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back on the bike, right into the ground

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

back on the bike, right into the ground

Old 10-01-04, 12:49 PM
  #1  
crash66
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back on the bike, right into the ground

Hi all,
I'm 38, just got back on the bike 10 weeks ago after having ridden for 3-4 years after college ('88-'91). Was never very serious then, had an entry-level road bike, rode 40-50 mi/week, never in a group.

Found out a new buddy of mine had basically the same past, we decided we should get back at it. Got our old bikes somewhat back into working order, then after 6 weeks of Sat/Sun riding I decided to finally try clipless pedals. First time out, powered past my less-fit buddy, then decided to do a u-ey and ride back to him. Big mistake... road very narrow, lost speed, pedals grabbed my feet, and...wait for it......fell with both arms outstretched. Yup, classic mistake, I've come to find out. Broke both radius heads (two screws in the right) and right wrist (you don't want to know what i'm using to type this!) Considerable re-hab upcoming, but I should be back on the bike in the spring, if I want to. And I guess that's the reason for my post.

Any words of encouragement? Any words of advice on the pedals? I had a weird moment after I originally suggested to my friend that we get back into this, when I suddenly realized that I wasn't 24 any more, and why would I want to do this. Now with the accident and a fearful wife (and two young kids), 5 weeks off the job (thank god for 80% short term disability) I don't know whether I have the stomach for it. I was enjoying the heck out of the rides, and found a much better/safer area to ride than when i was younger, and it was nice to ride with someone (the area is a riding mecca, and we entertained the idea of hooking up with one of the many groups we got used to seeing) but I'm admittedly spooked right now. My heart tells me that I gotta do what I enjoy, but......

Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
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Old 10-01-04, 01:04 PM
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Sorry to hear about your crash. I think it's just because you haven't been on a bike for so long that your bike handling skills are a bit rusty. You should get some platform pedals when you are ready to get back on the bike. This way you don't have to worry about clipping in and out of the pedals. Hell, tell your wife you'll put training wheels on if that's what it will take for her to be comfortable with you riding again. As long as you can get back on the bike to enjoy and reminisce about old times, that's all matters. When your handling skills are better, you can install the clipless pedals and go faster. Good luck recovering.
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Old 10-01-04, 01:08 PM
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Stay with it. I am 38 also and recently back into cycling after about a 13 year absence. So far no problems. Your handling skills will come back and nothing beats being out on the road getting some exercise.

Good luck with the rehab.
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Old 10-01-04, 01:24 PM
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Ditto. Sorry to hear about your injury. Sounds like you want to get back on the bike, but want to work on regaining/improving your bike handling skills before you go the clipless route. Then, when you do, practice the bejeesus out of getting in/out of them on a quiet street or parking lot, simulating cruising up to a traffic island or curb, how soon you'll clip out and which way to lean as you roll up to it. Maybe try putting some regular running shoes on and try to teach yourself to trackstand - this will teach you a lot about balance and low speed handling that will help when you have to bail, even if you never quite get to the trackstand part.

It's probably hard to not be spooked, especially for your wife, but sounds like if you look around there are plenty of people in your area enjoying this recreationally. Like a lot of things, sometimes our enthusiasm and desire outstrip our capabilities/certain realities. Like you, I haven't seen 24 for awhile either, but have enjoyed riding before that and the 20 or so years since - believe me, you're gonna love the challenge, the effort, the physical benefits (your joints will thank you), and just the plain "me time" that riding will give you. Stay with it.

Good luck.

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Old 10-01-04, 01:55 PM
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Ditto 2. Sorry about the injuries. It'll be hard to get a response from this forum that says "time to hang up your bike and pursue less dangerous activities" ! You obviously enjoyed the time you were ONn the bike, and something tells me that you want to continue. I started off in June. Had a slow speed crash. Went to clipless, fell a couple of times. But all of them left me with nothing more than road rash, luckily, and a lot more handling confidence. I absolutely enjoyed the Metric Century 2 weekends ago.

You have to practice the clipless experience in a safe place first, and be very conscious about it the first few times you are out there. Then it becomes second nature and i often wonder what i'd do without it!

Wife: Point out the unquestionable fitness aspect of this and how you'll be staving away heart disease etc..!
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Old 10-01-04, 02:00 PM
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Very sorry to hear about your injuries.

I broke my right radial head about 18 months ago (not a biking accident -- I didn't have that good an excuse) but it was a minor fracture that did not require surgery. I would say that my elbow is back to 95% of where it was before the injury. I must add, however, that it is more sensitive to bike riding than any other activity. First, the arm receives some vibration through the handlebars, which can cause some irritation. Second, when pedaling hard (sprinting or climbing) and pulling against the handlebars, I sometimes "tweak" my elbow and get some discomfort.

The good news is that I've found that modifying the kind of weight training I do (less weight, more reps) I've greatly reduced the frequency of these occurrences. As well, the more I ride (I just got back on a bike about 6 weeks ago), the better my elbow feels.

Best wishes and hang in there!
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Old 10-01-04, 02:06 PM
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crash,

What did you gain on a bicycle in your 10 weeks back on? Did you enjoy it? Up to the point of impact, did your health improve? Lose a little weight maybe? Were there clear benefits to your riding? If the answer to any of this is yes, then I think you should look forward to getting back on the bike. As others have mentioned, practice with the clipless pedals, or better yet get some handling practice on some platforms first. You don't forget how to ride a bike, but handling is certainly different as our center of gravity rises. Work on some low speed handling skills, like straight lines, low speed turns (in tight areas, for instance use the lines in a parking lot to judge), countersteering, stopping at a predetermined point, etc. That will give you more confidence to go out and get back on the road.
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Old 10-01-04, 03:10 PM
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Thanks to everyone for your responses. I definitely feel like I want to get back out there in the spring, and I think that the 13-year layoff had more of an impact (pun intended) on my crash than the pedals, although they didn't help matters. The wife is going to take more convincing, but after fishing club-level bass tournaments for 10 of the intervening 13 years (and running open water at 65-70mph in a bass boat) she knows I ain't going to give up all my joys just to sit around and watch Trading Spaces with her! I'll take your words of wisdom and encouragement and give it a go.

Incidentally, I just returned from my first rehab session and with a heating pad warmup, a couple days of homework behind me and a little forcing from my therapist, I'm off to a flying start. Hopefully the next time I post, I'll be good as new and ready to ask more technical riding questions.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-01-04, 05:29 PM
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Golf is a fun sport at your age.

If you don't get back on, you'll spend the rest of your life asking "what if?" So get back on, conquer your fears, then make an informed decision about sticking with it. Good luck with the rehab.

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Old 10-01-04, 06:09 PM
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cycling is a fun way to get healthy! If you don't crash too much


Clippless pedals take some getting used too. when you are ready to get back on the bike practice getting in and out of your pedals. I did this the first time while sitting on my bike in the hallway of my house. that way if I started to fall I could easily catch myself.

You can also practice in a grassy park so if you fall it is onto grass which is alot softer then pavement
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Old 10-01-04, 06:12 PM
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You'll do better next time.
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Old 10-01-04, 07:07 PM
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It happened to me only once and I was actually able to somehow get my right foot out and plant it before I hit the ground. It has never happened since because I make it a point to think about clipping out before slowing or coming to a stop.

Keep at it and it will become second nature.
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Old 10-02-04, 07:51 AM
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Virtually no one does this, but you might wish to learn how to fall. The last time I fell the guys on the training ride said all they saw was someone curled up in a ball and rolling down the road at 25 mph. I got up with barely a scratch. Remember those tumbling lessons in grade school? They can be very useful as a grown man.

As I've noted elsewhere, at good cycling clinics you will actually practice falling*. You will practice not falling, too. Falling "properly" 95% of the time is a learned skill, just like many other aspects of cycling. I have learned, and it is now instinct, to NOT put my arms and hands out doing most falls. Doing so is begging for a broken arm or collarbone.

Remember, you can decide not to fall. It makes all the difference in the world. If you go down in front of me, you can rest assured I will do my very best to ride over you, with only self-preservation in mind. Well, I can't avoid you, can I? Then why should both of us suffer? I have ridden either over or through many, many potential crashes. It's all a matter of practice and acquired skills. Most cyclists fall because they don't think they have a choice. Hogwash!

Need another truly amazing example of deciding not to fall, and having acquired the skills not to do so? How about Lance taking a ride through the farm field in the 2003 Tdf, dismounting to cross the ditch, and then rejoining the peloton? (One of cycling's few honest-to-goodness, "Wow! Did you see that?!," highlights.) Carmichael had him training off-road during the off-season. As a result, Lance learned one does not have to fall, even after someone right in front of you goes down at 35 mph. Now, will you decide to acquire the "skills" of falling and not falling?

*But the scariest exercise has to be practicing slapping your front wheel up against the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. Do that enough and you'll eventually learn that one often need not fall even if wheels cross. I've a good friend, who also attended many a cycling clinic, that will ride behind you and bump your rear wheel at any moment. He'll do it at 30 mph. He's a great bike handler, and he attended many of the same clinics I did. He's just better at it than most. I think it's impossible for him to fall because of "only" a crossed wheel.

(All that said, I've noticed something in these forums. Many people here will spend $2500-$7500 on a bike, but then refuse to spend $500 on learning how to ride the freaking thing. I don't get that one. I probably spent at least $1500 on cycling clinics not long after I began riding. It was money very well spent. Ninety percent of the questions I see here are answered in those clinics--by legitimate experts. For your consideration: Stop thinking about that next set of fancy wheels and give some thought to learning how to stay upright and survive on a bike.)
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Old 10-02-04, 08:35 AM
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Crash,

I went down face-first into the concrete and broke my wrist and knocked a front tooth out two years ago....hit some sand while turning at 17 mph...anyway...I was back on that bike two weeks later with a cast on! You will be too, mark my words. And I've got a ceramic hip replacement at 45 years old! I have to be real careful because I hit that thing wrong and I'm cooked.

As for the clipping in and out....I "Turtled" only once. That's what you call it when you suddenly lose speed and can't clip out fast enough...you flop over easy like a turtle on his back! The best thing to do to avoid that is to get in the habit of just THINKING about having to do it as you approach any possible stop. To this day when I come up on an intersection I say to myself...'foot, foot, foot' and I'm ready to pop out if I have to. Never turtled since....
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