It’s nearly four weeks since I came off the bike and I’ve not ridden since (but that’s more to do with the sciatica I gave myself through inexpert and over-enthusiastic furniture moving). The road rash has healed well and I plan to test out the leg later this week as I’m down as leader for one of the club rides this weekend.
A group of seven friends was out last Saturday – chilly but not frosty and, I think, dry. As I understand it, as they came round a corner they hit a road covered in mud from an adjoining field. Six of the seven came down, with two temporarily knocked out and one hurt badly with a broken collarbone and pelvis. They were good and experienced riders, riding well-maintained bikes and not going particularly fast – but had no chance of staying on.
For my fall, I didn’t even hit any visible mud or leaves – I was riding third or fourth wheel round an innocuous bend and while the others all got round safely, my front wheel simply went away from under me.
It’s got me thinking about winter cycling and what can be done sensibly to reduce the risks of falls like these (quite apart from the obvious other safety measures about seeing and being seen).
I had a pair of new Continental 4000 Sii tyres on when I fell and have no reason to think badly of them – but am wondering if I could have had them inflated a little less. Beyond that, I’m thinking of consigning them to the ‘summer use only’ kit list.
I don’t ride if it’s freezing or if there are obvious issues with frosty roads, but I’m wondering whether that’s going far enough. Do I either go for winter specific tyres on one of the road bikes, or go all the way and ride the mountain bike in the winter months – quite apart from the grip issues, being very old and having led a hard life, it would handle a crash rather better than any of the road bikes.
I wonder if I could keep up with a slower group on my mountain bike? I have some other friends who largely abandon the roads through the winter and ride mountain bikes off road from November to March. That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
Some of the group that fell were able to warn riders behind them but as a group we are re-thinking our processes for keeping in touch on the road and having contact numbers for all riders and a nominated family member. For the first time I’m putting steri strips, plasters and antiseptic wipes in my saddlebag.
Whatever your approach to poorer weather or road conditions, stay safe out there.
(And for those closer to the equator or in the southern hemisphere, I’m not jealous … much).