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Old 09-02-09, 09:05 PM   #1
rf10
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1-bike accident on tandem

I'm writing about an accident I had to see if anyone can help me explain it and to see if others have had anything similar happen. I have a Longbike Gulfstream. This is a USS LWB tandem recumbent. I have taken it to France twice with my wife, and have also ridden it quite a lot alone. I'm a moderately experienced rider.
6 weeks ago I was riding down a fairly steep road. It came to a T and a left-hand turn. Fair amount of traffic. I stopped at the bottom, waited for traffic, then set off turning left. Within a second or two I was on the ground. The bike fell to the left, my foot stayed on the pedal (simple, no clip), and the central bar went through my left shin, breaking both shin bones.
A friend brought my bike back (I was in an ambulance) and said that the front tire was flat. I hadn't noticed that, but it certainly could have been flat or just gone flat. I had been thinking about the hill and the traffic.
Has anyone had an injury like this? There was no involvement with any car. Can anyone see how it could happen? What role would the presumably flat tire have played? Have people seen similar accidents on this type of bike?
Thanks for any comments.
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Old 09-03-09, 06:45 AM   #2
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If you did not 'hear' the tire go flat then we do not know when that happened. I would 'imagine' that a flat on the front could throw you off balance enough to go down... ...things happen so fast, it is hard to reconstruct them unless ya got a video. my 2-cents.
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Old 09-03-09, 02:43 PM   #3
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Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

It doesn't seem right that your top tube would have broken in a lowish speed crash let alone break in the crash and then manage to go through your leg and cause tib-fib fracture. Have you been able to see where the tube is broken?

Based on my not even half-vast accident reconstruction abilities, I'm wondering if the tube break was the result or the cause of your crash.

Best wishes for a smooth and complete recovery.
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Old 09-04-09, 05:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

It doesn't seem right that your top tube would have broken in a lowish speed crash let alone break in the crash and then manage to go through your leg and cause tib-fib fracture. Have you been able to see where the tube is broken?

Based on my not even half-vast accident reconstruction abilities, I'm wondering if the tube break was the result or the cause of your crash.

Best wishes for a smooth and complete recovery.
Hi, thanks for your comments. I must not have explained clearly. Nothing broke on the bike, only on me. The top tube is much stronger than my leg. I suspect that the tire was flat, since it was noticed flat soon after. Possibly the fall broke the tire, but I don't really think so.
Have you ever fallen like like, on a slow speed turn downhill, the bike falling over fast the side of the turn? Regardless of whether you got hurt, which I wouldn't have if I had pulled my foot off and pulled my leg out of the way. It just happened so fast I couldn't even think of that.
Thanks again and any comments welcome.
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Old 09-08-09, 07:37 PM   #5
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We have done the very same thing, and on the very same bike. The Gulfstream with its long wheelbase (106") is not fond of sharp low speed corrners. It's not just the gulfstream I've done the same thing on our screamer as well as our off road tandem and don't ask about the quad.... but never the trike...Hmmmm

If your tire was soft the tire could have rolled off the rim, that would have put you on the ground fast. Or maybe you hit a manhole cover? I did that on the Slipstream, did not crash but it was close!

We run a very large tire on our gulfstream 2" or better. The bike handles much better and is more stable. Infact we just finished the Great Allegheny Passage on the gulfstream towing a BOB and bike did fine on the crushed limestone.

At the time did you have a stoker on the bike with you?
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Old 09-08-09, 08:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rf10 View Post
Hi, thanks for your comments. I must not have explained clearly. Nothing broke on the bike, only on me. The top tube is much stronger than my leg. I suspect that the tire was flat, since it was noticed flat soon after. Possibly the fall broke the tire, but I don't really think so.
Have you ever fallen like like, on a slow speed turn downhill, the bike falling over fast the side of the turn? Regardless of whether you got hurt, which I wouldn't have if I had pulled my foot off and pulled my leg out of the way. It just happened so fast I couldn't even think of that.
Thanks again and any comments welcome.
Nothing nearly as bad as your fall. But yes.

I was making a right turn and it felt like the rear just slid out from underneath me. Now, I did have full panniers as I was on the way home from the grocery store. I was going much slower than usual, due to the weight of the groceries and the lower stability I get when they are full.

I did get my foot out of the pedal before I hit the ground, but I'd forgot my gloves so my hand got scrapped up. Other than that only my pride got hurt - and I had a big audience for that one. There was some (a small amount) of sand there which I didn't notice until I got up. But it was most likely normal road dirt/grit/sand.

Hope you heal up quickly.
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Old 09-10-09, 03:01 PM   #7
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Similar accidents

Friends,
Very interesting to finally hear of some similar falls. Of course it is logical that the long wheelbase is not fond of slow speed sharp turns. Did bentbaggerlen also break anything on your body?
I went by the site of the accident today and there are washboard-like raised waves on the pavement right there that wouldn't have helped with traction. But I guess the lesson is that you just have to limit your turns at low speed. The tip about the tire size is very interesting too. What measurement is the 2"? I have fantasized about getting a full-size tire on the front somehow. Seems like this could be done, but would require some frame modification. Anyone done that? I don't like all these small tires, especially when we've got two people and camping equipment on the bike. It's really my major reservation about recumbents (I realize SWB often has large tires). At the time of my accident I had only a very small bag and no stoker. Don't know how presence of stoker would have affected the scene.
Thanks very much for the comments. It helps me make sense of an incident I have brooded over a lot during the (so far) 6+ weeks of leg recovery.
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Old 09-10-09, 07:26 PM   #8
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The front tire was probably leaking, but not quite flat yet. Throws off the balance and can cause a spill.
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Old 09-11-09, 09:11 AM   #9
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@RF10: I'm not surprised at the crash: Bents go down fast. With me, sand, pea-stone, and a once a cell-phone have been involved.

It's like trying to balance a whisk broom, harder than balancing a taller broom with a long stick.
On a recumbent, you have less rotational inertia around the roll axis, than you do on a DF. So when you start to fall, less inertia means you roll guicker.

Your front tire probably went flat, rolled off, exposing the slippery rim, and OOPS!

I'm more concerned with the broken leg bones:
How old are you?
Are you getting enough calcium?
Do you have normal bone density?
I've read articles about (normally) low-impact endurance sports like cycling causing bone density loss.
You should get this checked out.

It's also worth noting that the long wheel base, low bottom bracket bikes may set you up for this kind of break: a lock bracket on the top tube of my Stratus took a chunk out of my shin skin when I crashed the Stratus, but I never thought it was a possible leg-breaker. Great. Something ELSE to worry about...

Last edited by Tackdriver56; 09-11-09 at 09:13 AM. Reason: typos, clarity
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Old 09-11-09, 09:37 AM   #10
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Sounds like your front wheel washed out and you low-sided. Could be the tire, gravel, turing too quickly or anything to have caused it to slip out. The flat might may have occurred as a result and not as a cause. Hope you recover quickly.


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Old 09-11-09, 07:37 PM   #11
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I didn't know I had a pinch flat on my short wheel base over some railroad tracks. A quarter mile after the tracks at my next turn, the front wheel just washed out when I tried to turn. I never felt the tire go flat, but when I picked up the bike, the front was deflated. The bike went down really quick. Didn't have time to unclip, which was good, all the abuse went to my shoe which stayed clipped in. Ground a nice bit of shoe, rather than skin.
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Old 09-12-09, 05:18 PM   #12
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Two years ago I broke my hip and hand in a low-speed turn on a USS bent. Details here.

My conclusion: right-hand turn + bad luck (loose gravel, even a single largish stone) = hard spill.

I can't say that the bent is to blame. I probably would have fallen on my diamond frame as well. But the geometry of the bent definitely affected the injuries. It seemed to go down much faster than in my previous spills, which until that accident only resulted in lost skin.
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Old 09-12-09, 08:49 PM   #13
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By the way, the best recommendation I can offer for a fast recovery (besides do what the doctors say), is to go walking in a pool as soon as the doctors allow. This will help fight the post-surgery muscle atrophy without putting full weight on your leg. Lap pools are best, because the water is deep enough to keep you buoyant without being so deep you can't reach the bottom.

Also, amendment to my previous post: right-ANGLE (not just right-hand) turns at low speed can cause problems when combined with gravel or a largish-stone that you hit just right.
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Old 09-13-09, 07:49 PM   #14
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No, nothing broken... but i tend to roll up into a ball and not try to catch myself, something I started doing on the mountain bike
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Old 09-16-09, 07:20 PM   #15
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Yes, I agree about the pool, exactly as you say. Walking vigorously in the pool really set me ahead. They had me do it as if I were skating, pushing to one side then the other. I'm now coming up on two months from the accident and can just take some steps without my cane - precariously. Your list of expenses was impressive too. I haven't gotten all my bills yet. I have some rod xrays like yours for my tibia.
I guess the lesson is to be careful on turns, in my case, especially at low speeds. My fall was also precipitated also by being on a steep road, starting up and immediately turning fairly sharp.
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Old 09-19-09, 10:02 PM   #16
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Downhill,heavy braking, plastic rim tape. recipe for disaster. check your rim tape. BTDT
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