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!