The Art Of Falling
It’s a pretty fun little article. I do take exception to the “dorky” bike shoes comment, but I’ll let it slide.
There are a couple of inaccuracies that I would like to point out though. The 2008 American Community Survey actually looked at 2007 data so the jump in bike commuters was actually between 2006 and 2007, not 2007 and 2008 (although when the new data comes out I’m sure we’ll see another increase). Also that jump represented a very respectable 37.5 percent increase, not a whopping 70 percent increase. That can be our little secret though…
when your messenger bag is too heavy(with groceries, or textbooks, whatever) so you can’t get up immediately.
Who edits these things? — is not the same as —
Sorry, pet peeve of mine.
Coupla times I’ve wiped out very publicly. Concerned motorists stop and I leap to my feet with intense embarassment, insisting I’m not hurt. Only after the car dirves off, leaving me miles from the nearest hospital, do I do an inventory. (“I don’t think this is broken.”)
This leads me to suspect that my very last words someday might be “No, really. I’m FINE.”
This leads me to suspect that my very last words someday might be “No, really. I’m FINE.”
I was at the four way stop at corner of Aylesboro and Wightman and couldn’t unclip my foot. Fell over pretty hard. I’m lying there trying to get my left foot out of the other pedal when a lady rolls down the passenger side window of her car and says “Are you hurt?”
“No maam, I’m just stupid”
Watching someone on a bike fail to unclip and fall over has got to be pretty strange for someone unfamiliar with clipless pedals. To the observer, it really just looks like you’ve had a leg spasm and fell straight over.
Yeah.. happened to me today 20 seconds after I got on my bike to go home.. Didnt think I had clipped in.. then stopped suddenly.. then fell.
+1 “No maam, I’m just stupid”
Well, my most embarrassing fall was probably due to the fact that I was was a space cadet in my younger years… I was probably 8…I was fascinated with my shadow and was not looking where I was going…crashed right into the sidewalk curb and flipped over the handle bars. Scraped my elbows and knees quite thoroughly.
Recent embarrassing accident was at this year’s Keg Ride. We had so many people that the going was very slow. I was taking pictures with one hand and holding on to my handle bars with the other. When I went to put my camera away, the combination of the one-handedness, the lop-sided weight from my single pannier, and the lack of momentum caused me to just topple over on one side.
I got a nice road rash on my leg that took over a month to heal, though luckily the cyclists around me were alert and didn’t run me over as well! (thanks guys)
The final game of the Stanley cup just started and I was headed out of the Southside down Sarah street hoping to avoid bedlam. I had made it nearly a block when I noticed a friend of mine from work, super hot Carrie, and her equally hot entourage of female friends. So I stopped and said hello. Well on my way back out onto the road i failed to notice the storm drain grate which incidentally was the same width as my front tire, wouldn’t you know. Put two and two together and you get me spanking the pavement from over the bars with my face. Thank god I wasn’t going fast. What made matters worse is that Carrie and her friends saw it all and shrieked drawing even more attention. “oh my god! Are you OK?”
“Yeah I’m fine,” I replied, “I just bruised my ego that’s all.”
That’s my only story so far of bicycle failure and I didn’t even get hurt all that bad. (knock on wood)
I probably posted this elsewhere, but anyway –
I was about 50 yards behind another cyclist traveling up Josephine as it meets 18th. The cyclist was hanging on to a long, dual axle trailer being hauled by a full size pickup. He was steadying himself at the intersection so as not to take his feet off the pedals.
The truck was moving up in the queue to make the left up 18th when the trailer bucked. The cyclist failed to let go and landed on the pavement. He quickly got up, picked up his bike and carried it over to the sidewalk.
He seemed unhurt, but he took his time checking his bike and did his best to not make eye contact with myself or any of the other witnesses.
I smiled but I didn’t snicker.
No accident here, but,
DID YOU KNOW?
If you go down Sycamore on a rented tandem, having the brakes full on might not slow you to a speed below 10 mph.
The good news was, first, nothing bad happened, and the stoker remained totally oblivious to the possibilty of danger. 10 mph or so, seemed like a nice speed to her.
So i just got done putting a few hours in on the logging roads near franklin pa on the mtb and i was leaving on a paved access road. it was hunting season and i had this non-cycling cap on so i wouldnt get shot. as i gained speed on a downhill the hat flew off, and like a fool i went for it with my right hand. i whipped around so hard it threw off my balanace and i swerved really hard as i braked with my left hand. this launched me off the bike and i rolled through a puddle and off into the grass. my shirt was ripped, and my arms were bleeding, but my pride was hurt most.
i think for next hunting season im just going to spray paint my bmx heltmet bright orange.
Add me to the list of 0 mph clipless pedal tipovers. I was using them for the first time ever on Saturday and was waiting to turn onto the Clemente Bridge. I unclipped the right foot fine, too bad my weight was shifting to the left.
To my surprise, I hear the guy in the car behind me say “those things are a bitch, aren’t they?” (which one of you was it?)
When I as a kid, before I could ride my bike, my Dad insisted that I learn to fall off my bike first. So, there we were, in the park, but not on the bike trail, no, we were on the grass, repeatedly tipping over. Of course, my other 5-year-old friends zoomed past on their bikes, and I and still emotionally scarred.
Where to begin:
8 years old and a culdesac- one sharp turn, a flip over the handlebars and a mouthful of grass from a clippings-covered cement drainpipe.
College, biking in a skirt which got caught in my chain and took a spill directly in the center of campus. Took forever to free myself and was late for class.
In Bosnia floating on a borrowed bike that was far too big for me. Lots of paints in my backpack to take to a hospital and paint murals. Somehow managed to ride through traffic without hving to stop the whole way there, but had a most ungraceful dismount through the hospital gate upon arrival– totally wiped out, heavy backpack to punctuate the pain.
In Pittsburgh, knocked off my bike by a gaping pothole at Negley and Black St., head under bumper of school bus at green light. Thankfully it had only just turned green and I was spotted by the driver.
As for careless other drivers, a rough Pittsburgh left resulting in 6 screws and a plate to unbreak my tibia.
I fell yesterday. I was traveling on the trail behind the strip district on my way to the south side. I was faster than normal and feeling great cause I didn’t have my heavy panniers to weigh me down. Loving life.
On a low lying section of the trail where it was flooded there is some dried mud. I hit the dirt moving pretty fast and at the end of the patch the dirt was not dirt but instead it was mud. My front wheel went sideways and I hit the dry pavement.
No one was around to see this fall that bent the rail on my brooks flyer sprung saddle. Other than the saddle the bike is fine as am I except for some scrapes and bruises in places I would rather not have them.
When I was a kid, I had a 10 kilometer commute to go to high school. I has to leave quite early in the morning, and instead of having a breakfast, would eat a banana while riding my bicycle. Of course I was not holding my handlebar when doing that. And of course, one day, my seat broke. I immediately fell, behind the bike, not badly actually. The skin on my hands was gone, but that was it, I did not need to see a doctor. Only, it was dark and even though I felt that I was bleeding, I only realized that I was bleeding real bad when I arrived in the classroom. I showed the palm of my hands to the professor, who got scared and told me to go to the infirmary.
I think the guy who got the most annoyed is the one who was driving the car in which my bike crashed, after riding without me for a hundred feet. He didn’t see me falling, he told me that all he saw was a riderless bike arriving directly at him.
I’ve fallen twice, neither in this country, both due to idiocy of others (if you don’t county my idiocy of biking alone in a developing country).
1st: 20km dirt road between my post office and the village where I was staying. Flock of sheep divided between the two sides of the road. No cars (maybe 10 a day traveled this road, 5 up, 5 back). I _know_ the sheep from one side will go to the other side, but not sure which. I slow down, in the middle of the road, waiting for the sheep on either side of the road to freak out and dash in front of me… it doesn’t happen, I sigh a sigh of relief as I start to pass the sheep, when one freaks out and runs INTO my front tire. Minor scrapes, and mutton tastes better now.
fall 2: I’m testing out a newly “fixed up” bike on the back roads of a major city in West Africa about the same time a taxi driver passes me and sees someone hailing him, but he keeps driving down the road. I look down, notice that the brakes I just tried are dangling on either side of the tire (back set don’t exist), and the gears I just shifted are dangling at the side of the bike. I then look up and see the taxi driver reversing at about 35mph (he didn’t stop because he’s got no brakes either, nobody did in that country), about 10 feet in front of me. The guy who hailed the taxi is wide-eyed. It took surgeons in three countries about a year to put my face back together, but the fake teeth look great under black-light.
Moral of the story? Sheep suck, stick with US dentistry.
Most idiotic fall was riding a fixed gear, with no brakes and no helmet down a hill that will get you up to speeds of 25-30mph. Went to skid stop and one of my feet came out of the pedals, leading to a crazy gyroscopic effect that threw me off the bicycle with a pretty violent force. Fortunately, I landed on my side rather than my head. After a trip to the ER to get everything checked out, the only injuries were bruises and road rash. My legs hurt so bad (either from hitting the pavement or from the bicycle hitting them) that it was painful to walk down steps for about 2 weeks. After that wreck, recognizing that I should’ve been way more messed up, I wear a helmet all the time (and don’t ride a brakeless fixie).
Unfortunately, yesterday I got in another wreck. I was riding on Brownsville Rd in Carrick and there’s a boatload of potholes. Unfortunately, I missed one of them while I was looking up to watch traffic and it caught my front wheel, sending me over the handlebars. Just resulted in road rash on my hand, arm, and stomach. The people there were sooo helpful. People waiting at the bus stop came to ask if I was alright, as did a Public Works Truck that pulled off to the side to make sure everything was ok. It was reassuring to see so many people wanting to help in the situation.
there’s a boatload of potholes … a Public Works Truck that pulled off to the side to make sure everything was ok
With you? or all those potholes?
Glad you are mostly okay.
Brownsville road is in my hood! Glad you didn’t get hurt or shot. BTW, a five block stretch in Brentwood is to be resurfaced next week, they are currently doing some water lines, etc. It’s not much, butit will help.
That was me….
I have been over that jump 6 or so times without a problem. The moment my friend picks up his camera I get too much speed and you see the result.
Rode for another 30 minutes or so until the pain got too bad. Woke up the next morning to find that I broke my right wrist and separated my left shoulder.
That was my last ride last year.
I have recently started to ride, albiet 8 weeks ago. My wonderful boyfriend, a seasoned cyclist on Pittsburgh’s wonderful streets got me into riding with clipless pedals. Although I am fine riding with them, stopping without falling is entirely a different situation. The first week riding, going 0 mph I fell no less than 5 times, crashing with the bike on top of me one to many times in public. He was sweet and worried about me, but I have since learned to un-clip with enough time to get balance and no go sideways in public! I can only imagine how idiotic I must have looked to other riders, but it is a learning experience after all!
that is a classic cyclism experience. we call it the horizontal track stand. or at least i do.
I’m a guy who repeatedly points out to experienced that the quarter second it takes to get your cleats out of clipless could be very important in traffic, so I do have a bias.
Why would someone encourage you to go clipless on the streets when you’ve only been riding a couple months?
I agree, thats a quick move to clipless, also, if you are having that much trouble getting out, it sounds like your bindings are too tight. Tight bindings are great for racing or pulling really ahrd hills and stuff, but when im commuting, I keep my bindings pretty loose so I can get out really quick if needed.
If they are new, they might just need breaking in. My brand new pedals, even at the loosest setting were still way harder to get out of than my well-worn ones on my old bike.
I am very surprised everyone was so helpful, its good to hear.
Brentwood is my hood!!! Maybe we could get them to level out some of the hills while they are at it…hahahaha!!!
One of my artistic falls was the second time I did the MS150. I did not train enough for the ride once again so going up a climb on the first day my legs start to cramp….try to unclip to walk the hill….everybody knows most of what happens next….of course I fall but to make matters worse when I fell I somehow fall with my chest right into my bar end….ouch!! Nice big black sore bruise for the second day of the ride.
+1 Mick – I ditched my clipless pedals 6 months ago and feel much better in traffic without them, not to mention no more stupid/embarassing falls. I’ll use them occasionally on long rides but I don’t see any benefit for tooling around town.
I am forever clumsy.
I first started commuting back on november of 2009, and at the time, I wasn’t aware of traffic laws, so I made this a part of my usual commute home.
Turning from E Ohio onto Nash, there’s a short ride downhill, and onto Avery is a sharp turn if you’re moving too quickly. I was moving too quickly, and realized that I was going to crash into and possibly cause a ton of damage to, a minivan, so I ended up on the sidewalk and crashed right into this fence:
I had been fairly certain that if I hit the brakes too hard, I would fly over the handlebars*
My bike afterward:
my face afterward:
*This happened to me a few months ago. was carrying a long bag on my handlebars (which I will never, ever, EVER do again), and it got caught between my fork and the wheel. went flying. luckily I was wearing a helmet this time Escaped with no damage to my bike and a bad shoulder, which hasn’t had any pain in a long time (it went away completely after about a month)
I’m very clumsy and lack common sense. I’d like to think I’m getting a bit better though!
Last fall I was riding on the Montour Trail. Exiting at Lindenbrooke requires turning right and navigating between a metal gatepost and a ditch with a tree, then heading slightly uphill over 10 feet of gravel that slopes a bit to the side, and over a rounded curb onto a sloping driveway, first checking for cars in both directions so as to turn left.
Apparently, while carefully attending to the various obstacles and slopes, I neglected to keep pedaling. My bike slowed down. Rather than start pedaling again, the obvious move, I instead decided a better strategy would be to say “Uh oh” out loud. My bike stopped. Then it slowly fell over.
Luckily, I landed on the grass, with only ego damage, wondering how I did that.
sometime in mid-to-late winter, i was on my way to oakland from cmu. i cut through the carnegie parking lot and came out the back on schenley drive, where i like to hop off the curb and join traffic on the street.
this time, there was a couple passing me, and as i slowed and they passed, i was looking left up the street to check for oncoming traffic. as i did that, my front tire slipped into a crack between the sidewalk slabs, and it went thattaway, and i went thisaway. it was all at very slow speed, so i toppled very slowly indeed, trying to grab onto a parking meter on my way down. it took so long for me to actually fall, the couple had stopped to turn around and watched the whole thing happen. must’ve been HIGH-larious, as i slid down the parking meter and came to a rest on the sidewalk. at least the guy had the decency to say “i do that all the time, man.”
After having gotten used to an ancient and crumbling freeride MTB with brakes that sang in an impressive alto/soprano duet every time I slowly slowed to a stop, I test rode a shiny new fancy bike on my lunch hour (in business casual). I am coasting slowly to a stop sign in an empty parking lot, and (what I thought was) ever so gently apply the brakes. This results instead in the front wheel stopping instantly and I get pitched equally instantly arse over tea kettle over the handle bars, to the utter amazement of a minivan down the road (who did NOT stop or slow or anything, just gaped, kinda rude).
Turns out I’d picked up a few bad habits from my old klunker, and fresh brakes are vastly different from stale brakes. I got a tiny scrape on my ankle, but miraculously my slacks and dress shoes and all survived unscathed. I’ve told this story elsewhere on this site, but I think it belongs here. I’m now much more careful about getting used to different bikes, especially the brakes, and much less afraid of pitching over the handlebars (perhaps at speed it would be worse, but it wasn’t particularly scary, just startling).
I have a Hooligan with disc brakes and a Lefty fork. So if you are riding down a hill and let go of the right grip before hitting a bump, you might just jerk the left (front) disc brake and cause the front end to turn 90 degrees. At around 20 mph this will result in being propelled forward and down at the same time. I remember thinking about how well my Bern helmet worked on impact. I instantly jumped up (shock and pride) and noticed the bus that was about 15 yards behind me. It was raining too, so I am glad he had time to see me roger and stop. A couple of people heading the opposite way stopped and asked if I was OK. I was, but really could not have known having been body slammed a few seconds ago. I hold on to the that bad boy (it really is a Hooligan) with both hands now. Effin lefty fork.
Not the most recent crash that broke my blankety-blank shoulder last week, but indeed worth telling.
4 or 5 years ago I decided to take a ride one afternoon for a brew in the southside. Just before leaving home I decided to tinker with the front v brake on my bike, it was not making a proper connection with the rim and therefore it took a long time to slow down. Later on the way to the southside I noticed that, because of my mechanical ineptitude, I had overtightened my front brake. Now when I applied what had previously been the appropriate amount of pressure to my brake lever required to slow down instead of simply slowing the bike I was nearly locking up the front wheel. So rather than attempting a roadside repair (it wasn’t just a problem with cable tension, something in the brake mechanism was out of whack), I resolved to use the front brake with care and deal with it when I got home.
Anyhow, long story longer, I find myself a few minutes later cruising down Carson St. in moderate Saturday afternoon traffic. As I approached the intersection with 17th St. my green light turned yellow and I did the old “can I make it?..yeah I can make it!” trick and accelerated towards the intersection. But just as I was about to cross 17th the light turned red and I saw the car on my right flinch as though he was going to proceed. So I grabbed the brakes (remember the too tight front brake? I didn’t) and suddenly found myself propelled from my saddle. The most amazing thing was somehow I was able to unclip, spread my legs wide apart, shove the handlebars under my legs and stick a landing Marylou Rhetton would’ve been proud of, complete with the arched back and arms in the air! All traffic came to a complete halt as everyone cheered and honked at the unbeleivable spectacle they had just witnessed. One driver even shouted, “Bet you couldn’t do THAT again!” as the cars began to move again. Don’t Know how I did it, definitely could’t do it again but it was funny as hell!
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