Friday Group Ride #138

As you may have heard, our friend and host Padraig, had a chance meeting with the ground the other day, a meeting that didn’t go so well, except that there happened to be a good plastic surgeon at the ER who put his face back together with some considerable skill. Oh, and of course, there were friends at the crash scene who made sure the ER happened and called the wife and did the things that friends do, which are simultaneously exactly what they’re supposed to do and yet also heroic and amazing.

The last time I was on the ground, I was mountain biking. The great irony is that I ended up sprawled across pavement. The trail left the woods, crossed a road and dove back into the woods. The catch was that the road edge had a slight lip on it that I quite inconveniently got my front wheel sideways to without making the subtle lift that would have made it the non-event it should have been. So there I was instead, laying in the road, windless from landing on my back. I rode on, but it hurt.

The time before that, I was riding a trail and saw a water bottle on the ground. I rolled up to it, leaned down low and plucked it off the ground. It was a brilliant maneuver until I jerked the handlebars trying to get back up straight and then of course I jackknifed the bike and catapulted myself face down into the dirt. No injury, except my pride.

When I heard about Padraig’s crash, I had a moment of visceral empathy. My last two crashes have been fairly innocuous, but I know from a lifetime on the bike what that moment is like. You are rolling along doing fine. There is no reason to expect anything but more of the same, but then you are on the ground. Sometimes it is a long, slow careening. Sometimes it is a sudden violent slam. Either way, there is that crystalline moment where all the important elements of control disappear.

Even before I heard the full story of Padraig’s crash, I knew what had happened, and it hurt me.

This week’s Group Ride asks the question: What was your last meeting with the ground like? Good, bad, indifferent? Did it change you or just make your friends laugh? Do you worry about crashing? Or do you just call it the price of admission? Spare a thought for Padraig as he sips at his smoothie (liquid diet only) and waits for his face to reassemble itself.

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43 comments

  1. Scott G

    About 18 months ago I had a severe meeting of myself and the pavement. Broke my back and my cheek. My GoPro caught the moment of impact otherwise I don’t remember that part of it. We were just rolling along at a slow 13mph.
    http://youtu.be/VZUvazT2Eww

  2. Eric

    Hope Padraig heals up fast!

    Riding 2 years ago in the summer. I was trying to beat an impending rain storm in the early morning. I could see the dark clouds coming in but I felt that I had enough time to get in a 20 miler. Of course the rain doesn’t being until I’m half way out, as far away from home as I could be. So I push myself, start pressing to up my speed. The rain just gets stronger and stronger as I’m riding faster and faster.

    I notice that the rain is at its heaviest when each pedal stroke results in a “squish”. I’m pushing as hard as I can to get home as fast as I can, about a mile out now. Everything is fine, until I hit the driveway…way, way too fast. In a blink the entire bike seems to lie down and I find myself sliding across the driveway heading straight for the yard on the other side. My saving grace is what caused the crash in the first place, rain. The water allowed me to slide, I presume, with a whole lot less friction. Of course this also happened because the driveway was recently sealed, super slick.

    What I remember is my head bouncing on the pavement like a basketball and seeing the river of water streaming down the driveway as I’m sliding. Very odd sensations. The result of this was just a nice big raspberry on my hip. Could have been far, far worse. I was able to be back on the bike a couple weeks later. At least there was enough time for my shoes to dry out! :D

  3. producifer

    I crashed hard & fast on the infamous LA bike path spring 2011, last man in a pace line. One second I was reaching for a bottle, the next second I was flat on my face. Broken hip, severe contusion to the groin (I landed on the frame), plenty of road rash. Everyone was helpful & concerned & we all were relieved when I got back on & limped to the shop. It was later that day when the swelling & bruising got a little crazy. Anyway- 1.5 years later & my right hip still hurts & no feeling in the skin there. I don’t think about it much unless I’m off the bike for a week- funny enough, biking helps with the pain. This is the price of admission, gladly paid.

  4. A-Trav

    Sunday before last. Wet curve before the Wall going up Nichols Canyon. Been through there a million times, and seen many others crash- just enough to delude myself that it couldn’t happen to me. Ever. Came in a little hot, rear-end started to slide out. I corrected, steered into the skid, sliding sideways until I had scrubbed off almost all my forward momentum. At the precise moment I was thinking, “Wow. I’m actually going to recover”, my rear-end slid all the way out and down I went- at a virtual standstill (which is the best time to fall, BTW). Luckily all I got was a chapped ass and bruised pride. When you least expect it. Expect it. Gravity can be a fickle mistress to those who prefer wheeled transport. Heal fast, Patrick!

  5. Benzo

    Had my first big-boy crash four weeks ago. Running into a slightly downhill finish, I went wide left to pass. Unfortunately, the rider in front of me decided to go wider than my wide left at the moment when our wheels were overlapped. Don’t remember the crash, but when it was all done there was a Subaru with a smashed trunk and me with a smashed jaw, spine, and wrist.

    On the bright side, only two more weeks of a liquid diet and a jaw wired shut.

  6. marek

    Two weeks ago to the day, just riding along when a driver figured he liked my empty lane better than his traffic jammed one. Except that it wasn’t. Not much you can do given a few meters to brake or swerve. Chose the latter, no time for brakes. Hit his bumper near the front wheel and not sure what happened after that other than knowing it involved a drastic reduction in momentum, some flight and the sounds of car plastic breaking and two dull thuds of a helmet on asphalt.

    I’ve gone down many times, mostly on the mountain bike, but this was the first where in the moment of flight I thought it wasn’t going to end well at all. Fortunately it did, just some scrapes & bruises and muscle pain. Lucky stars and all that…

    Answering the question: indifferent. Probably due to the fact that nothing really happened to me. Several meters of flight and walk off scott free. Somehow that isn’t a good thing. The bike was a write off, but that’s what insurance is for.

  7. Masshoff

    I hit the deck this past Sunday – wet railroad tracks laid on a diagonal across the road. 2 guys down on the same stretch!

    I suffered a banged up knee and torn knickers. Buddy of mine cracked a helmet and has a giant thigh bruise. Nothing major, just enough to feel dumb. Of greater concern was the fact that I slid across the yellow line on the fall. could have been bad if a car was coming the opposite direction, or even trying to pass… A definite feeling of trepidation when crossing the remaining tracks on the course that day…

  8. Ransom

    I think I over-think, and probably have a little more fear than necessary. OTOH, I’ve been fortunate enough not to come off very often…

    Last one was a roundabout on a residential street where I hang a left to go home at the end of a ride. Always chastise myself for going so slowly for conditions. This time it was damp, though I think I also found some detritus with the front wheel, which duly washed out and dumped me on the ground. It was my first experience with a pavement crash carrying enough speed to still be sliding while I was wondering what had happened (just a few feet).

    Just a bit of road rash on my hip. A kindly passer-by made me stand around for a bit and count how many fingers he was holding up since I crashed and pretty much jumped right up and was about to ride off but was clearly riding a bunch of adrenalin…

    I don’t *creep* though that corner, but I haven’t had another bout of picking entry speed based on assuming that I’m being a wimp with my intuitive speed…

  9. Full Monte

    The bike path runs along the river, until the river rose, cutting into the bank and making the path unstable. Then the bike path gets detoured through a parking lot instead.

    The rider using the path thinks the city, in detouring the bike path through a parking lot, surely has blocked the lot to motor vehicles. Surely. And the rider zips through the parking lot. The rider has made a serious error in judgment.

    Coming the other way, there is a pickup truck with a driver late for work. He needs to park quickly. The driver of the truck doesn’t expect there to be a cyclist in a parking lot, since the bike path is way over there. If, say, the bike path was diverted, surely the city would warn him and other drivers of bikes using the parking lot. The driver has made a serious error in judgment.

    Rider and driver see each other at the same moment. Driver slams on his brakes and stops directly in the rider’s path. Rider jerks the handlebars right, barely avoids the truck only to swerve directly into a 10-inch curb. The impact flips the rider. He sees the sky between his feet which are still clipped to the pedals. He lands on his back in the middle of a sidewalk. Hears the tick-tick-tick of his rear wheel freewheeling. Hears an engine rev, tires squeal as the truck speeds away from the scene. The rider gasps for breath, then slowly unclips, stands and takes a few unsteady steps. There is no immediate pain, just a roaring in his ears. His hips and back locked tight, not responding to his brain’s commands. He picks up his bike.

    “No, no. Don’t do that,” says a small, old Latino man. He’s rumpled, dirty. He is homeless. He saw the crash and came to help the rider. “You no wanna do that. You sit.”

    “Is my bike okay?”

    “Sit, sit.”

    “See anything broken?” The rider turns the pedals with his hand, looks at the wheels, brakes.

    “No, no, you wait. Please sit.”

    But the rider climbs on his bike. When his butt hits the saddle, the pain hits. It’s a shockwave. The edges of his vision darken, like he is looking through a tube. The rushing roar in his ears drown out the homeless man’s voice. Into the tunnel the rider goes, every bump, every crack in the pavement causes the rider to gasp and cry out. But he only wants to go home. Just 11 miles. One more pedal stroke. One more. One more. One more.

    Something strange happens as he rides. The rider begins to look down at his own body, from above. He watches himself as if he’s another person. The pain causes his whole body to tremble, as if he’s suffering hypothermia. One more pedal stroke. One more. One more.

    At the Walk-In Clinic near his house, the rider learns he’s broken his back at the base, a connecting pelvic bone called the sacrum. He is lucky. He is so very lucky. The ambulance is called, he is taken to the ER where his friend and riding partner, the doctor in charge, gives the rider sweet, soothing, numbing pain medicine. The shaking subsides. The pain dulled. It is the beginning of two weeks of agony, where no bed, chair, position offers relief of any kind. But the rider is alive. He can still walk. He will ride again. And crash again. Just four weeks later, on his mountain bike, on an icy bridge. Another error in judgment. He is lucky and does not re-break his spine. He hangs up his bikes. Re-evaluates. Heals. Rests. And hides the new bruises and ripped kit from his wife.

    Welcome back to cycling, rider. A lot has passed in 20 years, huh? Including you, your body, your abilities, your reactions. You learned a lot this first season. The hard way. It gets better, you’ll find your groove again. Patience.

  10. Dustin Gaddis

    Last ‘good’ crash was a botched log hop on the MTB, foot came unclipped, rode the bike to the ground and took the saddle to the ribs. Crashed my roadie commuter a few weeks ago, just a stupid rear tire slide in the rain, wasn’t paying attention, was two turns from the house.

    It happens.

  11. Q

    I was pulling my daughter on a “tandem trailer” a few weeks ago. I stood on the pedals a bit, she freaked out a bit, and somehow the whole thing jackknifed. You can’t get going that fast on such a rig, so it was nothing serious, really, but somehow I destroyed a helmet for the first time. Without the helmet, I probably would have cut the back of my head a bit, and possibly had a minor concussion. Avoiding that was worth the cost of a new helmet.

    This confirmed what I was already beginning to realize about tandem trailers. First, the cheap ones aren’t worth it. I probably should have bought one of the high end ones. Second, I’m not so sure about those, either. We already had one proper tandem (a Bike Friday, for what it’s worth) that’s low enough for one of the kids to ride on the back, and since the crash, I’ve now bought another one (a Raleigh). I’m now convinced that any family that’s serious about doing longer rides together before the kids are big enough to keep up on their own should skip the tandem trailer. Use a trailer when they’re babies (which we did), and graduate to a proper tandem. Sheldon Brown wrote a pretty good page about all of the considerations involved.

  12. Bill

    It was a long time ago and for that I feel for Padraig and touch a bit of wood when I tell it. Sailing along on a warm, sunny fall day. Slight down hill. Wind at my back. Big ring. Dumb in hindsight. Taking a pull from my water bottle, no hands, looking at the trees or some such. Front tire hit an acorn or something. Lights out. I still have the real and figurative chips in my shoulder from that one. I was younger. I still don’t take both hands off the bars at the same time much anymore.

  13. MCH

    Fortunately, it’s been many years since I last hit the ground. I haven’t fallen since I quit racing. In general, at least in my experience, there was a pretty high correlation between racing crits and ground contact. My last year racing was particularly tough: a crash on the track resulted in a partially separated shoulder, a crash in a crit resulted in a groin pull/tear, finally a late season training ride crash resulted in some deep soul searching about the meaning of life.

    Of course, crashes can happen anywhere, anytime. A friend was recently riding home after a ride. While riding past a city park, a goose flew into her front wheel! Moral of the story: this can be a dangerous sport, carry ID, ride with friends, dial it back a notch and enjoy the ride.

  14. Souleur

    Interesting question Robot, as we all love to tell the stories that hurt, and since I am not PRO enough to have bragging rites of Pave’ passage, well, this is all I have

    I have been told be prepared to crash every 5-10k miles….so my number is up and has been called, and I am due

    my last one, was just a little one, so when my next one come, I’m due

    It is the price we pay, and sometimes it can be a hefty sum. I accept it and will gladly pay instead of being morbidly obese like so many others in our society.

    Do I worry about crashing? Not at all, I ride through the roads here and traffic just like I am swimming with the fish…even though some are sharks

  15. Brian J

    It was just a simple commute ride to work through the Presidio in SF last year. There was ongoing roadwork to replace the aging Golden Gate Bridge approach known as Doyle Drive. There was a lot of sanding going on so there was a lot dust in the air and a street-cleaning rig was doing a circuit wetting the pavement to keep the dust down. Not realizing what a deadly slippery combo this made, I came around a corner and just laid it down, nothing serious, just very embarrassing. I still rode in to work and interrupted the Tuesday managers meeting and said “I think I need to take a sick day, but I can still work if you need me to” at which point I turned my body and showed my bloodied road rash on my calves and thigh, a collective gasp then filled the air and one of the managers said “I think we can cover your route”.

    Get well Fast, Patrick
    Even Jens would be impressed.

  16. Bart

    My last crash was due to trying to keep my average speed up. I went into a sharp right corner and began pedaling too soon coming out the other side (there is a slight incline after the curve). Right pedal hit the ground and catapulted me and the bike over the curb on the far side of the road into an area with a grassy down slope and then trees. The motorist behind me was very nice and helpful. I was very lucky with only some road rash and soreness but I realize it could have been much worse. The motorist took me and my bike to the hospital and brought the bike home with her. I went and picked it up a week later. I still don’t remember how I got home from the hospital. I was embarrassed and couldn’t even begin to know how to thank her. She went way beyond the call of duty to help a stranger. This was 8 or 9 years ago.

    Since then I’ve tried to learn to ignore metrics like average speed or even current speed as much as possible. But I’m still drawn in by the temptation to try to keep my average up. It’s one of the reasons I don’t use a power meter, or Strava (or similar). The more things I have to measure the more tempted I will be to increase those measurements and I believe that focusing on increasing these measurements only causes me to take unnecessary risks. I no longer race, so I just don’t have any reason to push in that way.

    The only two measurements I try to keep in mind is making it home safely and cadence. It’s surprisingly hard to keep these top of mind and I find myself slipping back into “go fast” mode all too easily.

  17. Michael

    I was riding in the Collserola hills above Barcelona, having moved there a few months earlier from South Mayo in Ireland. Finally, after a dry autumn, we were starting to get some fog and I was beginning to hope for some rain one of these days. Day after day of clear sunny weather – what kind of a climate is this?!?! So, riding my usual morning ride, lots of swoopy turns and climbs. I turn onto the main road descending toward home, on the ‘front’ side of Collserola, against which the fog was banked. Yes, real clouds! I pass a perfectly kitted out Catalan rider, as I have this descent dialed. Come around a righthand corner and slide out instantly, like I’m on ice. As I am getting myself back up, the much more savvy rider I passed slows to a stop (before the turn’s apex) and asks if I am okay, which I am, other than torn shorts and jersey and some minor scratches to the bike. Another rider comes around the corner slowly, seeing us stopped, but slides out in the same place I did. In a land with no rain, and morning traffic jams on the roads into the city, grease builds up and the light mist of the fog makes it slick. Coming from a land where a week without rain to wash the roads is unheard of, I’d not adapted to my new environs. I learned a lot, and it DID alter my riding under those conditions. I learned to spend some time learning the particular hazards of each new place I ride, and ask the locals for advice.

  18. armybikerider

    I’m fearful that all this confessing will somehow “jinx” me into falling again…soon. Not that I’m superstitious or anything…….

    My last “mishap” occurred maybe 3.5 years ago. I was standing on the pedals of my ancient Cannondale 2.8 road frame with equally ancient 1987 era Campy C-Record components trying to get through an intersection before the light turned whan I suddenly, without warning or precipitating cause, hit the deck hard and slid on my back onto the shoulder of the road. Standing up quickly (to ensure that no one saw me go down) I looked down and noticed that the left side pedal and half of the crank arm was still attached to my shoe. Luckily the only casualty was a cracked helmet and a very slight headache that lasted maybe 30 minutes…along with a scraped knee and a tear in a vintage Giordana jersey. I got lucky and escaped bodily harm.

    I don’t worry about crashing, but take reasonable precautions. Like Souleur above, I feel that crashing is the price that we pay. In my opinion, there are 2 sorts of riders – those that have gone down and those that are going to go down. It’s just a matter of time.

    I just hope that Souleur is wrong about the mileage gap between crashes!!! If he’s accurate, then I’m way overdue!

  19. DoubleUc

    Winter time..25F (that could be either fahrenheit or something else) degrees out..but really a bright sunny day that had dried the streets…Midwest people know what I am talking about…perfect day to push the mileage up outside…but cold enough not to want to change a tube on a perceived slow leak…confirmed the slow leak was real but not bad enough…it was the front tire and as long as I “stayed -off” it during the climbs the straights where fine…slow leak progressed fast as I aborted the ride…thought my handling skills where better than they are…a quick turn found out that it can destroy pride and a brand new set of Craft winter knickers (first time I had them one) in a hurry…that was the way this last year started for me and I’ve been blessed all year with a few close calls in some races and thats it…enough for me to lie to myself that I got my bike handling skills back…at least until next time. God Bless and best of Luck…Good Roads Ahead!

  20. Tracy Wilkins

    Just after Thanksgiving 2006. It was a warm, humid day, but kind of damp and cloudy. I was just turning into the neighborhood after a hard 30 mile ride when a dog ran out barking and managed to get under my front wheel. It took me down hard, breaking my collarbone.

    I would like to say it was a 50 lb rottweiler, but that would involve too much embellishment. In reality, it was a stinking daschund, or as I call them, wiener dog that caused my crash and injury.

  21. brucew

    Hayseed kid visiting the city in dad’s Pontiac. Left cross at an intersection. Although I remembered to tuck and roll, I stopped rolling right in front of the #7 bus. The bus driver was kind enough to stop, but needed new shorts afterward, I think.

    In general, I was okay, but out of work for a week. What could have been a broken clavicle had I not tucked and rolled, was a relatively minor–albeit still painful–“deep tissue bruising”. The mirror-image “Pontiac” embossed in my leg was kind of a neat thing to show off for a week.

    The bike got a new fork and new front wheel. And bar tape. Kept everything else that was scarred on it, ’cause, you know, chicks dig scars.

  22. Jeremy

    In 21 years of racing, I’ve kissed the pavement and the dirt more times than I want to count. The most recent endeavor to leave dental impressions in the tarmac happened in 2010. That year I managed to break half a dozen bones in three wrecks, but the last was the worst. Riding in a big group ride at a high pace behind another seemingly trustworthy rider. In the blink of an eye, I see one rider several heads in front of me move funny. The rider in front of me saw it too and hit his brakes. His rear wheel and my front clapped hands and there was no way I was coming out of it any way but down. I hit on my left shoulder and dislocated it as I broke the matched collarbone. I also broke my right wrist as I hit and smacked my helmet on the ground. The worst of it was the 25mph to zero stop that the crash did for me. Had I slid on arrival, I would have had nothing more than road rash. Unfortunately, with my left arm immobilized and my right arm in a cast from my fingers up to my upper forearm, I spent weeks with little ability to even get dressed. I had started a new job only a few weeks before, so this made my new employment pretty interesting…. Funny thing is that when I finally got back on the bike, I got my first podium places in a race in over 10 years!

    Get Well Padraig!

  23. bigwagon

    Only two kinds of riders: those who have been on the ground, and those who haven’t been on the ground YET. I’ve been lucky that my two trips to earth this year were both basically zero MPH affairs resulting from unplanned short stops and inability to get unclipped in time. One bent derailleur hanger is fortunately all I have to show for it.

  24. SusanJane

    I actually want to go back, way back. 1984 in fact. I’m a fan since then. The crash wasn’t bad, just a broken collar bone. But it was the thinnest bit of flesh to a compound fracture. I was alone. Very alone on narrow, nowhere farm roads 20 miles outside of Chico, CA. The edge of the pavement and a water bottle pulled a little bit too fast out of the cage, not to mention those old toe clips. I laid there for a while. Who knows how long. A guy in a truck slung me and my bike into the bed, and took me back into town. I don’t have the courage and forgetfulness that all of you have. I ride around sometimes but get my fix watching and reading now. I guess I wonder who’s going to scrape me up next time… sigh.

  25. Les Borean

    I was sort of an avid-casual cyclist, riding the LA bike path every weekend. A speed bump in a parking lot tossed me up and my face came down on a curb.

    As I lay recuperating, I decided that cycling was not for me. But eventually that thought wore on me and I got really depressed. Thinking about it more, it seemed that I was in the grips of something bigger than I, and I realized that no, I would have to become even more of a cyclist. I went on to be the avid roadie I am, doing intervals on PV, long rides in the Santa Monicas, doing Planet Ultra’s KOM series every year.

    That crash was an epiphany that propelled me into being a real cyclist.

    1. Padraig

      Well, if nothing else, you all have helped remind me just how lucky I’ve been. I should note that the image Robot pulled is one I shot on Tuna, up high before it gets steep. Thanks everyone and I hope sharing has offered some catharsis, even for those crashes that were years and years ago.

  26. Steve Bauer

    I punched my crash ticket pretty hard last February. I was sprinting out of the saddle when I lost my chain. Surprisingly my first thought was not profane. I just thought “Here we go”. Cycling has it’s risks. But the love of the bike did not only get me in that mess, it got me out of it. I walked my hospital ward 1 lap on day 2 and 20 by day 14 because I wanted to get back on my bike. The week after my scapula repair, I was on a trainer because I wanted to get back on my bike. I’m pretty sure the only reason my wife did not sell my bike while I was in the hospital was because she knew it would get me out. It will get you back up as well Padraig. All the best.

  27. slappy

    for some reason I seem to crash for the good of those who can see it. last one was an evening jaunt with stompaRILLAZ around Carbondale co , , having just built my friend a surly moon lander with xtr dual control hydraulic brakes I had refrained from pushing him to put 8 inch rotors on the monster truck and had gone with the six inch kid rotors. not properly broken in undoubtedly, well the bike has 100 mm wide rims and surly 3.8 Nate tires on it and it loves to manual, which I was doing, down a hill with stompaz all around and as it got steeper and faster I ended a little too far back, without the brake to correct, bam, down on the right hand on the chip and seal gravel abrasion surface which left a nice chunk. Anyhow , the bars were a bit crooked, the rest of the body is alright. tuck and roll, or just learn how to crash mountain bikes were its soft.

  28. randomactsofcycling

    I’m with Souleur and expect a crash every so often, as I have increased my mileage considerably over the last three years.
    Two incidents just this year, unfortunately. None for more than 12 months before.
    I figure I should be in the clear for a while.
    Number one: descending a well known local road, dark and wet. Turned a corner at 50km/h to find a tree had fallen across the road…..Needless to say I fell across the tree!
    More recently out on a slow, Monday morning recovery ride and on a clear, straight piece of road that I have ridden literally thousands of times, I looked down at my front derailleur momentarily and when I looked ahead again, there was a Wallaby sitting, staring at me, about two feet from my front tyre. I don’t remember anything else until E.R. and haven’t seen the Wallaby since.
    Rest-up Padraig. I hope everything heals well and the drugs are good.

  29. tinytim

    Seems like I crash monthly. When I enter a mtn bike race, I always wonder how many times I’m gonna go down. There have been mtn races where I have been more proud of the fact that I didn’t go down once rather than being on the podium. Recently, while trying to sharpen my cx skills, I’ve been riding my cx bike like a mtn bike, which usually results in a crash. The worst crash was 6 years ago. I was at a party drinking beer out of a huge growler. While holding the growler up to my lips, a friend danced into the giant glass jug, which chipped my two upper front incisers in half. So being pissed (and a super young man 6 yrs ago) I drank a large amount of Bullit Burbon over the course of that evening. That part was okay, but then I decided to ride my fixie home. While riding I did this sweet skid-slide (even though I had brakes, which I didn’t feel like using) to impress a girl I was riding home with. Well the skid-slide went well, but I hit the rear end of a miyata that was waiting at a stop light. The miyata had a soft -top convertable, which I summersaulted into and landed on the automatic transmission putting the car into reverse and causing it to run into a city bus. Right after that impact, I jumped out of the miyata, grabbed my bike that was under a diffrent adjacent car, and sprinted off. Fourtunately I found some of my Grandmas expired norco at home, which was awesome, cause I felt like a wad of cookie dough that next am.

  30. A Stray Velo

    It’s been years since I’ve gone down off of my bike, race or mountain for that matter. I do have lots of scars from my years as a mountain biker and there are a lot of stories there.

    Yet I believe all those crashes back some years ago have changed me as a cyclist. I’ve become more aware. One of the reasons I love cycling is that it keeps me more aware of what’s going on around me all the time. When I go out to ride I always feel that I’m getting a holistic exercise for my mind and body. I think about crashing all the time but I don’t believe it holds me back one bit.

    Sometimes going down can’t be avoided and it’s in those moments we hope that all of those hours on the road, racking up experience with the bike beneath us, will some how keep us out of trouble. If not, it’s always good to have riding partners that will be there for you or a cell phone with really great reception.

    To Padraig, sorry to hear about your crash and I hope your recovery goes well.

  31. JoeIndy

    I’ve done the local infamous weekday training ride for over twenty years. The Monday/Friday Worlds if you will.I love that ride . I learned the subtlies of our sport on that ride.I was even the ride leader from 1999 to 2010.I like to think I’m a tough guy. I was a Marine sergeant in Vietnam. I have good karma so I was always able to glide thru unscathed the multitde of inevietable crashes avoiding the resultant broken bones and broken bikes.In late 09 there was a crash. Nobody’s fault. Rough road. Bunched group. Someone jumps.Riders react. Someone down. Typical, no big deal.Downed rider had a neck injury but he was OK. He went to the hospital and had the damage repaired but the next day he died from complications of the surgery. He was mid 30’s and had a wife and two children.I lost heart. I wanted to quit but I pushed thru not wanting to let people down. I led the ride for one more year thru some tough times and then retired.I still ride every day and I still love our sport. The passion is there but it’s not the same.

  32. Patrick O'Grady

    My last bike crash was a mirror image of my first car crash, in that in both instances I was on autopilot instead of manual and yet avoided injury and/or immolation.

    In the bike crash I was off in my own little world, riding a ‘cross bike on an all-too-familiar trail that suddenly became less so (erosion, trail maintenance, Coyote the Trickster, name your poison).

    All of a sudden the trail simply was not there, but I was. As the front wheel dropped into a deep crevice I took that long stride over the handlebars, yelling, “Ohhhhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiittttt!”, and actually managed to land on my feet. Thank God for sluggish reflexes.

    These also saved me with the car crash. If I’d have gunned it or hit the binders that train probably would have cut my Chevy in half, and me with it. As it was that big ol’ Burlington Northern nailed a support pillar and blew me right off the tracks. I’ve been hurt worse shaving my legs.

    Heal up quickly, Padraig. And take heart — you could be shot out of an atomic cannon and land face first on a cheese grater and still wind up prettier than me.

  33. Ted

    Almost one year ago exactly… two weeks logged on the new Tarmac SL4… I was riding in post-hurricane Connecticut and was on a moderate descent that I ride 50 times a year. Looked down for a split second, looked up to see pieces of wood on the roadside, likely tree debris from the continuing hurricane cleanup. I hit a rather large piece about 1.5 inches in diameter at about 25 mph. I was down in an instant and sliding, rolling until I stopped. Lots of scrapes, but nothing broken, but more importantly (we cyclists have weird priorities) the bike only suffered a mild scrape plus the rear derailleur was pulled from the dropout. Oh, there was also one broken spoke. I do have great faith in the kindness of strangers as no less than six cars stopped to ask this obviously injured and distressed rider if I was okay (none of them having actually witnessed the crash – they just saw me sitting by the side of the road.) One wouldn’t leave until my ex-mother-in-law and daughter arrived to drive me home.

  34. Eric_H

    349 days ago I had a nasty solo crash. It was the first crash I have ever had on a road bike where the only factor was my ability and likely my overconfidence and complacency. It happened in a corner I have ridden hundreds of times. It was wet, the corner has an off-camber hump in the middle and I entered it a little too fast and also about 3 feet off my regular line in the turn. All combined it put me down. The crash was hard, I lost the front wheel and came down hard on my right side – head, then shoulder, then hip. Crushed a Bell Volt, and did a grade 2-3 AC separation of my right shoulder with some rotator cuff damage (non-surgical), plus lost a lot of hide. 4 weeks of physio with my main training buddy who is also a greats sports PT and I was back on the bike but I can definitely say I am not quite as much the risk taker descending as I was a year ago. I can still rip it, but I’m not as inclined to do so EVERY time.

    The sobering moment of the crash was about 30 minutes later. I was only about 5 km from home, the bike was rideable and I knew I had enough adrenaline to get me home before the shock set in. I got home, hailed my wife and I was in the shower doing the scrub-a-dub on the road rash while I replayed the crash over and over in my head. I realized that where I got up from the ground was fully across the oncoming lane, in the grass of the opposite shoulder. It was a blind 90-degree right hander with trees so if a car had been coming the other way I would have just popped out sliding in front of it and the driver would have not had any chance. At that realization, my shoulder and road rash seemed a lot less significant.

    Up to this crash, I had ridden and raced on the road for over 18 years and all of my crashes were in races and every single one was due to someone else crashing first or some external factor. I grew up on 2 whees, started riding a Honda Z50 before my 4th birthday, raced motocross from age 8-19, raced and rode BMX, did stupid jumps on anything 2 wheeled, raced MTB in the 90s, etc, etc. I had my share of crashes in all my 2-wheeled adventures. But, I considered my bike handling ability on a road bike to be above reproach andI think I was way beyond the point of thinking I might EVER crash as a result of my own actions. I can honestly say it was hard on my ego as well as my body :)

    Again, get well Patrick!!

  35. Gearoid

    Using my morning commute for training in May, I was about five minutes from the office when a car took a chance and tried to turn into a school from the opposite side of the road. My last memory of it is actually about twenty minutes previous – he hit me, I went over/onto the car and broke my collarbone (severely) and cracked my elbow. I was concussed enough to remember absolutely nothing.

    Turns out the guy is being pursued for dangerous driving (conspiciously, he didn’t have a licence on him at the time). That was in May – it was bad enough to not heal without assistance and only in September did my doctor realise that I needed a plate. Almost six months later I still haven’t been able to ride. There’ll be some serious base miles this winter.

  36. Dave

    Crashed late June this year on a group ride. Someone dodged a hole ahead and toke down the guy behind. I had nowhere to go. WWF body slam left me with a fractured pelvis and fractured helmet (better the helmet than the head)! No road rash or torn kit, go figure! Fine now, only more caution in groups!!

    Get well Padraig!

  37. Tominalbany

    My last crash was last year while commuting to work. I was JRA and then I was lying on the ground sliding across the road! I was making a right turn through a roundabout. As I was arching the turn, I went down and slid right across the full lane of traffic. Fortunately, there were no cars immediately behind me. though, by the time I got up, quickly, I might add, grabbed my bike and got out of the way, there was a car stopped, waiting for me to clear the lane. The only damage was a bit of road rash and a whole in my newest cycling shorts. The culprit was a fine layer of grit on the shoulder that I hit quickly enough, while turning, to hit the deck AND cross the entire lane. I recounted my accident to my biking friends and I still go wide and slow on that turn.

    Hope Padraig is recovered soon. My friend Mike broke his jaw when we were in college. He made meat smoothies. Grilled steak, burgers, chicken. Anything he could just to fight the hunger.

  38. Paul

    Last crash was really minor, tipped over sometime after shifting too late going up a really steep closed road. I was struggling with the chain catching when a guy passed me, saying, “Well, you’re f—ed.”

  39. Seano

    My last crash also required a skilled artist with the needle & thread on my upper lip. We were on the mtb and I just told my riding partner that I wasn’t ‘feeling it’ and had decided to back off considerably. Moments later my face touched down ala Jens Voigt’s big tour crash. Front wheel shot hard left and I folded my hands under me and I hit hard. I feel for Padraig, that’s for sure.

  40. Paul

    My last crash. I was riding to the ride, meeting friends in Princeton NJ. There’s a small bridge over a canal, and there was some very bad pavement and a gap between the road and the bridge. I’d bunny-hopped it many times, but this time I didn’t pay enough attention and came down with my bars at a slight angle. I lost the front wheel and came down hard on my right side, slamming my head into the road. Luckily my helmet did its job, and the road rash healed, but I’ve been suffering from shoulder pain ever since. There’s some tendon and ligament damage, but not enough for me to deal with surgery.

  41. Dan

    I had a good 15 years since a car pulled a u-turn out of a parking spot and spit me off my mtn bike/commuting rig. That all ended last month when I was navigating around road work on my home street, literally 200 ft from home. Somehow my front wheel found a large pothole at about 5 mph and stopped dead, sending me over the bars and into a large puddle of water related to the road work. all the skin off my right arm and elbow, both ankles bruised and swelling from slamming into the top tube and bars, numerous other scrapes and a broken rear derailleur to boot. At least it was on my old mtn. bike and not the new Parlee!

  42. Bill

    Earlier this spring I found myself to be an extremely lucky bike rider. While descending through the south section of the Red Rocks Park in Colorado I realized I was running behind on time and needed to pick it up a bit. Red Rocks has some nice switchbacks and the second one I found while descending was extremely tight. I had ridden the area before but not at the same speed. As I sailed around to corner my speed forced me across the yellow in front of a very large at the time Toyota Land Cruiser. I tried as hard as I could to get back to my side of the road but failed and remember thinking that the road was only six inches from my face as I finally slid out after hitting the brakes. I immediately sat up as I slid while the truck passed me and the rear quarter panel brushed my back and I realized how close I came to being a statistic. The driver stopped and he and his passenger were more surprised than I was. After a short conversation assuring them I was alright I rode home the 20 miles with my torn shorts knowing that I will never speed through a blind corner again unless it is a closed course. After 30 years of racing and riding with well over 150,000 miles it goes to show that all it can take is a second for your life to change. be safe out there….

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