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Two falls/three months...

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Two falls/three months...

Old 03-29-23, 10:42 AM
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Agree but my thinking is that those were things I probably could have recovered from when I was younger. It's interesting I have l;ived in Newark for a long time, descending that same hill a long time ago I skidded on some sand (leftover from winter road treatment) but was able to stay up.

But your point is well taken, especially the "knowing the limits" part. Limits are a little tighter now though.
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Old 03-29-23, 10:46 AM
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Definitely judgement errors, no question, but I think that I might not have gone down in the same situations when I was younger. As a matter of fact years (actually more like decades) ago I remember skidding on some sand (leftover from winter road treatment) at the bottom of the same hill but staying up.

Clearly need to recalibrate a bit though as to appropriate speeds, etc.
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Old 03-29-23, 11:18 AM
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I think we all make judgement errors but you seem to have had bad luck with these two incidents. Start your comeback slowly, you will probably be a little nervous at first.
55 seems too young to have slowed reactions. When I rode dirt bikes we had a saying, stay within yourself.
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Old 03-29-23, 12:47 PM
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Glad the cast is coming off before summer.

Last summer I had a several-years-long streak of not crashing broken TWICE in a week... I was training for a weekend biking/camping trip and decided to join the regular group trail ride, and on a fast piece of doubletrack between singletracks, my fatbike's front tire somehow slipped out from underneath me and I hit the ground like a sack of soup.

Then, later in the week, I was cruising on my fat bike on the rail-trail and tried to take the steep little shortcut through ~10 feet of bushes to get to another parallel trail, and I zigged when I should have zagged and the bike pitched me over and slammed to the ground.

I was not seriously injured in either incident, but only by luck.
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Old 03-29-23, 01:17 PM
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I like to ride hard and will go fast down the twisty paved trails and roads around here. I've hade a few spills since starting to ride regularly again back circa 2010 when I was 50 some y.o. Most no big deal, just get up, brush off, check the bike and go. Maybe sore the next day. One spill even put me in the hospital with a concussion that left me in a fog that kept me off the bike for about 5 months. But I still ride and I still like to see how fast I can take a turn. Though I've become more careful to do that when I can see clearly that no others are coming the other way and I'm not on a blind curve.

If you get to the point where you think balance is an issue, then a recumbent trike is an option as another has suggested. I'm hoping that time will be far off for me since I like the acceleration that can be felt in a very light bicycle.

I also agree with doing things that will give you more skill and confidence. And it can be as simple as learning to swerve at the last minute around a pothole that you may otherwise have just decided to hit. Also making the tighter turn to stay completely in your lane or side of the trail when joining other intersecting paths will improve your skills or at least keep you in good practice.

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Old 03-29-23, 01:21 PM
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I hear what you are saying, and although you did injure yourself enough for a skeletal fracture, that was not your fault. Regarding the accident when you were coming down a hill on wet tarmac, let it embolden you. Let it inform you. You are now a more cautious and savvy rider. Have faith in your perceptions, reflexes and ability to forecast. If you think your balance is not where it should be, take Tai Chi classes. One of the preparatory, warm-up exercises (in most classes) is to do stance work. This means standing on one leg for a period of 60 seconds. Not as easy as it sounds. If you think your reflexes are sub-par, take up running. Your body/mind will interpret it as a survival measure, and your "fight-or-flight" sympathetic nervous system will be more engaged. This will give you lightning-reflexes. Just get back out there and watch everybody like a hawk.
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Old 03-29-23, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by parksie555
55 years old, have been riding since I was a kid. Reasonable shape, 5' 9" 170 lbs. Starting tracking miles in 2014 with Map My Ride, just under 10,000 miles since then. So not crazy mileage like some but during spring/summer/fall try to get out at least 2-3 times a week. Live in Newark, DE, pretty good bike town. Have never had a serious injury riding, a couple of falls, mostly when riding singletrack. Had not had a road fall since I could remember.

Road rides are usually 10-15 miles around town, do a lot of loops through developments, try to stay off the main roads. Trail rides mostly up Creek Road gravel-type trail, very occasionally venture onto single track MTB trails. Have a 2014 Trek DS3 hybrid, great for gravel, OK for MTB. 1984 Trek 400 Series for road rides. Pretty old school but dependable.

Took a pretty good fall in December, nothing broken but bruised hip pretty well. Was on my road bike coming down a hill, pavement a little wet, car rolled a stop sign at an intersection, braked a little too hard, skidded and went down. I had been using Gatorskin tires for a couple of years, no flats but I feel like they are a little slicker than tires I have used previously.

Then about a month ago out riding with a buddy, we come to an intersection, there is cross traffic. Start to slow down but my buddy (who has a bad habit of not stopping in this type of situation but turning and riding up sidewalk in parallel to traffic) cuts in front of me. Try to avoid him but we get tangled up. This time a broken wrist, cast for about 5 weeks.

Cast comes off tomorrow, excited to get back out but a little nervous just the same.

Anyone here get to the point where they just feel like their balance/reflexes are shot? I know both accidents had pretty definite causes (too fast for conditions, riding too close/slightly nutty ride buddy) but I feel like a few years ago I would have avoided both.

Also wondering a little if it is time to give up the old Trek, maybe just don't have the balance for that type of bike any more?

Anyone else here have similar story/insight?
I think of it in terms of margin of error. As I've aged (62), I need more in order to have the same outcomes. OTOH, I have less life ahead of me to risk, when i do choose to take risks. The whole risk/reward assessment formula is changed.
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Old 03-30-23, 09:20 AM
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Risk reduction strategies

Every year is a new adventure. Two falls in 60 years riding, no real injuries. Several close calls. I'm always nervous and shaky on my first few rides in the Spring, so I wait until the mud abates on gravel roads and start out there. Generally by my third or fourth ride, my confidence returns and I'm ready for pavement and traffic.

My last near fall came when I waved to a neighbor, so now I just bob my head to acknowledge folks I pass. Two hands on the bars at all times stabilizes things, and moving to the drops at the first sign of danger is pretty much a reflex now.

Accidents happen so quickly that they can't be avoided. It's all in preparation. Don't go off half-cocked. If you change anything that can affect handling, start off in an empty parking lot or other no traffic area until you are familiar with new pedals, helmet, shoes, mirrors, bars, brakes, or whatever you've changed.

Age inevitably retires us, but I'd rather be creeping along and still in the game than retired due to injury. Riding alone is much safer than in groups, as OP story attests. And do look your bike over, preferably on a work stand, after each ride, to look for tire damage/wear or brake anomalies, at a minimum.

Don't give it up until you don't feel safe after several low risk rides. My 2 cents!
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Old 03-30-23, 11:18 AM
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I collided with my 30yo son once we were at a big walking area. We had miscommunicate with each other.

The latest fall was this winter doing downhill in a park trail. I slowed down to pass a pedestrian walking his dog, who had ordered his dog to sit still. My front tire hit the edge of the narrow snow trench and I lost balance.

As long as you keep cycling, you are exercising that part of your brain to keep balance. I'd be worried if you stopped cycling and you start falling over just getting out of bed.
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Old 03-30-23, 12:36 PM
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I have only gone down once and that was when I turned onto a side street not realizing that it had a fresh layer of gravel put down by the city road people. I was down in seconds. My closest call was when a friend riding too fast on a steep winding section of road crossed over into oncoming traffic and forced a driver coming up the hill into my lane. I had to clamp down on my brakes and head for the 12-inch shoulder and hope for the best. My tubular tire came off the rim but I did not go off the road and fall several hundred feet nor did I hit the oncoming car.

Wet surfaces usually contain a mixture of water and oil and so are exceedingly slippery. Same goes for pavement with a thick coating of leaves. On many roads with curves I need to anticipate drivers coming in the opposite direction at too high a speed for their ability to stay in their lane and I adjust my own speed accordingly. On many downhill sections I will let a platoon of cars go past and wait a 3-4 minutes before heading down so as to minimize the liklihood of catching up to them and needing to use my brakes - though less of a concern with newer bikes with disc brakes and clincher tires.

I am well aware that as one gets older any injuries take longer to heal and so I am more cautious about what I do and more inclined to avoid unnecessary risk taking. Riding on wet pavement or in heavy traffic are risks I no longer take. It is consistent with my long held belief in not taking a risk if I could not afford to be wrong, i.e. survive.
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Old 03-31-23, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395
Well, first of all, at some point several years ago, I tried HardShell Gatorskins and was really surprised at how bad the grip is in wet conditions. Fewer flats is nice, but not worth that risk, so I took them off.

I can also relate to other stuff you have there. 3 years ago, I woke up in some guy's car who was bringing me to a hospital. I had apparently crashed. I have no idea why or how. It was speculated that I hit a rock (I still have it), but with no witnesses and no video, I'll never know. There was some construction in the area, but even so, I am really surprised that I missed seeing that rock (if in fact, I did). Result:

Broken left arm
Broken right arm
Broken nose
Hairline fracture of occipital condyle (bone at the base of the skull that your atlas sits on .. very much like breaking your neck)

Pretty nasty stuff. Trust me, breaking both arms is inconvenient for all the reasons you might imagine, and if that occipital condyle fracture was displaced, it could have paralyzed me. My speed could not have been that fast, either ... maybe 12-20 MPH.

Just last year, I was riding with some friends and there was a sudden maneuver to turn onto a driveway and on a bike path. I was paying attention to all the riders in front of me and hit a 1" lip in the driveway at a shallow angle, and I was down in a flash. I thought I escaped injury, but had a broken rib. Also not a lot of fun.

I don't think my balance or reflexes are shot (I'm not sure they were ever all that good), but like you, it has me wondering.
I recall your accounts of that accident. Scary stuff.

I also had a mystery fall - this past January while riding in Girona. I was luckier than you- injuries were pretty minor, but what bothers me is that I don't know why I went down.

I was going down a medium-steep hill, but it was a straight shot - no curves - and the pavement was dry. The hill wasn't that long, I was just building up speed and have no recollection of touching the brakes. Next thing I know, I'm over the bars. Wahoo says that the grade was -7% and that I was going 29 mph when I went down. I dislocated my pinky, got a whole lot of road rash, and hit my head, but had no concussion. (Giro MIPS helmet FTW).

At that speed, it could have been a lot worse.

Why did I go down? I believe that I had passed onto an overpass and that there was a slick metal seam at the junction. I must of gone over it with my weight distribution wrong. I think my rear tire slid out. But without any turns, that shouldn't have been much of a hazard.

After I went down, I did't have the presence of mind to go back up the hill to examine the roadway where the fall began. A motorist stopped and let me know where the nearest urgent care clinic would be, a short ways away. She then drove there, with me riding behind her (I had no other way to take my bike with me).

I go a lot faster on more treacherous descents all the time. But now I'm spooked...

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Old 03-31-23, 03:00 PM
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Risk reduction strategies
Always leave an "out."
Never ride in close proximity to another (see: always leave an 'out').
Never overtake another at unsafe speed (see: always leave an 'out').
Ride the speed suitable to the conditions (traffic, tight spot, reduced-grip surfaces, cold, glare, ...).
Expect the unexpected.

And still stuff might happen. 'Cause Murphy's always watchin'. BTDT once or twice, in this life.
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Old 03-31-23, 03:33 PM
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All my bike accidents have occurred in bike races, one so severe that it put me in the hospital for over a week. Well, actually, one crash occurred when I hit a large cat. I don't race any more. I don't ride in groups. I don't ride in the rain. I don't ride at night. I don't ride on major roadways w/o bike lanes or rideable shoulders. I wear a rearview mirror on my glasses. Still, I have to be on the lookout for braindead drivers backing out of their driveways without looking to see if a bicycle is coming down the road. There is always going to be a risk of serious injury or even death when you ride a bicycle, but the risks can be minimized. Oh, and one more thing, I don't ride with earbuds or anything that impairs my hearing.
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Old 03-31-23, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by parksie555
It's still pretty comfortable. Replaced the saddle a few years ago when the original wore out, got something a little more padded. Shifting OK, probably as good as can be expected without index shifting. Brakes OK, just regular calipers. 32 mm tires. Originally 1 1/8" but replaced wheels 7-8 years ago and went with something a little wider. Definitely thinking about replacing tires though, they seem really slick, especially now with some mileage on them.
sounds ok

a well maintained / comfortable and properly fit bike can be more important as you (we) age

if you ride in mixed areas and / or on mixed surfaces - you might appreciate and benefit from a more upright position and / or wider tires

unfortunately not many bike or gear changes can fully protect or exempt you from the situations you experienced

( just need to beware of your friend ! lol )
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Old 04-01-23, 07:49 PM
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I think you had two freak accidents that aren't really down to your balance, etc. I'm very similar age, and not at all feeling (at this time) any balance issues. I'm on a Trek Domane. Everyone's different, but I don't think age is the defacto issue here.

Any rate, that's what I got out of your post. Nerves are understandable, but I don't think this is an indicator to change something drastic. Though MAYBE grippier tires (if they ones you have are truly slicker than you like). You need to trust your equipment.
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Old 04-03-23, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395
What kind of practice do you suggest?

Maybe an example: I was riding home with a friend some months ago, and someone in an auto started to enter the roadway in front of me from a driveway. I was going about 25 MPH. When I saw that, I grabbed the brakes. I overbraked the rear brake, and the back tire started to skid. I let it go (thankfully, in time), and was able to straighten the bike out without falling, but just barely.

I don't think any amount of practice is going to improve my reflexes in releasing that brake. Are you perhaps referring to maybe with practice, being less apt to overbrake the rear?
(I live in your general area & am in my 50's as well)...

Best practice for me - get on your gravel, cross or MTB and head down to the gravel roads along the C&D canal. North and south side, 3 levels of roads on the canal levees - some hard gravel, some sandy areas, some 20%+ short grades. Riding in these conditions help with bike handling, reaction time... do some over braking and learn what the bike will do, practice modulating the brakes & react to the fishtailing. You will learn how to handle the front wheel getting loose in the sand or ruts. Learn to bunny hop, jump... this helps a ton with small obstacles and potholes, even on the road bike.

Or ride that single track out by where you live, and ride it a bunch. That area off of Possum Park/Possum Hollow road looks like a great place to ride. I just walked some of the trails with my son - we are going to start MTB'ing there once I get a bike. That place will learn you real quick.

But - crashes happen no matter what. My worst crash was on the gravel canal trail last year - 4 broken bones, busted up knee, concussion, wicked gravel rash. Equipment failure - it happens.
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Old 04-03-23, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Best practice for me - get on your gravel, cross or MTB and head down to the gravel roads along the C&D canal. North and south side, 3 levels of roads on the canal levees - some hard gravel, some sandy areas, some 20%+ short grades. Riding in these conditions help with bike handling, reaction time... do some over braking and learn what the bike will do, practice modulating the brakes & react to the fishtailing. You will learn how to handle the front wheel getting loose in the sand or ruts. Learn to bunny hop, jump... this helps a ton with small obstacles and potholes, even on the road bike.
Good tip.

It's basically how we learn to drive, how to handle sketchy conditions, to snow ski ... and it's easily translated to cycling.

As you suggest, practice can make perfect (well, better at least). Toy around with a curb at low speed, seeing how best to hop up and down around the things. Play with a sandy surface at lower speeds, navigating across different amounts of sand to learn what sort of angles, speeds, power to the wheels alters the mix. Learn how to deal with wet or slick surfaces by seeking out (at low speeds) those patches of wet paint stripes and other mud/crud layered parking lot or roadway. Spend some time on dirt paths or gravel routes, to learn what a shifting surface material requires in terms of balance and control. Plus, all the differences in braking and power that such situations place on us in terms of limits. Eventually, with enough times trying and studying the variables, we can get better.
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Old 04-04-23, 08:39 AM
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I've had lots of falls more eye roll worthy then the ones you describe back when I was in my twenties. My bike handling is pretty good since I started riding single track about 6 years ago, despite being in my 50s now.
In my opinion, the risks of not biking far outweigh the risks from whatever decrease in reflexes you might be experiencing. I am dismayed at my back stiffness in February and March when I haven't been biking for a few months (i draw the line at ice). I also suspect that the drastic increase in bad driving since covid, legalization of cannibis (I'm in Ontario) and the proliferation of phones and digital panels in cars are a much bigger concern than whatever decrease in reflexes we are experiencing. I for one am choosing to avoid road riding wherever possible for these reasons. Luckily we have lots of rail trails and single track where I live.
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Old 04-04-23, 08:52 AM
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If you don't fall every now and then you are not really riding. I had some hard crashes in 2021, then did not have hardly any falls in 2022 because I was detuned from the last crash of the previous year. For 2023 I am hoping to get in one or two good crashes and losing some skin off my knees/elbows/face....
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Old 04-10-23, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395
I think it is the same issue as it is with cars ... the front brakes are the ones that do most of the stopping (likely because the way the force vectors work out, the bike tends to rotate when braked, putting more weight on the front tire and less on the back ... with less weight, the back tire skids).

On a bike, it is a tough judgment for me. I tend to panic brake the front more than the back, but obviously, not enough. You can get a bike to stop quite fast if you're able to modulate the braking just short of overbraking the front, but if you DO overbrake the front, you're toast ... no way to recover. At least if you overbrake the rear brake, you can detect the skid and merely releasing it will usually prevent a fall.

I suppose I should have practiced all this before I became an old fart with brittle bones. lol

BTW, my friends know me to be someone not all that enamored with hydraulics and disc brakes, as they apply to bicycles. I live where it almost never rains, and the primary advantage I see in them is the ability to fit wider tires. But if they were to develop ABS for bicycles using that technology, I'd be on it like flies on ****.
The bike TENDS TO ROTATE in all braking situations. If the braking is so severe that the rear wheel lifts, that's actual rotation. All of the weight or your body, your bike and your touring load is shifted onto the front wheel. This is a razor's edge situation. A touch more applied deceleration (brake lever pressure), and the rear wheel lifts. A bit more and the bike rotates around the front axle to where a little bit of additional weight transfers to be ahead of the front axle. At this point just a little more angular momentum enables the bike to pitch forward, putting you in an endo situation. If you have the time and clean reaction ability (i.e. when you react you do exactly the right thing with no errors), you can back the situation to the point where the rear wheel comes back down and your braking weight distribution is again safe.

This correct action, or better, the advance action to never need such a panicked stop, is what ABS is intended to do. It reduces the peak deceleration that can be achieved, but it maintains controllability. If a driver or rider does not brake at a normally early time, there is a little bit less deceleration. Brake engineering specialists (at least the ones for whom I did the safety analysis) say the purpose of ABS is to ensure controllability at the expense of a small decrease in maximum deceleration.

I didn't learn this physics until about 10 years ago (near 60 years old), but somehow I learned to shift my body weight backwards on a road or commuting bike, when braking very hard. My arms stick straight out in the drops with triceps pushing hard, my butt goes back behind the saddle, and my belly kind of settles on the saddle, so my hands are pulling as hard as possible, and my body mass is as low and as far back as possible. I don't know how I learned to do this! I also can't my rear wheel doesn't lock up. Between COVID and family concern over traffic in Ann Arbor, I haven't done such a panic stop for about 8 years.
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Old 04-13-23, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
I didn't learn this physics until about 10 years ago (near 60 years old), but somehow I learned to shift my body weight backwards on a road or commuting bike, when braking very hard. My arms stick straight out in the drops with triceps pushing hard, my butt goes back behind the saddle, and my belly kind of settles on the saddle, so my hands are pulling as hard as possible, and my body mass is as low and as far back as possible. I don't know how I learned to do this! I also can't my rear wheel doesn't lock up.
What you are doing by moving your center of gravity back is increasing the resisting moment (RM), while by lowering your center of gravity you are decreasing the overturning moment (OM). As long as the OM is less than the RM, the rear wheel will not lift under front wheel breaking, and the bike will remain stable. All this goes out the window in wet/slippery conditions, since the front tire will lose traction and you will low side crash. ABS will not prevent the first scenario, only the second, as it's designed to detect wheel lockup.
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Old 04-13-23, 11:07 AM
  #47  
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I find myself riding the mountain bike more often, because of the wider tires. I am also gradually switching to the widest tires my road bike frames, forks, and rims can handle. I push hard on climbs, but take it very easy on descents. I restrict my offroad cycling to tame multitrack trails and dirt roads, rather than anything single track or technical.
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Old 04-14-23, 11:15 AM
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I had a wipeout yesterday. Sand on the separated bike lane. Front wheel lost traction and I wiped out.

Scraped my right elbow and right knee. A bit of swelling on the right knee makes it difficult to bend on its own. When standing straight up, cannot bend the knee to lift my foot backwards without using my hand for assistance. But had enough flexibility to get my foot back on the pedal to ride back home.

Over the decades, I had lots of wipeouts, especially in my youth when I would return home all bloody.

As I got older, I had always thought of wearing kneepads, elbow pads and shoulder pads because those are where all the injuries occur. But I never did wear them cycling around town or commuting. Yesterday's wipeout wasn't so bad. Sure I got scraped and bloody skin but I think it's because I landed on loose sand and I was wearing long nylon shorts covering the knee which did not rip.

Now I'm thinking again of long lycra cycling pants with knee pads. But I can imagine how hot it's going to be.


Here's the video.

https://youtu.be/A_ESQXOCq3M

Last edited by Daniel4; 04-15-23 at 07:27 PM.
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