November 30, 2010

"With biking, you feel in control until you have an accident."

"Then all of a sudden you realize you are not in control. That can have a dramatic effect — you can shift abruptly from excessive daring to exaggerated caution."

43 comments:

JayC said...

The same thing is true of sticking your face in a fan

TRO said...

Same thing with motorcycling. I feel alive and totally in control when I ride, but all it takes is some moron turning left in front of you and your world goes to hell fast. Haven't wrecked yet, but as two of my riding buddies who have said to me . . . "It's gonna happen sooner or later."

MadisonMan said...

The people in that article aren't bikers, meaning people who ride bikes for leisure, to get from point a to point b, or to commute to work.

They are people who compulsively need to exercise to the point of exhaustion.

And if you have an accident and you can blame yourself for it, then you can also convince yourself that it won’t happen again. That’s how Dr. Loewenstein reasoned when he crashed his bike last winter after riding over a patch of ice. He ended up with a shoulder injury. He decided the whole thing was his fault and could have been avoided.

Why is he riding in an environment where hitting ice is likely? Where is his common sense?

JAL said...

Well, falling off a moving animal from 5 feet in the air can be a bit of a shock also.

Many of us do things like that (riding / biking / climbing).

Most of us get back on.

But then I think that depends on why we are riding / biking / climbing, whatever.

traditionalguy said...

The school of hard knocks applies to all transportation methods. Risk reduction is advised, but is usually only taken after experiencing hurt or seeing another person get hurt.

Paul said...

Ah your man is a sissy....

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/625074/freeride/

Pogo said...

""With biking, you feel in control until you have an accident."

Old people say this about walking in their own house.

Coketown said...

This statement applies to life in general. Except, you are always still in control. An accident just demonstrates that you're not as competent with life as you once thought. I thought the 'when good things happen it's because of me; when bad things happen it's beyond my control' mentality was restricted to the low-class drug users in my apartment complex.

SteveR said...

MadisonMan has a correct view of "bikers". I see many on my way to work, early, often dark and semi remote. They tend to value maintaining speed over safety and adherence to traffic laws, too much to gain much sympathy from me.

edutcher said...

That's why there's Depends.

PS As they used to say in the horse cavalry, you get thrown off, you get back on.

Rich B said...

As Traditionalguy noted, it's the same for other transports. You can drive aggressively, fast and weaving and it's all really exciting until those metal bodies collide and you suddenly realize how much damage that kinetic energy can cause.

k*thy said...

The same thing is true of sticking your face in a fan

Same thing is true with anything.

MM, so, these type of injuries couldn't happen, heading north down Owen Drive, on your way to work you hit a pothole and go ass over tea kettle? Even with recreational riding, there are ample opportunities of broken bones.

As for riding on ice - doesn't a patch of ice infer intermittent? Also, plenty of folks only have bikes to get around on, even year round.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Oh good Lord. Sorry but a broken collarbone is far from horrific. Tyler Hamilton broke his collarbone in the first stage of the 2003 Tour de France and still found the fortitude to stay in the whole race and finished 4th.

About 3 years ago I was in a 'horrific' crash in which I broke two fingers, left radial head on my elbow (needing 2 pins) and needed 6 stitched in my left eyebrow and could not wait to get back on my bike.

Man up. Oh wait....

rhhardin said...

I haven't crashed since 1988.

I've probably learned all the traps.

Then it was my first experience with a flat on fat bike tires (26x2).

It turns out that if you coast to a stop when your front tire starts hissing out air, you're too late.

With a fat tire, the rim steers around inside the loose tire, and that steers the tire casing in the opposite direction, which means that balancing is reversed. You go over very fast.

So if you have a flat on the front with fat tires, stop instantly.

The previous crash was 1975, an oil slick on a turn. So I don't take turns fast either.

Hoosier Daddy said...

That’s how Dr. Loewenstein reasoned when he crashed his bike last winter after riding over a patch of ice. He ended up with a shoulder injury. He decided the whole thing was his fault and could have been avoided.

I thought that I would highlight this individual's credentials to illustrate that even supposed really smart people can be so dumb that it takes an injury for them to see what is likely blindingly obvious to a 9 year old.

Next up, the doctor learns that fire burns.

Hoosier Daddy said...

And we're cyclists. Bikers are those scruffy looking pot bellied 50+ year old guys wearing bandanas and riding Harleys.

Just sayin

Richard Dolan said...

Not much sympathy for the bikers here (except for TRO), and mostly based on 'rational expectations' kind of thinking. Are you all devotees of Robert Lucas?

It's not like riding a bike is as crazy as, say, jumping out of planes in a flying suit (Ann links to it earlier today). There's a lot of space between the rational man of economic literature, each calculating risks vs. rewards and always opting for the rational, utilitarian thing; and the less rational, more emotional characters that are the folks who, you know, actually populate the place. Feeling 'totally in control' is itself an emotional reaction, an attempt to rationalize an experience that doesn't fit that model of things. It's interesting to see how the emotions do a 180 -- no more biking! -- when the essentially non-rational aspects of the experience take over. Until the rational side of one's make-up can assert a little control again, that is.

The games we play on ourselves are always the most interesting.

Big Mike said...

My aikido sensei was in a much more horrific bicycle crash than that and emerged with nothing more serious than a couple scrapes and bruises, maybe some bits of gravel embedded in his skin -- and some ruined clothing. One can learn how to fall without hurting oneself, and I wish more people who are into activities where falling is a likelihood would dabble in the martial arts that involve falls and throws -- aikido, judo, ju jitsu -- to develop the muscle memory in how to deal with tumbles.

Michael said...

It is axiomatic that accidents result in a loss of control. No one says, hey look an icy patch about 200 yards ahead, I'm going to wreck there. No. They don't see the icy patch until they are on it. They do not intentionally misjudge a wave and paralyze themselves. They don't intentionally fail to notice the car that is going to run the red light and t-bone them. But they always say they would avoid it the next time.

Big Mike: It is nice in the dojo to believe that one can learn to fall without hurting oneself, but of course it is bullshit. You can minimize your injury but you cannot avoid it in the case of a serious accident. Because all accidents are not "tumbles." A friend of mine was hit from the rear by a drunk driver going 70. My friend was biking at around 20 mph. He remembers nothing. They found his bike in a tree and both his shoes hundreds of feet from where he was hit. He survived, but it was a miracle his martial arts training notwithstanding.

Zach said...

There have been a lot of good points made in the comments. Falls happen to the best -- I used to be on a triathlon team, and some of my friends took pretty horrific falls.

Just to throw out a couple of ideas that haven't been addressed yet.

1) Drafting and riding in a peloton is much more dangerous than it seems, and if you've got some jerk who hits the brakes or swerves unexpectedly, you can get in a bad crash. Only draft off people you know, and who have nice, calm, predictable bike handling.

2) For winter riding, use winter tires. It's the ice you're not expecting that will get you. Use low gears at low speeds and bull through everything. Momentum is not your friend.

3) Make cars react to you, and watch out for stupid things like turns without looking or passing too close.

4) Always use a light after dark.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Drafting and riding in a peloton is much more dangerous than it seems, and if you've got some jerk who hits the brakes or swerves unexpectedly, you can get in a bad crash. Only draft off people you know, and who have nice, calm, predictable bike handling.

This ^^

I had a buddy who ended up with a broken wrist because the guy in front of him dropped his water bottle and just hit the brakes. Riding in a peloton with people you know takes skill. I simply refuse to ride with groups that I don't know the riders.

Big Mike said...

@Michael, I didn't say that martial arts training will help save your life if you're hit by a car going 70 mph. Sheesh.

But if you pedal -- or even walk! -- across a thin patch of snow and discover ice underneath instead of gravel, would you rather break a bone or would you rather have muscle memory roll the force off? Somewhere there's a point where nothing you can do will help, but that's no excuse for not learning how to avoid injury in less stringent circumstances.

Michael said...

Big Mike: Agreed. Anyone doing active things needs to learn how to fall. I ride and run and have crashed in both activities. I came off the reservoir loop in Central Park once, running nicely, and tripped on a root. I tumbled down a small embankment and had the gravel and rock scrapes you describe.

Michael said...

Am I imagining this or are the progressives on this thread more risk averse than the conservatives?

Lyle said...

Some person wrote this article. Jesus.

yes said...

I left aikido after not only a 2nd-degree elbow sprain (i.e. the ligament almost tore but not quite) but mostly seeing a few frightening injuries to others. And our dojo put a lot of emphasis on safety.

Aikido injuries are not common, but when they happen tend to involve dislocated joints and severe sprains, which require a lot of recovery, and happen to experienced practitioners as easily as beginners. But the most horrific injury I heard of (and this was really a freak isolated accident and not in my dojo) was an instructor who was demonstrating a roll, a student rolled into her, her neck snapped and she became a quadraplegic.

I love the art but I chickened out after 4 years of steady practice.

MadisonMan said...

k*thy, I hope you're not speaking from experience. I know that in my case, my bike crashes stemmed either from me not paying attention (I thought I saw someone I know in a yard, and while looking in the yard to make sure, I drove into a parked car) or from idiot pedestrian walking in front of me. I think if I saw a pothole, I'd avoid it. If I didn't see the pothole, I'd wonder why I'm biking.

I think today was the last day this year I'm biking to work. It's too dark too early, and by the time it's light out late enough to ride -- late January, it's too icy. Nothing worse than riding over snow to find out there's a layer of ice under it.

yes said...

@Bigmike Pursuant to both your comment and mine ....

Aikido did give me the ability to fall without hurting myself and more so, to catch myself without falling, on say, tripping on the pavement kind of stuff.

But knowing how to fall did not help any of these experienced practitioners. The purpose of aikido as a martial art is to hurt your attacker by causing them to fall badly, throwing them against walls and such, or dislocating their joints by wrist and elbow locks. It is only by thoughtfulness and experience that your practice partner in the dojo doesn't actually hurt you.

These people were hurt because no one is perfect. Actually one injury I saw, to a blackbelt and sensei, was caused by a sticky plastic mat. Her toe dislocated so badly the skin tore, and she had to spend 2 days in hospital getting intravenous antibiotics, because the interior of the joint was exposed. Her partner had nothing to do with it at all.

Anthony said...

I had to ditch (i.e., purposely crash) my bike coming down the hill next to Helen C. library once because it was raining and my brakes completely failed. And I ran smack into the back of a parked car at full speed once, too. Never even considered not riding again.

deborah said...

I took Aikido for few weeks back in my early college days. Learning to fall came in handy when I was pregnant and walking on uneven ground. Twice I just rolled lightly into a fall.

I'm gearing up to begin riding a bike. My sister's old one. I'm going to get a comfy seat and tires for macadam. But I'm a big SISSY and will not go along winding roads with blind curves or ride along busy city streets. I'm looking for flat, straight country roads. Also need to find a non-dorky helmet. Do they exist?

Big Mike said...

@yes, I can confirm that when things go wrong in aikido -- or any martial art -- things are apt to go very wrong. My sensei taught us a technique where we face multiple simultaneous attackers and use one of them as a battering ram against the others by locking up his arm essentially in the same configuration as a fried chicken drumstick and thigh when you are twisting them apart. The hold is executed using little more than your thumb and forefinger. Get it wrong and you can seriously hurt somebody.

On the other hand (1) our sensei had women doing randori against men on the reasonable grounds that they are unlikely to be attacked by female rapists comparable to them in height and weight, and (2) multiple attackers in the real world do not line up against the wall and wait for Chuck Norris to finish beating the crap out of one of them, following which another of their number moves out from the wall to get his own butt kicked.

BTW, when a petite woman who couldn't weight 100 pounds if you soaked her gi in heavy water (D2O) sends 250+ pounds of me sailing ten feet through the air, then you have to know that aikido training is good.

Big Mike said...

@JAL, I hadn't noticed you commenting for a while. Had you been deployed?

Big Mike said...

@deborah, thank you for not riding on tight, twisty roads. What I really hated about living in Maryland was that even though that deep blue state and even deeper blue county built lots of bike trails, the local bicyclists preferred to ride on the same road with our cars. I'm grateful that (a) I never hit and killed one of them, and (b) in Virginia, where I live now, the bicyclists actually use those bike trails.

PS: I don't think a non-dorky bike helmet exists.

Michael said...

Deborah: Non-dorky helmets do not exist. If, however, you can wear lycra the look is somehow mitigated if that is the right word.

traditionalguy said...

Everybody riding motorcycles needs to visit homes for the severely brain injured and see their quality of life. Being a daredevil risking head injury is no better than having unprotected anal sex with strangers...what are you thinking?

ken in sc said...

When I was in the Air Force, a squadron commander, while biking home to lunch hit a jogger on the bike/jogger trail and broke his neck. He became a paraplegic. I was appointed commander in his place. The most common cause of death among cowboys in the 1800s was being drug to death by a horse—not gun fights. BTW, Winston Churchill once fell from a horse and broke his collarbone during a polo match, but finished the match, in pain, nevertheless.

deborah said...

Thanks, Big Mike and Michael.

Shawn L. said...

"As they used to say in the horse cavalry, you get thrown off, you get back on."

Though one could also suggest getting back on a steadier steed.

MamaM said...

Losing a family member to traumatic death really does a number on one's sense of control and willingness to get back on the Bike of Life.

Lose two this way and it is hard to get up some mornings.

"Thank you for my life" are the words that help me find center when this happens.

TRO said...

"And we're cyclists. Bikers are those scruffy looking pot bellied 50+ year old guys wearing bandanas and riding Harleys.

Just sayin"

I ride a Kawaski Vulcan 900, thank you very much.

And one of my best buds, a long-time, long distance cyclist, has a beer belly I could only dream of. As do many male cyclists of a certain age.

JAL said...

@ Big Mike @JAL, I hadn't noticed you commenting for a while. Had you been deployed

Nah. Really busy (doing nothing) but had both computers seriously infected and in treatment on and off for a couple weeks.

But now that you mention it ... the son is back from Iraq (2nd deployment) having imparted some wisdom and hopefully common sense to the men he was helping to train to help stabilize Iraq. (There is hope.)

He now gets to spend the next three years flying again in a very pretty place after a hiatus of a few years. :-))

Hooah!

JAL said...

@Michael --

"Progressives" are more risk averse than just about any group I know.

Who do you think writes all those insane and / or stoopid regulations?

Nanny state -- remember? Don't eat pie or put little toys in your kids' meals. And Bloomberg forbid you have salt on your food.

It's amazing we know how to walk across a room without a regulation to protect us.

Robert Burnham said...

So Gina Kolata never rides her bike again. OK by me.

Anyone rides a bike knows (or should know) that you have to look out for yourself at all times and be constantly aware of hazards in your path.

I think some people — runners & cyclists — reach a stage in the activity where they zone out as they go along, and so they think about other matters or listen to their iPods when they should be paying 100% attention to their surroundings.

If an iPod (or equivalent) is part of your running or cycling outfit — leave it at home from now on.