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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

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Old 08-15-09, 07:10 PM   #1
RayM
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2 weeks 2 crashes

I've been riding 4-5 days a week since I started bicycling again at the beginning of March. In that time I've covered just less than 3000 miles over mostly the same roads near my home. Until 2 weeks ago I'd never even had a close call with a spill but that's all changed now.

The first one happened as I was coming to a stop at an intersection where a lot of loose asphalt has accumulated. I always warn my riding companions about it, but on that day I found myself too far to the inside of the corner and mired in the loose material. I started falling to my right and couldn't unclip in time to stop the fall. Because I was nearly stopped, the impact wasn't too hard though and my bike seemed fine. But about 6 miles further into the ride I heard a noise I've become all too familiar with and discovered a broken spoke on my rear wheel, drive side. I stopped, removed my wheels, and waited for my friend to go home and return with his car.

Early this morning, the same friend and I were about 22 miles into a planned 30 mile ride. We were accelerating and pedaling about 16 mph after making a 90 degree turn. This is the same road that I'd had my first crash on and the asphalt has some really bad spots. I accidentally dropped my front tire off the right side where the roadway is built up 2" and fell to my left this time. My left knee and shoulder absorbed the brunt of the fall and my helmet also made solid contact with the road surface. As it did I saw my friend's chain ring pass only a couple of inches from my face as he swerved to avoid me. I popped up immediately and the bike seemed fine, but I was dripping blood from my knee and my right hand which I'd apparently extended across my body to arrest the fall. There were a few small cuts on my fingertips but not a great deal of pain, and then I noticed my thumb extended at an odd angle. It popped easily back into place and I mounted my bike again and finished the ride home.

Between these two incidents earlier this week I had a close call when I dropped both wheels off the asphalt at almost the same location as today's crash. I really didn't ever feel like I would fall, but there was a really bad sound and I pulled over to check my spokes and tires. I thought at the least that I'd be changing a flat, but my tires were fine.

My thumb is pretty sore now and somewhat swollen. It seemed to pop right back into place, but I tried to lift a 1/2 gallon carton of orange juice a while ago and it seemed to dislocate again and it hurts to try to turn the ignition key in my truck. I'm hoping to ride again tomorrow and if the thumb isn't better will let the Dr. have a look at it on Monday. I think I was really lucky today, it could have been much worse. But whatever, I'm studying the maps for an alternate route and won't be on Womack Road again.
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Old 08-15-09, 07:22 PM   #2
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I accidentally dropped my front tire off the right side where the roadway is built up 2" and fell to my left this time.
That's a common type of bicycle accident.

When you drift off of the road (and everybody does it) stay off. Either come to a complete stop or find a place where you can make a wide swing and ride back onto the road at right angles. Unfortunately, that's counter intuitive. Many riders will try to swerve back the way you would with your car. When you do that with a bicycle, however, your tire catches the edge of the pavement and spills you across the traffic lane.
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Old 08-15-09, 08:01 PM   #3
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Agreed Retro. The first time I steered straight and remained upright. Today it happened really fast and I felt my wheel twist and was going down at the same time.
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Old 08-16-09, 08:05 AM   #4
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If it works for you the same as it worked for me, be careful.

I reached a point around the same time when my comfort and confidence on the bike increased disproportionately faster than my skills and abilities. Still have the scars and busted helmet...

I'd always thought over-confidence was an ego or arrogance thing. Turns out, it was a comfort thing.
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Old 08-16-09, 08:33 AM   #5
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Are you maybe riding a little too close to the edge of the road?
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Old 08-16-09, 08:36 AM   #6
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In my case, the pavement apron abruptly narrowed and I didn't notice so, off I went and down I went. just like you. Other than some rash on my elbow & helmet, no damage. Luckily for me, my reflexes are so slow I didn't use my hand to break my fall.

Looking further down the road helps. Head up.
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Old 08-16-09, 10:07 AM   #7
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Luckily for me, my reflexes are so slow I didn't use my hand to break my fall.
Are you lucky! I used to practice soccer with my sons by playing goal keeper and letting them take shots at me. I got pretty good at it too. My reflexes are so quick that when I went over a week ago I was able to stick out both hands to break my fall. Didn't scuff my helmet and my face is as pretty as it ever was.
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Old 08-16-09, 10:21 AM   #8
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Think about taking a breather. A little time off of the bikes might be in order to let things heal. Check your helmet for cracks to the styrofoam. If cracked, replace it.
After my first wreck, I waited 2 weeks before riding again. And then I went on a fat tire MTB and on a dirt trail. Dirt, although it hurts when you hit, is much softer than asphault or concrete.
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Old 08-16-09, 10:23 AM   #9
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Are you lucky! I used to practice soccer with my sons by playing goal keeper and letting them take shots at me. I got pretty good at it too. My reflexes are so quick that when I went over a week ago I was able to stick out both hands to break my fall. Didn't scuff my helmet and my face is as pretty as it ever was.
Actually, I dirt bike a lot which means lots of crashes. You learn early on not to try to break your fall with your hands, as that often leads to wrist, shoulder or collarbone problems.

The slow reflexes help, though.
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Old 08-16-09, 10:35 AM   #10
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Actually, I dirt bike a lot which means lots of crashes. You learn early on not to try to break your fall with your hands, as that often leads to wrist, shoulder or collarbone problems.

The slow reflexes help, though.
No problem! No wrist, shoulder or collarbone problems for me!

On the other hand, I did break both elbows. My next goal is to regain the ability to feed myself. When that happens I think I will celebrate by buying a Manino's Cherry pie.
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Old 08-16-09, 10:56 AM   #11
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No problem! No wrist, shoulder or collarbone problems for me!

On the other hand, I did break both elbows. My next goal is to regain the ability to feed myself. When that happens I think I will celebrate by buying a Manino's Cherry pie.
Ouch! Sorry to hear that. How long 'till you can start rehab? Cherry pie sounds like a great incentive.

Best wishes.
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Old 08-16-09, 11:08 AM   #12
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Yikes! Things like this tend to happen in 3s. Quick, go pile up some mattresses, hop on you bike, and fall into them. Get a jump on fate!
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Old 08-16-09, 11:39 AM   #13
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"My left knee and shoulder absorbed the brunt of the fall and my helmet also made solid contact with the road surface. "

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute says that any time your helmet hits the pavement, it should be retired and replaced. The foam is designed to give its all in a crash and doesn't retain enough integrity to provide protection for a 2nd fall. The BHSI goes so far as to say that if you drop a helmet on a hard surface it should be replaced.

JM2CW
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Old 08-16-09, 12:26 PM   #14
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Are you maybe riding a little too close to the edge of the road?
Yes I'm very close to the edge and not too surprised this eventually happened. Unfortunately this road is in such a state of disrepair that you either ride the edge, or the crown in the center, or skip it altogether and plan another route. My plan is the latter.
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Old 08-16-09, 04:14 PM   #15
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My last too crashes were due to the same factor - fatigue causing poor judgement.
So be careful - particularly on long hot rides when your mind and reactions are not so fast.
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