POSTMORTEM of a CRASH
by Capt. Dink ~
Ever think about what you would do if the inevitable should happen. Even though there are endless variables concerning crashs, a rider can prepare for some of the more common ones. Just ask your fellow riders what they would have done differently to avoid their crash injury and follow heed.
While on Cycle Oregon XV this year I had the unfortunate experience of a in the ditch crash caused by my distraction of a bee landing on my right knee. Though sobering, Im a very lucky bent driver. Why - you ask? Well lets just say the Bent Gods were looking over me. This article is not so much to describe my adventure through the rocks and into a dust bowl next to a barbed wire fence. My hope is to perhaps allow you to evaluate for yourselves what will you do if a similar crisis happens to yourselves. Ask yourself which is more important get stung or to crash. It very well could lead to both depending on a riders commitment to a pre-decision. For those of you who are allergic to bee stings make your choice appropriately.
My crash happened near the end of day three of a seven-day tour. I had just passed a pace line at around 26mph and was pulling back near the road shoulder after passing when I felt something on my right knee. I quickly looked through the opening of my body sock and found that I had an unwelcome yellow jacket perched upon my right knee. I immediately stop peddling bracing myself for the sting and hoping more that it would just fly on. As I took another peek through the opening of the body sock to sweep it away with the back of my hand the yellow jacket flew off. As I returned my gaze back to the road, I see myself leaving the asphalt at a 30% angle headed directly into the ditch. I have no chance of turning back onto the pavement because I have just run off the road and am now in some serious loose shoulder rock. A thought flashed through my head, saying, stay in the pedals. I had but one goal and that was to keep the bike upright and hopefully have room to stop brakes dont work well in this situation so one must maintain control with modest control movements. I managed to pass between two of three basketball sized rocks but then saw a barbed wire fence quickly approaching. I have no choice but to lay it down as I did I came to rest in a loose pile of powdered dirt mixed with small rock.
The dust was absolutely everywhere - I couldnt see a thing for a few moments. I unclip from the pedals and pull myself out from under the bodysock and stand up brushing off the dirt. Im pumped with adrenaline Ive been here before as I used to race dirt bikes. Racing means crashing. I make myself do a reality check. I take inventory of myself. I cannot detect any injuries. I think to myself humbly, gaud Im fortunate! A few of the pace line riders I had just passed were running down into the ditch asking if I am OK I say yes I think so feeling embarrassed Are you sure, a women asked as I pick up my bike and push it up on to the road. I respond - I have just damaged my pride big time, but I think that will heal, as I smiled to her.
One of the guys asked what had happened? I said that a bee had landed on my knee and distracted me. Another ask if the bike is ridable? I said I dont know! I put it up on the kickstand to spin each wheel. Both are as true as the start of the tour remarkable I think to myself I run the shifter through the gears and it shifts perfectly. Another guy said God man it looked like a car crash with all the dirt that you kicked up. I smiled at him and thought of passed crashes that I have had with cars, trucks, and motorcycles and their comparisons. Weird what one thinks about under a crisis situation. After they felt sure I was OK they left. I thanked them graciously for stopping and their concern for my well being. I take time to reflect as Im dusting off the seat, and the new stars and strips body sock, the fairing is completely covered both inside and out with dirt. The black Tour Easy is totally dirt brown, this bike looked like I had been plowing the back 40 on the farm with it. I spend a few moments looking over the bike thoroughly checking for joint cracks, frame alignment, dents and scratches. Seeing none I walk back to look at the entry path of the crash to see if there were any other options besides what I took. The large rocks were definitely something that would have ruined my trip. They were no more than fourteen inches apart. I could see the corrective measures I had made to thread between them - this is too surreal. I get on the bike and ride it slowly for a while and am prepared for something to happen it rides perfectly. As I bring it back up to my cruising speed I am possessed by what I could have done to prevent this from happening. After some time in thought, Ive decided the next time, I will risk getting stung while I bring the bike to a stop. Im not allergic to bee stings so its not a life or death thing for me. Riding on a bike and having bees landing on me could very likely happen again so Ill follow my plan.
Im thankful by being blessed by the bent gods for the moderate damage to the fairing and no injury to myself. Im also thankful for those who had written articles of their related crashes so I could learn from them. I particularly recall the articles about the bent riders who were injured when trying to handle their bike with their feet out of the pedals causing foot suck. Reading these articles formed a self-coaching effect for me. I would tell myself - in an emergency keep your feet in the pedals buster. It paid off for me this time due to pre-planning. Now I have a new rule for myself stop the bike fool worry about the bee later. I hope this story and others like this will help you to prepare yourselves for the inevitable. We all know its going to happen sooner or later we WILL crash its just a matter of when.
A BIG THANKS to Karl Abbe of Zzipper Fairing your product really does prevent injury. After washing the fairing down the next morning it had taken quite a beating thus protecting me. My left leg and foot was fully extended up under the fairing as I laid the bike down on its left side.
THANK YOU Gardner Martin for building a machine that is durable. It protects the rider from the typical over the handle bars bike related injurys. This bike is likely to pull through a crash with minimal repair. In my case the bike needed only minor superficial attention.
Lonnie Capt. Dink Morse