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Your worst commuting experience?

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Your worst commuting experience?

Old 08-19-13, 11:49 AM
  #26  
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I was just pulling out of my driveway - urbanized unsprung mountain bike. Out of the saddle accelerating while turning left on the street and my left side crank snapped - since I was leaning left for the turn I went down on my left side so fast and hard I didn't even have time to take my hands off the handlebars. I skidded for a few seconds with my helmet scraping the ground a few cm from my left eyeball... you know that slow-motion thing they talk about in accidents? that totally happened. I remember thinking - wow, my helmet is protecting me from some semi-serious head injury. When I came to a stop I looked up to see that a car had come up behind me and witnessed the whole thing - the driver had a look of total shock and horror on her face. I was a little bloodied up but I had only gone a few feet from home so I just went back in the house and changed clothes and then drove in to work.
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Old 08-19-13, 12:30 PM
  #27  
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Mainly just a series of bad flats. I had a flat one morning and changed with the full intention of being able to catch my usual train (I bike to a commuter train). Raced through it, and had a bit of trouble getting the bead to stay on the rim (bunched tube). Anyway, I am rushing, because I only give myself a 15 min cool down at the station before the train arrives. Finally get the bead looking good so I head out. About a 1/4 mile away I notice a slight hop, but I am not sure due to the road being crappy. I get about a half mile away on to smooth pavement and there is a certain hop. Check the tire and the bead is coming off the rim. I decide to turn around and head home and as soon as I mount the bike, the bead slipped and the tube popped. It sounded like a freaking gun shot. Walked my sorry ass home and threw the bike over the fence in frustration before heading in and getting my damn car keys. Fixed the flat when I got home, only to get another flat the next day about a mile and a half from the station. Had no spare tube so I walked my ass and my bike. I dubbed it the "Walk of Shame."
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Old 08-19-13, 12:32 PM
  #28  
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My worst commuting experiences have been when I have been hit by cars. I have been involved in three different collisions, over decades of bike commuting. Every instance was the motorists fault (although admittedly I probably could/should have avoided my one right hook incident.)

The other two collisions were clearly motorists fault... one occurred as I was on a small residential street and was facing a driver stopped across the street. We both took off from our respective stop signs and proceeded across the road... just past midpoint, the motorist made a left turn into the back of my bike. No warning, no turn signal and it was behind me, so I never even saw it, I just went down with the bike, with my rear wheel and seat stay crushed. It was all low speed and the damage to the bike was enough to "kill it." I had to get a new frame and new wheel, which the driver paid for. The damage to me was some minor scrapes and bruising.

The other bad collision occurred on a busy arterial road with 2 lanes either way. I was zooming along at about 20MPH on this very familiar road, doing my usual route, and noticed a motorist stopped on a side street ahead. I looked to get eye contact, and it appeared that the motorist was looking right at me. As I started to cross the side street, the motorist pulled out and I hit him in the driver's side fender. (now bear in mind I am on the main road, moving at full speed, and then the motorist pulls out right in front of me...) I hit hard and blacked out on the hood of his car. I was taken by ambulance to the local hospital, where I woke and was told what happened. A policeman came and questioned me, and told me he issued a ticket to the driver for failing to yield ROW at a stop sign. My bike was almost folded in half. I remained in the hospital for most of the evening for stitches and observation. I was finally released late that evening when a friend came to give me a ride.

I eventually went to the police department to reclaim my bike, which eventually went to the driver's insurance company who wanted "salvage rights" as they had never heard of a "$900 bicycle." This was in the early '80s and I guess those insurance folks just never went to a good bike shop. Interestingly, my next bike cost about $2500.

So to the OP, perhaps the most unexpected situation is waking up in a hospital and not knowing how you got there. How do you prepare for that? Probably the best preparation would be to have ID and contact info on your person. In this case, not even that would have worked as my contact person at the time was my live-in girl friend, who happened to be in Europe at the time. I had to call an old girl friend and get a ride from her... that alone caused some interesting conversation.
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Old 08-19-13, 12:40 PM
  #29  
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Line of cars sprinting into an intersection, when left crank arm comes off.

Remember seeing it side across the road. I must have been upside down.





71 years old, twisted every joint in my body when I hit the concrete.
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Old 08-19-13, 01:33 PM
  #30  
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I was on my morning commute about six years ago when I cut through the park on the bike path. I approached a 90 degree sharp corner and didn't notice the sprinklers had left puddles on the path. Too fast, down I go. Back up on the bike with only a little road rash and a sore left hand. A couple of miles to work and all OK. Hand/wrist hurt all day and when I road home I couldn't grip the bar so a one hand ride. Wife sees the swelling so off to ER I go to cast my wrist for a broken Scaphoid bone. Rode a couple month with a cast.

The good news is I can foretell a change in the weather with my wrist now.

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Old 08-19-13, 01:46 PM
  #31  
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I hit a patch of totally invisible black ice, went down hard, bit through my upper lip and broke a tooth. Required stitches inside and outside my mouth. Soft diet for weeks. I also got banged up all along my right side. That was eight month ago, and my shoulder is still stiff.
At the time, it was 34 degrees, and we had had no precipitation of any kind. The ice patch was from condensation, I guess, at a spot that is always in the shade, on a curving descent. I still slow way down at that spot.
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Old 08-19-13, 02:48 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by jmilleronaire View Post
About a mile into my 11-mile commute, I inhaled a beetle that happened to be flying in front of me....

The very next bike commute, on the way home, it was roughly 350 degrees F (~443 Centipedes metric) outside,
Would be interesting if a beetle caused a traffic accident! But 350F? Aren't you joking?

Originally Posted by genec View Post
In this case, not even that would have worked as my contact person at the time was my live-in girl friend, who happened to be in Europe at the time. I had to call an old girl friend and get a ride from her... that alone caused some interesting conversation.
Not bad
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Old 08-19-13, 03:12 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
Kids, roller bladers, strollers, etc on the bike trail. Very unpredictable. I prefer cars to them. that and rain.
I'm a new commuter (about six weeks so far) so I don't have any good stories yet.

However, I ride on paved and gravel paths for about a third of my commute. The rest is through quiet residential streets, so I'm very lucky that I don't have to deal with traffic except for the last half-mile or so to work...unless I want to take a "short cut" through three busy intersections that I normally ride around on trails/paths.

What I'm finding on the paths are people who apparently don't expect to encounter cyclists, which seems strange to me. Most of the "offenders" (I use that term humorously) are old ladies with tiny dogs on LONG leashes. The lady will be slowly walking/standing on one side of the path but the dog will be way over in the grass on the other side of the path. It's like a big tripwire for me.

Ringing my bell and yelling "on your left" seems to get me angry glares but little in the way of dog collecting and standing aside.

When these old ladies walk two or three or more in a group, each with a tiny yapper dog on a LONG leash scattered in various directions, it gets downright funny at times.

The other thing I deal with is walkers/joggers and sometimes dog walkers too who walk in the middle of the trail WITH HEADPHONES and can't hear my bell or my yell. I give them as much room as possible but I've seen some people flinch and jump as I pass. Hey, don't mean to be rude, but if you'd turn down the music and walk to one side of the path, you might not be so startled.

That said, the vast majority of trail walkers (and bike riders) in my area are great. They wave, say good morning, and so on. Nice folks. It's just that I cut through two condo communities and that's where all the older divorcees with their mini-dogs live.
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Old 08-19-13, 04:27 PM
  #34  
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Had a rather interesting experience... could have been "bad" if I had gone further from home when it happened or if I had been on a hill and pedaling hard, but I lucked out, and this happened about a 1/2 block from home...

My crank spindle broke. It was a Phil Wood spindle and it just broke clean in half... strangest darn thing. Both pedals just went down. I had just gotten on the bike, and was settling in, had clicked the brakes to check them, had clipped in and was getting ready to pour it on... when suddenly both feet just bottomed out.

Phil replaced it free... after I sent it to them. The odd thing was the old one was hollow, but the new one was solid.

Strange catastrophic failures like that are a bit difficult to plan for... Over the years I have had a chain break, the spindle snap, a rear derailleur just explode (that was just odd), and a front derailleur fall apart... the FD was Campy Neuvo Record, and the screws that held it together just had worked loose... I happened to look down just as I was shifting and saw this happening... I stopped the bike quickly, and picked up the pieces and walked the 1/2 mile or so home... there I just simply put all the pieces together, guessing at the spring tension, and it worked fine, and has ever since.

On long rides I have had at least two other RDs fail for one reason or another. Once on the Tecate-Ensenada bike ride, I had an RD just fall apart on the first uphill leg... I pulled into an aid station and they managed to get me rolling by taking out a chunk of the chain and I rode the bike as a single speed for the rest of the event. Another time on a twin century I managed to bend the RD hanger when the chain jumped the freewheel and I was at high cadence. Ended up riding my GF's bike... tiny frame, all the way back the next day... was funny as heck, leading pace lines on this tiny bike... early on a Sunday morning.
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Old 08-19-13, 04:29 PM
  #35  
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Squeeze: bring a pair of scissors with you (since the dog is so far from its owner, you may well take the dog with you, too).
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Old 08-19-13, 05:07 PM
  #36  
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I once was commuting shortly after a garbage truck had taken the same route and had left a nice watery tail of stench behind it. It lasted a couple miles with no detour alternative. Yuck......
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Old 08-20-13, 07:19 AM
  #37  
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The past five months: no commuting at all.

Changing that in two weeks!
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Old 08-20-13, 07:36 AM
  #38  
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Mine is weather related. And mechanical.

I rode to work. Coming home, a thunderstorm was blowing in behind me. It was a big enough storm (with low pressure) that it was sucking the air into itself, meaning that as I was riding away from it, I had a headwind to ride into. In a "perfect storm" of conditions, the headwind, my desire to beat the storm, and the Oakmonster (the steep climb on Oakmont Blvd.), I popped my first spoke, trying to hammer up the hill. By the time I got home, I'd popped a second one. It was time for a new wheel.

The storm caught up to me as I turned onto my street. I get wet, but only at the end of the commute.
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Old 08-20-13, 08:36 AM
  #39  
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I've gone down on ice patches a couple of times, that comes with the territory if you commute in the snow belt. Fortunately each time my pride was wounded more than my body.

As for mechanicals, last year I had a cup in my BB fail - It gave me plenty of warning, I was just lazy and didn't check out the noise. Also in 2011 I sucked my chain into my wheel when I removed the pie plate & didn't check to ensure that the RD was properly adjusted. Both were maintenance blunders on my part that taught me valuable lessons.

My storm experiences have been few and all positive. I watch the weather and don't roll the dice very much. I have outrun two storms and was overtaken by a third. That one I was able to pull in to the visitor center of a park and expand my knowledge of the local Mississippi watershed's flora and fauna while I waited for things to die down outside.

Worst memory for me was coming up on a group in the middle of a wooded area - They were circled around a woman who had gone down and had busted her leg. It was about a mile in either direction to a road so I imagine that she got a nice long gurney ride. Every time I go by that spot I think to myself, "Don't go down here!"
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Old 08-21-13, 01:24 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
Would be interesting if a beetle caused a traffic accident! But 350F? Aren't you joking?

Yeah, I'm joking, it was about 98F, 80 percent humidity.
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Old 08-21-13, 05:41 PM
  #41  
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Sitting on the ground with my bike next to me and watching the car that right-hooked me take off.

That sucked.
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Old 08-21-13, 06:10 PM
  #42  
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Haven't really had any bad bad days, but i have had a few where i caught my pedal three times while turning..... wasn't really paying attention, managed not to fall, but it sure wakes you up when you do that by accident.
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Old 08-22-13, 08:57 AM
  #43  
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Under layered on an early winter day. Light mist turned into light rain, turned into wet snow. I had a 16 mile commute. By the time I got to work I had skin damage in several spots that stayed sore/bruised for about 1-2 weeks. Now I have a water-proof outer shell for the winter if there is a chance of any moisture at all, and I'm a lot more careful with layering.
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Old 08-22-13, 08:22 PM
  #44  
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this is going to be a long beautiful thread
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Old 08-22-13, 09:29 PM
  #45  
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I'm waiting for a bear attack story (perhaps the victim can no longer tell us the story )

Edit: If I were to have met a bear, I'd count it as my best commuting experience.

Last edited by vol; 08-22-13 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:41 PM
  #46  
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I think today qualifies. I left my house under cloudy skies, but the forecast said intermittent thundershowers later in the day. It started to sprinkle on the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge, about halfway through my 10 mile commute. I get across the bridge, take the east side bikeway, something I don't usually do as there is also a bike lane up 1st Avenue, and approach the end at around 30th st. At that point I hear pfffftttt. OK, by then it is raining a little more steadily, but I decide I'll fix it. I didn't have a spare 26" tube, only a 700c, so I pull out the patch kit. But before I fix it I have to find the hole. I'm right next to the FDR drive so there's a lot of noise, but I hold it to my ear and also try feeling the leak with my upper lip (why does that work?) The lightning started at that point and it was getting dark from the rain and low thick clouds.

Then, the really bad thing happens. A helicopter comes in to land not 50' away from me at the heliport, spraying water everywhere, and of course making a lot of noise. I give up fixing the flat and put the tire and wheel back on and walk to work. By the time I got there I was soaked. It's a good thing my change of clothes were still dry.
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Old 08-22-13, 10:08 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
What I'm finding on the paths are people who apparently don't expect to encounter cyclists, which seems strange to me. Most of the "offenders" (I use that term humorously) are old ladies with tiny dogs on LONG leashes. The lady will be slowly walking/standing on one side of the path but the dog will be way over in the grass on the other side of the path. It's like a big tripwire for me.

Ringing my bell and yelling "on your left" seems to get me angry glares but little in the way of dog collecting and standing aside.

When these old ladies walk two or three or more in a group, each with a tiny yapper dog on a LONG leash scattered in various directions, it gets downright funny at times.

The other thing I deal with is walkers/joggers and sometimes dog walkers too who walk in the middle of the trail WITH HEADPHONES and can't hear my bell or my yell. I give them as much room as possible but I've seen some people flinch and jump as I pass. Hey, don't mean to be rude, but if you'd turn down the music and walk to one side of the path, you might not be so startled.

That said, the vast majority of trail walkers (and bike riders) in my area are great. They wave, say good morning, and so on. Nice folks. It's just that I cut through two condo communities and that's where all the older divorcees with their mini-dogs live.
Each type of trail offender requires a completely different strategy. Old ladies with yappers respond best if you approach slowly and give them a musical 'good morning' or 'hello' as though you were talking to an elderly relative. Joggers with earbuds require no warning/communication at all; just give them as much of a berth as you can.

'On your left' really does not work. I've had much better luck with 'just on your left side' - somehow people understand that better. However, a large percentage of people I pass will not understand any English so I do employ a bit of profiling in deciding whether or not to say anything.

Overall, I try to avoid trails and paths that regularly have walkers/joggers etc.
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Old 08-22-13, 10:37 PM
  #48  
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Worst commute was when I was testing some new high tech gloves in -40 weather and my hands were so cold I thought I was going to lose a finger.

After that I went back to wool flip mitts over a wool glove and was toasty at even colder temps.
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Old 08-22-13, 10:43 PM
  #49  
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I have been clipped by vehicles, cut off, and have broadsided a few vehicles and suffered minor injuries... Have never had any significant mechanical issues and have only crashed once on my own during the past decade.
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Old 08-23-13, 12:08 AM
  #50  
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A left hook incident 8 years ago where I lost some teeth, tore off my chin and busted off part of the head of my humerus (in my shoulder, with my sense of humor remaining unblemished).

Eighteen months of surgery, bone grafting, infections and implantation to get some firm plastic teeth on titanium chompers. About the same length of physical therapy and my shoulder still sometimes wakes me up by vacating my torso while I toss and turn, as I always have been an active sleeper.

I actually had a job interview a day after an unscheduled bone grafting surgery where I glued in my dentures as best I could and tried to look at my interviewers straight on so that they couldn't see my chipmunk face in profile. These kinds of disfiguring injuries that impact health, self esteem and even careers are things that I wouldn't wish on anyone.
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