Thursday, May 10, 2007

Near crash

Last night on my way home I nearly crashed. It was quite the experience. I went up to Orem for an open house on the I-15 project (evidently 6 lanes in each direction 20 years from now is going to solve all of our traffic problems). I was on my way home at about 9 and I was going through a roundabout. So I turned right to go into the roundabout and then I turned left around it for 270 degrees. As I came out of the corner I stood up to accelerate and get back the speed I had lost in the corner. As I was accelerating, I pulled out of my left pedal. (For those who don't know cycling, my shoes attach to my pedals like a ski binding so I can pull up and apply force to the pedal. When I say I "pulled out", that means that the binding unexpectedly failed, leaving my foot free of the pedal). So when you pull out of a pedal, it throws off your balance because your left leg continues up and forward, even though the pedal continues back down.

On a bike with a freewheel (a bike that can coast), this wouldn't have been that big of a deal (although it has caused crashed before). If I had a freewheel, when my foot came out, my right foot simply would have dropped to the bottom of the pedal stroke and I would have coasted until I could get everything back in position. On my fixed gear when I pulled out, my right leg continued going around in circles.

Imagine with me for a minute. When I pulled my left foot out of the pedal it went forward with momentum. This made it so I was sitting on the top tube just behind the stem. My left foot, free of the pedal, banged a couple of times in the front wheel, but luckily did not enter. So I was sitting there just behind the stem, with my left foot nearly in my spokes and my hip in a funny position as my right leg continued to go around and around. This was the point where I wondered when I was going to hit the ground. I didn't (although I really think I should have).

Next, I had to figure out how to get back up onto my saddle. My weight was way further forward than it should have been and my right leg wouldn't stop going around in circles. I pushed myself up using the handlebars getting myself back on the saddle. It worked out pretty well for me and I was no longer afraid of crashing. Except I still had to get my foot in the pedal. I realized that it is easier to get a foot in the pedal while just starting than it is at 15-20 mph. I still can't believe I didn't crash. I really should have and I was fully expecting to, but for whatever reason I still have all of my skin today.


Heffalump said...

I am glad you survived. What would the fun of biking be if you didn't survive to tell the stories of all of your near death experiences?

Emily said...

Thanks for the tip about the book! BTW...Today was a much better day at work. I bought that book you recommended awhile ago, but I haven't had a chance to sit and read it.

I am VERY glad you are safe. Those angels keep a close eye on you! Thats for sure!!!

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine why u don't use a bike with a freewheel in the 1st place!