Thursday, June 23, 2011

The New Steed's Maiden Voyage

Originally, I had a long run schedule for Saturday.  Well, screw that.  I wanted to take my shiny new friend out for a ride.  I hadn't had a chance to transfer my Garmin from Rusty yet, so I'd use the bike computer that came with the new bike.  There wasn't a lot of work needed to prepare it for a long haul.  The previous owner must have been almost exactly my size.  Other than slightly adjusting the seat post and leveling out the aerobars, there weren't any other changes that needed to be made.  Sure, I'll get it professional fit at some point - probably during the off-season when I'm not spending all my dough on race fees and, well, buying new bikes. 

I've ridden on the Dakota Rail Trail plenty of times and was excited to see how far West it stretched.  Now that the bridge over Highway 7 is finished, the trail could take you from Wayzata out to who-knows-where. According to Google maps, it ends out in Hutchinson.  That would mean a ride of a little over 100 miles round-trip.  That should do for breaking in the new steed.

The weather was cloudy and muggy, but at least it wasn't raining.  There's a crap-load of construction going on in my neighborhood, so all the streets are torn up.  As a result, I started my trek by walking my bike down to the main road and clipping in from there.

It took several miles for my legs to warm up, but by the time I reached Wayzata I was good-to-go.  The Dakota Rail Trail is fairly new and nice and smooth.  Combine that with my new titanium frame, which is designed for a softer ride, and you end up feeling like you're riding on a cloud.  I could really feel the difference in the feel of the road. 

Once I got past the multitude of stop signs that are peppered along the eastern end of the trail, I could open up the throttle a bit more.  In the past, this would mean average speeds between 18 and 20 MPH.  On the new bike, it wasn't unusual for extended stretches at a casual 22 MPH.  Wowzer.  I can't wait to see what will happen at a race with the carbon wheels installed. 

I kept cruising through St. Bonifacius, over the nice, new Highway 7 bridge and out towards Waconia.  The trail was nice and flat, but that's okay.  I'll do hill workouts later.  A few more miles past Waconia, I hit the end of the paved trail and the beginning of the crushed limestone.  Well, as awesome as the new steed is, it still isn't designed to run on gravel, so I snapped this photo, pulled a 180 and headed back East.  Rats.

Last stop...end of the line.
Well, I wasn't going to get as many miles in today as I wanted, at least not on the Dakota Rail Trail.  So, I started to think about other ways to tack on some distance before heading home.  As it was, The Wife and I had left one of our cars at a friend's place in Bloomington the previous night.  So, if I could make it to their place, I could just drive home.

I said "Goodbye" to the Dakota Trail in Mound and headed towards the southern end of Lake Minnetonka.  At this point, the weather was still holding together, but I could see darker clouds off in the distance.  I continued into Excelsior and stopped at Excel Cycle to pick up a spare 650c tube.  The new bike has slightly smaller wheels, so my usual 700c tubes weren't going to work.  I figured I had already tempted fate enough by going 50 miles without a spare.

I turned South out of Excelsior and cruised down Powers Boulevard through Chanhassen.  The first sprinkles started to come right about the time I hit Pioneer Trail and it didn't take too long before I was riding in the rain.

Cars make me nervous.  So does riding in the rain.  Fortunately, Pioneer has a bike path that parallels the road.  I don't prefer to use bike paths closer in to town, especially when there's a good chance that I'll come across walkers.  But, with the rain, there weren't a whole lot of people outside.  I kept along this path until Pioneer turned into Bloomington Ferry Road and eventually turned onto Old Shakopee Road.  That's when things got interesting.

Anatomy of a Bike Crash

Nobody plans to crash their bike, but there are usually plenty of things that you can do ahead of time to prevent a crash.  Staying on smooth roads and keeping away from traffic are among two of the most important.  I wasn't doing either of these by riding down Old Shakopee road on Saturday.  The path had ended, so I had to ride in the road, which had little to no shoulder.  In addition, traffic along this road is always fairly busy, so I constantly had cars buzzing within a few feet of my left shoulder.  I was cruising along at about 20 MPH and anticipating a left-had turn in about a block to take me onto a less busy street.

14:15:00 - My front tire slid into a crack in the road and was immediately turned about 20 degrees to the left.  I didn't have time to think.

14:15:00.1 - With the back half of my bike now moving faster than the front half, my rear wheel launched into the air as if it was bounced by a giant spring.  My first thought: "what the..?"

14:15:00.2 - I was now airborne, travelling head first at approximately 20 MPH with my feet still securely fastened to my bike.  It was an interesting sensation, but the flight didn't last too long until I started sinking.  Cue Willie from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: "We're not sinking...we're CRASHING!"

14:15:00.3 - Seeing the ground coming quickly up at me, and preferring not to land on my face, I stuck out my right arm.  My left arm was still clutching tightly to my handlebar as I involuntarily flexed every muscle in my body.  My thoughts: "This is going to get worse before it gets better".

14:15:00.4 - My right hip and knee struck the ground first, followed by my right hand.  The gravel and sand were still wet from the rain.  I had finished my brief flight and was now skidding.

14:15:00.5 - As I continued to plow through the road gravel, it felt oddly like trying to steal 2nd base in Little League.  Only, I never slid 20-30 feet in Little League.  The only thing I could focus on was not letting my face or head hit the pavement.

14:15:00.6 - The bike and I finally came to a stop.  One foot was still clipped in, but the other had come free.  Remembering that there was still quite a bit of traffic, my first concern was that someone would run over me as I lay in the road. 

14:15:04 - Dazed, I got to my feet and pulled my new ride up over the curb and set it down in the grass.  I was still stunned and didn't have the best balance, but managed not to fall again.

14:15:09 - Traffic in the right lane had stopped.  Several drivers rolled down their windows and asked if I was 'OK'.  I looked myself over and didn't see any bones protruding from my legs or arms.  There wasn't a massive amount of blood and I was still standing.  I yelled back, "Yeah, I'm okay."

14:15:15 - One driver asked if someone had hit me.  I said, "No, nobody hit me.  I'm just dumb."  The driver then sped off without another word.  Must have been a lawyer.

14:15:20 - Finally, the pain started to settle in.  My right leg hurt and no amount of stumbling in a circle seemed to loosen things up.  I tried to focus my eyes on something...anything...but couldn't quite see straight.

14:15:30 - A Honda CRV pulled over and the window rolled down.  A couple nice ladies asked if I was okay.  I was still convinced that I was good (contrary to appearances).  Then, they asked me if I needed a ride.  My pride said "No".  Then, I thought about riding the next few miles back to the car.  "That would be great," I said to them.

14:15:40 - The driver, Emily loaded my bike into the back of the CRV with the help of two teenage kids who just happened to be walking down the sidewalk.  I never did catch their names.  They were good kids though. 

14:15:50 - While the boys were loading up my bike, I was hit with a wave of dizziness and nausea.  I thought I was going to barf.  I got down to my knees on the grass and curled up into a ball until my forehead was in the turf.  After about 30 seconds the wave passed, without any barf.  Whew.

14:16:40 - I limped into the back seat of the CRV.  I was wet and covered with gravel, sand and who knows what else.  My friend's house and my car were only a few miles away.  Emily served as my own personal SAG Wagon.

As it turned out, Emily was an X-Ray tech from Regions Hospital.  I didn't appear to have any broken bones, but she told me to keep an eye out for changes in my heart rate or blood pressure, just in case there was any internal bleeding.

She said, "Well, you're pretty muscular, and that probably helped keep you safe during the crash."  "Pretty muscular," eh?  That totally made my day.  When we got to my car, she started to unload my bike from the back of the CRV.  I asked if she needed any help.  She said, "Nah. This thing weighs like 5 pounds!".  That totally made my day, again.

I thanked Emily profusely, but she insisted she was just "doing her good deed for the day".  So, if you're ever at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN and meet an x-ray technician named Emily.  Please, thank her again for me.  Really.  She's an angel.

I took one more assessment of my situation before heading home.  My right side was covered in wet gravel and sand.  My right hand and forearm were pretty chewed up, but weren't bleeding too badly.  There was some road rash on my right shin that was about 2 inches across.  My new Twin Cities Spoke shorts were shredded (NUTS!) and my tailbone was killing me.

The drive home was no fun.  I felt weak...small.  But, I knew that things could have been a lot worse.  When I got home The Wife knew right away that something was wrong.  Maybe it was the look on my face, or maybe it was the muddy gravel plastered down the right side of my body.  She convinced me to take a shower and clean off all the muck, before driving me to Urgent Care.

I peeled off my shorts and found this little number waiting for me.  Yeeeouch!
Ahhh!  My ass!  My ghostly pale ass!

Well, the docs at Urgent Care gave me a clean bill of health.  Nothing was broken and the sore tail bone would slowly become less sore.  Wow.  How lucky am I?

I know, I know.  What about the bike?  Well, remember in my last post, when I said I was thankful that my new bike was titanium rather than carbon?  If it were a carbon frame, it could easily have been ruined.  Carbon does not respond well to trauma.  Titanium, on the other hand, can take a licking and keep on ticking.  The only damage I could find was a scratch on the handlebar tape and a scuff on the derailleur hanger.  In fact, it still shifts like a dream.


  1. I am so sorry that you crashed! I am glad you are okay - broken things are bad.
    -Emily (from BT, not your angel, although I totally would have stopped).

  2. I don't think you shared this story with me on any of the Wed. night rides. Glad you came out mainly undamaged. BTW: The gravel on the Dakota Trail is only about 1/2 mile, but as of right now, the pavement ends at Mayer. I've heard that they are supposed to pave it out to New Germany and points westward next summer.