It’s not a matter of IF…

They say that when it comes to having an accident on the bike, it isn’t not a matter of if it is a matter of when. This weekend was my first “when”. 

The day started out full of omen (slipping on my buddy’s stairs and falling down in my cleats) and then he did the same. Wet leaves can be very treacherous! In the process of my slip and slide down a flight of stairs, I lost my glasses. When I fell they flew off my head and went in to a black hole nearby. I still don’t know where they went.

Not wanting to be late for the ride, we rolled out, me without eye protection. It was our first ride with this group, so we were both apprehensive. We rolled out at a moderate pace of 18mph or so, each taking turns at the front of the paceline. It was only a few miles in that the pace increased to 20+ and the hills started. After a brief but steep hill, I was off the back by about 50′ trying to get my heart rate down below 180. I knew I could easily catch back up, and that a downhill was coming up. The pack went out of sight over the ride and I laid down the hammer to catch up. Down the hill and around a curve, now pushing 30mph I saw a very cagey turn approaching. It was a shady, damp two lane road, with a down hill left turn, but the lane was almost covered in wet leaves. I hit the brakes a little to slow down before the turn and I immediately felt the back wheel slide about a foot left and right. Knowing that I needed to slow down, I eased up on the back brakes, applied evenly to the front as well, but now the bike was wobbling like a drunken sailor and I knew I had lost control of the bike. I fixed my eyes on the far bank of dirt of the turn hoping to ditch there. 

I didn’t make it. About five feet from the edge of the road the bike laid down beneath me. I remember hitting the ground. I slid for a while and then I think a tumble, and then I was off the road facing the other way. I saw a car coming around the corner and pulled myself off the road, quickly dragging my bike with me as the car passed within inches of running over my fallen steed. 

I slowly did an inventory of everything that hurt. Nothing seemed broken, but my shoulder hurt, my hip felt like it had been hit with an anesthetic, and my neck started to stiffen up almost immediately. I picked up my water bottles that went in two different directions and then my bike and realized that the front wheel was bent badly enough that it wouldn’t turn, even with the brakes all the way open. 

I walked down the hill a few feet to get off of the blind curve and sat on a rock wall to consider my next action. My buddy called my cell to see why I hadn’t caught up yet (sometimes I drop back but am back in the pack pretty quickly). I told him I went down in a bad turn and that I wasn’t riding. He came racing back. He called his wife and insisted that I go to the hospital. 

The hospital dressed my wounds (mostly road rash, some cuts and blood, etc) and X-Rayed my shoulder. Nothing broken. Phew! After the hospital I took the bike straight to the shop. The bike is the important part of this story, right? On the surface, aside from the front wheel, and some cosmetic scratches (and a sizable chip in the carbon near the steerer tube) the bike “seemed” ok. The shop is going to pull apart the head tube and ensure that nothing is bent or out of whack.

In the mean time, today is the dreaded “day after”. My shoulder hurts badly enough that I was glad to know that it isn’t broken. Without the X-Rays, I would think that something was. Bandages and Neosporin for the cuts and road rash, a sling for the shoulder and meds for the rest of the pain. The hip, shoulder and arms are all road rashed, and the amount of bruising and swelling is enough to keep my movement limited.

The good news is that it could have been worse. Much worse. It is an accident I can walk away from (or limp at least). Here’s to a speedy recovery for both me and my bike!

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The commute…

BikeCommuteTwo weeks ago I rode to and from work. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it isn’t that far of a commute. In fact, it is only 7 miles, and with those few miles, it is all relatively flat. Here is how it shakes out…

Out the door and through some relatively residential streets (for this area, that is rare). Then on to a larger road with lights every 3 blocks and down a long hill. Across 8 lanes of the “Boulevard of death” and make a left. Some climbing to follow, then a nice bike path, some descending and then the bridge.  The bridge is the only real climb. It is about a hundred feet. Gently sloped and long going in to the city, steep and short coming home.  After the bridge, all bets are off. It is like trying to ride your bike inside a blender. The city streets of Manhattan are bad enough most of the time, add in the rush hour traffic the proximity to a bridge/tunnel and we are into full-on mayhem.  There is a bike lane. I swear there is. Cars and drivers don’t know or care though, and it becomes a fast paces game of “thread the needle” between cabs, trucks and buses. The only comfort here is that I am not alone. I am right on the wheel of some other commuter in front of me, and there is a long line of cyclist behind me.  After a few hectic blocks I am at work.

Two weeks ago I rode in, and somehow strained something in my back or my glutes. Much like last time, I felt it start to tighten and strain like an anchor line on a cargo ship. Somehow my time for the ride home was the fastest I have done, but I was laid out on my back for almost a week afterwards.  The commute will resume in a few weeks. I don’t want to chance hurting myself again before the Gran Fondo, the Ride to Montauk or the Harpoon B2B.

I said I wouldn’t do that…

When I started this blog, one of the things I told myself is that I would write. For better or for worse, I would continue to write. This wouldn’t be like a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym, where most people go for about six weeks and then you never see them again until they want to cancel their membership.  I WANT to write. I want to write about cycling. I want to share the experience of it, as best as I can using words. (OK, and maybe some pictures and/or videos)

After the battle with Bronchitis last month, training went back in to full swing. The following week, we rode 115 miles up and over Bear Mountain. It was my first time seeing it from a bike, and I was scared. I guess the training has paid off so far, because while it was a difficult 4.5 mile climb, it wasn’t terrible. We took our time, and talked the whole way up. We rounded a bend and were surprised that we had reached the top already.  A long day on the bike overall, but a great ride.

Then another disaster struck. Last week I was riding home from work (more about the commute via bike later) and my back started to hurt. The type of back pain you-know-will-be-a-problem-later kind of sore. By the time I got home it was dark out and I could hardly carry my bike up the stairs. The next day could best be described as excruciating pain. I could barely walk. My lower back had completely seized up and hurt to move even a little bit. Like an idiot with no sense I went to work anyway, and was performing a hobble/shuffle from my desk to my many meetings. The next morning I couldn’t walk at all.

That weekend I had to make the call that I wouldn’t be on the training ride. It was a difficult call to make, but I knew that in the long run, it would be best. Instead I offered my services to map out a difficult ride in my absence. Later it was quoted as “one of the hardest rides we have ever done” by those who rode it.

This week my back is feeling better. The muscles have relaxed and I can now feel that the source of the issue wasn’t my back at all, but a combination of my hips and my hamstrings. Stretching has helped that along in preperation for this week’s epic ride. We are planning for 140 miles, and about 11,000 ft of climbing. It will be a very long, difficult day. The Gran Fondo (110 miles, hilly) is only 2 weeks away now, the Montauk Ride (150 miles, flat) only 4 weeks away and the Harpoon B2B (150 miles, hilly) only 6 weeks away, this weekend is the last of the hard training rides until late June/July.  

More posts to follow. There is too much to update in a single post.