"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Earlier this week Superkate tweeted something about most memorable bike crashes.  It prompted me to access the memory banks to determine my own most memorable crash.  I have crashed on a bike so often that you would think it would be hard to pick just one, and you would be right if you did.  I thought of three right away and strangely enough the crash on my road bike at Tour de Donut that resulted in a broken wrist was not one of them.
I have said before that if you aren't falling you aren't really living.  A life without an occasional fall is a life played a little too safe.  If you don't risk falling you just might be missing out on some really great opportunities.  The falling I am referring to here is not metaphorical, I am actually saying that a complete and total gravity check can enrich your life.  Don't go out and fall on purpose that would be foolish and be missing the point entirely.  Go take a risk and see what happens the reward is taking the risk in the first place sometimes you will totally bust your ass but sometimes you won't and that will lead you to bigger and better things.  Most of the time you won't die either or even get seriously injured.
So with out further adieu here are my top three most memorable bicycle crashes in no particular order:

This how I was rollin' back in the day except mine had a chain.
1.  When I was a kid I loved jumping ramps on my bike a Huffy Buckaroo, not the ideal bike for what I was using it for but it got the job done.  Some of the older boys in the neighborhood had built a ramp in the alley.  The ramp was nothing fancy just some plywood and 2x4's it was maybe a foot and a half tall.  We jumped our bikes off that thing thousands of times, competing to see who could jump the farthest or the highest.  It was really a fun time, but not without risk.  I was probably around ten years old at the time and was pretty good at jumping off the ramp, as simple as it was.  I remember a specific instance of riding up to the ramp wanting to jump higher and farther than I had ever done before.  Everything was perfect I hit the ramp and launched my bike like a rabbit.  This was going to be awesome, until I notice that my front wheel had come off in mid air.  This is the part where everything went into slow-motion.  I saw the wheel on the ground rolling away and had time to think about how bad it was going to be when I came down.  It was very surreal knowing that my fate was fixed.  There was no way to avoid it as a front wheel is a key component to a bicycle, I was going to crash.  The whole episode took place in a split second but it really felt like a long time.  I came down and my now wheel-less forks dug into the soft sun baked asphalt of the alley and I flipped over the handle bars with the bike landing on top of me.  I was shaken up and had a few scrapes but wasn't hurt too badly (In the early 80's no one wore any protective gear).  Thirty years later I still can remember the exact feeling I had when I was in the air without a front wheel.  Sometimes I think if I only could have shifted my weight back I could have rode it out on the back wheel, ridiculous right?  All the other kids thought it was really cool, but no one asked me to do it again.

2.  The second crash also happened when I was young a little older than crash number one (so the order is chronological after all).  My bicycle jumping skills were really getting better thanks to the new bmx style bike my parents bout me for Christmas.  Unfortunately that bike was stolen so I was forced to bring the Buckaroo out of retirement.  I didn't want to but everyone rode around on their bikes in my neighborhood so I was left with little choice in the matter because lord knows my sister was not going to let me use her ten-speed (another crash related story involving me racing a motorcycle, needing to stop quickly, and not knowing which brake was which).
There was this rock pile behind a gas station near my house that we had been jumping.  We had a lot of fun jumping it and were starting to get a little fancier with our jumps, adding x-ups, and tucks, as well as table tops (if you don't know what these are don't worry it's not important to the story).  Bringing the Buckaroo out of retirement didn't slow me down at all.  I didn't realize at the time that it could not take the punishment that my recently stolen bike could.  I was a kid not an engineer after all.  The last time I jumped the rock pile behind the gas station started off like every other time before.  Up the rock pile and into the air I went, Sweet!  Everything seemed okay.  I landed hard on the ground and immediately my handle bars broke.  The right side bent all the way down and I went down with it.  I couldn't believe what had just happened.  There was no slow-motion moment this time I was taken completely by surprise.  I don't remember the extent of my injuries but they were most likely minor.  I finished breaking the right side of the handlebars off and rode my bike that way, left side handlebar, right side jagged piece of metal for a couple weeks until I got new ones.

3.  The third most memorable crash happened about four years ago out on the mountain bike trails at SIUE. I had recently bought my mountain bike because I wanted to start riding again.  I had ridden the trails a few times but since I didn't know any other mountain bikers in the area it just wasn't as fun as it could have been. I decided that I would recruit my nephew to be riding partner.  He had a crappy mountain bike and I hoped that he would love the trails so much that he would decide to buy one of higher quality.  His bike had no brakes so he did not enjoy his time on the trails and we decided to cut things short.  I kept telling him how awesome it was to ride a decent bike, and how he should really think about getting a better bike.  I wanted to let him ride my bike but I had clipless pedals so it wasn't possible.  The area where we came out of the trails meets up with a bike path.  Right at the end of the trail there is kind of a dip that I decided to jump.  Ideally I would land on the path and ride away.  Instead, I had too much speed and realized that when I landed I would have to stop immediately or I would fly off the other side of the trail and down the steep hill into the woods.  In a panic I grabbed two handfuls of brake and flipped head over heels over bike.  Flipping a bike with clipless pedals is a little crazy.  So after trying so hard to convince him that mountain biking was the thing to do I ended the day with a spectacular wipe out.  Not very convincing.

So those are my top three most memorable bicycle crashes what are yours?  And if you don't have any maybe you should!


  1. The first story is the one you told me before, and I laughed and winced just as much reading this as hearing it.

    All my crash stories have been blogged, and none are as good as yours anyway, but somehow your stories make me wish I'd been hanging out with the boys when I was a kid...I bet I'd have better crash stories now.

  2. Your stories are funny :-). Not much of a crash, but a funny story. A few years ago I was riding my mountain bike on the sidewalk over by Cold Stone Creamery and I was going whatever full speed is on my mtb. I big truck going pretty fast started to turn in front of me. I locked up the rear tire and proceeded to skid for quite a ways. There was no way I was going to stop before I hit the side of the truck, I just kept skidding. Well the truck stopped just before crossing my path and I stopped just before crossing the trucks path, then I proceeded to fall over because in all the commotion I forgot to unclip :-).