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My Recent Wrecks - need for change, it would seem

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My Recent Wrecks - need for change, it would seem

Old 12-02-23, 11:41 AM
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My Recent Wrecks - need for change, it would seem

1) I retired from work in 2021. Shortly thereafter I wrecked on a 14% mountain descent on Magnolia Road above Boulder, broke my right clavicle. Fairly bloody wreck. Subsequent surgery. Back riding a month later. Failure analysis - excessive speed combined with some sand on a corner (though said analysis was clouded by post-wreck amnesia, mainly based on anecdotal evidence from a resident of said road). Takeaway for me - ride descents which you have already ascended to allow for pre-descent inspection of road surfaces. In my mind risk was unique to steep mountain road descents. Gunnar steel bike was unphased by this incident - damaged brake lever needed replacement, some abrasion to outer end of rear quick release. Reduced mountain riding, though mainly due to new volunteer commitments in retirement.

2) Nov 3, chasing a guy on Marshall Road eastbound up a gradual incline on 50mph road with nice big shoulder, gradually catching him. Alles gut. Safe. Not in the mountains. Been here many times. Then hit crest of the road and started to go down mild downhill. Speed is now increasing. Lead guy is about 100 feet ahead of me. Turning left onto US 36 bikeway eastbound. Going about 25 into 10 mph corner after entering bike path, would have been ok on a roadway where car tires keep everything clean, but hit some minor surface crud in hard cornering and slammed down onto left shoulder. Nice smooth concrete surface so minimal road rash, though my beautiful Kucharik Italian theme wool jersey was trashed. Clavicle break #2. Rode 10 miles home, then surgery #2. Failure analysis - (again with) excessive cornering speed, this time on a trail I have ridden probably a hundred times. Takeaway for me - This goes into a deeper look at how I ride, desire for speed, aversion to braking and, I think, a failure to see where my abilities have diminished in the past couple of decades. Pondering all the corners and downhills I ride on a regular basis as I heal up and the changes that need to come. Can probably still hammer all I want on uphill stretches, but no more downhill racer. Once again, Gunnar needs a new brake lever, otherwise unharmed.
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Old 12-02-23, 12:39 PM
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I never much enjoyed descending at the, ahem, bleeding edge of control, even in my sporadic racing days in the '60's through '80's. Now, I descend cautiously, imagining the worst. Funny how often I encounter not what I imagined, but something both goofy and hazardous.

One ex-racer friend of mine who is in his early 60's and who loves to punch it on all descents crashed into a displaced guard rail on a downhill blind corner last year and went down hard. He called a friend who lived nearby to pick him up and take him home. The friend said, I'm taking you to a hospital.

My friend protested that he didn't need a hospital. His friend replied, "I can see one of your internal organs through the tear in your jersey."
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Old 12-02-23, 12:46 PM
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Oh, man, Trakhak. That story tells it all. Thank you.
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Old 12-02-23, 12:59 PM
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From motorcycling, I learned that you should never get anywhere near your technical and equipment limitations on anything other than the track or other controlled conditions. In the semi-rural area where I live even roads I am on regularly provide surprises from time to time with loose sand/gravel in curves, new potholes, etc. And of course then there is the matter of cars and trucks that can do unexpected things such as take corners in the opposite lane, stop suddenly or make unexpected turns.

As I've gotten older, I'm more aware of the consequences of crashing and have really dialed back my decent speeds. I find taking corners 25-30% slower than I used to has not impacted my enjoyment much, if any and I'm reducing the risk of a crash that could have me off the bike for an extended time.
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Old 12-02-23, 01:43 PM
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Don't blame you for the caution, randal.

Forty+ years ago, there were many athletic and outdoor activities I did that caused family and friends to raise eyebrows. Only bit it badly once, and mildly on a couple other occasions.

My entire adult life up until the past decade has been spent in a place with nastier roads, trails and other surfaces. Lots of critters, rocks and crud in the road, particularly after storms or hard rains. Seasonally, lots of stuff in the road that the trees have dropped (ie, alder berries, wet leaves, and the like). Not much sand to contend with, but plenty of everything else. Combine with lots of tighter corners and many elevation changes, the results could occasionally get crippling or deadly. As a result, it's been some years since I went bombing around corners and down descents. For all the reasons you've described.

So far, at least, I've escaped further injuries. But then, these days I just plod along. I'd like to think I've done all my "splatting" for this life, though I suspect there are probably a couple more in the future, if "Murphy" has anything to say about it.

Hopefully you mend well, and hopefully the "sand / leaf / critter" gods leave you alone for awhile. It's never fun to find the world is flat, very flat, at the end of "dumping." (I always hated that part.)
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Old 12-02-23, 01:50 PM
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I guess us mortals need to save the heroics for climbing.

I have always been a cautious descender, though I have been close to the edge at times.

Earlier this year I went down on the simplest of descents - no curves, just a straight short fast downhill. I think I posted about it. I still don't know why I went down. Wahoo says I was going 27 mph when my rear wheel went out from under me. Escaped with only a dislocated finger and a bunch of road rash.

So now I'm even more gun shy.
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Old 12-02-23, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
I have always been a cautious descender, though I have been close to the edge at times.
Once rode bikes out at Shelter Cove, California, along the "Lost Coast" section of southern Humboldt County. The coastal mountain range plunges down to sea level, and the descent is enough to give anybody the willies. (Even in a car.) Bad place to be biking. Sooooo easy to pick up an unconscionable amount of speed. Got up to about 45mph and wimped, due to the tighter cornering required. Wasn't my cup o' tea, that amount of speed. Didn't get the wobbles, and didn't hit any sand/gravel or similar uglies on the road, but dang! it was on the raggedy edge of grip coming around some of those corners. Wasn't interested in becoming a modern road-rash medical miracle. No fun.
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Old 12-02-23, 02:07 PM
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I used to crash about one a year, but I fractured a vertebrae at 60, could have been fatal or paralyzing. Luckily neither. Indeed, conditions were steep downhill and sharp curve. That was my wakeup call. Ability erodes slowly, vision deteriorates slowly, bones become more brittle slowly. Easy to overlook those changes.

OTOH, life is meant to be lived.
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Old 12-02-23, 04:47 PM
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Thanks, friends, for all those posts. Real helpful food for thought as I endeavor to keep riding through aging!
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Old 12-02-23, 05:53 PM
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I suppose I'll never be good at downhills. Curves, at least. Nothing can touch me on a straight downhill, not even a furiously-pedaling tandem team. But the only way to find your cornering limit is to exceed the limit a time or two, and I'm not willing to go through that pain.
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Old 12-02-23, 11:23 PM
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Good thread with a bit to chew on.

Have always enjoyed descending quickly, but have never been a super speed-demon or talented/fearless like some. Have had deer surprise me once on a descent which gave me pause, but luckily no bad outcome. I probably need to start dialing it back a bit too since setting a speed record at my age is not worth the possible consequences. Time to keep it under 40 and brake a bit earlier on the blind ones.

Thanks guys for the sanity check.
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Old 12-03-23, 04:55 AM
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You sound like how I was when I was 13-14 years old, with the broken clavicles and amnesia. After my reckless cycling youth, I graduated to motorcycles, on which I managed to ride for 30 years without a scratch. The good thing about riding motorcycles is that you learn good cornering technique, and they instill in you something of a two-wheeled 6th Sense, so long as you stay alive long enough to pick it up.

I suppose by now you’ll have modified your descending technique, and won’t run out of bone material to screw your clavicles together.
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Old 12-03-23, 05:42 AM
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I know nothing about the original poster's age but make this response in light of the time I have worked with aging people and a significant stint working in hospice...

Cognitive decline is real and shows up in subtle ways that most people miss. I wonder how gradual loss of depth perception and peripheral vision might be at play. I've watched hours of training on this subject and found Teepa Snow's work to be fascinating and insightful. I'm inclined to believe that sensory decline causes us to miss things that we would have noticed and ignored or managed differently in our younger years. Add in slower response to our observations and it compounds the challenges.

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Old 12-03-23, 06:01 AM
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For Safety:

Use The Widest Tire your bike can Fit.
Wider tires would haved save ME.
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Old 12-03-23, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Trav1s
I know nothing about the original poster's age but make this response in light of the time I have worked with aging people and a significant stint working in hospice...

Cognitive decline is real and shows up in subtle ways that most people miss. I wonder how gradual loss of depth perception and peripheral vision might be at play. I've watched hours of training on this subject and found Teepa Snow's work to be fascinating and insightful. I'm inclined to believe that sensory decline causes us to miss things that we would have noticed and ignored or managed differently in our younger years. Add in slower response to our observations and it compounds the challenges.
I think this is absolutely true. I had a nasty crash about 4 years ago. I have no idea how it happened, as I got a TBI and have no memory of it whatsoever. A good samaritan saw me on the side of the road and brought me to the hospital, and he speculated that I hit a rather large chunk of rock that was in the road (I still have the rock), but I can't help wondering how I could have missed it. If the location of the crash is correct, I could not have been going that fast, as it was a slight incline.

There is one explanation: Slight cognitive decline that I haven't noticed.
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Old 12-03-23, 11:22 AM
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As I've watched two generations before me fade away, one thing that has struck me is that they are always surprised to find themselves in the condition they are in. Particularly the men. It snuck up on them. They didn't expect to live that long.

And so it goes with us.

Just enjoy life.
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Old 12-03-23, 01:04 PM
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After a couple of recent flats, including a minor crash (thankfully while almost stopped), plus a recent speed wobble, I find that I've been avoiding hills, not for the effort required, but because I don't feel safe going DOWN them.
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Old 12-03-23, 06:01 PM
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After my last crash 2+ years ago, I made my heavy MTB fully rigid by adding a steel fork and upgraded the brakes.
The bike is a hog but it is stable and I run 45mm touring tires.

Being slammed into the tarmac at 15 mph on my left Scapula and bicep/triceps, has me doing regular PT to strengthen this area. My rotator cuffs sound like a ratchet wrench clicking.

I can only ride my road bikes about 40 miles before the shoulder pain requires more Motrin or I shut the ride down.
The MTB I can ride all day without this issue.

All I know is I can no longer take risks my body cannot pay for.
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Old 12-03-23, 07:06 PM
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I'm almost always a rather confident descender on paved surfaces, as long as they're not too cracked or covered with sand or mud. I'm not hitting 60 mph anymore, but my use of the brakes is generally limited to tight corners and changing conditions (like a sudden adverse crosswind).

When I ride offroad, I'm a much more, um, prudent descender, electing to take some steep dropoffs via foot or keep the speed and control well within the envelope on rock gardens or loose scree. When the kids pass me on their super-long-travel plastic bikes, I smile, wave, and simply say "I don't bounce anymore." I've only gone down a couple times on a trail, fortunately without serious injury, but both times were more then enough to remind me of what could possibly happen. I don't want to end up like a late friend of mine who had a bad half-second on a familiar trail and shattered his hip joint. He was never right after that.
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Old 12-03-23, 07:21 PM
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Man I was on Marshall Road 03 November and typically ride that route out of Marshall as an extension to my daily. I'm usually on a black and more recently red Trek, but on the 3rd I was on a loaner silver Emonda.

So I've seen a couple of beautiful vintage jerseys on that road recently. Are you the guy who stopped when I pulled over with a drill bit in my rear tire? If not I think you're the other rider with the vintage jersey I admired enough to mention to my girlfriend. She remembers.

Honestly, it's the exit from the tunnel on the east side of 36 that I dread after slipping on the wash from the drainage - that never goes away after a rain - more than a couple of times.

So sorry to hear of your crash and surgery to repair, certainly on a route I myself have ridden too many times to count, and especially if that fantastic jersey is toast.

I'm a bit older myself, but unfortunately have not much advice regarding retirement of downhill racer. I'm this old and still ride Flagstaff and don't wear a helmet unless I'm doing something dangerous.

I will say I pay more attention to when I need to focus and remind myself of my best advice to everyone who might otherwise be distracted - now isn't the time to be careless.

Oh, and glad your bike's ok. I, too, have an amazing ability to protect my bikes in the event of a fall. Trouble is it's with my body. Apparently you, too.

Cheers
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Old 12-03-23, 07:44 PM
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I love fast mountain descents, always have, whether in a car or running or on a bike, but realized that (at least for me) bombing down a twisty mountain two lane road at 40+ on an 18# bike with two skinny tires while wearing a suit of Lycra and a styrofoam helmet is probably a dumb thing to do, even though it is fun.

One of my local aspirational things to do is Mt Lemmon. Watching videos of others climbing and descending mountains in France, Mallorca, and other destinations had me thinking I needed to save for a cycling vacation, but then I realized people come from all over the world to climb mountains in Arizona, and I can get to the foot of Mt. Lemmon in a bit over an hour of driving. I may still go on a distant cycling vacation, but I decided that I should seek out and enjoy more local, unique experiences before I make a priority of those other places.

Regardless, I think I should do those things sooner than later, while visual acuity and cognitive ability are still more on my side than they will be later.
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Old 12-03-23, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by David_Harris
One of my local aspirational things to do is Mt Lemmon. Watching videos of others climbing and descending mountains in France, Mallorca, and other destinations had me thinking I needed to save for a cycling vacation, but then I realized people come from all over the world to climb mountains in Arizona, and I can get to the foot of Mt. Lemmon in a bit over an hour of driving. I may still go on a distant cycling vacation, but I decided that I should seek out and enjoy more local, unique experiences before I make a priority of those other places.
When I wrote about "sudden adverse crosswinds" below, I was specifically thinking about the descent off Mount Lemmon, especially around (aptly-named) Windy Point. I don't do that hill often, but it's memorable every time (especially for reminding me what shape I'm not in).
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Old 12-03-23, 07:57 PM
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Grasshopper, let your first rule be, "Do Not Crash."
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Old 12-03-23, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa
Grasshopper, let your first rule be, "Do Not Crash."
Yes, very simple. To quote Douglas Adams, "The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
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Old 12-03-23, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
Yes, very simple. To quote Douglas Adams, "The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
Eventually, some of us are forced to convert from two wheels to three, in order to reduce the chance of unpleasant impacts with the ground. On the whole, the more sensible strategy may be to convert sooner rather than later. While it's still possible to flip a recumbent trike (cornering at high speed), one really has to work at it. Coming from a family of slow learners, I refused to consider that alternative until a medical professional explained that, while it would be unfortunate to crash and die, it could easily be worse to crash and Not die.
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