Author's accident log

A log of major accidents I have had since I started bicycling for the first time in 50 years at age 67. Not to discourage anyone considering bicycling, but, if you ride a bike, you will fall. Maybe not as hard as me or as often as me, but you will fall. My friends tell me my problem it is that I am not acting my age, and, it appears I am not alone in acting this way. Check out this recent USA Today article:

29/07/16: 6th accident

  • Bicycle: 2014 Diamondback Trace XT
  • Conditions. Clear, sunny, hot, unpaved and dry trail, sand and loose gravel present.

  • Total mileage since my first ride: 4877

  • Location. Salem Lake Trail, traveling counterclockwise, on the very sharp hairpin curve at the picnic table on the south side of the lake.

  • Speed. About 12 mph.

  • Description. Riding too fast into the curve. Was hugging inside of the curve in the sand, went a little wide into loose gravel, and instantly went down on the right side. A couple of riders stopped to check on me since I was bleeding. Contrary to was is in the media, most people are kind and considerate.

  • Injuries. Medium injuries. Medium abrasion on right knee. Deep abrasions on right forearm just above the elbow. Sore right shoulder from the impact. Sat at the picnic table, rested, cooled down, and cleaned the injuries (I carry a first aid kit).

  • Damage. None. Just had to realign handlebar stem.

  • Lesson learned. SLOW DOWN in curves!

10/06/15: 5th accident

  • Bicycle: 2014 Diamondback Trace XT

  • Conditions. Clear, sunny, paved trail covered with dead leaves. Trees shedding leaves causes partially shaded areas.

  • Total mileage since my first ride: 3974

  • Location. Salem Creek Greenway between MLK underpass and Reynolds Park Road underpass.

  • Speed. About 12 mph.

  • Description. My first ride in a week because of rain and wind storms. Just started the ride and was traveling slower than usual due to dead leaves and mud on the pavement. Two women were approaching walking side by side, taking up more than half of the width of the greenway, which was only slightly wider than a standard sidewalk. I rode along the edge of the pavement waiting for the women to walk single file. which they did not do. I had to watch carefully to squeeze by the women, trying to stay on the pavement and off the muddy ground and without my handlebar hitting the inside woman. Just as I passed them, I entered a shady area when suddenly, there was a tree laying across the trail directly in front of me. Apparently, the conversation the two women were having was more important than warning me of the fallen tree they had just passed. The tree was dead, gray colored, had no limbs or leaves and was suspended about two and a half feet above the greenway. It was similar to a 50-foot pole sticking out from the trees on the side of the greenway. I hit the brakes and turned to the right just as I hit the tree. I flew over the tree hit on my left side (again, I had just healed from the last accident) and slid on the pavement. I heard my helmet grinding on the pavement for about 3 seconds, although it seemed to be about 3 minutes at the time.

  • Injuries. Medium injuries. Top of my left shoulder had large impact abrasion. Left elbow had minor abrasions. Left palm was sore but glove prevented abrasions. My left knee had large abrasions that bleed a lot and other small abrasions. My left ankle had abrasions from hitting the tree as I went over it. Left ribs are sore again. I rode on about eight miles to the Salem Lake parking lot picnic tables, used my first aid kit to clean the wounds, and then rode back to the car.

  • Damage. None. Just had to realign handlebar stem. Mirror did not break, which was unusual. This bike survives accident much better than I do.

  • Lesson learned. Trail idiots are not just an annoyance, they are a menace. 

09/03/15: 4th accident

  • Bicycle: 2014 Diamondback Trace XT

  • Conditions. Clear, sunny, humid, unpaved and dry trail, sand and loose gravel present.

  • Total mileage since my first ride: 3798

  • Location. Salem Lake Trail, traveling counterclockwise, left curve at the bottom of the eastern side of the big hill.

  • Speed. About 17 mph.

  • Description. The trail has a deep a rut across it just before the curve. The best track is through the inside of the curve. I had to swing back into my lane due to an oncoming biker and I hit loose gravel at too high a speed and had what I call a "flash fall." One second you riding along just fine. The next second you lying on the ground. There is no time to react; it all happens in a flash. The front wheel had slid out dumping me left toward the inside of the trail.

  • Injuries. Medium injuries. Back of left shoulder hit first, then helmet slid on the ground, and then left arm and knee hit. Sore left shoulder from the impact. Light road rash on shoulder, elbow, and knee. Sand in helmet, ears, nose, and mouth. Entire body sore for a few days from the jolt it took hitting the ground. Shoulder wound was an impact burn that was slow to heal. Left side ribs were sore for a couple of weeks.

  • Damage. None. Just had to realign handlebar stem. Mirror did not break, which was unusual.

  • Lesson learned. Slow down in curves, especially when you KNOW there are sand and loose gravel present. It had been over a year since the last accident. The new bike handles so well it saved me many times during slides but this time, I was not so lucky, maybe I got too complacent.

  • Next ride. After taking 4 days to heal, I rode the trail again. I was more cautious on the entire ride. In the same curve that I had fallen in before, I entered the curve slower and in the center of the lane. At the same spot as before, the front wheel slid out. Since I was moving slower and was more vertical, the slide was not as quick or as far, so a quick snap of the bars to the right and hard stroke on the pedals pulled me through the slide. Next time I will be EXTRA cautious in that curve.

10/6/14: New Bike

  • Purchased new bicycle. I decided I was exceeding the capabilities of the Raleigh Venture bike and riding was getting unsafe, so I purchased a 2014 Diamondback Trace XT hybrid, with 3x10 gearing, 29 x 1.8 tires, Shimano XT components, and hydraulic disk brakes. The Trace is much more stable; it has a stiffer frame, better components, better breaking, and the 29” wheels pull me through situations where I would have had problems with the 26” wheels on the Venture.

  • Total mileage since my first ride: 2536

06/20/14: 3rd accident

  • Bicycle. 2013 Raleigh Venture 4.0.

  • Total mileage since my first ride: 2074

  • Conditions. Clear, sunny, paved and dry trail.

  • Location. Salem Creek Greenway. I started from Marketplace Mall trailhead and fell just 100 yards from the start.

  • Speed. About 12 mph.

  • Description. The trail is asphalt paved with about 5-inch high sloping shoulders. I had just begun the ride when, while passing a walker, I went too wide and slipped off the pavement onto the dirt. That was no problem. Then, just as I turned right to get back on the trail, the front tire slide along the paved shoulder instead of climbing it and I fell to the right side onto the pavement. Left hip hit first then right knee and hand with a solid tap of the helmet on the pavement.

  • Injuries. Medium injuries. Sore hip from the impact. Deep road rash on my right knee that took a long time to heal. The palm of leather glove on right hand wore completely away, but no injury to the hand. Next morning I woke up with extreme vertigo and nausea. Emergency room visit found no brain injury. With rest and physical therapy, vertigo lessened went away after a few days.

  • Damage. Broken mirror and minor scrapes on the bike. Cell phone in my left front pocket was shattered.

  • Lesson learned. Hit berms, curbs, etc. at nearly 90 degrees so your front wheel does not glance off. 26-inch wheels do not climb over obstacles as well as 29-inch wheel do.

10/27/13: 2nd accident

  • Bicycle: 2013 Raleigh Venture 4.0.

  • Total mileage since my first ride: 1300

  • Conditions. Clear, sunny, paved and dry trail.

  • Location. Salem Creek Greenway, headed east toward the dam, in curve leading down into the concrete ford.

  • Speed. About 12 mph.

  • Description. As I came around the curve leading down to the concrete ford, I saw no bikes or pedestrians ahead so I started into the turn. Then I noticed a small dog sitting in the center of the ford. In that second of distraction, I went too wide, slipped off the concrete lip of the trail, and fell to the left onto the concrete. I had some injuries but the dog was fine. The dog’s owner, who was sitting on the bank, apologized. I had seen him with the dog off leash a few times before and the dog always walked directly behind him. After this incident, I never saw them on the trail again.

  • Injuries. Medium injuries. Left elbow and knee road rash.

  • Damage. Broken mirror and minor scrapes on the bike.

  • Lesson learned. Always stay alert!

07/20/13: Note

Woke up in the middle of the night with a C5-C6 herniated disk in my neck. Extreme pain in right shoulder and arm. Tried physical therapy and cortisone injections twice. Muscle relaxers, pain medications, and bike adjustments allowed me to ride nearly every day. In November, had excruciating jaw pain, needed a root canal on the tooth. In December, I had spinal fusion surgery to fuse the two vertebras; that fixed the neck problemThe herniated disks were probably a result of a whiplash from the first accident.

05/21/13: 1st accident

  • Bicycle: 2013 Raleigh Venture 4.0.

  • Total mileage since my first ride: 158

  • Conditions. Clear, hot, paved and dry trail.

  • Location. Salem Creek Greenway, at the pedestrian bridge at tennis courts near Main Street and Salem Avenue traffic circle.

  • Speed. About 12 mph.

  • Description. Last 2 miles of a 17-mile ride on a hot day. I had only been riding again for about a month. The trail has two yellow, large diameter steel pipes on each end that extend across the ends of the bridge with a gap between the center ends that allows foot and bike traffic but prevents motor vehicle traffic. I remember going through the first gap and the next thing I remember was a loud bang and great pain as I hit the right side pipe at the second gap. The pipe struck my right upper thigh and knocked me backward off the bike. I landed on my feet and running. I stopped limped over the grass and lied down. I started into shock so I drank lots of water and stayed flat with my eyes closed for a few minutes. People on the street probably thought I was resting in the grass. After a while, I was able to get up and finish the ride. I hit the pipe while the leg was at the bottom of its stroke. Had the leg been at the top of its stroke, the pipe would have hit the knee and I would probably now have an artificial knee.

  • Injuries. Medium injuries. I had a huge bruise on the right upper thigh that turned all types of colors over the next few weeks. I could still ride but any pressure on the impact spot caused much pain for a couple of weeks.

  • Damage. Broken mirror and minor scrapes on the bike.

  • Lesson learned. Drink lots of water during a ride. I think I dehydrated, which caused me to space out between the two barriers. I purchased a Camelback backpack that carries two liters of water and I drink it regularly during a ride.

04/29/13: Started riding at age 67 for the first time in 50 years

  • Purchased bicycle: Because of years of punishment in the martial arts and degenerative disk disease in the spine, I was unsure how my body would handle biking so, to be on the safe side, I purchased a 2013 Raleigh Venture 4.0 comfort hybrid, with 3x9 gearing, 26 x 1.95 tires, and caliper brakes. I went for a ride on Salem Creek Trail that afternoon, and, I was addicted!

  • Mileage on my first ride: 9