I'll state the moral of the story first, and you can choose to read the rest or not...
Check your bike every single time before you ride! Especially if you park it outside in a public place.
Last week I picked up a vintage road bike on the side of the road and spent hours working on it to make it look in like-new condition. Spent similar detail and funds equipping it to make it a good commuter/long distance ride. Pretty proud of it and love the smooth ride. Anyway...
Yesterday I picked up a rack for it, and today was my first day commuting to school, though I've commuted to work in the past. I parked my bike outside the building I had class in and locked it to the bike rack alongside many other bikes. It's a pretty public area and hundreds of people go by every hour.
I'm not really sure what happened exactly in this time period. Well, I'm sure that someone loosened my handlebars, not from the stem but at the part that attaches the handlebar to the stem, allowing the bars to tilt up or down. I'm not sure why. Cruelty, thinking of theft? I don't know. But I know that bolt was SNUG with thread locker when I put it on there. It couldn't have loosened itself.
In any event, I find it easier to ride on the flats of the bars around campus, and when commuting in general, using the suicide levers to brake. So I didn't know it right away as they'd left it tight enough to where it wouldn't flop around, but not tight enough to stay in place if weight was put on the drops.
I came bombing down a hill like I usually do at about 30 mph. I do so because it's a fairly busy road with a 25 mph speed limit, and I need to turn left at the bottom of the hill. This keeps me in front of traffic and out of the way.
Anyway, I started turning left after bleeding off a little speed with the suicide levers. I was still moving somewhere between 20 and 25 mph. For the rest of the turn I chose not to use the suicide levers but give the regular brake levers a good haul to slow myself for my 90 degree turn. The drop bars completely fall out from underneath me.
In retrospect I should have abandoned the regular levers and gone for the suicides, but I frantically tried to grab the levers again and may have gotten a half hearted squeeze in but I was still heading straight for the curb at 20+ mph.
I had a choice of either eating pavement by trying to bank hard and slide or someone's front yard, I chose the latter. I'm not exactly sure what happened next, but the next thing I know is that I'm flying over the handlebars through the air. I hit my head pretty hard on the ground but managed to do a good tuck and roll before crashing into someone's bush. The bike was laying on the grass by the curb.
What's amazing about all this is that somehow neither I nor the bike show much the worse for wear, considering I crashed into a curb at 20+ mph. I'm pretty sure that I must have leapt from the bike before it hit the curb hoping to save the bike and myself from any damage, but I don't remember doing it.
We've both got a couple of scratches though. Here's mine:
It's not much to look at, but I won't show it anyway in case it bothers people. My toenail somehow got ripped from the nail bed at the tip. I must have landed on my toes pretty hard at some point. My head hurt for a little while after the crash but doesn't now so I think I'm no worse for wear.
The only scratch to the bike is here on the end of the pedal:
When I jumped, it just have brushed the curb briefly before ending up in the grass. I also ended up with some grass in my luggage but that's about it.
What's even crazier is that immediately after this, I turned around and went on a group ride on the bike which just concluded. It performed fine and so did I, so I think we're both okay.
I was extremely lucky, all things considered. You might not be. CHECK YOUR BIKE!
Stay safe out there guys.