Have you crashed yet? I did.

I wrote this article months ago and have been sitting on this one. Not quite sure why.

Crashing is a part of cycling and it’s usually a scary topic for most new and even seasoned cyclists. I was going to rewrite this article once or twice because I thought it sounded to much like a police report. I wrote this article when it was fresh so I would be able to capture the details.

If you choose to read this I hope you take something away from this that keeps you from crashing. We have an old adage in cycling, “Their are those who have crashed and those that are going to crash.” I don’t want this quote to make you apprehensive about cycling. I do know people who haven’t ever crashed as cyclists. I didn’t for years!

Yep I crashed just before the Thanksgiving holiday in a training ride. Was it a horrendous wreck? No. Did it hurt? Yes. Was it preventable? Maybe.

What happened?

I was out on a Sunday “easy” training ride the day after I ran 5K race. First mistake: The day after a race, take the day off, active recovery only! If you ride the day after a race its better to ride alone at a recovery pace.

A new teammate and I had been out for a while when we had reached the halfway point on a mostly non-technical route that had 2 corners that can be taken at speed. The first corner was early on in the ride so no problems. Once at the halfway point we stopped and ate a little bit before heading off. After climbing the biggest hill of the ride we had a very fast descent to a right turn. At the bottom of the right turn we had a choice of going straight or baring right. We agreed we would bare right over a bridge.

“One of the things as a competitive racer you have to learn is to follow people through turns at high speed or get spit off the back.”

I was following close when my teammate decide to change lines because as I was scrubbing speed my tire skidded in some cinders/gravel that isn’t normally in the turn. Why was there gravel in a turn that wasn’t there before? Recent heavy rains had washed out driveways and loose asphalt corners and shoulders.

As I started to skid I did what I have practiced. Get off the brakes sit up a bit in the saddle and feather the breaks. Then I see what I think is the reason my teammate changed course. The road had some really nasty damage in the way of loose layers of asphalt. These were not there before.

At this point I decided to correct my steering mid turn because I was positive I would wipe out big time after the skid into that nasty 2′ lip of exposed asphalt and into the woods or off the stupid bridge.

As I corrected my line thorough the corner I was heading towards the same point of the road my teammate who was going through at a much slower speed than me. This means I would be passing him on the right. Never, Never, Never pass on the right!!!! But man that soft shoulder was enticing.

At this point much to my teammates dismay he heard my yell out “No, No, No”. He thought I was barking orders at him. Quite the contrary I was already yelling at myself for making such a stupid decision. At this point my front wheel went right into his back wheel. Many of us may not know this but it is possible to stay up right when overlapped wheels touch. I was going to try and steer away after smacking into his rear wheel but I was to fast and my reaction time wasn’t fast enough to compensate for the collision so I went down.

The Assessment

I ended up with a few scrapes and my bike landed on me, as I did not come unclipped. So zero damage to the bike, no torn kit and I was in one piece. I will be sore and bruised and not just my ego. So I checked the bike out and put the chain back on.

Now on to the hard part riding 15 miles home stinging, bleeding but not really feeling any pain. Well the human body is an amazing machine and it knows what to do in these cases. Dump some adrenaline in to the blood stream! Adrenaline kicks in under times of duress and injury and it will block pain. I know I have a limited reserve of adrenaline so I am going to hustle home before the aching begins.

The Clean Up

Here is the fun part, cleaning up after the wreck. Gentleman, reason 1001 for shaving legs as a competitive/serious cyclist: Road Rash. Don’t believe me? Email me the next time you slide across the asphalt with hairy legs and let me know how it feels after the wounds start to scab over. No more excuses get slick because you are going to wreck one of these days.

So I scrubbed the scrapes thoroughly with plain old soap and water. I do not use peroxide as it can cause soft tissue damage. Took a shower and once out I set about getting the bloodstains out of my kit. What was miraculous to me is I did not put a hole in my new long sleeve jersey or my new long sleeve base layer but still managed a good scrape on my elbow. I know that wearing a base layer under a kit will allow for the kit to slide over the body with less resistance/friction but I am still fascinated by the scrape to the skin.

Getting the blood stains out is easy, just some Shout stain cleaner and sink full of cold water will do the trick every time.

After a hot shower thorough scrubbing of raw skin I am starting to feel the wreck sink in to my hip. So I rubbed in some antibiotic cream and put a large bandage over my elbow. To deal with swelling and pain I took some Ibuprofen and applied some ice to the hip for 30 minutes. Then chilled out on the couch making sure to elevate my legs.

I am happy to say that after 2 weeks that the bruising was mostly gone. If I sit to long the hip still aches but even now this mostly gone.

This wreck could have been much worse. I attribute the lack of severity to scrubbing speed early and to all the time in the weight room. Strong muscles react better to trauma than does flab.

Lessons learned form this crash

  • Know the route your riding when riding aggressively
  • Be aware that weather can affect road conditions.
  • Do Not Half Wheel
  • Practice Emergency/Panic stops w/wo riding partners/teammates
  • Communicate technical aspects of rides with ride partners
  • Assess damage to your self then your bike before riding off
  • Wrecks hurt so get home fast
  • Clean wounds appropriately and keep them clean
  • Shout and cold water will get out blood stains in Lycra
  • Hot showers followed by stretch and icing can speed recovery from some trauma
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