Friday, April 29, 2011


There are years that I have ridden on the road that I have not seen a single crash on the road (this would be highly unusual for the dirt, but mountain bike crashes "usually" are less likely to result in a serious injury).  You can't watch a race on TV without seeing someone hit the deck, often from a touch of wheels or, as the Europeans call it, traffic furniture (meaning all of the stuff on the road to direct cars and pedestrians), but thankfully crashing is not a daily, weekly or even monthly part of road riding. 

This year, however, I have witnessed two crashes in this young season.  Both of them were just seconds of imbalance that resulted in painful asphalt slides.  In one instance a foot came unclipped (probably from walking on and around some mud/snow/ice a few hundred yard earlier), so that the riders foot jerked off the pedal.  His leg may have hit the handlebars or it may have just been the sudden motion, but I saw the wobble left, the wobble right and then a fairly high-speed slide that looked like it hurt.  This rider lost some skin on his face, broke a couple of ribs and is still dealing with shoulder issues a number of weeks later, which may require surgery.

The other fall was this last weekend.  It looked less painful and hopefully the injuries will be less, but it was another moment of inbalance and a slide across the pavement.  In the second case, the rider looked over his shoulder, as I have seen him do hundreds of times, but this time he moved just a touch to the opposite direction and bumped into/leaned on a rider next time him.  A wobble left, a wobble right and all of a sudden the pavement to skin equation was playing out again, with the pavement winning.  This time claiming a new pair of shorts, some handlebar tape and arm warmers.  It could have been a lot worse, but it still wasn't much fun.

So what is the point to this blog?  Every once in a while we hear someone say, "Keep the rubber side down", or when we line up for a local training race we get a reminder that we all have to go to work tomorrow, or as Ken Chlouber said at the Leadville 100, "The chances you should take on a bike are inverse to the size of your mortgage," these are all reminders that is is important to be careful out riding.  Going from fun to not fun only takes a moment.  This isn't to say that cycling is all danger and misery.  I have ridden thousands and thousands of miles safely, but it only takes a moment for one of those miles to turn into a bad memory.  As the weather warms and we all start to put in more miles, let's remember to do it safely and keep it fun.

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