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Old 11-06-12, 09:58 AM   #1
Ancient Mariner 
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Road Rash, bruises, and associated questions

The question isn't solely about the injuries; They are relatively minor even though I look pretty rough right now. It's as much about how to avoid them in the future.

I took a spill on my morning ride yesterday. It was my own fault ---- isn't that frequently the case? I was where I shouldn't have been, had to turn to avoid a 4-wheeler while I was running through a large puddle, and lost the grip on the front wheel. I ended up with a somewhat shredded knee and elbow, and a knot on my hip about the size of a tennis ball.

My question is: Is there a better tire than the standard smooth 700 X 23C that came on the bike? I see tires with a little 'tread', but question whether they really would do any better in the same sort of situation I was in yesterday, i.e. lateral thrust on a slick surface. I spent a little time at the LBS yesterday looking at different tires, and didn't see anything that seemed to offer any meaningful improvement.

The obvious thing is to avoid falling, and to some small degree, I do have control over that. Yesterday's spill was completely self-induced. I was cutting a corner, running a stop-sign, and the vehicle I had to avoid was where he had every right to be. Mea culpa. So now I will be a lot more careful, and not allow myself to get into that position again. But now I'm now wondering about the next time I fall, whether it's a flat tire, an animal running in front of me, or any of a number of hazards that happen and are completely beyond my control. Is there a way to minimize the damage to my body that always seems to ensue?

Is it too weird to consider some sort of padding, especially on my knees and elbows? I was wearing a long sleeve jersey, and still managed to sacrifice a fair amount of skin off my elbow, so covering those areas with clothing does not appear to be the answer. There are pads for skate-boarders and BMX riders, but I hate to look like I plan on crashing. lol

My 70-year old body can't just shake these things off any more, and I see the options as somewhat limited. It's padding of some sort which might be too silly to even contemplate, slowing down to reduce the severity of 'sudden dismounts', giving up riding altogether, or just sucking it up and accepting that I'm going to get a little banged up once in a while.

Going slower might be the most sensible option, but that tends to defeat the purpose of why I'm riding in the first place. It's great exercise, and wallowing around at beach cruiser speeds just doesn't appeal to me.

Giving it up altogether? Forget it. Why live at all if you can't do the things you love?

Pads? I don't think they would be any less inconvenient than the occasional scab.

Anyway, I'm really interested in how you guys deal with this issue. Also, I'd appreciate any pointers you might have on treating road rash so that I can continue riding while the abrasions heal.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:17 AM   #2
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The obvious thing is to avoid falling, and to some small degree, I do have control over that
You have a lot of control over falling - to a high degree. Yes, it can happen. I haven't fallen "seriously" in 13 years.

Defensive driving. Treads on smaller diameter tires actually defeat their purpose as bikes don't hydroplane, and the more surface in contact with the road, the better.

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My 70-year old body can't just shake these things off any more,
Yes it can. You will get through the road rash the same as I do (3 years older than you). Time, good health, good nutrition, positive attitude.

I use 700 x 25's, and find them better in a bit of sand, etc., than the 23's or 20's/19/s.

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Old 11-06-12, 11:27 AM   #3
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700 X 28 tires are more forgiving for us older riders.

Last week:

My left crank came off while standing and sprinting behind 7 cars at a Red light that turned Green.

Pic if you want to see my knee?

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/h...keCrash005.jpg
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Old 11-06-12, 11:32 AM   #4
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I hope I didn't give the impression I'm in any way discouraged. I'm really not, at least not yet. I've been falling off bicycles for 65 years, but admittedly at times when I healed a lot quicker. I do appreciate your encouragement, and fully plan to be doing this for a good, long time.

Gravity sucks.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:37 AM   #5
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Don't know if others will agree but the contact patch of a tyre with the road is very small. Doesn't matter if there is tread on it or not but that small contact area will give you the best grip it is possible to get. There are slick tyres made of stickier rubber and I usually run those in Michelin Pro Race series. Never even think about slipping tyres with these but I also use a "Tougher" rubber in Michelin Lithions for winter use. They ought to be called LETHALions in the wet as grip is nowhere as good.

Why use Lithions in the winter?--They are cheaper and the PR series do cut up badly on rough surfaces and in particular on wet ones. I also modify my riding style a bit to counter for that lack of adhesion but with the extra clothing I have on in the cold and wet- I am also not normally going as fast and corners are taken with care.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:42 AM   #6
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When I had my L-4; L-5 fusion 2 years ago, the docs were absolutely amazed at how fast I recovered - I was walking that night and walked a mile the next day. They said they wished that the younger folks would follow my example of fitness. Many of them just laid there and moaned and groaned. It's not age.
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Old 11-06-12, 11:56 AM   #7
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You're an inspiration, and the picture looks quite grim.

The rubber composition is an interesting thought. I'm still in the "a-tire-is-a-tire" stage, but need to look into that. You all seem to confirm my suspicions that tread is relatively insignificant as far offering any advantage on a wet surface.
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Old 11-06-12, 12:06 PM   #8
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I tend to agree with what the others have said. Just try and picture the contact patch on a bike tire and you can see how important a dry road is to traction. By the way wet leaves will take you down as fast or faster than a puddle of water. I too have switched to 25s but I still have several wheel sets with 23s. But for me the best way to avoid dumping the bike is defensive riding. If the road isn't absolutly dry I tend to slow down and not lean as far. It is the same method I use for motercycles. Even with a car or SUV it is best to slow down and drive defensively.

Unlike Stapfam I use Vitoria Pro Slicks for most of my riding with a Gatorskins now and then. If I decide to race, sometimes the urge hits maybe once a year, I use Ultimos or R-3 race tires.
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Old 11-06-12, 12:15 PM   #9
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I slid on my elbow for about 5 feet today in the parking lot of the school where I teach. Also my fault- I took the corner sharp and put the wrong pedal down, so my own foot caused the crash. I'm new to riding and I saw this as a badge of honor, or at least a test of my reflexes. I know I can take a fall now. My bike also handled it remarkably well. I will need some new grip tape though . . . and now I know I need some real cycling gloves.

Sometimes you just have to learn a few lessons the hard way. I guarantee you that I'm not likely to do that again!
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Old 11-06-12, 12:50 PM   #10
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That's where I am on this; it's really up to me how susceptible I will be to falling in the future. The list of things that can be avoided is much longer than those that can't. It took me a while to figure out that I was better off not using clipless pedals; it seemed I was spending more time on the ground than on the saddle, so they now live in the parts box with all the other bad ideas.
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Old 11-06-12, 01:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ancient Mariner View Post
The question isn't solely about the injuries; They are relatively minor even though I look pretty rough right now. It's as much about how to avoid them in the future.

I took a spill on my morning ride yesterday. It was my own fault ---- isn't that frequently the case?

My question is: .
To be more specific. Now that I looked and see where you live. I ride there now and then and do the Palm Springs Century every year.

1. Is there a better tire than the standard smooth 700 X 23C that came on the bike?
A. Not really though a 700 x 25 will smooth out some of the roads a bit. The only time your roads get slippery it right after a light mist or after a windy day when the sand blows sand on the road.

2. The obvious thing is to avoid falling, and to some small degree I do have control over that.
A. Yes that is where you have the most control. Unless you have a front tire blow out or hit something you didn't see paying attention to where you are going and getting used to your area will keep you up more than anything else.
3. I was wearing a long sleeve jersey, and still managed to sacrifice a fair amount of skin off my elbow, so covering those areas with clothing does not appear to be the answer.
A. The most common contact points are Head, sholder, hands, elbows, hips, Knees. If you were wearing a long sleave Jersey you could try a MTB jersey with a little padding at the elbow. I have one but don't wear it unless I am going to be in the dirt. I also have some MTB shorts with some pads in the hips. I am not talking big downhill or single track pads just some extra padding. I always wear gloves and a helmet.
4. Going slower might be the most sensible option, but that tends to defeat the purpose of why I'm riding in the first place.
A. You only have to know where to go slower. You can go as fast as you want on straight dry pavement you just have to slow down where the conditions could cause you to fall.
5. Anyway, I'm really interested in how you guys deal with this issue. Also, I'd appreciate any pointers you might have on treating road rash so that I can continue riding while the abrasions heal.
A. You live where the conditions for riding a bike are better than maybe 70 percent of the country for year around cycling. Getting exercise doesn't require flat out riding all of the time. Longer slower rides will do as much as short fast rides. I have also covered abrasions with a compression knee brace, ace bandage. Even the inexpensive ace pull over braces for elbows, knees and ankles will work.
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Old 11-06-12, 02:40 PM   #12
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I've been riding for over 40 years - racing, daily commuting, ultra rides, track, everything but mtb. Living here in Vancouver, Canada, I crash on average about twice a year, and mostly in the winter. Some thoughts:

Tires don't make a lot of difference. I use 23mm tires, even in ice and snow. I'll be testing a set of wheels with 23mm tires mounted on Velocity A23 rims to see if they actually handle better, but I'm already using a Sun CR18 with a 23mm tire. Unless I'm experimenting with new tires, I tend to stick with Vredestein TriComps, the best tire I've used for performance and durability.

It helps to learn how to corner. Look up "counter-steering" and work on it. It really works, but it takes a lot of work before you can do it comfortably and instinctively. It's the best way to take a fast turn on dry pavement, but it also gives you more confidence on wet roads, as long as it hasn't just started raining. When the roads are slippery, you just have to go slow and just "steer" around the turns.

Some crashes are just unavoidable. I've had a front tire blow out in the middle of a turn, and cranks breaking while powering uphill. So you just avoid the ones you can.

A crash at speed causes injuries due to 1) impact (a big bruise, and maybe a wound opening), and 2) heat and abrasion. This second one is really strange. I've had crashes where the lycra tights had not ripped/shredded at all, but the skin underneath was a big road rash. Your clothing absorbs A LOT of heat from sliding along the road, and your skin gets rubbed across this hot surface. Any armor or thicker layers might mitigate the injury somewhat, but your skin is still going to undergo some abrasion and heat. The worst surface to land on is probably chipseal. It will just shred everything, your clothes and your skin. Crashing on smooth concrete or asphalt would be like crashing on fine sandpaper.

I find road rash takes a couple of weeks to heal. The first two to four days are spent changing bandages. I get large telfa pads (so they don't to the wound) and change them every time I take a shower, thoroughly washing the wound in the shower and then applying antiseptic before taping on the pad. Once it stops weeping, you can start using high-tech products, like Tegaderm, that you don't need to change as often, and that help the wound heal with less scarring. If you're in a warm climate, you can just dispense with bandages completely and wear shorts and let the wound scab up and heal naturally, as long as nobody gets grossed out.

I think crashing is just part of cycling. My hips and knees are a real mess, scars on top of scars. But they're like badges of honor.

Luis
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Old 11-06-12, 02:51 PM   #13
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If you're really concerned about road rash, a leather jacket, thick pants and hand protection will almost eliminate that at reasonable speeds. Elbow and knee pads if you're going to hit those, otherwise you just take your chances with sliding, rolling or however you tend to react to crashes. I really think that the impact is a greater danger than scrapes, and harder to recover from, especially as we get older.

I'm not disagreeing with anyone who's said that the best policy is to avoid crashes. Just no one's mentioned this yet.
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Old 11-06-12, 03:56 PM   #14
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My first biking love is Mountain biking. They have more protective gear because we are a pretty uncontrollable bunch. I think that the Knee and Elbow "Gaskets" in this thread are good options. They look and do offer some pressure protection and are invaluable in a slide. I think 10 wheels would have appreciated a pair of the knee gaskets.

http://www.xsportsprotective.com/knee-gaskets1.html
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Old 11-06-12, 04:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ancient Mariner View Post
That's where I am on this; it's really up to me how susceptible I will be to falling in the future. The list of things that can be avoided is much longer than those that can't. It took me a while to figure out that I was better off not using clipless pedals; it seemed I was spending more time on the ground than on the saddle, so they now live in the parts box with all the other bad ideas.
It's taken me well over a year, two accidents with cars and multiple falls trying to learn how to ride clipless to gain some semblance of confidence. I've learned to slow down in traffic areas and only speed up when I know there are no intersections. I've also learned not to clip in until I'm clear of all intersections and I'm on an uninterrupted section of road. My eyes rarely leave the road, too many potholes and rough roads to enjoy the scenery. Clipless work best here because your feet don't go flying off the pedals causing you to lose your balance.I don't like to cruise so concentration is important. I'm sure I've not seen the last of road rash but I think I've lessened my chances.
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