Comment – A Cycling Accident

My first thought, as the bike begins to topple, is, shit. Then I am in the midst of the tumble, my body and face hitting the dirt, the frame and wheels flying over my head. As the bike lands in front of me a feeling of relief springs to life in my mind. In that moment I know the crash is over. Accept, quite often, it isn’t and so over I go again, over then under.

Bruised AnkleI don’t crash frequently, but on every occasion that I have not once have I got free of the bike. Somehow a part of my body manages to become entwined with a bit of the frame. A shin will suffer a blow from a peddle, a finger or hand will become trapped beneath a brake lever. This morning, when I took another spill, one of my ankles somehow found itself twisting around the handlebars.

The drop I was attempting was not steep, certainly a fair few degrees off vertical. It should have been easy; I accomplished it the previous week following days of rain and the ground was far more slippery. But I know what the error was: I used my front rather than rear brake.

For a number of weeks the disc on my back wheel has been squealing loud enough to wake a slumbering drunk. It has been a constant embarrassment to me, knowing that every cyclist, dog walker and horse rider in the woods can hear the noise. I feel as if I am riding the bike equivalent of a clown car. Still, time is precious and I would rather fit in a couple of hours of weekend cycling than spend time fixing something that isn’t essential.

So over the last few weeks I have started to avoid using it my rear break, relying more and more on the front. Such was the case this morning. When I could have kept control while the back wheel snaked I instead chose to pull the front lever. My tyre slipped in the mud, turned sideways and I went over the suddenly stationary handlebars.

The lesson has now been learnt. I peddled home at a sedate pace and, following a reviving cup of tea, traced the problem. I will once more come to love the back brake. And if my initial adjustments have not solved the problem the pain in my left leg and right arm will act as a salutary reminder.