An Inauspicious Beginning

What is it that Coach says sometimes? There are two types of cyclists, those who have crashed and those who will..? So guess what happened today…

There I was, minding my own business on the D999, trying to hold my zone 3 into the nice, wide roundabout ahead, when, much to my surprise, three cars coming in from the right-side road decide that I don’t exist and try running into the roundabout before me. The first one was well ahead, to be fair, but the 2nd was cutting it close. The 3rd, however, entered the roundabout just as I was passing by his entrance. There was going to be a crash that I’d lose, so I slammed on the brakes, locked them up on the still-wet pavement (an unusually early ride today) and took a nose-dive over my handlebars, landing on my right side and even giving my head a little tap on the pavement.

I just spent the whole day getting tests done to make sure everything in still in their proper places and adding up the cost of the stuff I can’t use anymore. First up, my Cannondale winter jacket.

2013-01-02 20.44.56

OK, maybe I can patch that one up. Next, a possible blessing in disguise: my Mavic Pro shoes (I was looking for a reason to buy new shoes, if you’ll remember).

2013-01-02 20.44.26

That’s the main strap, which used to have a plastic piece carefully attached to it. It’s toast, I think.

I have a bruised hip and a large goose egg beside my shin, but no broken bones. But here’s some blood from my elbow, which just got it’s skin torn away thanks to the Cannondale and undershirt I was wearing.

2013-01-02 20.45.44

I am a little afraid to look at my bike in detail, but I’ll do that later tonight. I think there’s at least some trouble now with the rear derailleur, but the wheels look true still and my shin appears to have kept the frame away from the pavement.

This was my first crash in 3 years and the only one that ever involved a car, I think. It was a bit scary, as you all know (or will know!), and I found it interesting that, in the split second that everything happens in, you know it before it occurs. Well, not really I guess. My mind had me bouncing off the hood of the car, not Supermanning it in front.

But the important thing is that I’m OK and I can get back zone 3 tomorrow (indoors!). And, of course, it could have been ‘A Hoogerland’, so I can be thankful there isn’t much barbed wire on the roundabouts in France.

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37 thoughts on “An Inauspicious Beginning

  1. Oh, this is really scary. You were lucky! Take care and use some kind of a hammer or a big fork to keep them away from you! Did the driver stop? Did he just go on his way? Did you wear your helmet? You know you should change it if it hit the ground! Clem

    • Clem, I talked to the driver, Abdel, and got his information. I’ll go to the insurance company today and see what I can do. I didn’t really know about the ‘constat’ that I guess I should have done, so maybe that’s all too late. I’m hoping that my ‘responsibilité civile might pay for the damage…

  2. Yikes. I’m very happy to learn you are ok. We are coming upon the one year anniversary of my run-in with a vehicle. Ironically, my first thought was to the well-being of my bike. From fifty feet away, it appeared to be in decent shape – only the right break hood was twisted and the front wheel bent. When I limped over and retrieved it, I saw the long crack along the top tube and realized it was totaled. Meanwhile, passers-by were pointing out the blood dripping from my glove and strongly urging me to sit down…

    Good luck with Zone 3 tomorrow. I hope you can get back on the roads again soon. It will definitely be spooky the first few times but I think that will wear off soon enough.

  3. That’s really bad luck. I suppose that it was the fact that they were in a queue of three that persuaded the last one that he could go too. I take it that the ‘little head tap’ was carefully checked. You’ll need a new helmet too.
    I hope it doesn’t cramp your style too much when you next get out on the road and I’m glad that indoor training hasn’t been disrupted. Luckily you are a fully trained bike wizard so any damage to the derailleur should be child’s play for you to fix.

    • I’m not sure even my skills can fix my rear derailleur, so I’ll take it in to the shop. And I’m sure you’re right about that 3rd ‘sheep’ following the other two into the roundabout. Many don’t bother to look here, but I’ll bet that’s not restricted to France.

  4. Ouch, sounds like you’ll recover so that’s the most important – I’ve had 5 run-ins with cars in France, but thankfully none serious – and most involved roundabouts at low speeds – (and 3 out of 5 stopped – one of the two was later convicted of fleeing and leaving someone endangered – lost his license and job since it required driving…). I will say that in general I feel very safe on the roads on the cote d’azur, most drivers are very cognizant of cyclists and respect their presence.

    • Wow, how long have you been in France, Rich!? I count myself lucky because really, this is the first one involving a car in nearly 5 years. However, I almost always ride in the mid afternoon when the roads are nice and quiet. When I do go out in the mornings I’m always shocked by the number of cars and their speed. I’m with you on French drivers in general. I’ve ridden in 20 countries or so and I feel safest here, no question.

      • I’ve been riding for almost 10 years, and considering all the kms I have been lucky and relatively fortunate. I used to ride much more during rush hour but lately have the good fortune to be able to train in the middle of the day away from much traffic. My riding in other countries is limited, I have only ridden a few times in US, Italy and Austria, but in general, Europe feels much safer than US, especially Texas…

  5. Yikes. Glad you’re alright and hope the bike checks out as well. I’m in the latter category, “those who will crash,” and can only hope it’s a minor bender like yours. I hope you were able to give a few words to that third driver.

    • Let’s hope your perfect record continues forever, Aaron! We did have a few words, but they were civilized for the most part. I can’t curse that well in French yet anyway.

  6. That is just totally crumby lousy. Very glad to hear, though, that you are essentially fine. Hope your bike is also. And I ditto all that was said above … including the new helmet. Did the driver stop? Perhaps they would like to replace your gear. Umh, yeah, right.

    • I’m going to try and get someone else to pay for my new stuff, but not sure how successful I’ll be. It’s not going to be cheap, but at least my bike is not damaged too much.

  7. Now that’s not the way we envisioned the 2013 riding season to start! Now you’re a real cyclist. That said, I’m so relieved you weren’t taking away in an ambulance like I was in 1993 with multiple injuries that sidelined me for almost half a year. Now that we all know you’re ok, the question your loyal readers need to know is, “how’s the bike”?. Given your plans for this year, let’s hope this is your low point and it’s all tailwinds for the rest of the year. Take an easy day of spinning to work the stiffness out. Enjoy the ride….Coach.

    • Yes, I was lucky. It could have been much worse. Not sure about the bike. Everything except the rear derailleur seems OK. Some bar tape to be replaced, etc., but hopefully mostly cosmetic stuff like that.

  8. Glad to hear you are ok. I was side swiped by a car in Singapore. The driver got out and he and the girl with him started yelling at me for cycling in the road. Should have called the police. I hope this does not affect your riding.

    • John, I can’t believe you ride on the roads in Singapore! I never did once my whole time there, but I lived right at East Coast Park, so only had walking/running/rollerblading idiots to dodge.

  9. Very sorry to hear about the accident. Sounds like you got off quite likely though. Regarding shoes, this is where Sidi are great. I had two falls last year, both snapped side buckles, on Sidis these are easily replaced for about $20.
    I always look for the positive where I can so my other offering is that maybe this is an auspicious start. It’s a test of your body and nerves to recover quickly from a fall. It’s like the universe asking you what you’re willing to take to achieve your goal. It’s also a healthy reminder of the risks we all face so this can make us ride more mindfully. I hope you’ve had some good work on the soft tissue. Some injuries take hours or days to present themselves, like whiplash. Make sure to check the inside of your helmet for cracks. On my bigger fall I thought I tapped my head on the ground, but in fact it was more of a whack which shattered several sections of my new Ionis. No doubt these are all things you know already. Wishing you a speedy recovery and happy and safe training. It’ll make crossing the finishing line in Nice that much sweeter having paid in blood, sweat and tears.

    • Thanks, James. I’m taking it positively, too, especially if I can some insurance to pay for new gear! Everything is a little more sore than yesterday, as you predicted, but I’ve done my morning stretching and all the joints are moving around, which is a good sign. Good tip on the Sidi shoes, too. My shop sells them and Mavic (and maybe more…must go down today), so I’ll take a look.

  10. Everyone, thanks very much for your comments of concern. I’m a little overwhelmed, but not surprised. My blog readers really are a generous lot!

    I’m guessing that stories of crashes, especially when involving vehicles, strikes a nerve in most cyclists, even those who haven’t had one yet. It sometimes amazes me that it doesn’t happen more often since we share such a small space of the earth with such big cars. There are lessons to be learned from every experience, I suppose, and the one I’ll take away from this is to heighten my already-high state of awareness while riding and not to assume anything when it comes to driver etiquette. I’m a motorcycle rider, too, so I believe I have a good idea of my periphery while on the road, but even though this accident was obviously not my fault, it could have been avoided by slowing a little more coming into the roundabout.

    Lesson learned. Let’s see if I implement it! Thanks again.

  11. Glad to hear you are ok. Bike? Its just cash! Stopp worrying about, when you just have some “scratches”. In 2012 we had some really bad crashes with club members involved. Since those incidents I was happy, that my crash at the Vattenfall Cyclassics only costs me an carbon handalbare worth 250€. What is a new pair of shoes compared to not beeing able to work or ride for several months?

    • The bike is fine. Just took it to the pros and they fixed up a small problem from the crash. My pretty Campy derailleur is not scratched, though, which I’m not happy about. You’re right about the shoes vs not being able to ride, especially when the training hasn’t even begun yet!

  12. So glad and thankful no bones were broken and that you are basically ok. I was on Jan’s Tarmac once, took a corner too fast and smashed a picket fence. My first thought, “Crap! She’s gonna kill me!”

  13. it must be in the air
    sorry to hear about your spill but par for the course when you spend that much time on the road
    i had a similar thing happen a few years ago…. taxi on a roundabout.
    I was the first person ever in Ireland to be cut out of a bicycle…:)

  14. Glad to read the post about the crash…only because it means you were/are intact enough to write about it. It is scary stuff though. I did not have any accidents in the 2012 season, but I did go down once hard in 2010, and I still have a 3 inch scar on my right arm as a reminder. No car involved in my case, but scary nonetheless. Interestingly enough, I took the full impact of the landing and somehow kept he bike off the ground and scratch free (save for a small graze on the saddle). This was not accomplished through any voluntary skill – pure chance! Hope you’re back on the bike or trainer soon.

    • Back on it already, thanks James. I think I shielded the bike from damage, too. It’s a worthy sacrifice. Everyone says the important thing is that you’re OK, but I don’t know – a big bruised shin is worth a couple thousand Euros for a new frame, maybe! Hopefully this is the one for the next few years.

  15. Sorry to hear about your spill, mate – but I’m very relieved to read you’ve come out of it in one piece (minus a bit of skin). I’d say you’ve done very well to have avoided a crash for so long, considering how much time you’re on the bike these days. Best of luck with getting compensation for the bike and gear damage. If your helmet did get ‘tapped’ on the road, you should really think about replacing it, as tootlepedal says. I can’t help being a bit wary of carbon frames/forks after a hard drop too…
    If I recall correctly, I believe I was with you the last time you came off a bike – your ‘tuck-and-roll’ karate skills came in pretty handy there…

    • I remember that tumble well, Nige. It was one of my best…and yes, last. I think I’ve lost a bit of the Karate Kid because there was certainly no rolling out of the crash the other day. I don’t think I ever learned a ‘karate skid’ in the dojo…

  16. Hey Gerry, glad to hear you are OK. Replace the helmet. Full stop.
    It is very sobering when as a cyclist you hear of someone so experienced that you know on a personal level, still getting caught up in a spill. It happens so quickly – except when it’s happening – take care out there everyone!

    • Thanks, Steve. I’ll see about the helmet. I’m not even sure I hit it, it was that light. Like I said somewhere above, when I sit down and think about it, I’m sort of amazed I don’t get wiped out more often! The chances just seem so high, given the proximity we are to cars all the time. Loved the photo of that ‘cawfee’ shop in Brisbane, by the way. Something about it just said ‘OZ’…

  17. We seem to have the same crash schedule!! Slipped on very thin black ice in Provence on the 2nd, and my knee and hip hit the tarmac. Bruised up but nothing broken. I think the bike is ok but the 3/4 bib shorts will need to be patched up in a couple of places. I hope you’re healing up ok.

    • Black ice in Provence…were you climbing Ventoux or something!? It’s been positively balmy down here recently. Glad to hear you and the bike are OK, and sounds like we had similar outcomes. I’ll need to replace some clothing and a very expensive pair of shoes. Are you still down here, btw? Nice weekend for a spin.

      • Early morning ride going round Monte Sainte Victoire. I didn’t realise that it was ice until I tried to get up… Pretty amusing to see people looking at me with part of my arse exposed as I rode into central Aix… Back in flat Flanders now. 🙂

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