wasn't quite as precisely the shape of MY head as it is now.

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Originally Posted by fredgarvin7 View Post
"Central at Buena Vista, for those who know Albuquerque). At this particular intersection, I normally turn left in the bus lane"

Is this the left turn Bugs Bunny always talked about in "Albakoykey"?
That's the one!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredgarvin7 View Post
It sounds like you think you were wearing one of those airforce helmets with a heads-up data display, virtual target aquisition, radar guided, multi-task tracking, wire guidance, computer-enhanced vector control. In other words there were far too many variables to estimate, and the pothole was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Too many decisions too quiclkly to process. You shoulda pulled back or over to a safe area instead of proceeding. Aborting early sometimes wins the day.
You have to realize that a lot of the complexity of my description is postcrash analysis - it's not quite what my my thought process was at the time, which was quite a bit simpler ("Cross in front of car ... going ... crap! Cross fast! Light over the curb ... WTF just happened and why am I suddenly doing my Superman impression? Ouch!") I agree that I committed an error in judgment - I knew I was sprinting through a narrow gap, and I know that unexpected things can go wrong. Last time it happened, I managed to buckle a chainring (I literally twisted it apart, and it was a good-quality ring. What can I say? I'm very large and very strong), and this time I had to try to find an exit route very quickly. At the same time, if I wait for long gaps between cars, it can be a very, very long wait, particularly at rush hour. As with most things cycling, it's a balance. This experience will probably alter where I aim for in my balance between safety and speed - obviously there's a sweet spot in there somewhere.

At this point I'm thinking LHT. I suspect it's got beefier tubes than either the Crosscheck (which would be another reasonable choice) or my Aurora Elite had (I'm fairly surprised that the frame buckled two tubes before the carbon steerer sustained any noticeable damage - this likely says that Jamis' forks are very strong, and the Reynolds 631 tubes that the frame was made out of were perhaps lighter than might be recommended under a rider as large as I am). I had a hard frontal impact with my old ('01) Jamis Aurora (not Elite, so it had a chromoly fork) that bent the fork but didn't even misalign the frame, so I'm thinking that Reynolds 531 (aka 4130 chromoly steel, AFAIK) may be a better tubeset for me. (And please don't think that I'm bashing Jamis - the bike was excellent, and never gave me a bit of trouble until I crashed it into something.)
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