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Evening crash on daily commute

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Evening crash on daily commute

Old 11-27-20, 09:21 AM
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Jscotty215
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Evening crash on daily commute

I'm new to commuting and took it up with the beginning of COVID in March of this year. I live in Southern Connecticut and commute to and from my worksite, about 20 miles round trip, 3-4 commutes a week. I've put down about 1400 miles this year and it wasn't until this last Tuesday night when I took a head-over-heels crash.

[Details: crash took place during evening hours right after sunset, on a busy road, was adjusting headlights from flashing to highbeams, occurred on the shoulder, was able to continue home, rims are ruined, oddly no flats through.]

It really, really sucked and I'm still shook up from it, but I didn't break any bones or get run over or hit by a car. I've taken a lot of safety precautions since commuting: placing reflectors on body and bike, very bright headlights and taillights, heavy duty gloves, always a helmet of course. Needless to say I'm still in a lot of pain and I don't even know what the hell I hit (mega pot hole, chucks of asphalt???). Aside from describing my incident, is there anyone here who calls it quits at a certain point of the year regarding commuting and the amount of daylight available? I might stick to weekend riding in daytime hours until March when sunset times are much later than 4:25. I don't mean to write on and on but this really freaked me out and I hate to part with my daily rides until another four months. I got into this for the health aspect and thrill of riding a bike again and I'm hooked, I enjoy being so invigorated when I get to work and home and losing some weight and keeping my cardio up.
Thank you for any suggestions and remarks.
Scott from Connecticut

Last edited by Jscotty215; 11-27-20 at 06:48 PM. Reason: More clarification to details of crash
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Old 11-27-20, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Jscotty215 View Post
I'm new to commuting and took it up with the beginning of COVID in March of this year. I live in Southern Connecticut and commute to and from my worksite, about 20 miles round trip, 3-4 commutes a week. I've put down about 1400 miles this year and it wasn't until this last Tuesday night when I took a head-over-heels crash. It really, really sucked and I'm still shook up from it, but I didn't break any bones or get run over or hit by a car. I've taken a lot of safety precautions since commuting: placing reflectors on body and bike, very bright headlights and taillights, heavy duty gloves, always a helmet of course. Needless to say I'm still in a lot of pain and I don't even know what the hell I hit (mega pot hole, chucks of asphalt???). Aside from describing my incident, is there anyone here who calls it quits at a certain point of the year regarding commuting and the amount of daylight available? I might stick to weekend riding in daytime hours until March when sunset times are much later than 4:25. I don't mean to write on and on but this really freaked me out and I hate to part with my daily rides until another four months. I got into this for the health aspect and thrill of riding a bike again and I'm hooked, I enjoy being so invigorated when I get to work and home and losing some weight and keeping my cardio up.
Thank you for any suggestions and remarks.
Scott from Connecticut
Right so if I understand correctly you crashed 3-4 days ago.

The best thing you can do is to get back on your bike and keep riding even if it is for small bits. Provided you are not in pain of course.
Just to get over your fear of riding. Because if you put away your bike now, you likely won't pick it up again come spring.

If you want to get a sense of what happened, ride out to the spot where you crashes (by bike or by car) and look around. See if you can figure it out, learn something from it for next time you ride that part of your route, and if you can't find anything... accept that it might have been a freak accident and you hit something like a rabbit or something.

What kind of bike are you riding and what sort of road were you on?
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Old 11-27-20, 09:43 AM
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As a buddhist sympathiser I work at avoiding distractions and keeping my attention on the ride and the road ahead. It is very easy to get distracted so that we do not see what is ahead. It is a sort of zen thing and we get better at it with practice. It we watch a Japanese tea cerermony on YouTube, the thing that stands out is the deliberate, measured movements. The mental focus is to be present and engaged with the task at hand. I'm certain this same focus is valuable in riding a bike.
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Old 11-27-20, 09:53 AM
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Sorry to hear of your crash. You didn't provide much detail, but it seems like this happened after dark? If so, yes, riding after dark is inherently riskier, but it is manageable with a good headlight (also tail light) and extra care. Whether the risk is worthwhile, is a personal decision.

Rest up, recover, and learn from this. These things happen.
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Old 11-27-20, 09:53 AM
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JaccoW thanks for the quick response and yes it was three days ago. I drove by the incident the next day and only saw broken up bits of road, chunky asphalt...all stuff I usually see in twilight hours with my headbeams on. But I'll park near by and walk by the site today for a further inspection. The route is a main route used by a lot of cars, called 34, a pretty busy road with a lot of traffic, runs from my hometown of Shelton to New Haven. I honestly have to find a new route. I've gotten 7 flats (punctures and pinch flats) during my commuting since March. The alternate is a much safer and less traffic-packed ride that adds four additional miles, large hills too. I have to suck it up, maybe commute three days instead of five a week. I agree about your getting back in the saddle suggestion, plan to get out tomorrow. My ride is a older Schwinn Varsity, super modified to handle my commutes. I ride tubulars, which amazing didn't blowout on whatever I hit (700 tubular panracer kevlar). My rims are too dented to ride again, unfortunately. I'll post some pics of my ride later. I'm amazed I was able to get back on the bike and ride home the extra 8 miles.
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Old 11-27-20, 06:10 PM
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First of all, welcome to BikeForums. You'll find that there is a lot of support available here as well as some lively discussions. I hope you stick around,

I'm retired now but I commuted by bike 7 years beffore I packed it in. In those 7 years, I crashed 4 times and two of those resulted in significant medical treatment. Each time, I did a lot of self-questioning about what lead to the incident including reviewing my actions/decisions, my equipment, road conditions, traffic, etc. I did, every time, get back on the bike; however there was always a short period when I was very wary to the point of mental discomfort. This goes away after a while, but what stays with you is an incremental increase in commuting savvy. For instance, I was motivated to continue to upgrade lighting. Good luck to you.

Also, I have to say that a Varsity with tubulars is pure art
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Old 11-27-20, 07:24 PM
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I've been commuting year-round for 28 years. Headlights have gotten better and cheaper. CurrentIy I use a 900-lumen Niterider Lumina 900 on my bars (~$80) and a 100-lumen Schwinn Intensa on my helmet ($19.96 at Walmart including rear light). This works wonderfully as the brighter handlebar light can be aimed down more at the road, and the more modest lumina lights up where ever I look. When I look ahead and down slightly (Drop bars on all three bikes) the road ahead is clear.

Over the years I have had some very hard hits at night from unseen debris and potholes, but fortunately, I haven't fallen from those. And as my lighting setup has improved and my routes become familiar, these incidents occur less and less.

But after almost 30 years my commute is about to change radically, so I will have to build new mental maps for the new routes. At least my forward lighting is more than adequate.

I will also add that I have passed over more direct routes due to safety concerns. At 10-mph, every extra mile is an extra 6 minutes. At 12-mph it's only 5 more minute added for every mile. In my book, an extra 10-minutes of enjoyable riding is a bonus for the two extra miles of a safer route. And here in Colorado Springs there is no avoiding hills or elevation changes.

Review your route(s) on the weekend in the light, or in the morning on the way to work if possible to see what the heck happened.

Ride safe, ride smart and enjoy your ride!
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Old 11-27-20, 07:55 PM
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Personally, I like to hold myself responsible for any crash. Realize that I made a mistake of some sort or could have done better and learn from it. By doing this you will reduce your chances of crashing again. I had a bad crash back in 2007. Since then none, and I also ride in the dark quite a bit. Experience helps a lot. Start back and focus on maintaining situational awareness. Pedal On!
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Old 11-28-20, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Jscotty215 View Post
Aside from describing my incident, is there anyone here who calls it quits at a certain point of the year regarding commuting and the amount of daylight available?
I also avoid riding in the dark.

We have very poor quality roads over here and very hard to see the potholes and craters and stuff that could wreck your rims even with bright frontlight.

Potholes look differently when the only light hitting them is from your bike. They only cast a bit of shadow and look a lot less dangerous.....Which is bad.

If I have to ride regularly at night, I'll do it with nothing less than a gravel bike with 45 mm wide tires or hardtail/XC mountainbike even on the road.

It's incredible you didn't flat your tires. They must be bulletproof!
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Old 11-29-20, 06:01 PM
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Night Commute

Until COVID hit, I commuted about 8 miles one-way, with at least one leg in darkness. About 80% is on 40-45 mph posted, most of which has a reasonable shoulder. Balance is MUP.

I believe in doing all I can to augment my luck.

The only serious crash I've had commuting was on the MUP. A construction site had been placed in service over the weekend with really bright lights facing me, and I charged into the corner too fast and broke my collarbone. I was lucky; collarbones glue back together on their own pretty well.

I did do an endo once when I hit a pothole, which I attribute partially to having a heavy backpack. I didn't get hurt or break the computer, but that event helped push me to panniers on a rack.

As Bobbie G noted, good lighting helps. I run a shaped beam on the handlebars which spreads light all around in front of me. On my helmet I have a 300-500 lumen LED light which I can point at where I'm going, and it is also useful in signaling my presence and intentions to motorists.

I have two bicycles outfitted for my commute. My normal commuter is a touring bike on which I run 32-35 mm tires. My backup is a rigid fork, hard tail mountain bike. I know all the nooks and crannies of the pavement on my commute, but when I go on another route I'll use the mountain bike because the fatter tires are more forgiving to road hazards.

You should expect things to happen. I've had over 5 nails flat the rear tire. I lost a tire to a sawzall blade that my front tire flipped up and it did a number on the sidewall of my rear tire. When I find tire carcasses on my route I remove them. They get pummeled by the traffic and generate little tire wires that are the most common cause of my flats.

Last edited by flangehead; 11-30-20 at 06:36 AM.
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Old 12-01-20, 09:13 AM
  #11  
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I want to thank everyone for their stories and replies and suggestions, I actually got back on the bike this weekend for a few rides and it felt great, I'm more aware too. I'm still going to hold off on commuting until the sunsets become later, possible Feb or March. Again, all the suggestions help, especially the ideology of the Buddhist sympathizer in keeping focused on a clear path going forward, keeping aware and in the moment and such. Glad there's a soundboard I can voice this on.
Best,
Scott
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Old 12-08-20, 06:36 PM
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You can never have too many lights or too bright a light, period. You can't avoid what you can't see. I normally run at least two, and usually three lights on the front. I try to space them as far apart as possible to give them a wider profile, and usually one is on flashing at night, and two on flashing during the day.

Adding an extra four miles is substantial, and even if you do it sometimes, there will be days when you'll feel tired and just not want to, so your shortest route is always going to be your default route. Get some better better lights so you can see far ahead. Get more lights so others can see you. Get a mirror so you can see what 's coming up behind you.
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Old 12-10-20, 02:21 PM
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For sure in your shoes I may rethink this, but you are also experiencing several positives from this action so there is a dilemma

I believe you can successfully keep commuting if that is your wish, but you must learn from your crash. Someone already talked about keeping a sharp focus on what you are doing. I will add that you should pull over and stop to make any adjustment to your equipment or clothing

the pros on tv are paid to do everything in motion. We mortals should stop, make our adjustments and then continue

the other thing, being in Connecticut, you may have to start looking at studded tires

Still if you are still shook up and wish to drive to work from now on you have that option
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Old 12-10-20, 02:53 PM
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I am riding less because I do not want to crash again. But ... I am tapering off after commuting like you for years, racing, riding year 'round, being a little clumsy and sometimes spacey and taking a few chances I shouldn't have. Also didn't own a car until I was in my 30s and lived 'till I was 25 yo in Massachusetts and Michigan. Now, at 67 yo,I have dented every corner of my body several times. Each time I go down I re-injure old injuries. Spend the next 10 months placing a piece of foam under my hip with its hole for the bursa.

You are far, far from the point I have reached. If your commuting and riding was doing you good, get back on the bike! Ride daylight and carefully until your confidence returns. And let this be a reminder that your grip on the handlebars is the secret to staying upright. And even then, some obstacles will take us out no matter how prepared we are when we hit them.

Ben
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Old 12-10-20, 03:08 PM
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I had a crash in October which I posted about in the 50 plus sub-forum. circumstances weren't the same. but though I was not badly injured, I was very shook up, wondering how it happened. And from your description, I have a lot more miles under my belt than you. So yeah, crashing sucks and it takes some emotional recovery beyond any physical healing.

Another thing to consider- what kind of bike are you riding and tires are you running? For a night-time commute and possibly crappy weather in winter in Connecticut, I hope you've got something stable with wide tires?
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Old 12-10-20, 06:08 PM
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Yep, distraction is a killer. I very nearly wiped out early one Feb. morning while riding on an aluminum-decked boardwalk/bridge. It was 36F, above freezing, so the possibility of ice on the bridge didn't occur to me. I hit the mild turn much too fast and felt my rear tire go out, then catch in the same split second. Needless to say, once my heart started again, I rode slower and more cautiously on the trail and bridges after that.
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Old 12-10-20, 07:30 PM
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I wouldn't ride a 700c bike in the dark. You can't see the holes, missing pavement, etc. in the road. A road / fast touring type bike just can't take these kind of hits. If I had to, I would switch to an old 26" MTB hardtail with urban tires.
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Old 12-11-20, 04:48 AM
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See "flowers, smell the"

From your picture you look like a young guy, so there's no reason you should listen to an old fart like me (64 50/52nds years old). Understand that I don't mean to blame the victim. But from my years of experience, I can tell you that almost every single time I've had a crash, I've been doing something other than riding. Adjusting a light. Zipping up my jacket. Changing the station on my portable music player of the day. Checking my cell phone. Checking out a pedestrian. Sightseeing. Anything that reduces visibility--dark, fog, rain, speed--makes that lack of attention even worse.

So here's what I learned in my old age. Cycling--even commuting--is really about the journey, not peak efficiency. It's not efficient to stop for 5 seconds to adjust my lights or music. It's not efficient to ride 4 miles more to avoid a dangerous road. It's not efficient to stop and lift my bike over a broken bit of pavement that I'd otherwise have to jump. But it's (1) part of the journey and (2) safer.

And you'll soon get to an age where a bruised shoulder takes 6 months to get back to normal. So slow down and enjoy the ride.
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Old 12-11-20, 08:42 AM
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I had my stupidest fall from distraction a few years ago. Had to replace a helmet after it. I was looking straight down, riding uphill slowly, hit a hole, went down.
Routing is perhaps the most important choice we make in commuting. As you grow stronger you may like that alternate route you described a lot better than the one on which you fell.
And, wow, commuting on tubulars? Wow.
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Old 12-11-20, 02:37 PM
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randallr: I'm completely in agreement that the biggest adjustment in commuting is getting away from driver's mode (Which is shortest, fastest, quickest and the world be damned) to cyclist's mode (which is the one with the least cars, hills, narrow two lane streets with cars parked along the curbs). In a car, if i had to go 20% out of my way, I'd curse and bang the steering wheel. On a bike, that extra 20% was usually a pleasure.

At least in part because there was no talk radio to rile me up.
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Old 12-11-20, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Elbeinlaw View Post
At least in part because there was no talk radio to rile me up.
Oh yeah. That's one thing in my life that I DEFINITELY do not miss.
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Old 12-11-20, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by randallr View Post
I had my stupidest fall from distraction a few years ago. Had to replace a helmet after it. I was looking straight down, riding uphill slowly, hit a hole, went down.
Routing is perhaps the most important choice we make in commuting. As you grow stronger you may like that alternate route you described a lot better than the one on which you fell.
And, wow, commuting on tubulars? Wow.
I commuted for most of two decades on tubulars. Pluses - there are situations where they are safer. Hitting deep potholes - tire is very likely to survive inflated and get you home, even with deep indents in the rim. Flats in shady neighborhoods - you can be going again in 5 minutes. How the flat happened doesn't matter. Rain, snow, darkness, tired, inebriated; non of that prevents a fast change. (You may be riding a very crooked tire but again, it will get you home.)

I'm going back to tubulars as I wear out my current rims. I've had a clincher come off. I never want to do that crash again. I've had full blowouts at 40+ MPH on tubulars and just braked to a stop and changed it, NBD.
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