Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Well, I guess every year I need to have an accident on the bike, to remind myself that I'm still human or something. Today was that day - my first ever bike/bike collision. The funny thing is, I was just telling Steph the other day that I've never had a bike on bike crash. Well, I can't say that anymore.

I was riding westbound on the Springwater Trail, after passing Tideman Johnson nature area (which has been gutted by the sewer project - I hope it recovers this year), and had a good tail wind going. So, I decided to open it up a bit, and cracked it to about 27-28 mph. I was crossing the first of the three bridges over McLoughlin and Johnson Creek, catching up to a cyclist ahead of me and preparing to overtake and pass him on the left. All of a sudden, he started drifting to the center of the trail - so I drifted further left. He was slowing for the turn onto the ramp down to McLoughlin, which has a really sharp approach. I didn't really realize it at the time, and in any case I was now overtaking him by at least 20 mph and couldn't go any further left without going over the steep embankment. So I passed him on the right. Unfortunately, this was the instant when he made his right turn, and we had a spectacular glancing collision which I tried to avoid by braking - no such luck. I did, however manage to lock the front wheel and go end over the handlebars.

The bikes are ok. The other rider is uninjured. I'm ok but a bit shaken up, having had a 20mph crash with steep embankments on either side and a sharp drop to a busy road only 15 feet past where I landed. I'm alive! I remember my last thought before the crash was "uh oh - this is gonna hurt". Fortunately it was a very mild crash, and not at all like the one I had last year in February where I wiped out at the Salmon Fountain in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The other rider and I pointed out our missteps to each other, made sure we were both ok, and apologized to each other, and went on our way. Man, cyclists are so much more polite than drivers. Then again, neither of us was seriously hurt and both bikes were virtually undamaged. Maybe totally undamaged - I haven't had the chance to closely examine my Wahoo, but she appears to be ok and nothing was out of alignment. I rode another 6 miles to work with no issues.


Crash Location: 45 degrees, 27 minutes, 34.6 seconds N latitude, 122 degrees, 38 seconds, 30.8 seconds W longitude. Roughly near the intersection of SE Clatsop and McLoughlin, about 10m east of the east end of the Springwater bridge over McLoughlin.

Crash Time and Direction: Approximately 7am, January 30th, 2007. I was overtaking the other rider, both of us were westbound on the trail.

Conditions: Dark but not full night. Visibility clear to about 20', diffuse out to about 100'. No clouds, dry pavement, no precipitation. Roadway was a paved chipseal path approximately 8' across, with about 2-3' of grassy shoulder on each side, flanked by a steep (45 degree or more) embankment dropping more than 20' to either side.

Safety Equipment: He had operating lights and a helmet, but no rear mirror. I had operating lights, helmet, bell and mirror. I used the bell as audible warning of my impending pass.

Cause(s) of Crash: There were 4 factors that caused the crash. First, I was riding very fast - closure speed was approximately 20mph. Second, the other rider crossed the centerline and moved all the way to the left of the lane without checking behind him for other cyclists. Third, the other rider did not signal his intent to turn right, nor that he was slowing down. (At this point there was enough light for me to make out hand signals) Fourth, and the immediate cause of the crash, I passed on the right.

Notes: By the time I realized that the other rider was going to continue drifting all the way left and leave me with no room to pass, my options had narrowed to A: Maximum braking (unsafe), B: Continue left onto the grassy shoulder (unsafe, and likely to put me over and down the embankment), or C: Pass on the right. I chose C, and had I reached him 1 second earlier, I would have passed him without contact, though I would have scared the heck out of him. He and I both broke cardinal rules of cycling, which is the real cause of the crash, but it would have been better had I been riding slower.


As far as 2007 riding is going, I've managed almost 200 miles in January. Not great, but pretty respectable considering the average temperature of my rides the last 3 weeks has been 38 degrees. Overall average speed 10.3 mph, 14 rides in 29 days, for a total of about 6.5 miles per day. My weight got back up to 256lbs in late December, but I'm back under 250. I've lost some definition in my thighs, quads & calves, so it's definitely time for me to get back on the bike regularly.

Anyway, that's my morning, hope everyone else's is better!

Oh, and what happened to me? I have an impressive black spot under my left middle finger, some light road rash on my lower right leg, and a couple of bruises - left ankle, right elbow, right hip, right shoulder.

Compared to last year's hand injury, that's alright. :-D


Tomas_Quinones said...

That is one bizarre crash!

Some people only know me by the phrase: "ON YOUR LEFT!"

Anonymous said...

The worst part is, I was on the left, until he came all the way over.

Ah, well - no "real" harm done.