Monday, August 23, 2010

Bicycle Crashes

On the risky "Coffee Shop Run" a couple of days ago, Jack Gabus had an accident with his old Gary Fisher. The pavement won. He was skinned up, a broken rib or two and a badly bruised hip, but the Fisher came away unscathed. 

Everyone who rides for any length of time has had these falls. Fortunately I have never had an altercation with a car. My worst was a fall I had ten or fifteen years ago. I left Lanesboro, Minnesota on the Root River Trail in the morning on my old Colnago Super, headed the thirty miles to the end of the trail in Houston. As the trail nears Houston it climbs out of the river valley up to the high ground. Apparently the state had issues acquiring the right of way because the trail is silly steep with a couple of switchbacks to gain the elevation. It's one of those hills that has you looking back between your legs at the freewheel, praying there is just one more big cog left. I am not a good climber. I won't say I conquered it; I survived it. I did not become a pedestrian. 

After the hill it's more or less flat running for a couple of miles into town where I rested and had a snack under a tree in the park. As I was coming back I was thinking about the pros screaming down those twisting alpine roads. By the time I crested the hill I had convinced myself that I could do that too, and I let 'er roll. This was a terrible mistake. I don't know what I was thinking. The pros are riding down automobile roads with wide, sweeping curves. I wasn't. By the time I realized my folly the vintage Campagnolo brakes were not up to the task. I hung on the outside lip of the trail through the first curve, went into the second curve all jacked out of shape and shot off the road. The trail is steep enough that they were having erosion issues and had orange plastic erosion fence strung up on steel fence posts across the ditches. I hit the fence sliding broadside in the weeds. The bike and I somersaulted over the fence. I instinctively threw the Colnago up to protect it. Unfortunately, in the process, I impaled my guts on the top of one of the posts. I lay in the weeds for a quite a while holding my stomach, afraid to look. My shorts were ripped, my skin torn, bleeding and bruised, but I was okay. I felt like I had been gored by a runaway bull, but I was okay. The bike didn't have a scratch.

I think it was the longest thirty miles of my life. I had no juice left. By the time I got to Rushford I had bonked completely. I had no money on me, but I was desperate. I stopped at a cafe and threw myself on their mercy. I must have looked pretty bad. They didn't hesitate. They gave me a chocolate malt and a banana and I was able to ride the twenty miles back to my truck and the trip back home. 


Mimbres Man said...

Holy cow! Good story!

Mimbres Man said...

BTW, good vibes to Jack. Heal quick!
My knee is still giving me trouble after my little crash at the first of the month (when I tangled with the car).

Margadant said...

Don't you just love that warm feeling that creeps over you after you've lain there a couple of minutes and you start reveling at just being alive? It must be a symptom of shock; it sure disappears fast when you get up and try to get yourself off the scene. Then the true pain and debilitation set in and open up shop.

Congratulations on surviving the modern equivalent of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Silk Hope said...

I'm ok. Also I have one benenfit from the accident. about three month ago I was cruising with my daughter and stop by the trail. some how I tweek my back and I had all kinds of pain in my pelvic region...hips were killing me etc. Even went to the chiropractor still no good. Well after my auger into the pavement I absolutely have no pain anywhere except for rib and hand. Go figure.

There is moral in there somewhere.


Gunnar Berg said...

Margadant isn't even a bicyclist and he's crashed one within the past couple of years - had a chance to practice his old football tuck and roll.

Anonymous said...

I always go into the tuck and roll a couple seconds after the face plant.


Anonymous said...

What a survivor! I've had a few tumbles the past few years. The one that could have been the worst, but was'nt, thank GOD, because I was going uphill not down, was when my handle bars CAME OFF. All the way up the hill I said to Laurie, "this is the hardest I've ever had to peddle". We were going against the wind, so I summed it up to that. When we hit level ground, off came the handle bars, I jumped off only to have the chain sprocket gouge into my right calf. Ouch! The best part of this story though is when I'm sitting on the trail waiting for my husband to come back with the truck, blood running down my leg, a group of biking guys asked me if my husband had a good life insurance policy on me! I then remembered that he HAD worked on my brakes the previous week... ummm.

Gunnar Berg said...

Laurie (or you) need a little Bicycle Maintenance 101, although that would probably be infringing on his mechanical manliness a little. If it's any consultation, a couple of years ago Lance Armstrong had a brake dragging on a mountain time trial, and that was set up by a professional mechanic. I believe his exact words were, "this is the hardest I've ever had to peddle!"