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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-29-07, 03:37 AM   #1
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Score: Fire Hydrant 2, Commuter and Bike 0

Monday morning on the way into work, I crashed. It's my fault - I was going too fast. I'll be paying for that mistake for awhile.

I'd started taking a longer route into work (14 miles vs. 8) just so I could get a better workout. My intent was to do the 14 in and normal 9 (yes 9, not 8) home for a couple of weeks and then switch to 14 both ways. A fellow bike commuter who uses the fitness center at work and rides a portion of the same route, told me about a minor route variation that he uses over what I was riding on this 14 mile route. There is a brief section of a heavily travelled road that we ride on (for CT folks, Route 44 between Bloomfield Ave and Scarborough)and his variation just cut up a side side to get off of that busy route as fast as possible. It made sense to me.

So, Monday AM, at about 6:30 AM, I came up on the left turn onto Rt 44. I was actually an hour late for me, but I'm supposed to be on vacation this week and ended up having to come back from vacation to deal with some critical work that couldn't wait. Anyway, the street I was on is a normal 4 lane, 2 each direction. At the intersection where I was turning onto 44, both lanes turn left because of the traffic throughput there. I was in the right lane and had to take the lane so I didn't get squeezed out by a vehicle that was turning right from that right lane. Coming up to the light, it turned green - so I accelerated to move with traffic through the intersection. I was doing 20+ at the light. It's downhill from that light and I moved over to the right with both lanes of 44 going down the hill next to me. The shortcut was to take the first right as opposed to going down to Scarborough. That's where my problems started.

When I hit the right turn, I was probably going 25+. I know - dumb, dumb, dumb to take it at that speed, considering I had never taken that turn before. I took the corner and had to "clip" it because I couldn't swing left at all. To my horror I discovered that the street isn't a normal street. That neighborhood was built decades ago (early 1900s) and the style was to have split streets with a green in between them. So, instead of a normal "1 lane in each direction" street, I have a narrower street I'm turning onto. In addition, the road has a noticeable crown for water and ice melt runoff. The bottom line is I couldn't complete my turn before running out of road and hit the other side of the street. I'm sure that the more experienced riders on BF would have been able to make the turn, but I'm not there yet.

The problem is that right where I ran out of road, there's a fire hydrant. I basically tried to knock the fire hydrant over with my left knee at 20+ mph. The fire hydrant won.

I came unclipped from the bike and ended up flipping over. Amazingly, no broken bones, no head, neck or spinal injuries, no internal organ damage (unless you consider the chewing out I gave myself something along those lines). Had a minor scrape on my right shin, jammed my left index finger - and my left knee. I had a huge "dent" on the top of my left knee where I nailed the hydrant. I didn't know if anything was broken in the leg, but knew I couldn't ride any where. The top tube on my bike is cracked (older Kestrel) and there's other damage to the bike too. I called 911 to have an ambulance come and take me to the ER for xrays. They were great - one of the EMTs had a brother who rode a lot and she pulled the front wheel from my bike and put the bike/wheel in the ambulance. Once they had me in the hospital, she put the wheel back on and brought the bike into me in the exam room that I was in. I have to send the ambulance folks a note saying thanks for that - not everyone would have done that.

3 different doctors did exams, the 1st 2 saying no broken bones, tendons and ligaments seems to be in good shape. The supervising doctor said - I want an x-ray to see if there's a bone chip in there. Came back clean.

So, I have a knee and thigh that's stiff and sore as hell, about twice the size of my right leg. Treatment is high doses of ibuprofen for a few days and ice, keep the leg up.

All in all, I was darn lucky. Darn stupid too.

The moral of the story is don't take turns that you're unfamiliar with at high speed. That's a lesson many other folks know, I guess I needed to have it knocked into me.

The Kestrel is toast. They have moved their production to China and don't do repairs any more. I can get 35% off of a new one, but that's not going to be the same as the bike I had. I've got some time to think about that. The next step will be pulling my old mountain bike out and fitting that as a commuter.

Last edited by rlrct; 08-29-07 at 05:15 AM.
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Old 08-29-07, 05:07 AM   #2
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First - get better soon and get back out there (and slow down in that corner)

Second - I say you get a good lawyer and sue the city for putting a fire hydrant there. It should clearly be three feet further and you wouldn't have hit it.

(joking there - a carry over from the "fell because of a crack in the sidewalk" thread where the op fell over and people advised to sue over a 1" crack, puhlease)
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Old 08-29-07, 06:01 AM   #3
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Wow. Well, my condolences on the Kestrel and the injuries, and applause for the story. I would have introduced other elements into the story to shift the blame a little farther from home (maybe there was a big SUV with a W '04 sticker, for example, that ran you off the road?).
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