Fall — Not the Season

So, just after I posted about picking up my training regimen, Central Texas was treated to a round of cool, wet weather. My Friday afternoon ride had to go by the boards, because I just didn’t want to get out in that drizzle. Saturday didn’t start out well either, with real rain falling for a bit.

Austin has been trying to recover from the severe drought that hit in 2011, so when it rains — even a little bit — it’s cause for rejoicing. But that means the bike routine must be altered, with more rides at different times than one might be accustomed to.

So, at about 3:30 Saturday afternoon, I looked outside, took note of the fact that it had stopped drizzling, and that the streets were starting to dry off.

“I’m going for a ride,” I told my wife.

“Don’t knock yourself out,” she said.

The ride was easy enough. Sure, the streets were wet, but they had no standing water. I cruised up a wide suburban arterial, made a U-turn, and then turned off into a little neighborhood where I like to ride to add a bit of distance to this particular route. (And to gawk at the houses that I will never in my wildest dreams ever be able to afford.)

The neighborhood ends with a cul-de-sac. As I started a wide left turn to head back the way I came, I realized that it was a lot wetter here than it had been other places a long the route. Just as I reached that conclusion, I felt my rear wheel start to slide.

Crap. I’ve been here before. Once the slide starts, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. At least, I’ve never mastered a way to deal with it. That wheel went out from under me, and I hit the asphalt hard.

Now, when you’re falling, you must resist the natural urge to brace yourself or you can hurt your hand and wrist. Knowing you should resist and actually doing it are two different things. My hand went out and probably absorbed some of the impact. But as I lie there on the ground, I could tell that it was sore.

I picked myself up, brushed some water and dirt off my thigh, and did a quick assessment of the bike. Computer knocked askew, but no damage. The bang on my hip didn’t seem too bad — at least I think I’d been hurt worse in some other falls I’ve taken, including one in 2009 that was eerily like this one.

When you fall off a horse, you get back on — and I did. I thought I’d continue the ride, which is about a 20-mile loop on neighborhood streets and the Veloway. But by the time I reached the Veloway, my left hand was really bothering me. The heel of the hand — the fleshy padded part at the bottom — ached against the handlebar. I rode slower than usual, not wanting to test my luck against the Veloway’s still-wet curves. I made it home without further mishap.

Some Arnica rub on the hip, a couple of Ibuprofen, and I’m good to go. Sleep was fitful, since I kept rolling onto the sore hip, which woke me up each time, and I’m not sure about a Sunday ride. If I go, it’ll be short.

And I should probably start drilling myself in bike crash avoidance techniques.

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12 thoughts on “Fall — Not the Season

  1. Sorry to hear about the fall. Its amazing how long it takes to hit the floor once you know its going to happen. You could write your mother a letter. As I get older I am sure the ground gets harder. Take care.

    • I keep telling myself that I’m too old to fall. Not because I’m such an experienced rider, but because it hurts too much. Two days after the fall, I have the biggest bruise I’ve ever had (remarkable shades of red and purple), and I ache through my chest when getting out of chairs. But I’ll be raking the yard later this morning, and maybe sneak in a bike ride this afternoon — just to see if I can handle it.

  2. Keep calm and carry on. You could be British!

    I’m not sure what sort of crash avoidance techniques there are apart from being careful on slippery surfaces. Like you, I don’t have a good feel for when my bike is about to slip. One microsecond all seems well, the next I am horizontal. Without seeing how you fell, it seems like you had a pretty good technique. As you say, you don’t want to brace yourself with your hand, but you also don’t want to have your shoulder absorb the impact. Generally, you are going to want to do a shoulder roll or (more likely in this case) “slap out.”

    Glad you’re ok!

  3. Yes we here in the UK have more than our share of the wet! We currently have snow which is really a more solid rain. Its the ice the hides beneath thats the tricky begger.It just sits there waiting to catch you out. I’m sure whatever you do falling off never looks dignified.

  4. I’m glad you are okay, it sounds like you had a lucky escape!

    It could have been worse, living in a damp part of the world, falling is something I am very concious of. This is in no small part due to the fact a few years back I too came off my bike and, naturally, putting my hand out to stop the impact, all I managed to do was fracture my scaphoid, a notoriously difficult bone to heal and it never really has recovered full movement of my wrist. When I fell again last year, it was on a steep descent and my bike unexpectedly went from underneath me, I guess I fell like a paratrooper, with the side of my shoulder taking the impact and I got away with just grazes from a 30mph crash – Have a read, I blogged about it:

    http://sensisuperstar.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/the-push-hog-legacy-stage-6-flying-without-wings/

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