Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I don't know why this topic occurred to me today, I am fortunate that I haven't crashed in a long time and I am really fortunate not to have had an encounter with a car while riding (Knock on wood big time) but as a coffee shop friend and long time rider once told me "if you ride a bike you are either a rider who has crashed or one who will crash".    A crash goes by many names; taking a fall, biffing it, colliding with the ground, failing to keep the rubber side down, and my favorite the pavement luffa.  I can speak to this subject because I have crashed a time or two.

Once while commuting to work I was taking the long way so I could descend a nice curvy road.  This road has two nice curves in succession and on the first I carved it like a pro (in my head) so flush with pride I thought I would really carve the next one and so of course I went over too steeply, my wheels went out from under me and I literally slid all the way across the road - from one side to the other.  I was very lucky that A) the curb was very high which stopped my progress which would  have otherwise carried me over an embankment and B) that no cars were coming at that time (shudder).  Adrenaline took over and I completed my ride to work but my very bruised flank stiffened up over the day and I rode the bus home equal parts shamed by my crash and relieved it wasn't worse.

On a weekend ride part of my route took me on a bike path that skirts a fairly industrial area and at one point the path takes an S curve that is bisected by railroad tracks.  I was going pretty slow, probably 5 mph, but I was thinking about the curve rather than hitting the tracks with my wheels perpendicular so of course I went down as my front wheel went out.  This crash was memorable for a couple reasons.  First of all even though was going slow my wheel went out so fast that I was levered to the ground quickly - head first - and I saw stars like I was in a looney tunes cartoon, I shudder to think what that would have felt like without my helmet on, not meaning to preach here just sharing an experience.  Secondly the crash popped my tire and I used my only spare repairing the flat so, shaken up and with no spare tubes, I cut my ride short and turned around and headed home.  On the way back I had to climb a hill and I had just lost a bunch of weight and I was amazed at how easy climbing that hill felt now that I wasn't lugging the equivalent of a  2nd grader along with me.

When I started to ride a road bike to train for the Seattle to Portland ride back in 2000 I got introduced to riding clip-less pedals....yeah there is a learning curve.  Early on my issue was that I would most often clip out on my right for a stop and sometimes end up leaning left - where my foot was still clipped.  Yep slow motion topple with my clipped out foot failing uselessly, I'm sure it looked pretty comical.  And in the "I can laugh now category" my first clip-less shoes were Specialized Mt, bike shoes that had both laces and Velcro closures, on a training ride I happened to glance down and notice that a shoelace loop was coming out from under the Velcro closure and as I was thinking "this is bad the lace is going to get caught in my chain" that is exactly what happened and boom I am on the ground with one foot clipped in and and trapped under me and the bike and the other clipped in with a lace tangled in my chain and to make it even better I am halfway in the road!  So I shimmed my way on to the shoulder -I am sure I was the picture of grace -and somehow freed my foot from shoe and managed to extricate myself.  Not my finest moment on a bike.

And my final embarrassing story involves a turtle.  I was out on a fine spring day with the sun out for a ride around the neighborhood.  I was descending a moderate hill intending to take a left hand turn and continue down to the waterfront.  I was in luck as the turn lane had cleared and the light was green and I had a good head of steam off the hill and then it all went pear shaped, the next thing I knew I heard a loud yell (it was me) and I was literally sliding on my stomach toward the cross walk.  I later realized later that I had gone too far to the right of the turn lane to set up my turn and my front wheel had clipped a traffic "turtle" that is used to mark the lane and hitting the little raised half circle had precipitated my crash.  Two things stay with me about that crash, 1) there was a bus stop at that corner and a bunch of folks came out into the street to help me up, collect my bike and gear and see if I was ok - they thought a car had clipped me -it was one of the coolest instances of spontaneous kindness towards a stranger I have had the honor to witness and 2) my synthetic "Old guys who get fat in winter" jersey was unscathed despite being skidded on the pavement -  I expected it be in tatters - must've been weaved with Kevlar.

Oddly since I have stopped worrying about speed on the bike and concerned myself with enjoying the journey my crash rate has dropped quite a bit...hmmm.

As always Ride (safely). Smile. Repeat


  1. I have fallen a few times but fortunately came out unscathed. My mot memorable time occurred during our world trip. We were pedaling India's back roads, I was leading, watching half eaten wild boars, turkey vultures, and general landscape when my front tire caught the road edge and I fell, smacking my helmeted head on the pavement. No cars on the road, thank you very much! My husband rushed to my side, just as I was picking myself up. When he knew I was okay, (only a headache) he pointed to a flock of vultures in a nearby tree and said, "Good thing you're okay."

    1. That's a great story Annie - glad you were ok.

  2. Wow. Now I'm paranoid about a crash. No big thing, since I hardly ride these days. (Not totally true, yesterday I did 17 miles of sidewalk single track and beach cruising.)

    Little Miss has been complete for a month now. The difference between riding her and my aluminum Nashbar is crazy. That old Schwinn is a Jag or a Rolls next to the Nash, which would be like, uh...well, maybe one of those old dune buggies from the seventies. It is all about the bottom bracket, I think, and the chainstays...

    What has this to do with crashing? I have no idea. My last crash was on the Mongoose, just outside the beer store. There was a light drizzling rain and for no reason at all, I decided to bank off one of those parking curbs and pop a wheelie. But the curb was wet and instead of bouncing the front wheel slipped up and over and I went down hard.

    Laying there for a second, stunned, I heard one of the Bud Light tall boys in my Goodwill messenger bag pop open and begin fizzing loudly, like some poor-man's champagne celebration for a piece of particularly entertaining street art.

    So there ya go.


    1. Good to hear from you Velo Brother, your story, as usual made me laugh out loud. When are you going to post some pics of your Jag - I mean Little Miss? Funny you mention the Jag. I watched Silver Streak on Netflix last week.

  3. "I left my jag in Kansas City."
    How strange that I just was thinking about that film...it is loaded to the top with little bits that you have to watch for...like another favorite, "Trading Places".

    I really should do a write up with pics. Soon...I have been off work for the last eight days and just got assigned to a new gig, Outback, Florida East Coast...

    BTW, do you remember Nicholas over at Gypsy By Trade? His riding partner, Lael Wilcox, is out to set a Best Time record on the Baja Divide. I have been fascinated by their story since I first came across Nick back in '11. I doubt there is anyone getting in more miles per annum than those two. Yesterday she rode 95 miles through dirt sand and water.Just amazing stuff.

    1. Tim Joe, Ive been following their adventures for years also. Lael is an amazing athlete and adventurer.

    2. I think I was introduced to them via your blog roll Tim Joe, they are studs and I wonder if I am worthy of reading about their adventures

    3. Hi Ryan and a wave of the hand hello to tj. Another basketball season in the books and I can get back to the focus being on bikes. Thinking of crashing is not quite the best way to get back to bikes!!!
      I have had my share of biff and fall overs. The last one was a single track ride with one of my boys that had a mid-ride topple over the side with my ass in a patch of prickly pear cactus. I have had one major wreck that I still do not remember anything about except there was an ambulance ride and emergency room experience along with a few weeks of foggy brain thinking with a concussion.
      Yeah, I agree, Lael is an athlete, plus the go get it attitude. Races the divide and then races across America and then for the heck of it create a new route down Baja.
      Be safe on the crashing thing Ryan

    4. Wow Jim I am not sure which is worse you crashing into cactus or Annie having vultures circle! Keep the rubber side down this season my friend