Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

Filtering by Tag: crash

41.60 Miles 05/30/11 - bicycles are not watercraft

After two days of hammering I wanted to do a recovery ride.  It was also forecast to be 90, humid, and very windy, so the earlier I started the better.  For these reasons I decided to not go on a JBC group ride - it wouldn't start until 9 and I likely didn't have the legs to keep up.

I picked a trail I had ridden before - the V.L. Gilman Trail, which starts in Montgomery and ends in Sugar Grove, 11 miles away.  I started at 8 and my plan was to do it twice for a total of 44 miles.  This trail is paved and most of it is through trees, which helped cut down the wind.  As I came to within a mile of the end, a girl riding the other way informed me the trail was flooded ahead.  As I came up to it I thought I'd do what I normally do with a trail under water.  Slow down, stop pedaling, and ride through it.  I'd get a bit wet from the tire spary but nothing too bad.  Entering the water it was exactly as I expected.  Then it got different, FAST.  It must have been in an area where the trail dips, because before I knew it the water was over my hubs and my momentum came to an immediate halt.  It was at this time I found out how difficult it is to unclip from pedals when underwater.  Down I went.  SPLASH!

I got up, picked up my bike, and trudged out of it.  I had to dry out before heading back so I took off my shoes and socks and let them sit in the sun a bit.  I stopped several people from making the same mistake I did and had a laugh or two with them.  I was upset that my 40+ mile day was likely going to end up 20 miles short unless I dried off considerably. 

Turns out on the ride back that the wind and heat did it's job, drying me off enough to do it again.  Well, I stopped before the water this time.  By the time I finished it was close to 90 and the wind had really picked up. 

This made the 3rd day in a row with over 40 miles.  Good prep for RAGBRAI.

The GoPro was set to time-lapse again (a picture every 5 seconds), so it didn't catch the crash too well, but here it is:


Ride data:

A look into the past, pt. 2: twenty pound winged rats. (aka why I hate geese)

One spring day in 2008 I was riding down a crushed limestone trail that was originally a towpath along the I&M canal. Water + springtime means lots of 20 lb winged rats (known to some as Canadian Geese) along the trail. Spring also means their eggs have hatched and there are scores of "cute little furry but soon to be grown up" winged rats all over the place. Let me tell you something- if you think Canadian Geese are mean, you haven't seen anything until you've seen them as new parents. Overprotective, hissing more than usual, and charging. My ten mile ride out had no less than eight encounters with these monsters. Lots of hissing, rushing towards me, etc.

On the way back, the story was the same. Until about mile four. A line was crossed. One of them decides I'm a threat and attacks me. It leaps up, hits me in the helmet and is simultaneously kicking, flapping, and snapping at me. I veer off trail and am now in the loose stuff on the side at a bad angle which drops about 10 feet. Me and the bike go down (not too hard, and I didn't go over the handlebars) a few feet short of a nice 2 foot diameter tree. This damn thing is still on me! I am now on my right ride with my bike still on top of me, punching a full grown goose. Finally a swift kick with my free left leg gets him back up on the trail and heading back to his mate and the brats.

I pick myself up and immediately check for blood. Seeing none, I decide this bastard must die. Unfortunately I remember they are a protected migratory species in Illinois before I can act. Never mind the fact that they are here year-round and there are millions of them, they are protected and migratory. Distraught that I won't be able to satisfy my bloodlust, I pick myself and the bike up, climb back up to the trail, and check for damage. I have a scrape/bruise impression from my handlebar extenders above my left knee, and aside from the gears/chain being full of deteriorating leaves & twigs, the bike is fine.

I glare at the beast one final time and move on. The remainder of the ride is a little uneasy since I am now convinced I cant get back to the truck without two or three more brawls. Every time I come up on them, I decide to go really slow past them and avoid eye contact. I figure if I get attacked again I will kill it and with no previous record I am willing to gamble I'll get off with a year probation. Thankfully none of the others do much more than hiss and some ignore me completely.

A few miles later I come up on three Illinois DNR trucks. They stop ahead so I can get by. The last truck holds his hand out to me to stop. He wants to tell me they did some tree removal and the ground is softer than usual ahead. I thank him, tell him if I fall it won't be the first time that day. I tell him I was assaulted by a goose. He said, "oh, the problem is back!" Apparently this goose is well known to the crew but they hadn't had a run-in with it in a few months. He asked if I killed it. I said, "Isn't that illegal?" He replied, "only if we don't see you."

I asked him for a ride back and for him to look the other way, but he declined.


A look into the past, pt. 1 - the day I broke my hand

Since the riding season is winding down I thought I'd make a post every once in awhile about something that happened in the past.  The first trip takes us back to August 17th, 2008.  It was my first year really taking cycling seriously in at least seven years.  I had originally set a goal of 300 miles for the year (seemingly unattainable after my first ride back in April) and then readjusted it to 1,000 after I passed 500.

At the time I was riding a 2000 Trek 4500 hardtail mountain bike, mostly on crushed limestone trails.  I spent a lot of time on the I&M Canal trail between Channahon and Morris, trying to extend my distance.  By mid-August I had  700+ miles and I felt I was ready to try Channahon to Seneca and back, a distance of close to 50 miles.


So off I went.  At one point between Morris and Seneca the trail was closed since a sizeable chunk of the width of the path had eroded down a hill.  It was still passable, however, and was NOT the cause of my crash.  But since it was closed it wasn't being maintained, and grass had been growing on the trail, hiding all kinds of goodies.  Goodies that included a tree branch that had fallen, which I hit at about 16 or 17 mph. The contact caused me to wobble a bit and veer off-trail right into a tree root that was about the height of a curb.  The bike came to an immediate stop.  I did not.  Momentum took my feet right out of the clips and over the handlebar I went.  I landed on my left hand and before I had even stopped rolling I knew I had broken bones.  I just didn't know how many and how bad it was going to be.  I tried to call my wife who was at work but had very spotty cell service.  She heard enough to tell me she'd let the 911 center for the area know and they'd come and get me.  The thing was, I was two miles from a road, and if they had to go down a closed trail to get me I'd probably be in trouble and even worse - I might have to leave my bike behind.  No way in hell was that happening.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the bike.  That thing was a tank.  So I decided to ride one-handed back to the last road I passed two miles earlier.  It was about 20 back to my truck and there was no way I could do that with broken bones. I had no idea of the name of the road, so when I called 911 I was counting on them triangulating my position.  They couldn't, so I gave them my GPS coordinates off my Garmin bike computer.  Thankfully the ambulance that came to get me was big enough to load my bike into it, too.  Off to the Morris Hospital ER we went.  I called friends who live in Morris to come to the hospital and get my car keys so they could get it for me.  They were awesome to do that for me :).

The swelling was pretty bad by the time I was in a room.  It took two nurses about five minutes and half a bottle of lube to get my wedding ring off.  They were about to give up and tell me they had to cut it off when my finger finally let it go.

I got some x-rays and waited for the damage report: broken 4th & 5th metacarpal bones on my left hand, as well as severe swelling in those fingers, with a possible broken pinky finger.  The fitted me with a temporary cast and told me to see an orthopedic doctor in the morning.  The next day I had a cast put on, which would stay with me for four weeks.  When it was removed, the metacarpal bones had healed but I couldn't bend either finger and had almost no grip at all because of it.  What followed was over three months of physical therapy, which was quite painful at times, but allowed for me to get most of my grip and power back.  Unfortunately, my pinky finger is permanently bent at the middle knuckle at about 45 degrees, but I can live with that