Skip to main content

Ooooof!

JRA. (AKA Just Riding Along). That was me last Thursday after leaving work. One minute I'm riding along on may way to complete an errand, and the next minute I'm finishing up a close inspection of the pavement on Stanford Ave., just east of Market. This change in status was unplanned, and a huge surprise to me. Right in the middle of this event I do recall thinking "I'm not going to like how this turns out". Sometimes I am just soooo right. I didn't like how it turned out at all.

I know full well that a 53 year old body really doesn't do well in these circumstances, and I did a 10 count before I got up, first making sure that there were no serious alarm bells going off. I was able to sit up, and very shakily stand up, but walking was not going right. One big problem was that there was something on the bottom of my shoe. Turns out that only 99% of my bike was a couple yards away. The other 1% in the form of a pedal and a 2 inch long segment of the right crank arm was still locked to my shoe. I went and sat on the wet curb in the light drizzle and tried to take stock. As soon as I sat down, a man with a very concerned expression came up and asked if I was ok. Best I could say was that I thought I was going to be, eventually.

So my circumstances were these: My crank arm had snapped off clean and I tumbled to my right, taking the bike with me. I think I landed first, flipping the bike over and then I rolled. I have bruises in odd places now, and those places were not the first ones to report in as damaged. As I answered the questions of the gentleman who stopped to help, another driver pulled up with his truck and immediately offered to take me where I needed to go as soon as I knew what that might be. Nothing was broken on my body, and I only had a small cut on my knee. The rest were minor abrasions and bruises, most of which I wouldn't know about until the next morning. I thanked both men for helping out, and then got a lift to the nearest BART station, called my wife to tell her I needed to be picked up, and in 30 minutes I was home.

Judging from the markings, it looks like that crack existed for quite some time. The light area is the portion of the crank that failed thursday, the dark section suggests to me a portion of the crank that was cracked or flawed in the casting from the start. The cranks were vintage Campy NR cranks, with gold anodizing. They had very few miles on them, in terms of a life span of a set of cranks. I estimate between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. There was no visible damage to the cranks so the crack was not begun by some other impact.

I did ride to work the next day, and the ride helped alleviate the soreness and stiffness I felt first thing in the morning. I was sure to ride slowly, turning small gears (on a different bike). Big cogs, and little rings all the way to and from work. I did not get on a bike all weekend, and there was a long time saturday when the rain took a break so I could have slipped a ride in. I've got more rides planned soon so I'll catch up on the mileage.

Comments

Unknown said…
Yikes! That's no good, sir!

Sorry to hear about that - I heard second-hand that you'd tumbled, but didn't get the whole story until I read this.

I've had a couple of broken cranks, one that put me down immediately, and the other that for some reason didn't. It's scary stuff.

I've nattered on about crank-thoughts here:
http://ramblings.cyclofiend.com/?p=399

Best wishes for a quick recovery!
- Jim
Joe said…
Wow Rob! Glad to hear you're okay! I know how bad unexpected tumbles to the pavement can be and in this case, you wouldn't have even seen that coming. I love the line about this not going to be good. For me, it was "this is going to hurt." Take care of yourself and please buy a reliable crank!

Joe
Robert said…
Ouch. Sorry to hear that. Glad your injuries aren't major. Extra-strength Tylenol helps.

You might be interested in browsing the Broken Bike Bits site:
http://www.pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-001/000.html
systemBuilder said…
If you look at the break, half of it is dirty, which means that the crank was half gone FOR A LONG TIME before it finally snapped, all at once, at the white boundary. INSPECT YOUR CRANKS for HAIRLINE CRACKS, CAMPY ONES ARE BRITTLE (7075, I think) !!
Eric Keller said…
classic fatigue crack. It initiated in the circular area of the dark region. The actual initiation site was quite small, probably a machining mark. It's possible you could find the actual site by eye. This took a very long time to propagate across the crank. The silver area is the part that broke all at once. You can see just before that there is a silvery line in the dark region. I'm guessing that is wear from many pedal strokes. So the crank was bending a little and wearing down the fracture surface.
Eric Keller said…
and I forgot to add, glad to hear you are ok. I'm riding some vintage Campagnolo cranks and I need to look at them again.
rob hawks said…
Thanks everyone for your well wishes. Recover proceeds, though I've discovered new bruises I didn't see for days! I've commuted by bike every day, but skipped any riding on the weekend (though the spirit was willing). The biggest problem is my right knee, which aches when I sit at my desk, but seems fine when I ride. Guess I better get around to riding then.
Dr Codfish said…
Thanks for giving up your boby to demonstrate a point I made in an article I recently wrote (you will see it soon). Someone had to do it and I appreciate you 'taking the fall' for the rest of us.

Unexpected stuff happens and because it is unexpected we don't generally do the close up inspections necessary to detect/prevent it. In this, the pre-PBP year I prescribe a meticulous wash down of the velo, followed up with a very close up (Crackerjack magnifing glass?) inspection to suss out the tell tale signs of 'unexpected' problems.

So happy you came through in relatively good shape!

Yr Pal Dr C
Peter McKay said…
Hey Rob, Glad that you will be okay! Defective crank arm? Freak accident.
Old5Ten said…
hmmmmm.... metal....

Popular posts from this blog

The fourth time is a charm? PBP 2019 part 1

"I'm cured!". This was a posting I made within hours of having finished Paris, Brest, Paris 2015, hinting that it would be my last PBP. BS was officially called within seconds of that post hitting the interwebs, and this was not the first time that I was wrong (nor I suspect the last time I will be wrong). It is impossible to separate my experiences of riding PBP 2019 from any of those of past editions and the reader will have to forgive those moments of personal context that will follow below.

For the number of roadblocks I faced during the four year run-up to PBP 2019, as things transpired I led a somewhat charmed life once landing in France this past August. On the day before my flight, I received an email from Ed Felker inviting me to join Mary and him on a shake down ride out to Chartres. I had heard Craig Robertson describe the sight of the cathedral up on it's hill as he and Lori Cherry approached by bike from the west on a pre-PBP ride in 2015, and it immedi…

The fourth time is a charm?, PBP 2019 part 4

Unlike the fog that descended on the landscape overnight on Monday, the fog forming on Thursday morning was mental. But the chill was real. One downside to leaving Mortagne is that so much of the early terrain is down hill, and the coldest part of night was taking hold on that terrain for both the 84 hour riders and many if not most of the 90 hour riders. In the dark, it seemed that so few riders had gotten on the road, but as the kilometers clicked off the frequency of passing riders increased and packs were again forming, and as the sky lightened there was again a steady stream of red tail lights ahead. Foggy headed and chilled by early morning air that was nudging 40F, many riders reacted with indecision when navigational decisions were to be made and a simple left turn on the route that wasn't within a village caught 95% of the riders and large groups would have to navigate a u-turn amid the chaotic scene.

At long last, the undulating landscape smoothed out on this segment an…

The fourth time is a charm? PBP 2019 part 2

For riders that take PBP in three parts, Loudeac is often the control that cleaves the route into those three parts: Part 1, start to Loudeac: ~275 miles; Part 2, Loudeac-Brest-Loudeac: ~210 miles; Part 3, Loudeac to the finish: ~275 miles. On paper Part 2 looks to be a cake walk with it being a big chunk shorter. Well. No. It isn't a cake walk. One reason is that this section just feels hillier. Way more hilly, and in fact just getting away from Loudeac requires climbing a series of big rollers. Ironically, Roc'h Trevezel, the major climb on the ride, the highest point on the ride, and the location that provides the greatest unobstructed vista is much easier than so many other, shorter climbs. But it is in Part 2 and a focal point of that part.


The band (Mary and Ed on the tandem, Jerry, Anson, Roy and Brian K.) are all together as we leave and negotiate those first big rollers. Overnight, fog and appeared and settled in the lower laying areas and the early hours after sunup…