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Rail Trail Riding, With Road Rash

The Dutchess Rail Trail sits atop a pipeline carrying water from the treatment plant in the City of Poughkeepsie to the GlobalFoundries (neé IBM East Fishkill) complex. For good engineering reasons, the mid-line pumping station (equipment yard visible to our left) in Page Industrial Park sits directly athwart the pipe, which forced an abrupt S-curve on a relatively steep slope into the rail trail layout.

T=0.000 s — The lead cyclist just cut in front of her companion and isn’t leaning into the turn, at which point Mary and I both realize this isn’t going to end well:

Road Rash 2015-08-15 - 131

Road Rash 2015-08-15 – 131

T=0.750 s — Newton grabs control of her bike and he’s not gonna let go:

Road Rash 2015-08-15 - 176

Road Rash 2015-08-15 – 176

T=1.633 s — The rear wheel locks as she passes Mary, she’s far off-center and falling to her left, the bike has gone inertial, and it’s obvious we’re about to arrive at the same place at the same time:

Road Rash 2015-08-15 - 229

Road Rash 2015-08-15 – 229

T=2.100 s — Collision Alarm! I’m veering off the pavement, which is the only reason we didn’t have an offset frontal collision:

Road Rash 2015-08-15 - 257

Road Rash 2015-08-15 – 257

T=2.333 s — Impact! I’m stopped and balanced on the bike, with my left foot out of the pedal cleat and heading for the ground. She’s sliding past me, pivoting around her bike’s left pedal skidding on the asphalt:

Road Rash 2015-08-15 - 271

Road Rash 2015-08-15 – 271

She ended up sprawled atop her bike, facing up the slope, with the front wheel just beside the rear wheel of my bike; her foot or some part of her bike whacked my left-side underseat bag in passing, but there was no bike-on-bike collision. No injuries for her, other than perhaps a bit of road rash, but only by sheer raw good fortune.

Reviewing the video shows she lost control at the transition from the trail to the downward S-curve, a few seconds before the first picture here and about five seconds before she stopped sliding past my bike, but the problem wasn’t obvious until the scene in the first picture. Mary never had a chance to react and, with less than two seconds until the not-quite-collision, my gross-motor reaction time just barely got me out of the way.

Brake early and always wear a helmet.

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  1. #1 by hexley ball on 2015-08-23 - 13:59

    Holy cow — what great reaction on your part, Ed. Mary must be living right, too.

    Looks like the oncoming rider overcooked the S curve, then probably panicked and locked the rear brake while trying to recover. Nothing Good has ever been said about that :-)

    Glad no one was seriously hurt. Reminded me in a way of [Geraint Thomas on Stage 16 of this year’s Tour de France] (http://thebiglead.com/2015/07/20/geraint-thomas-crashed-head-first-into-a-telephone-pole-at-tour-de-france/), when another rider overcooked a corner and drove Thomas into a collision with a telephone pole. Thomas then calmly climbed out of the ditch, remounted, and went on to finish the stage. Chapeau, buddy.

    • #2 by hexley ball on 2015-08-23 - 14:01

      I give up — inserting inline links with Markdown is just beyond my capability, apparently. Arrgh.

      • #3 by Ed on 2015-08-23 - 14:22

        It actually worked better than you thought!

        Note to all: just type the links and I’ll fix them up with my nearly magic editing powers. Some links can’t be linkified, but I’ll do my best…

    • #4 by Ed on 2015-08-23 - 14:38

      Verily, there’s nothing like a good slug of adrenaline to perk up the next half-hour of pedaling. Whew!

      You’ve probably seen that horrific TdF Stage 3 crash:


      The best riders in the world just kept piling up at, what, 30 mph, straight into that lamp post, after which most of ’em got back on their (instantly swapped) bikes and rode on…