Friday, December 30, 2016


     After a recent incident, I posted that in the last thirty years I'd crashed seven times and have been fortunate enough to have escaped without a breaking a bone.  That number was "off the top of my head" but now I have taken the time to remember all of them, not counting falling over after just getting my first set of clips.
     The first time came as I was following my son out of the neighborhood (McNeil Road and I-35 for those in the Round Rock area).  We have to cross railroad tracks.  Yes, we know how to cross them.  But for some reason, maybe traffic, he swerved and got caught and went down, and I swerved to miss him and also caught my wheel and went down.  More embarrassment than anything, we got up and continued riding.
     My second crash happened in the garage.  I recently purchased a set of rollers to assist in winter preparation for my coast-to-coast journey (2001).  Like a sophomore, I became over-confident.  The rollers were situated next to a wall so I could use it to help in balancing.  One day my mind wandered and when I finished my workout, I applied the brakes rather than put my hand on the wall.  Next thing I knew, I fell over (like that tv clip of the guy on a trike falling over).  No time to unclip. Big bruise on my hip.  Forever after, I don't use a wall, rather something I can get a hand around, like the side of my pick-up, or the back porch fence.
     The third time I was along the I-35 access road near Jarrell.  I had the right-of-way, but it was on an incline and my speed only in the 5 mph range.  I saw the pick-up slowing for his stop sign, mentally registered he was stopping and kept peddling.  Rather than a complete stop, he rolled through and we collided, my front wheel to his left front fender.  This was a long ride, therefore I had my Camelbak on, and it took the brunt of me and the bike hitting his fender.  He was most apologetic and paid for a new wheel, in addition to transporting me back to my car.  I only had a big bruise and minor road rash.
     The fourth time I got caught in a drizzle after a long dry spell.  The smooth asphalt was slick.  Anderson Mill and 620 for those in the area.  I cautiously made the right turn off 620 but the back wheel slid out from under me and I slid across the lane and into the raised median.  Neither I nor the bike sustained any damage.  But the reason I remember this so well is the lady going north, waiting for the red light to change.  She steadfastly refused to acknowledge my presence, only a few feet under her car door.  Lucky for me, I didn't have any traffic waiting for me to extricate myself and get righted.
     Number five was the scariest.  It was my Sunday morning ride, on Bee Cave Road just west of 360, going downhill at close to 40 mph.  As I approached Addie Roy Road, a stopped pick-up pulled out right in front of me.  I hit the brakes and swerved right, into Addie Roy, but my rear wheel slid on gravel and I went down really hard.  Again, the Camelbak rescued me, but I lay in the middle of the road for a good three minutes, just trying to breathe and mentally check my body.  The pick-up kept driving, but apparently his conscience got the better of him and he circled back (it took several minutes).  The irony in this was he was a cyclist going out to start his ride!  I had to call my wife to gather me and the bike up.
     Number six happened on a group ride.  Our group leader is very conscientious about safety, and always gives a briefing before we start out.  One of his points is that on left turns we shouldn't be cutting the corner into the lane of oncoming traffic, but keep it wide into our own lanes.  This was in the fall (actually winter, but it was when the trees shed their leaves).  On one particular corner the combination of turning wide and wet leaves in the gutter had me once again on the ground.  Pook ding-fu!  I had a cut finger, and my left knee had a few gashes.  I still have the tatoo they left, three years since, but it is slowly fading.
     And the last one.  Another group ride, Christmas Eve.  A nice twenty mile (was going to be thirty, but things happened so we cut it short) to downtown Austin and back.  I really enjoyed the riding, and tucked in behind a friend with whom I've ridden before.  We were on a concrete hike/bike trail when he lost concentration and wandered off into the grass.  A slight over-correction on his part, and slow reaction on mine, and wheels touched.  I went down in a hurry.  Again, I had the Camelbak, this time festooned with lights.  So many times, this type of crash results in a broken collarbone.  I escaped with only minor road rash.  Not even my jersey (my Christmas one) was torn.
     Each accident has taught me a lesson, and I remain quite thankful it didn't come with a broken bone.  Maybe after reading this, you too will change a bad habit or become more aware of your surroundings when out riding.  As Professor Moody would exclaim: CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

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