3x Ford World Ironman Champ Chrissie Wellington recently fell off her bike & broke some bones.
Questions for you:
- Have you fallen off or been hit while riding your bike? Share your story. Was it mentally hard getting back in the saddle?
I've been over the handlebars many times, but so far nothing serious. My most painful bike fall was a silly mistake. I tried crossing a hard lip of road without turning my wheel & slammed into the ground. I got up & noticed traffic coming my way, which helped my post-crash response time.
Thoughts? Do we all crash/fall/flip at some point?
Sara Cox Landolt
My friends, for those of you who are old enough (like me) to remember Laugh In, I am the Arte Johnson of bike crashes.
Which means all but one of them have been while I am either (a) completely stopped and forgetting to unclip, or (b) coming to a stop and forgetting to unclip. You would think after six years of clip ins I would learn something here. Last weekend I did the swan dive onto the concrete once again, in my driveway. I usually end up with a road rash or bruise and a large case of major embarrassment.
The one that was serious was during the Tour of Dallas in 2005 where I was going downhill about 20 mph and my front tire hit a groove in the road. I had noticed a policeman standing in the road waving at me and others, and I had also noticed several people off to the side in various stages of post crash attitudes, but it didn't cross my helmeted head to connect the dots that there was something to be avoiding here. So I hit that big groove, my bike came to a sudden halt from 20 mph, and then Newton's law took over--I was end over teakettle onto the concrete.
I broke my watch instead of my wrist, and I fractured a bone in the top of my foot (no one really knows how), and the combination of road rash and bruises from the fall was an amazing color wheel for about two weeks. I also managed to bust up my derailer pretty good and leave some scratches on my fairly new bike. Still, it could have been worse. I saw people who flipped on that same groove sitting there with bleeding faces and major broken bones. You would think they would have cordoned it off. I haven't done that ride since then; so maybe now it's been fixed.
Amazingly enough, the SAG guys half-fixed my derailer, and I got on the and finished the stuped ride--about 12 miles left. I was shaken, and bleeding, and very sore, but I kept telling myself it was like the horse thing--get back on after you are thrown or you will never get back on the bike again. I can't tell you if that would have been true, but I kept on riding that day and thereafter. My foot healed up and my watch took 3 weeks to get repaired (it was a Tag, and don't believe it for a minute that they are indestructible, no matter what Tiger says about them). My bike took about 10 days to get fixed, but it still bears the scars.
Since then, I have had a fear of holes/grooves/pocks in the road to probably an unreasonable extent. Especially when I am down on my areobars and going fast, if I see a pothole looming, I will often panic and oversteer. I fear the holes in the road now more than cars or dogs or other riders. So there was an effect on me, and I still have it five years later.
Last summer while I was jogging along in central park here in NYC around the 4th mile I decided a near by water fountain looked like an ideal pit stop to take in some much needed hydration. I looked at the road behind me and did not see anyone coming so I made my way to the fountain. About three steps away from the fountain I heard someone yelling to get out of the way, but it was too late. This nut on a tri bike had broken away from his team mates and was flying down the road, completely out of control of his bike. He slammed into my side! Instantly throwing himself over the handle bards and down the road. The impact threw me over the jersey barrier and into a rock wall near the fountain. I had been hit so quickly that it did not occur to me as to what had just happened. I stood up instantly and looked around. Bike pieces where all over the road. I was scraped up pretty bad, bleeding from the cuts on my legs and arms. I was furious, I wanted to knock this person's head off for biking like such an animal, it’s a vehicle, and if you are on it you are responsible for your actions. I saw this man's body crumpled up on the ground, this idiot did not even have a helmet on. I ran over to him, to clean his clock for having mowed me down in such a cruel fashion. To my surprise he wasn't moving at all, he had actually cracked his head open and was beginning to shake violently. So instead of beating this guy more, I immediately put my shoe under his head to stop it from banging harder against the pavement and tried to hold his head firmly against my shoe to slow the loss of blood and prevent his shaking from causing further trauma to the head. Finally, people started to gather, and call 911, eventually this guy started to come around and wanted to get up but myself and two riders from his group (who eventually caught up with him, some 5 minutes later) held him down. EMS was able to sedate him, throw him on a gurney and rush him to a near by hospital. As I looked around at the carnage this guy had caused I saw the impact had shattered the frame of his bike in three spots. There was a dark pool of blood on my shoes and all over my hands, arms, and legs. The rest of his team caught up to him, and as we exchanged information I found out this nut was their team doctor, way to wear a helmet (worst idea ever, always always wear a helmet, and after this event I always do). NYPD did not believe that this nut had hit me as the small scrapes had began to close and all that was left was some terrible road rash. After filling out a police report NYPD was kind enough to finally drive me back to my apartment, where my girl friend freaked out because I had been gone for three hours and it was now 11 pm at night and I was covered in blood.
I eventually found out he had spent two weeks in intensive care and several more weeks in the hospital recovering. I was able to find out that the doctors had only seen such intense head trauma from car crashed and not from bike/pedestrian collisions. So moral of the story wear a helmet and don't do more than 40mph in central park, most riders are out of control or on the brink of being out of control.
So many falls it's hard to pick and choose, worst injury was probably as a 4 year old when I broke a leg falling from the back of my older brother's bike; living in London for 3 decades and riding fastish, getting bounced off cars seemed to be a semi-annual occurrence. My most recent serious fall was 18 miles in to the Fool's Gold 100. A moment's lack of concentration had me pedals over saddle in mid-air; I landed heavily on my head and compressed into the ground like, well, a pogo-stick I guess. I squished my ribs up so well that I was sure that for a few seconds they were sticking out in all sorts of funny ways on my left side. Once I'd decided they were not poking through my heart and lungs I managed to move about 3 feet off the trail and lay for a while hoping I'd be able to breathe again, one day. A (very kind and patient) SAG marshal rescued me and helped me and my bike get to to a place where I could be driven off the course. That was a looong walk. A quick visit to the ER confirmed nothing broken but my ribs still occasionally ache from the impact (which was 4 months ago), particularly when my 2 year old mistakes me for a trampoline. Very, very happy I wore a helmet, which was broken by the impact, totally stoked that I opted not to buy a new one the day before the race...
Ouch! Sudden halt on a 20 mph downhill?! Scary! And I agree, I think I overscan for obstacles in the road... One of my first (big) crashes as a kid ~6 was similar. My front tire got perfectly sandwiched in a drainage slat & I went over the handlebars & landed on my head on fresh gravel... My dad was horrified & of course we didn't have helmets.
Thanks for your humor & confidence telling your story. It was fun to read & also good to find out that other people have similar issues on the road.
Best to you,
Sara Cox Landolt
I've been over the bars a few times without serious injury. However, I must say that these posts (particularly, the one detailing the Central Park crash) are giving me the eeeebie-jeeebies). I'm off to suck on my thumb and find my happy place, so that I can continue to delude myself into believing that bicycle crashes are a thing of the past. Richard
Oh my!!!! Wow. Though I'm sorry it happened to you, thanks for sharing your experience here & for sharing your unique perspective. It's true, you don't need to be on a bike yourself, to be in a bike accident!
How scary! I can't imagine seeing someone crack open his or her head. And yes, I bet your girlfriend had quite a shock seeing you walk in hours later & covered in blood!
I hope your future exercise experiences are safer for all,
Sara Cox Landolt
Can I come along to the happy place? :-)
I think you bring up an interesting conversation point though. Riding a bike has risks (as most things do, you can even walk off a curb weird & get hurt). Knowing there is risk is it mentally/emotionally better to just ignore certain risks and not dwell/consider them? Is it easier then to ride? Does it make us feel more secure?
From experience on the road & in articles I've read, I know it's best to be loose & relaxed vs. anxious with a death-grip while riding.
Question: During an event, what do you do when fear enters your mind? How do you handle it?
Richard, I'm asking the whole group here, I hope you don't feel singled out. And I'd love it if we all have an accident-free 2010!!!
Sara Cox Landolt
On a more serious note, I think that it's better to be aware of the risks, do what you can to minimize them, and try not to dwell on them when you're engaging in the quasi-risky activity. On a bike, when I get irrational fears (e.g., recalling a past episode while I'm riding and dwelling on it . . . e.g., like remembering someone going down in front of me in a pace line), I try to cut those fears off and tell myself that I've ridden thousands of times before without incident, and then focus on the nuts and bolts of what I'm doing (something like efficient peddling). When I get more rational fears, like my spidy-sense tells me that I'm descending to fast, at this age (44), I listen to those fears and slow down. Here is to keeping the rubber-side down. Richard
When fear enters the mind....good question.
It depends on what type of fear.
The fear of "OMIGOSH I'M GONNA DIE OUT HERE" is common in all three arenas (although more so in the swim and bike, but if the weather is over 80 degrees I always think it on the run). No matter whether I just got smacked in the gut swimming and have inhaled a lungful of water, or if I have just discovered I am going 28 mph downhill on the bike and I'm wobbling from side to side AND I am coming up fast on someone I need to pass in the 15 second window who is ALSO wobbling from side to side, or if I'm running along wondering if people really do vomit in just a sprint tri, the mantra is the same.
I say to myself, "Oh. Get. Over. It."
And for some reason it works.
(I used to say to myself, "oh, heavens, show me the blood" but that was before I did things where I could actually point to some).