Saturday, September 27, 2008

Accident Report

The intrepid TBV writes the following report on his recent accident from his hospital bed. It should answer some questions readers have asked, and illustrate what a lucky guy TBV is, despite his injuries.

"It's only a flesh wound!", said the Black Knight.

Near our house is a third mile long 10-15% slope hill that I often use for intervals. Almost at the bottom of the steepest part the road goes under a freeway overpass with a ramp on the short side. Cars coming the other way, up the hill , will make an uncontrolled left turn onto the ramp across your left to right as you ride downhill.

On the far side of the underpass there is an off ramp with a stop sign. Cars can turn right or left, crossing the downhill lane.

There is one traffic lane on each side with a wide curb lane which is not marked as a bike lane. The hill is steep enough that jamming bike brakes will not stop you until you pass the off ramp, unless of course you are riding the brakes all the way down which is rarely called for by conditions. You have the right of way from all of the ramp traffic.

I am always concerned about this stretch. There is ample opportunity for a inattentive driver to kill you, the cyclist. I wear bright kit, helmet, and lights at dusk. I have planned what I would do if a tricky situation should arise. Should a car cross your path, there are four choices. One, brake and hope to stop. This choice is impractical on a bike on this kind of hill. Second, go into the car head on, not advised. Third, try to go around the front of the car hoping your speed is greater than the car's acceleration. This is a gamble, and if you lose, you are in front of a vehicle accelerating either up the hill, or onto the on ramp. I have decided to do the 4th choice as policy. Ride out of the curb lane onto the edge of the traffic lane and for visibility try to preserve maneuvering options. Also should it arise, attempt to pass behind the vehicle rather than in front of it.

On my Wednesday lunch interval session I had done 3 up, and was going down a 4th time. I was sitting up, not tucked, with my hands on the brake hoods. As I approached the on ramp, I saw the SUV roll out of the off ramp without seeing me. I started braking to put a plan in action, and began to turn right to go behind the vehicle. Alas, only then was I seen. As is the proverbial deer in the headlights, the SUV driver stopped moving forward. (had I been a car, the right thing would clearly have been to gun it to get out if the way)

The result of braking and turning was my running into the back left corner of the SUV at an angle, not head on. I felt as though my left hip hit first, then at some point my helmet shattered the cargo window. The final inanimate score was rider: broken window, car: broken new carbon frame. (but not fork or wheels from what I have heard.)

It doesn't look like I have anything that won't heal. The list sounds worse than it probably is considering the severity of each:

1. Broken left clavicle, not displaced, no intervention needed.
2. At least three fractured vertebrae, not displaced.
3. At least three cracked ribs
4. Partially punctured and collapsed left lung, requiring drainage and stay at the hospital
5. Bruised spleen, which appears stable but is being watched carefully.

Anything could easily have been much worse. Not the least of which is that someone got her cell number from me and called Mrs. TBV. She was told that I was conscious and in good care before she got off at the ramp to see me in her worst nightmare.

The driver was distraught, for good reason. I have gotten excellent handling and treatment, and have nothing but thanks for the help and support people have shown me. Unfortunately, this will cancel my participation in the Mt. Diablo challenge part of the triathalon which was to have take place Sunday next week. I had been preparing to crush my 1:28 PR of last year, having done a 1:16 the other day. I was also gonna do the "death valley century" at the end of the month, which is now ruled out. I will be back riding.

Thanks, everyone!


[Updates: mid-stay, going home, back home]

A few things from here and there

In an update at ESPN Bonnie D. Ford writes that one of the reasons Floyd Landis has filed a motion in the US Federal courts to vacate the CAS decision that went againat him is that he wants the $100,000.00 fine imposed upon him by the panel eliminated. Apparently USADA has informed Landis that he can plan no return to cycling when his suspension ends in January unless and until this fine is paid:

"The arbitrators based their $100,000 cost award on unsworn statements by USADA's lawyer after the close of the evidence, denying Mr. Landis a right to respond," the motion stated. "In addition, the cost award was outside the scope of the arbitrators' power because the issue of costs had not been formally submitted for decision, and because such an award is not contemplated by the rules governing the proceeding."

VeloNews reports Frank Schleck is now under scrutiny for his association with the infamous Dr. Fuemtes.

LAist reviews the "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" DVD in which Floyd Landis is interviewed about PEDs. In case you never managed to get to one of the few theaters which showed the film you will able to buy the DVD on Tuesday when it is scheduled to be released.

Felipe had the chance to ride with "down to earth" dude Floyd Landis recently. He provides a picture to commemorate the event.


Unknown said...

Can USADA really dictate whether or not Floyd rides? It's my understanding that they don't have that kind of authority - or am I missing something?

Man, Floyd has been put through the ringer.

And to top it off...The new CycleSport magazine totally disses Hamilton after winning the US Pro Championships. The whole article was about Caldwell losing at the line. So disappointing.

In a society that forgives criminals, cyclists can't get any respect and who have the hurt? No one except themselves. As fans, we love watching and that's never going to change.

Pommi said...


indeed you've been very lucky to be alive and talking about it. Another helmet that saved someone's head ... "all right; we'll call it a draw."
Don't worry about Diablo, it will still be there next year (this is what I tell myself too), if you're allowed back on a bike ;-).
We hope you recover fully and quickly from your injuries.

Eightzero said...

Floyd's ability to participate in sanctioned/approved races is dependent on USAC issuing him a racing license. The grounds for that issuance appear to me to be contractual. When Floyd first accepted a license to participate in (and win) the 2006 TdF, he became bound by those rules. So yeah, they can theoretically deny him a new license until he complies with the contractual terms of the old one. Of course, USAC is subject to the requirements of USADA.

This district court case now filed will be very interesting to follow. It has interesting implications.

Ali said...

Oh yes, 1:16 was in the bag. What bad luck that you had your "accident". I would've done 1:10 but I tripped up and bruised my finger. Whatever !

Just kidding. That's an impressive shopping list of injuries. I think you understate the severity of your accident. When you start getting internal organ damage you know that you've been hit hard.

Take it easy for a while and let nature take its course.

All the best, Alasdair

Unknown said...


Best wishes on your recovery.

Sounds like a very hard crash, and with more force than you may realize. Of course each time you get up you are reminded of it. Also as the meds wear off...

Anyhow, I hate for this to happen to anyone, (recently in our club as well) notably someone whom I have checked in with daily for the last 2 yrs or so.

At least as far as Diablo is concerned you already have your personall best, albeit unofficial.

Ali said...

Hey, I knew I could help somehow ... here's some great physio/rehab guidance (enjoy ?):

cat2bike said...

I was thrilled to see Tyler Hamilton's picture on the cover of VeloNews. And the great article. These people have done "their time" and paid a price...guilty or innocent. Let them get on with their lives!!! Floyd, I'm looking forward to seeing you race next year!!

And TBV, you were lucky, and unlucky. I hate it when a car thinks stopping is a good idea when I'm trying to let them pass. But then there is the one that speeds up, when you are sure you have plenty of time to cross the road; if they want to scare me, job done!

whareagle said...

Thomas A. Fine said...

Every time I don't read TBV for a few days, the world seems to blow up.

Well, good luck Dave, heal fast.

And good luck Floyd, win big.