In November, 2011 as I hit the road and skidded along on my helmet, arm and shoulder, I thought that it could soon be over for me. And, oddly, I was okay with that, but worried about my kids and Rick. I knew I wouldn’t be feeling any pain, but that they would have to deal with the aftermath and sorrow. My crash, all my fault, also took down my friend Rose who was riding right behind me and couldn’t stop in time. The paramedics took her to the hospital, but thankfully neither of us was seriously hurt.
I had been told that it wasn’t if, but when I would have a bike crash. I had been riding for more than eight years and since all had been good so far, I thought I would be an exception to the rule.
So, how did I crash? Simple lack of focus. I was riding in my aerobars towards Waimanalo on Kalanianaole Highway, trying to stay on the shoulder, but dodging road obstacles and going left of the line into the main road from time to time. During one of these maneuvers I hit a road reflector while not tightly gripping my aero bars. I slipped right off of them, falling forward and losing control. The crazy thing is that I did the same thing about six months later on the North Shore in similar circumstances. For heaven’s sake, slap me!
I guess that I fell into the “if not, but when” category after all. And I did some things you might want to consider doing too:
1. I developed an estate plan and will. I had an old will and plan I had pulled together when I did a lot of adventure travel and my kids were little. It was sorely out of date and I didn’t even know where I had stashed it. It wasn’t that important to me any longer because of my uneventful day to day life. I feel very lucky that my crash wasn’t serious and that it prodded me to take action. I am much more secure knowing that should something happen to me (not just on the bike) my family will be taken care of and my wishes will be followed. I included an Advance Directive to make my decisions clear to medical professionals and my family should there be any questions at the hospital.
2. I started paying much more attention on the bike. Both of my crashes were due to being too relaxed and letting my mind drift to other things. I still do this at times on smooth, low-traffic roads, but most of the time I work hard to stay in the moment.
- I pay attention to me and my bike. How is my cadence? How is my posture? What is happening in front of me and around me? What is that up ahead?
- I do not ride if I am too tired, distracted, stressed, or just feeling “off”. I want to be sharp out there.
- I do not ride with ear buds. Ever. Music may help pass the time, but it will likely also cause my mind to drift. I find it more and more common that when I yell “on your left” to a cyclist when passing, they don’t acknowledge me. Yep–they’re wearing earbuds. Anyway, you can’t depend upon music in a race, so why train with it?
- I do not use my phone. I carry a phone so that I have it in case of emergency and so my husband can track my position. I also like to take photos with it–but only when I’m safely stopped.
I love cycling and I love triathlon. There is risk in everything we do in life, but there are always things we can do to help reduce the risk and be prepared for whatever might happen. I’ll share some of my other personal safety tips with you in another blogpost. In the meantime, happy and safe cycling!