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Rainy ride leads to wreck. Expensive day.

Friday, September 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

September
27
2013

Yesterday morning I’d planned to do an early 50-60 mile ride, and I was very much looking forward to it. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden the West Orange Trail, the South Lake Trail and the NTC extension, so I decided to do that route.

There was a narrow band of fairly strong storms in the area, but they looked like they were north of where I was going to be riding. Of course–as has been the case all week long–it started to rain as I was preparing to depart from the trailhead.

As I rode along warming up, the rain started coming down much harder. The wind was blowing the heavy rain back into my face, and it was not enjoyable. About 2 or 3 miles in I considered turning back. I wish I had.

I thought, “Whatever, I’m already soaked. Maybe the rain will let up soon.” I rode on.

After about 25 miles or so it finally stopped raining. The sun began to peak through here and there, adding a nice dose of humidity to an already miserable ride.

About 40 miles in I came to a wooden bridge that I’ve been over a million times before. These wooden bridges can be slick, and so I was careful to hold a very straight line. I was at the very end of the bridge doing right at 20 MPH, and before I realized what was happening I was on the ground, sliding along the pavement.

When I finally stopped, the strongest pain sensation was my right pinky. My very first thought was, “Damn, I broke my finger!” The pinky looked straight. I could bend it and move it around. Whew–just jammed.

Of course my attention quickly turned to my bike. I gathered myself off the pavement and, still stunned, picked up my poor bike. I quickly saw that the rear derailleur hanger had snapped, and the rear derailleur was lying on the ground.

So what did I do next? Continue to check my bike for damage? Maybe check myself for damage? Nope, I pulled out my phone, snapped a picture and did a Facebook status update… 😐

The rear derailleur hanger snapped in half, doing its job and saving the frame.

The rear derailleur hanger snapped in half, doing its job and saving the frame.

 

For those who don’t know, most modern bikes use a hanger to attach the rear derailleur to the frame. The derailleur hangers are designed to break in half if they meet with a fair amount of force, thus, saving the bike frame.

I carry a spare derailleur hanger on my mountain bike, but I don’t carry one on my road bike (odds are much higher I’d snap a hanger on my mountain bike than my road bike). So I didn’t have a spare. That said, I always carry a chain breaker and zip ties, so I knew I could shorten the chain, zip tie the derailleur to the frame and limp the ~10 miles back to the trailhead as a single speed.

It was at that point that I saw my ride was indeed over. My beautiful new Zipp 404 Firecrest rear wheel was destroyed. These guys are not cheap. I felt sick…

This was an expensive slip.

This was an expensive slip.

 

I think the rear derailleur sandwiched between between the wheel and the concrete is what caused the carbon fiber to break. It was a pretty hard fall. Zipp may be able to help me out with a crash replacement (I need to go through a dealer to even have a shot at that), but no matter what it’s still going to be a very expensive replacement. My bike budget is already blown for this year, so this really sucks.

Anyway, I called Lisa, told her what happened and asked her to come pick me up. After hanging up with Lisa, I collected my bike and started walking back across the bridge towards the road. The bridge was so slick that I almost fell again as I started walking across it. I couldn’t believe how slimy and slippery the bridge was! There really should be chicken wire or a sign or something warning people about how slippery the bridge is. I mean, kids ride this trail all the time. Someone could get really hurt.

Speaking of hurt, it was about this time I noticed blood running down my right arm. I got pretty scraped up, but no deep lacerations. I also was feeling some pain from my right upper leg:

My upper leg after skidding along the pavement at 20 MPH.

My upper leg after skidding along the pavement at 20 MPH.

 

When I got home I really just wanted a shower and a couch, but I forced myself to clean up and inspect my bike. The bike frame, thankfully, is just fine–not even a scratch. The right handlebars were bent in slightly, but that was an easy fix. There is a little cosmetic damage on the right brake lever. I hooked the rear derailleur up to the Di2 system, and was relieved to find that it appears to be functioning properly (I won’t know for sure until I get my replacement hanger).

So final damage report: Rear Zipp 404 Firecrest wheel destroyed, broken rear derailleur hanger, bent handlebars, jammed little finger and various cuts, scrapes & bruises.

I’m sore this morning, and the cuts sting, but not as much as the replacement cost of the Zipp will sting. Oh well, it obviously could have been much worse.

By the way, the bridge is on the West Orange Trail near Winter Garden–around the intersection of 9th Street and Plant Street. Please be very careful there (and on any potentially slick surface).

Here’s the entire ride on Strava.

John Stone Fitness Comments

14 Responses to “Rainy ride leads to wreck. Expensive day.”
  1. Glad you are OK for the most part. That has always been my fear with carbon, very low impact resistance. I noticed at Interbike that on most carbon road frames and superlight xc frames that you can actually squeeze the carbon and feel it flex, kinda scary in my book. If you had aluminum wheels you would have probably had a big scratch and thats it. So on to the bent handlebars…are they carbon or aluminum? Either way, if you were able to bend them back you should really consider tossing them, last thing you want is to snap your bars at 30mph.

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    • Thanks, Craig. Yeah, I admit that this otherwise relatively minor incident has sort of soured me on carbon fiber wheels. Wrecks happen, and the replacement cost is a bitter pill to swallow. I will replace the wheel, but I’m going to put a lot of thought into keeping the Zipps on the shelf except for races. Maybe pick up a good set of ACs for training and club rides.

      The bars are aluminum. They were not badly bent, maybe just a degree or two. Do you still think I should replace them?

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  2. Yeah I would replace them. Once bent they are weaker then they were before the crash. ESI has a new silicone bar tape coming out. Super cush just like the mtb grips. You should look for that.

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  3. oh man john im so sorry to hear this! its ironic how you go mountain biking and race up in the mountains for a week, come back without a scratch and then this happens just for rolling over a bridge youve been on a million times. great attitude as always. hope ur ok!!

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    • Thanks Barbell. Yeah, I rode/raced fast, hard and aggressive on 4 different trails up in the mountains–trails I’ve never been on before–and didn’t wreck even once. Then I come home and wipe out on a silly little bridge that kids ride over on their Wal-Mart bikes. FML.

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  4. If you are feeling a little adventurous, I’d recommend (not sure of your rim spec):

    http://www.light-bicycle.com/carbon-road-bike

    then either lace it up yourself or at a reputable shop. I don’t have personal experience using their road products, but I do use their mountain bike rim products. Their rims have survived 2 seasons now in very rocky terrain (and are cheap enough that I have a spare just in case).

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  5. Oh man sorry to hear. I remember I did a completely noob thing and flopped my brand new Tarmac on my first ride when a car pulled out in front me in a parking lot and I couldn’t get my clip out. They were asking if I was alright, I was just worried about my bike. Put a little clip in the corner leather of the seat….$150 bucks to replace. Needless to say every time I look at my bike I see that blemish in the seat. I feel your pain.

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