Even after 47 years of biking, and more recently, 2000 days of bike commuting, you can still make stupid, dangerous mistakes due to a moment of impatience or inattention. Fortunately I didnít get hurt, this time.
It was a cold and rainy day (really) when my wife asked me to pick up some groceries, and the list she gave me looked a bit daunting for a bike trip. Still, Iím trying to minimize car use, so I threw a pannier on the bike and a backpack on my back and set off. At the store, I bought 6 L of bagged milk, 1 L of cream, a loaf of bread, and a 10 lb. (what, no metric?) bag of potatoes. I had loaded the potatoes in the pannier and everything else in the back pack, and was starting to unlock my bike, when I noticed the quick release lever on the front wheel was part way up. I pressed it down but it didnít go all the way, so I unscrewed it slightly and then pressed it down again.
My second stop was a wine store two blocks away down a 4 lane main road. With the load on my back, I felt quite top heavy. Traffic was busy but slow, and on the second block I managed to negotiate a shaky lane change to the left-turn lane, and rode obliquely up over the lip of the liquor store driveway, careful not to let my wheel get forced to one side. I dismounted by a metal flower trellis, and started to lock my bike to it. I wasnít close enough, so I lifted the bike slightly to move it closer, and thatís when it happened. My front wheel fell off!
I had been riding in heavy traffic, making lane changes and riding diagonally over an elevated driveway entrance lip with 16 lbs/7.5 kg of groceries on my back, and a front wheel that wasnít securely attached to the bike. I guess when I adjusted it at the grocery store I hadnít noticed that it wasnít completely in the dropouts. I should have looked more carefully, and I should have realized something was out of whack when I had to unscrew the quick release a bit in order to press the lever down.
Live and learn.