The Crash

On average in the U.S., a cycling enthusiast will crash while riding once every 4,500 miles. (Source: Bike shop guy :))

I estimate that I have ridden about 3,400 miles in the last year a half since I got my bike and yesterday, for the first time, I crashed.

I certainly don’t want to sound overly dramatic or woe-is-me, but I want to share the story and hopefully someone else can learn from my mistake (and the things I did right!).

(Also, despite telling myself over and over, I hope that at some point after writing this, it will sink in my thick head how lucky I was and I will stop being pissed that this threw off my whole week’s training plan.)

I rode out from work at 4:45 yesterday afternoon. It was a little bit windy, but overall an absolutely beautiful day, compared to the blazing hot and humid weather we have had this summer. The plan was to ride 1:30 by myself on a loop that I have ridden dozens of times, then meet my friend, Jenni, to finish off with another 1:15. I expected to get in nearly 50 miles total, making it my long ride for the week, since I will be out of town this weekend.

About 55 minutes in, I was heading back toward where I would meet Jenni and having an absolutely awesome ride. I was averaging a solid 17 mph and since I finally got a new seat, my butt was even happy! I was just truly enjoying being on my bike. 

I believe that the fact that I was enjoying myself so much created the problem.

As I was soaking in the rare “rider’s high”, I completely zoned out. I stopped being acutely aware of the road, my surroundings and what I was doing.

I was on a flat road, going about 18-20 mph, when all of a sudden my front wheel caught in the gap in a railroad track and slid along the gap, taking me and the entire bike to the ground.

The culprit…see the gap in there & the angle the tracks are on

I can honestly say that I was so oblivious that I don’t even remember coming up to the railroad tracks at all. In fact, when asked if I was riding in aero at the time, I truly couldn’t answer the question. And as you can see from the picture, you MUST make a concerted effort to turn your front wheel so you hit the tracks perpendicular to the way they run.

Once I was going down, it happened so unbelievably fast and I was quickly lying under my bike on the ground. Nothing in particular hurt, but everything hurt. Two ladies pulling out of the adjacent parking lot immediately stopped their cars and got out, asking if I was okay and bringing over my water bottles that were slung across the road.

I just laid there, terrified and out of breath, trying to collect myself. At that point, I could have broken every bone in my body or I could have walked (or ridden) away fine, but it took me several minutes before I could even assess that.

After a few minutes, some sense of reason started to come to me and I could tell that I wasn’t seriously hurt. Eventually I was able tell the ladies that I thought I was okay. But as I lay there, with one foot still clipped into my pedal, they both looked at me skeptically like…”If you are okay, why are you still laying on the ground in the middle of the road?”

Finally I lifted the bike off of me and unclipped my foot and stood up. At that point, I KNEW I was okay. Things hurt, but there was no blood and everything seemed to be working fine.

As I walked around a little, I eventually convinced they ladies to go ahead. I told them I could either ride back to my car or call my friend who was a few minutes away. (It actually even crossed my mind that I could finish the whole ride?! Um, notsomuch.)

Before one of the ladies left she told me that a motorcycle and another cyclist had both fallen on those same tracks in the last week!

My next concern became my bike. I inspected it and started bending things back into place and I quickly saw that other than some superficial scratches, either the front wheel or handle bars were bent and that the possibility of me riding away on it was slim.

I called Jenni and she sent Char to come get me (she knew EXACTLY where I was and what tracks I hit), then called Brad. As soon as he answered, I started bawling. The adrenaline was subsiding and reality of what had just happened hit me. Eventually I calmed down enough to tell him I was okay and I just needed to get home. Char (a physical therapist) showed up shortly after and assessed all my wounds, confirming that everything on ME was also just superficial and I was fine to drive home.

The drama of the whole thing was relatively short-lived and within the hour, I was dropping my bike off at the bike shop to get fixed. They offered me a beer, told me how lucky I was and assured me the bike would be just fine.

The damage:


I am also a little sore in my left wrist and palm (?), have some knots on my right shin and that left knee is really stiff, but not as swollen today. But again, all very minor and I feel 10x better today than I did last night.

What went wrong: I was not paying attention. Bottom line. I must be alert and focused at all times when I am riding my bike.

What (I think) I did right: 

  • I had a cell phone with me. When I ride alone, I always carry it with me.
  • Also, (this wasn’t under my control) but, because I was so relaxed on my bike when I crashed and didn’t see it coming, I think this also contributed to the *lack of* injuries. (I am sure this one is debatable…so feel free to disagree.)
  • Calling a friend and not attempting to ride my bike back to my car was the right decision. Even though my bike wasn’t in great shape, I could have ridden it, but you never know until you have a true mechanic inspect the frame if it is cracked or damaged in a way that an untrained eye can’t see.

My plan is to take today completely off and probably tomorrow too. My bike is actually all fixed at the bike shop (already!) and I will probably pick it up and try to get another ride or two in this week before I leave.

Crashing has always been my worst nightmare on the bike. It is why I was hesitant to get into the sport in the beginning. I knew it was just a matter of time before I would have my first crash, and part of me is relieved that I got one under my belt. I am thankful beyond belief that I am not injured and that I will probably be 100% in a couple of days. I know that it could have been much, much worse.

Anyone else have good crash stories?


About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in bike, friends, injuries, training. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to The Crash

  1. Jaclyn says:

    Glad to hear you are ok! I’m headed out in a bit for a ride so I will be thinking about your post!

  2. Jocelyn says:

    Holy cow!! That is also my worst nightmare. I freak out about bumps in the road and the possibly of flying over the handle bars.

    I’m glad that you are not seriously hurt! And you were wearing a helmet!

  3. Holly says:

    So glad you are OK! My bike crash story…..a little over a year ago I was training for half ironman and three weeks out crashed! We had just conquered a massive hill, and were on some back country road, and all of a sudden I was laying on the ground with my friend and 2 people who stopped to help looking at me! I have no idea what happened…my friend said I reached down to grab my water, my front tire got wobbley, and down I went! Oh yah, and then she rolled over me 🙂 After asking “where are we” {and being very confused and able to remember events from the day}several times, my friend, who is a nurse, took me to the ER! 😦 I broke my collar bone, and 2 weeks later is was so displaced {that’s another story…don’t try to put on a bike jersey with a broke collar bone} I ended up having surgery! 2 days post surgery I got on a plane to go cheer on everyone competing in the kansas 70.3! Ok…sorry for writing a blog on your blog!

  4. thewondermya says:

    I love biking but I am really bad at balance so each time I ride it I nearly die ten times… Luckily even if I fell a few times, it was like you just superficial wounds and the bike also survive. I love it so much… have a wonderful healing time !!!

  5. Lindsey says:

    Oh man, so glad you are ok!

  6. kaitwatts says:

    That exact same thing happened to every time I go over cattle guards or rr tracks I remind myself “brace yourself”.

    • Corey says:

      I like that. At least you are super conscious of them now! I know I will be too and will probably be nervous everytime I come up on some from now on!

  7. elizabeth says:

    i’m soooo glad you weren’t hurt any more than the scratches and bruises. i am terrified of biking for this reason!! i saw a very similar story in atlanta on the news once and they ended up doing some report on having the city fix the spot because of multiple bike crashes.

    • Corey says:

      you know what’s funny is that one of those ladies that had stopped came back around and told me that if I needed medical attention that I should remember that the company she works for (the parking lot right by the tracks) owns the tracks…at first I was confused and then I realized that she was hinting that I should sue them or something if I was hurt. haha…I was thinking – hey lady, I am the idiot that wasn’t paying attention on my bike!

  8. I am so, so glad you are ok. I have not had a major crash (knock on wood), but I have fallen off my bike while not moving 🙂 I think your points about having a cell phone with you are key. We’ve had a number of cyclists get hit by cars lately in Atlanta. Being aware and safe is so important. Good luck getting back out there. I bet you’ll never fall on those tracks again 🙂

    • Corey says:

      haha…I have fallen over while standing still about 100 times. In fact I did it 2 times in a row on one ride when I first started clipping in 🙂 And you are right…I will definitely never go over railroad tracks without thinking twice again!!

  9. LizzieRogueRunner says:

    Ah! So scary. Crashing is what makes me not want to bike ride… I’m terrified! I’m so glad you are ok =)

    • Corey says:

      Thanks Lizzie! I know exactly how you feel…until some crazy people talked me into this and now it just seems like something I will kind of deal with?!

  10. so, so glad you’re ok and that you’re feeling better! i’m also glad you’re bike is ok and you won’t have to spend a fortune fixing it. crashing or getting hit are my worst nightmares on the bike. it makes me a super cautious cyclist (i.e. it’s my excuse for being slow). i’ve fallen dozens of times while stopped (or almost stopped) from losing my balance on the wrong foot (clipped v unclipped) but thankfully nothing while moving – yet. i have “crashed” while running more time than i should admit though- batch threatens to get me a running helmet. happy speed recovery!!!

    • Corey says:

      haha…so I have fallen SO many times while just standing there – clipped in at a stoplight or something. It always happens in slow mo and super embarrassing 🙂 I had to lol at the visual of you running with a helmet on! Might get kinda steamy in there in HOU 🙂

  11. chasingthekenyans says:

    good thing those ladies were around too, just in case something bad had happened. i haven’t crashed since i was a kid, though i also don’t ride much. glad you are OK and hope things aren’t too sore today.

  12. Laura says:

    Yikes! Somehow I missed this post– so scary! I’m glad you had your phone and weren’t hurt too badly. Let’s hope this is it, and you won’t need to experience another one!

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