Friday, January 8, 2016

Bike Crash

Cycling Disaster

On December 27th I was finishing a great year of biking, the most miles ever in 30 years of cycling. It was wonderfully mild for late December, and I rode in summer gear. To avoid wet pavement and slippery bike path wooden bridges I pedaled on relatively safe roads and made wide, slow, careful turns to be safe. While cruising along, feeling good, at the 18-mile point of a planned 41-mile ride, disaster struck.

Near completion of a short 40-meter bike path segment, I approached a right angle turn onto a residential street. The first picture below shows my view of the upcoming disaster. Imagine a car about to turn onto the street from the left. Notice the yellow-striped vertical traffic barrier ahead.
As I approached the intersection I watched the oncoming car about to make a turn in front of me onto the residential street beyond the traffic barrier. I slowed to allow the car to turn and clear out of the way. While watching the car and braking, I momentarily lost track of my line of travel on the bike trail. When the car completed its turn and my gaze returned to pavement ahead, the traffic barrier was suddenly only inches away!
It was impossible to avoid hitting the obstacle. Bang! There was a sickening collision on my right side at somewhere between 10 and 15 mph. In an instant I was lying on my back, stunned.
My right knee absorbed most of the impact. In physics terms, kinetic energy was converted to a little heat and lots of deformation. It was no contest between my knee and the solid traffic barrier! Guess which one deformed more. It happened very fast, so I'm not exactly sure where my knee hit. But as you can see from the picture above, there were many lacerating opportunities as my knee slid from left to right across the bolts and rectangular metal edges.

I cursed my stupidity and wondered if I could complete my planned ride. My knee took quite a strong blow and was initially throbbing. A kindly passing motorist named, Terry, stopped to ask if I was ok. I told him I thought I was going to be alright. Then he looked at my knee and said, "You're going to need stitches!" When I looked at my knee for the first time I saw a deep gash about 1.25 inches long and maybe an eighth to a quarter of an inch deep below the kneecap. That shook me up! Soon blood started running down my leg. Terry gave me some paper towels to press on the wound. Then we put three band-aids perpendicularly across the cut to hold it together.

I was so lucky to be helped by such a nice man! Terry loaded my bike into his car, got an ice pack for me from his nearby home, and drove me home where I met C who just arrived home from her own bike ride. This was my first chance to closely examine the bike for damage. My leg wasn't the only thing ruined. The top tube on my carbon fiber frame was gouged and cracked! This added to my distress. Not only was my knee smashed, not only was my biking mileage goal for the year unobtainable, but my beautiful, beautiful road bike was ruined! I love that bike! The top tube was gouged and shredded as shown in the next picture.
There was no time to mourn the bike. We drove to Urgent Care where, after more than an  hour wait, six stitches eventually closed the gash below my kneecap. Soon my swollen knee became very stiff and painful.
I'd been laid low. No running, no biking, no weight lifting. It took 30 seconds just to get up from a chair, and minutes to limp painfully from one room to another. Sleeping was difficult. In addition to the knee injury I had also jammed one of my fingers. But, slowly, the swelling eased, and flexibility returned by fractional inches per day. Eventually, I could walk almost normally and begin light weight lifting again. After 10 days the stitches were removed. My knee is much better, but still not normally flexible. It won't bend back completely. I'll have to wait at least another week before trying to run or bike again.

Now I'm wondering what to do about my ruined bike. My beloved damaged bike is only three years old with 12,000 miles on it, but it's unwise to ride on a damaged frame with uncertain structural integrity. As far as I can see, only the top tube is wrecked. All other components are in excellent condition. Apparently, it's possible to repair carbon fiber frames, but there are no repair shops nearby. It would be great to buy a new replacement frame. Unfortunately, Trek no longer makes my particular frame. Perhaps I can fit the wheels and other intact components onto a new frame from a different model bike. Or, I could buy a completely new bike. I need to explore the options. 

In addition to the obvious gouge in the top tube, there are many fine cracks radiating from the gouge. You can see cracks on top of the tube in the next picture.
The gouge has crumbled the tube side into separate flakes.
 From the bottom even more cracks are visible.
Every time I look at the broken bike I want to cry. It was such a perfect, beautiful machine! I would gladly have traded more temporary leg damage and pain for an unblemished bike. It's particularly disturbing to have crashed when I was consciously trying to be safe! Now I'm wondering if I'm getting too old to ride and risk more crashes like this.

Friday, January 1, 2016


A Great Day For Kids

What's more fun for kids than Christmas morning? This year Sophie helped fill plates for everyone's delicious breakfast. She was very patient waiting for the presents.
Sophie holds her new Furby while Ellen reads basic Furby language. "Can I get a what, what?".
Really, really big presents are always fun!
Annabelle enjoyed opening presents in Daddy's loving arms.
Riding a new tricycle in the house is fun, but it's more fun outside with a backpack in mild December weather.
When morning ends it's nice to know there will be more presents before dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Goodies cover the floor and kids are safely enveloped in a happy family embrace.
My best present this year was sharing the day with Ellen, Keegan, Sophie, Annabelle, and C.

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon