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All About My Bikes and Clobbered by a Car Update

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Part 1: First Road Bike Crash - Update

I have not blogged since May 26th. I have not had the heart to write an update to the Road Bike Crash that occurred on May 22nd.

Here is a link to my last blog about the crash:


This story has gotten ugly. We are talking about incompetent insurance adjusters, the other party changing their story, 8 weeks of physical therapy, continuous pain, lawyers and a lawsuit. I am now undergoing serious physical medical rehabilitation.

My right ankle has no discernible stabilizing ligaments. If I am not careful, my right foot just rolls under my leg and I stumble. My neck throbs all the time and my right shoulder has pretty much seized-up.

To make matters worse, I officiated in 43 high school football games this season. These games were assigned to me in April, which was over a month before my bike accident. Every second I spent on the field was agony. Aleve painkillers became my best friend. Just when I thought the season was over, I got tapped to do two playoff games.

I have over 15 years of experience as a football official. There is a shortage of officials at every level, for every sport. Even though I was injured, I couldn’t dump any games and leave my crew high-and-dry. Working football games showed me how badly I was hurt. On the football field, I had to move to in uncomfortable ways to cover the action as plays progress. There are certain signals that require shoulder movement, which hurt. A “ref” has to keep their head on a swivel. My neck pops and cracks when I turn my head. I got “rolled” several times. “Rolled” is the term for getting clobbered by a player. Due to the pain in my wobbly ankle, I was just not agile enough to get out of the way. Half way through one game, I got clobbered by two monster linemen and got my left knee sprained.

Officiating football is not a really cardio-vascular exercise. The bad news is I gained 20 pounds because I have not been able to do much running. I managed to fight off 10 pounds, mostly by bike riding.

Part 2: White Lightning Is Repaired

After the accident on May 22nd, I ended-up paying for bike repairs myself. My LBS (“Local Bike Shop”) did a complete crash assessment. The carbon front fork checked-out okay. The LBS managed to straighten the bent wheels. They realigned the brakes, shifters and handlebars. They re-wrapped the bar tape, and changed the bent rear derailleur hanger. They also had to tune and adjust everything on the bike.

The bike took a fearsome blow!

I bought a new Specialized Echelon helmet that was just like the one that was destroyed in the accident. The old Echelon helmet was broken and dented. I suffered one heck of a concussion. But my head is still in one piece.

Part 3: First Ride After The Accident – Sometime I Scare Myself

I took the newly repaired Allez to Green Mountain where there are dedicated concrete bike paths. In other words, there are no cars. I really was not ready to deal with cars, yet.

Here is a shot of the Allez prior to ride.

After $400 in repairs the bike is as good as new.

I rode around the parking lot and tested the shifting and handling. The bike felt good. I took off down the path. There were no other bikes around me. I pedaled easily and the bike picked up speed. I know this makes no sense, but as I neared 20 mph, I got irrationally scared. When the speedometer hit 20 mph, my heart raced in my chest and I felt panicked.

I then scared myself even worse; I purposely unfocused my eyes. I call this my 1,000 yard stare. The visual image is akin to a wide-angle movie camera. My eyes fed my panicked brain the blurred image of the tall brown grass on both sides of the path speeding by. I had the sensation that my bike was stationary in space and time while the world rolled underneath me.

Whoa! I came back to earth, refocused my eyes, and hit the brakes! I then cruised slowly on the smooth path trying to get control of myself. On this warm June night, with the gorgeous path all mine, biking conditions were perfect! But I rode back to the car and racked my bike. I was fighting fear. And I lost.

That ride was six months ago. I have not been on my Allez since.

Now, I have no problem riding my other bikes. I have since blasted through Moab, Utah on Ultra-Stumpy; taken my Surly Cross-Check on lengthy adventure touring outings; flew down twisting single-track trails with Little Cam; honed my skills on my personal trail system with Little Stumpy; and railed snowy trails with The Beast!

Part 4: Happy Thoughts - Why So Many Bikes?

“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
Oscar Wilde

Although my Allez sits quietly in the garage, I have no shortage of great bikes to ride. A handful of Aleve, washed down with Red Bull, can keep the pain in my neck and right shoulder down to tolerable levels. Clip-in pedals keep my wonky right ankle from exploding.

The following are descriptions, or rather excuses why I have a relative large number of bikes.

Part 4a: Sophisticated, Fast and Comfortable: Ultra-Stumpy

Here is a nice picture of Ultra-Stumpy.

Ultra-Stumpy is a 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon Expert FSR 29er mountain bike that is designed for endurance trail racing. Ultra-Stumpy is blazing fast. Maybe just a little too fast. About a month ago, I lost my mind and installed tubeless Maxxis Ardent tires on Ultra-Stumpy to lower rolling resistance. My dubious goal was to top 50 mph on level dirt. I am not so sure that is a good idea. Ultra-Stumpy accelerates like it is shot out of a cannon! Fortunately, Ultra-Stumpy has the brakes, suspension and stability to handle high-speed. Unfortunately, I am not so sure I have the nerve to handle high-speed.

Part 4b: Flexible and Fun: Surly Cross-Check

My Surly Cross-Check is an odd steel frame multi-purpose bike that handles dirt and pavement equally well.

Although my Cross-Check is a 2013 model, all Cross-Checks made by Surly since the beginning of time are essentially the same. The Cross-Check is not a quick bike, nor a fast bike. The Cross-Check is a fun and forgiving bike. I must be getting soft in my old age!

Part 4c: Quick and Dangerous: Little Cam

Little Cam is a highly modified 2012 Specialized Camber Comp FSR 26er mountain bike that is optimized for technical trails.

Little Cam has an odd-ball geometry that makes the bike lightning quick, extremely agile and terribly unforgiving. Little Cam spends a lot of time in the air. This bike has an extremely raked-back 74 degree seat post angle, short wheelbase and very short chainstay length (i.e. distance from crank to rear wheel). This unique geometry makes Little Cam unbalanced fore-and-aft. When you are sitting on the seat, Little Cam is tail heavy. If you lean backwards the front wheel comes off the ground. But if you lean forward, the back wheel comes off the ground. I have no other bike that can do wheelie, or front wheel-stand while not moving.

Now you get the idea why Little Cam is so fun. Little Cam does not just roll down a trail. Little Cam leaps down the trail. Little Cam does not turn just around corners. Little Cam ricochets around corners.

I plan to write a geeked-out blog detailing how I managed to shave 5 pounds off Little Cam and installed a new high-tech suspension system. Little Cam has been transformed from a pleasant and somewhat dangerous little sucker, into a sophisticated trail bike and really dangerous little sucker!

2012 was the last year Specialized made the Camber with 26” wheels. In 2013, the Camber was dumbed-down and given 29” wheels and a lot longer wheelbase. I rode one of these 29” Cambers, and It was okay. The Camber was intended to be an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike. The evil, wicked, mean and nasty 26er was not well suited for novice mountain bikers. The 29” Camber is tame and easy to ride. The 26” wheel is rapidly becoming a thing of the past on higher-end mountain bikes. The big new rage is the 27.5”wheel size, which some biking pundits are claiming will replace both the 26” and the 29” bikes. I hope not.

Part 4d: Easy Rider: Little Stumpy

Little Stumpy is a 2006 Stumpjumper Pro Disc hardtail XC Racing bike that was only sold in Great Britain. Somehow, this strange machine ended-up in a bike shop in Lakewood, Colorado.

When I ride Little Stumpy, I have to remember that the brake controls are backwards. The front brake is on the right hand side, which is just the opposite of my other bikes. I have been tempted to switch the brake controls to the North American standard. However, I think the strange brake set-up is charming. Little Stumpy is somewhere between Little Cam and Ultra-Stumpy in stability. The fun part about Little Stumpy is the bike can do a wicked front fork rebound hop. I have been sorely tempted to replace Little Stumpy with a newer hardtail Stumpjumper. But there is something about the unassuming little blue bike that makes it a lovable little character.

Part 4e: One Fat Bike to Rule Them All: The Big Orange Beast (“Bob”)

The Beast is a custom-built 9:Zero:7 high-performance racing fat bike. The Beast is amazingly capable in deep snow and ice. I had the pleasure of specifying every component for the Beast, which included a light hydro-formed 9:Zero:7 frame, Shimano XT brakes, 2 x 10 XT shifters, XT Shadow Plus derailleur, Race Face Turbine crank, Turbine seatpost and Turbine stem. I later added a Race Face Next carbon handlebar and Specialized Phenom seat with titanium rails. The wheels are custom made with Hope low friction Hubs and Surly Holy Rolling Darryl Rims. The tires are Surly 26” x 3.8" Nates with 120tpi ultralight casings. The tires have been converted to tubeless cutting 3 to 4 pounds off the bike.

When I bought the Beast, fat bikes were the prevue of small “boutique” companies. Now mega-companies like Trek and Specialized have introduced fat bikes. You can even order a fat bike from Walmart.

The Walmart fat bike has a single speed and is very heavy at 50+ pounds. However, this Walmart one-size-fits-all Mongoose fat bike has the virtue of being really, really cheap at $199! Just the Race Face Turbine Crank for my Beast was $364!

Part 5: Why Good Bikes are so Expensive

In a recent letter to Dirt Rag magazine, a reader complained that high-end bicycles cost more than many motorcycles. This is true. Here is a price comparison between one of my Honda dirt bikes and new Ultra-Stumpy.

List Price for a 2014 Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 29 is $6,500
List Price for a 2014 Honda CRF230F is $4,170

Why does the Mountain Bike cost so much more? The Stumpjumper is built with the high-precision components made from carbon fiber, high-strength titanium and aircraft grade aluminum alloys. The Stumpjumper’s is made with the same materials and precision as Formula 1 racing cars, or aircraft pylon racers. The Stumpy is completely hand-built to exacting tolerances. The bike also very light at 20 to 22 pounds.

The Honda CRF230F is made of steel, iron, aluminum, rubber and plastic; and tips the scales at 260 pounds. To make up for all this low-tech weight, the engine turns out 20 horsepower.

What is the horsepower of the Stumpjumper? One human power equals 1/10 horsepower! That means if humans were magically turned into horses, we would be a horse about the size of a house cat!

The Honda has a top speed of about 60 mph. How fast is the Stumpjumper? I have managed to hit 46 mph on Ultra-Stumpy on flat dirt. Not too shabby for a pitifully small horse!

Sorry for the ramble. Thanks for reading my blog.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sorry about the accident, but glad you are back out there riding. Thanks for commenting on my bike ride blog today, too. You asked what bike I was riding.

    I'm not very sophisticated about bikes, but I have been doing some research. I was riding my Walmart special when I did that 23 mile ride. It's the Denali with the lower frame, and fits me okay. I have upgraded a bit, and got a Windsor Bristol from bikes direct. It's a road bike fitted with tri bars and cage pedals, and fairly light and low priced, so it meets my needs. I still like to use the Denali just because it's a little more of a challenge, thus good for training.
    You have quite a collection of bikes, very interesting reading about all of them!
    1928 days ago
    I am so sorry you were hurt, let alone still feeling the crash! What a bummer!

    I am so happy you are writing blogs again! I have missed them. You tell the best stories of your bikes and their adventures. Your bikes seem to come "alive". Little Cam has always been my favorite - isn't that the one you ran into the bush with??

    I would be nervous riding after being hit by a car, too. You lived through a scary experience. The only idea I can offer is to go on a group bike ride with Allez. I
    It would be a different experience for you on the bike.

    I also want to say emoticon on maintaining your weight! That is a difficult feet when one is injured! I love how you took control of it!

    Keep Sparking!!
    1932 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Glad to read that you're handling the difficulties from the accident with such a calm manner and I hope that you're PT pays the dividends you seek from that mild form of torture. Thanks for hanging in there and ref''ing through the physical pain and challenges. I hope you garnered the respect and admiration such an endeavor should command. I look forward to reading about your future biking adventures and your success at dumping the extra pounds (p.s. I think I found some of the already so it must be working for you!) emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1932 days ago
    First, I am so sorry you are going through these challenges because of someone else's lack of awareness and, well, stupidity.

    Second, congratulate yourself that you even HIT 20 mph for your first ride on the Allez post accident.

    Third, give yourself extra points for coming up with the "1MYS". What an excellent coping mechanism. And throw some more points in for not going postal on the woman who hit you.

    Fourth, keep reinforcing the belief that you will get past the panic while riding the Allez. You seem to be a man who faces challenges with courage and I have faith that you will get beyond this obstacle.

    Plus, both I and my husband have had nasty mountain biking accidents, his with involving broken collarbone and unconsciousness due to landing in a tree. We now happily tempt fate riding bikes at high speeds on the rocky Rocky Mountain trails in our neck of the woods.

    Fifth, and finally, thank you for your descriptive and enthusiastic description of your beloved bike collection. I feel like they are now all my friends too. You are truly a lucky, and speedy dog!


    Have a happy holiday season.


    1932 days ago
    I'm so sorry your accident turned out to be so severe. I can fully understand the panic riding the accident bike later on. These things take time.
    Will that ankle eventually heal?

    1932 days ago
    Wow and I thought the 6 bikes in our garage between 3 family members was excessive...well not so after reading your blog.

    I hope someone else heard the woman say "I thought I could beat you " as I read in your last blog. I also thought she was paying for repairs?

    May 2014 be a better year for you.

    1933 days ago
    1933 days ago
    I always love reading about your bikes and all the details!
    So sorry that recovery from your accident has been so difficult and has left you with so many "reminders"; both physical and mental.
    Hope you continue to get better and better.
    (Your experiences makes perfect sense to me too. My bike inflicted concussion affected me similarly and I didn't even receive it from a car... that would be horrific!)
    1933 days ago
    Man I am so sorry to hear how much pain you are and ahve been in these months. Praying for you this Season.
    1933 days ago
    I'm sorry to hear you have been going through a tough time. I hope it gets better soon for you.
    1933 days ago
    I always love reading about your bikes, you are so good with details and technical stuff.

    I read your blog the other day about your accident and I got chills up my spine. Almost the same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. A guy on a motorcycle cut me off while he was turning into his development. He had to like a "hairpin" turn to turn in front of me and then into his development. He almost hit a flower planter and was wobbling. You are a better person than me, when I get into something with a car or motorcycle, I cuss and sware like a sailor.

    What scared me is the woman's response…I saw you but I thought I could make it anyway. I SAW YOU? This is what scared me. I assumed that cars were acting like idiots because they couldn't see me. Now I'm thinking, oh they SEE me, but they are going to take the risk anyway way. It's not like I'll make a dent in their car, I'M the one that will feel the pain, literally. Anyway, so cars and motorcyclists make bad judgements. It really sucks…It does and I'm sorry.

    I have the same fear about the road. I experience panic attacks on the road. Sometimes I don't want to go for a ride because I'm anxious about what might happen. It's a terrible feeling and I am usually a moderate risk taker and do not fear random things that could or could not happen.

    I wish you the best of luck! Until you and White Lighting can be friends again, enjoy the other bikes you have!


    1933 days ago
    Your fear as you sped off on your bike makes complete sense to me. I was in a car accident, and experienced so etching similar.
    1933 days ago
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