Saturday, December 26

Adding Up to Accident

Frankenbike in the morning - Armadillos are LOUSY on ice
Kermit had NOT been opened at this point

Yesterday, in a futile attempt to shed the moniker of "just a fair weather cyclist," I went for a little ride, and fell on the ride. It was a minor accident as such things go, but even so, it illustrates how most accidents are the culmination of a series of minor circumstances.

 Road in front of my house in the morning

First Event: Christmas morning, I decided to ride Frankenbike down to our local park to get some pictures of the snow with my new camera. After slipping, I tried to ride without toe clips. After a second slip, I decided to walk to the park. Good decision. I checked off the box of riding in ice/snow, if only for about 30 feet. Armadillos are lousy in the wet and really horrible on North Texas ice. One plus (or minus) - when I got back home, I noticed everyone was sitting around the Christmas tree, eagerly waiting to open presents. I guess I still rate in that the DID wait!

Park bridge decorated for Christmas

The ducks didn't mind the snow at the park

Second Event: Later in the afternoon, I decided to zip off for a bit of Starbucks. I decided to adjust the band on my new watch before going. I had problems adjusting it, and finally managed to leave at about 3:55. I figured the "Tom Thumb" Starbucks would close at 5 so I still had time. 4:05 - I arrived, only to find it was closed.

 Obligatory map and arrows

Third Event: Rather than go home, I decided to go to an alternate Starbucks (they're not exactly uncommon), over by where I go when I work out at my gym (24 Hour Fitness). This involved a pleasant ride down Martin Drive, via some very nice 12 foot bike lanes, previously described here. Since I was at the "Tom Thumb," I went down the route in red rather than my usual green route if I were going to work out.

Fourth event: Right before I get to Central, I notice that if I cut across a few feet of lawn, I could simulate a gym visit and get to the Starbucks without any need to wait for the slow traffic light at the intersection of Dodson and Central. I don't run lights, but I'm not above short cuts to avoid them entirely!

Fifth event: I turn on to Plaza Parkway, I register that it looks a little slick in the afternoon shade, but don't take my feet out of the toe clips.

Sixth event: FALL! Ouch! My hip is still sore. Luckily, I don't break anything personally or in the equipment area.

Seventh event: I come back the same way to get a shot of the scene of the crime.

One would have thought this would have sent out warning signals!

THE POINT: Had ANY of these events (other than the sixth and seventh event) played out differently, this fall would not have happened, This was pretty minor. I think you evaluate MOST accidents, you'll find a chain of events, any one of which, turning out differently, would have avoided the accident.

The good news is this was pretty minor and Kermit was still a happy little frog as I considered the way that events, strung together, lead to results.

Kermit's a happy little frog at Starbucks, despite his owner's newly sore hip. Squeek!


Ed W said...

Below about 25 degrees, ice offers fair traction, but as it approaches the freezing point, the pressure generated by your tires causes a thin film of water to form between the tire and ice. As you've found, that can be treacherous. Likewise, when there's a glassy sheet of ice ahead, particularly near intersections, it's dicey to cross. Heat from engines and exhausts can melt snow and ice. It refreezes and sometimes there's still water on top. Avoid them if possible. 'Black ice' is a climber's term, signifying ice with water behind it. It's dangerous because it's rotten and slick. If you see it, try to ride in the car tire tracks because their greater weight chews up the ice, and offers more traction for cyclists. Finally, don't try anything abrupt on ice. You can't turn, brake, or accelerate quickly. After riding on ice, the muscles along my hips hurt because it seems I steer with my butt!

Steve A said...

Ed offers good advice. Unlike cars, bikes have only got two wheels which cuts their chances of not slipping in half.

As for Ed's hips, well, he's an old guy so I'm sure his hips tend to hurt regardless of anything else. I'm rapidly getting to that same point...

twister said...

My job required me to be out in the weather all day Thursday. It was pretty easy to get around on the back streets where the streets were pretty much covered in snow, but when I got out on the highway around 18:30, that was a beast of another order. When, finally, I'd hit the time clock and was headed home, a small hill made treacherous by the ice was blockaded by what I presume to be a wreck. I didn't want to come to a stop on a hill because on ice that's just not a good plan and because there's people, usually it seems, in pickups that feel they're immune to the physical realities of driving on ice and prudence said, don't wait for them to come along and learn about it while slamming into my car. Long story short; it was almost an hour to drive maybe five miles. I was chanting, almost home, almost home, creeping down ice slickened streets. There was snow in drifts a foot deep around my house. I don't think I've seen that much snow, in these parts, for twenty years.
Hope your hip gets well with no lingering ill effects.

twister said...

What kind of camera did you get?

Steve A said...

Twister, I think the hip will be fine in no time. The camera is a Nikon Coolpix. Small so it fits in a bike seatbag with room left over for the spare tube.

Filigree said...

Ouch, sorry to hear about your fall!

We went out for a ride today and I had a couple of close calls when attempting to cycle thorough slushy snow on the trail. Note to self: fresh, evenly distributed powdery snow is not the same as old, uneven, slushy snow. That nasty stuff will take you down! I managed to put my foot down and balance myself on time so as not to actually fall (as you can imagine, this means I was going sloooowwwwly), but it was a nerve wrecking experience for a scaredy-cat like me. Anyhow - be careful out there!

Nikon Coolpix is a great "bike camera", that's what my previous camera was. This year I got a Lumix for the holidays, which is small but has an excellent sensor and full manual mode. However, it is not quite as small as the CoolPix was and does not fit in all of my pockets.

Keri said...

I'm glad you didn't hurt yourself! That type of fall is known for causing broken hips and collarbones.

I love Kermit!

m e l i g r o s a said...

that kermit picture just made me smile!!
looks nice and icey out there, and 'rather than go home, I stopped at the starbucks' YAYYY :D

long live coffee and bikes, forEVURRRR
happy holidays :D

Apertome said...

I hope you won't write off all-weather riding completely, based on this. Slick ice, like you have pictured above, is one of the hardest things to deal with, and your tires were not at all appropriate for the conditions. I don't have studded tires (yet), but I use an old mountain bike with knobby tires for commuting in snow and ice. It works well in all but ... well, what you have pictured above. At least that ice is a bit rough, if it were smoother, it would be even worse.

I actually really enjoy riding in snow. But ice, not really a lot of fun. I still commute in ice, but my commute is short and traffic is light. All that said, the occasional fall is pretty much inevitable during the winter.

Steve A said...

I ride my bike like I ski. Anytime. Actually, I don't enjoy either in the rain. In the case of cycling it's because we get lightning with the rain around here, and it's pretty nasty sitting on a stopped ski lift with rain seeping into everything and getting colder by the minute. You cyclists have it pretty easy. Remember, the point of the post was to note how even something as simple as a fall is a culmination of circumstances.

Post a Comment

No Need for Non-Robot proof here!