Saturday: Crash analysis

October 2, 2010

Subjective crash description

Around 10.45 am on Thursday Sep 30 2010 in good driving conditions I was riding beside the golf coarse. It’s a wide road with two travel lanes. I rode in the margin, which is a good size. This section of the road is straight.

I was riding probably between 23 and 25 mph (targeting 90% FTP).

The incident happened extremely fast, so fast that I have been able to recall very little about it at any time after. What follows is all I have.

I am sure that I heard a squirrel scream. It’s an uncommon sound and very distinctive. I learned it well in the spring when squirrels were fighting in the tree in my back yard.

I believe I saw a squirrel at the same time as hearing the scream. The memory is not clear. I recall knowing, in the moments immediately after the crash, that I had seen a squirrel but I quickly lost the visual memory.

My memory of the crash itself is that everything happened at once, in an instant, without sequence or temporal separation: squirrel, scream, crashing, pain.

Spoke nipple with squirrel fuzz

I am sure that I did not use the brakes.

I moved as quickly as I could away from the travel lanes and sat on the verge. I saw that the bike was about 20 meters farther down the road.

I did not see the squirrel after the crash.

Physical evidence

The helmet has indents and scrape marks on the left side running in the direction from the crown of my head to my ear. There are four cracks in the foam between the front and the middle of the left side.

Downtube with squirrel fuzz

I sustained a bruise and slight abrasion on my left temple, a clavicle fracture, moderate abrasion (road rash) on my back over my left scapula and small wounds on my left hand and elbow.

There is a tuft of squirrel fur stuck in a spoke nipple of the front wheel. It is a 16-spoke low-profile wheel so there is plenty space for a squirrel to get into or through the wheel. There are squirrel hairs on the under-side of the down tube of the frame about eight inches from the head tube, hairs also on the inside left of the fork and on the inside left of the front brake caliper.

Brake caliper with squirrel fuzz

There are two new and distinct scratches trough the paint down to the primer on the under-side of the down tube of the frame about four inches from the head tube.

There are significant scrape marks on the right side of the heel of both of my shoes.

Piecing it together

A squirrel jumped out of the grass/shrubs/trees to the right of the road and got entangled in my front wheel. It jammed the front wheel during the wheel’s next half rotation. (At 23 mph the wheel turns 5 times a second.) With the front wheel locked and skidding, I was launched over the bars.

I probably hit the ground on the left side of my head and my left shoulder. Then, while sliding down the road, I rolled onto my back, getting the abrasion on my left scapula during the slide/roll. I was still sliding when my feet met the road, giving both shoes the scrapes on their heels.

As I was launched over the bars, the rear of the bicycle would have been lifted up and over the front wheel. At some point I separated safely from the (Keo) pedals and the bicycle passed over me, met the road and slid a lot farther than I did.

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