Sunday, September 26, 2010

Road Bike Crash Test Dummy

Each ride I take holds new lessons.  This time I didn't see the crash test coming but I aced it -- with flying colors!  Well maybe an A- (my first crash was more spectacular).  What scraped and road rashes I dodged the first time was finally due.

I followed John on Las Vegas Boulevard along the flat 20-mile stretch of road between St. Rose Parkway and Jean.  My shadow chased his on the side of the road as we sped along, ducking in and out of bushes and dipping in the rumble strips.

Rumble strips are a great road safety feature for alerting inattentive drivers from straying off the road but the same vibration is causes vehicles can damage a bicycle and lead to bike crashes or cause a flat tire.  These poorly placed rumble strips also take up much of the precious shoulder (not to mention all the debris and gravel scattered along what shoulder is left) we did not have much of a choice but to ride in the travel lane.  Not a big problem since traffic was really light on Saturday morning.  I also had not planned on sliding across it either.
Nevertheless we had a great ride all the way to Sandy Valley Lane and were heading back. We had a head wind going out and so we thought we would have a tail wind on the way back but it was not use hoping. I had read that the First Law of Bicycling was 'no matter which way you ride it's uphill and against the wind' and sure enough the wind was stronger on the way back.

We had ridden well over two hours a few miles since departure from Jean and with the wind resistance I was starting to get really tired and ducked behind John.  He offered several times to ride me back to Jean and he can pick me up in the car but I insisted on riding with him (he can tell when I am tired and sloppy bike handling skills usually follow).

Pushing hard against the wind we were still moving pretty fast, passing a group of riders who were also on their way back to Henderson.  I was drafting John and to my detriment was too close to his wheel.  In the second he shifted to a higher gear and stood up on his bike, like a sail the wind resistance suddenly slowed him in front of me.  With me hanging on to his wheel, weary, and unmindful of what was happening in front me, I half wheeled his but was too late to react.  My eyes could only watch as his wheel and mine clashed side to side--his swung one way and mine the other.

This happened once before but this time I was too weak to fight and knew I was going down in to the shoulder.  My right elbow and knee landed on the rumble strips; they scraped my flesh like a cheese grater.  Then momentum carried me forward placing my right arm under and behind me as I went sliding across the shoulder on my side in to the gravel and dirt.  In that instant, I heard the sound and felt the sensation of coarse sand paper across my skin and knew I would be left with some raw dermis.
I did not feel any pain that would indicate broken bones so I layed there on my side, face on the gravel and admiring the road from a bug's eye point of view. I saw John stopped and turned back, riding towards me. My right foot was still clipped in but tangle in my bike which was facing the opposite direction of traffic so I didn't bother getting up until he lifted my bike off me.

The group we had passed caught up to us and asked if I was okay. I was good enough to ride and fortunately my bike was too or I would have been stranded awaiting a vehicle like the last time I crashed.  We rode the rest of the way, about 15 miles home. The wind licked at my scrapes; they stung but I didn't care. I just wanted to be home and out of the blasted wind.

When I cleaned up and cut away dead tissue I saw the extent of my injuries; fortunately just flesh wounds but they needed to be taken care of to prevent scarring or infections.  The inside and outside of my elbows and knee got the worst.  My shoulders will heal quickly and my hip soon thereafter.

I am grateful for all the advice from our friends who had a wealth of experience from crashing and treating their own road rashes.  I will have to post those resources for future reference because I am sure this will not be the last time.  Hopefully I will not continue this trend of monthly crashes.  Not only is it expensive but soon I will not have much of a bike left if I keep grinding it down (John jokes).

I know this ride did not end on a high note but it does not change how I feel about cycling.  I will still ride and I cannot wait to ride again soon.  Especially now that I have bandages as padding for the next time my skin meets the road.


JoeinVegas said...

Ouch. Sorry, but things tend to happen when you are tired out like that.

Anonymous said...

Wow Daly. You are really a tough woman. I would have laid on the ground and felt sorry for myself. The fact that you were willing to ride home after that nasty crash is inspiring. Keep up the great work. I am so proud of you. :)

Anonymous said...

Ouch !

As earlier posted, you are tough !

Keep it up...

Annejelynn said...

OMG girl! That all looks sooo awful! you must be sooo sore! e