Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A close shave

Nearly developed a very nasty case of road rash tonight. I went for a spin on the bike, and was nearly home when I decided to do a left hand turn into a street that would take me along a nice bit of waterfront. Trouble is, when I braked in preparation for the turn, the front wheel almost slid out from underneath me. Now that is something that you might expect on gravel, but I was on asphalt, and there was nothing remotely slippery about it.

What had happened is that my front wheel had suffered a puncture and gone flat in about 5 seconds - and I hadn't noticed it as I was too busy paying attention to all the nasty "I'm off home now" traffic on the road beside me. As the tube went flat, the tyre separated from the rim, and hence the skidding - I was pretty much riding on 1mm of metal rim instead of 23mm of inflated rubber. And metal rims 1mm wide do not grip that well on anything.

I managed to hold the slide (making all those broggies on gravel as a kid worthwhile), so instead of falling under a truck to my right, I managed to slide into the kerb on my left. My front wheel slammed into the kerb about a foot short of the corner, and I then bounced around the corner and came to a halt in a quiet side street, heart racing, shoulder muscles torn from the effort of staying upright and me quietly cursing the RTA and their useless bloody road surfaces.

I was reasonably close to home, so I walked the bike home rather than fixing the flat on the side of the road. When I removed the front wheel to fix the flat, I found an almighty ding in the rim from where the wheel had crashed into the concrete kerb - it's off to the shop tomorrow to determine whether it can be repaired, or whether it is time for a new wheel rim.

The front tyre also needs replacing - they're supposed to be good for 6000km, but it's only done 3000km since new. Just goes to show how even a kevlar reinforced tyre gets chopped up quickly by Sydney's nasty road surfaces. The gouges on the tyre from broken glass and metal shavings have to be seen to be believed. This is not a bike friendly town. Tyre + rim = maybe $300. This is not a cheap sport.

But at least I am home with all my skin and bones intact.


Nick said...

Know exactly how you feel, I spend most of my time trying to avoid potholes and uneven surfaces when riding to and from work each day, when I should really be concentrating on the traffic. There is a nasty pothole close to the kerb along Victoria Rd near Rozelle which has nearly got me a few times. I checked my speedo this morning as I was descending at about 81km/h. I don't think it would be a pretty site if a cyclist hit a pothole at that speed. By the way, I saw a guy crossing the road this morning in Pyrmont, carrying just a bicycle wheel. That wouldn't happen to have been you would it?

Boy on a bike said...

I avoid Victoria Rd like the plague. I'd prefer to cycle all the way around The Bay and up Lilyfield Rd than to cycle along Victoria Rd.

I usually curse myself when I find pot holes like that because I bought a can of linemarking paint for the purpose of marking ugly pot holes so that other cyclists can avoid them, and so the council can find them when I report them.

I know how bone-crashing it can be doing a fast descent on a Sydney road. I went over the Gladesville Bridge a few weeks ago and up towards Lane Cove, and found myself descending at nearly 70km/h on the roughest stretch of tarmac you'll ever see. When people ask me why I ride with cleats, my answer from now on will be "so I don't get shaken off the bike on our terrible roads".

Wasn't me you spied - i dropped it off at a suburban bike shop. Rim is a write-off.