Cycling: crash!

Everything was going smoothly on this morning’s ride, so smoothly in fact that I had no idea what I was going to blog about that wasn’t going to be boring. Then, cruising through the Culver middle school parking lot my back tire whipped out from underneath me and before I even knew what was happening I was skidding on my right side and watching my water bottle protectively eject itself from my frame and roll under the safety of a parked SUV.

I’ve had two accidents before. The first was shooting downhill from Stunt Road in Chatsworth taking a winding road waaaaay too fast. I was going too fast into a turn and slammed my brakes. This caused me to lose control of the bike and I went headfirst into the soft loam of the embankment. I was very lucky not to have fractured my shoulders (like a friend did in a similar accident), my collarbones, or worse. I dusted myself off, checked the bike, and continued my descent. My second accident was on a busy weekend day at the beach, when a numbnuts pedestrian walked directly onto the bike path without ever looking both ways. I shouted at him to move from 100 yards away, but instead of moving he did this back and forth shuffle not indicating which direction he was going. As I slammed my brakes and tried to stop/avoid him I made the mistake of forgetting my motorcycle class advice: on two wheels you will always go directly where you are looking. I was looking at the pedestrian instead of looking for my exit chute. Moron A hit moron B, and both of us went down. Luckily, we both walked away. Me, furious at idiots who walk into traffic going over 17 mph, him off to chug beer and date rape.

Today I had no one to blame but… big oil? I’ve been through that parking lot a hundred times and this was the first time I slipped. There’s also a lot of tree debris on the ground and when I got back home I saw my tires had a small cake of tree berries squished into them. It could have been a combo of debris and parking lot oil. Whatever. It just means I won’t cut through the parking lot anymore, knowing that they are blacktop mysteries of potential doom.

On that note, here are some safety tps from someone who is learning how to crash:

1 – wear a goddamn helmet
2 – wear gloves. They protect your palms from road rash.
3 – if you crash near traffic, try and get away from head crushing cars.
4 – after you crash, self assess on the ground for anything broken. Don’t try and move too much if you think you broke anything, this can make it worse.
5 – check yourself for other damage. I scraped my elbow skin (through a long sleeve jersey) and took the slide on my hip. The bibs held up, but I could feel the bruise starting to form within seconds.
6 – if after you self assess and can pick yourself up off the ground, check your bike. Do a complete assessment of the wheels (tires, spokes, hub), chain, rings, brakes, handlebars and front forks. Before you put your weight on the bike make sure your wheels spin true, are free of debris, and your handlebars are aligned with your stem and front wheel. Mine were not, which is why I carry an allen wrench bike tool.
7 –  get back on the bike and keep on riding to a point where you can do a complete check of your frame for hairline fractures, or components for cracks, breaks, or contusions.
8 – keep a few ice packs at home in the freezer. I’ve got one on my hip to bring down the giant goose egg that’s forming where I took the crash.

Motorcyclists say that it’s not “if” you have an accident, it’s “when”. This is true for cycling. You will go down, so just be as prepared as you can. Today’s accident was pretty minor. A few scrapes, a big bruise, no permanent damage. I’ve seen much, much worse. If I manage to mess myself up really badly I’ll post photos!


6 responses to “Cycling: crash!

  1. Max-
    not even one photo of the giant goose egg?

  2. I guess the good news is you wrote this. How soon he forgets. 12 year old ass over handlebar on Bauer drive resulting in an ambo ride to the hospital. (Did they X-ray your head and find nothing? I forget) As for goose egg… keep it iced and don’t expect miracles. My Mother’s Day knee goose egg is still swole up 3 months later. Not at point of impact… but further south in the calf. Feel better.

  3. How about try not to bike alone? DC Mayor Fenty wiped out on the Whitehurst Freeway this week. (He’s also a triathlete.) He was riding with his brother – and his police escort (read that “security”). When he went down, the EMT’s came a flying. Ambulance and firetrucks — according to the Post — that he sent away. But if it had been worse, having folks nearby to call 911 or at least drag your body out of traffic flow seems prudent.

  4. I never leave home without a RoadID wrist strap which has all my emergency contact info AND my insurance policy # engraved on it. I wear it every run, ride, and swim. (If the shark bites off my right arm I’m mystery meat.)

    On my long solo rides I bring a cellphone and wallet, with the assumption that if I wipe out badly enough to require an ambulance I’ll have the essentials on my person. If I’m knocked out, or mangled by a car, there will be someone else at the scene dialing 911. The insurance # on my arm and wallet should ensure that I don’t get filed under “to be diagnosed later”.

  5. Not to sound scolding I hope, but you’re depending on the humanity of others to stop and give aid? Remember the night we were driving in LA and a kid on a bike (motorcycle) was wiped out? You stopped the car and dashed to help. While you were running to his aid and we were calling 911, the number of cars that blew past without even slowing down astounded me. So, it seems to me as a point of general advice, to quote the Paris Hilton retort on “I propose a hybrid.” All the stuff you mentioned above PLUS ride with a friend when you can — makes common sense.

  6. “(If the shark bites off my right arm I’m mystery meat.)” Not to put too fine a point on it, you remember the origin of the Irish fisherman’s sweater’s family centric designs: each family knitted their sweaters in a unique pattern so when Liam didn’t come home, they stood a chance of identifying remains if it ever washed up on the shore. Same issue probably applied in Polynesia vis a vis tattoos. When K’iri the Maori fisherman washed up, you could identify what was left by his skin patterns. That said: you have multiple forms of ID (to say nothing of ego) on your body at all times.

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