My Wipeout on the Sunday A-SIG

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Anonymous's picture

Yesterday morning, after pulling off the front of a rotating paceline on rt. 501 headed towards Nyack, I sprinted briefly out of the saddle to catch the rapidly accelerating group. My attention was divided between speeding up so I wouldn’t get dropped and the cars behind waiting for me to get back in line so they could pass safely. Suddenly, at about 23 mph, I was completely airborne—both tires lost contact with the road, in a big way—and I went down.

After I my body/bike had completely stopped rolling on the pavement, I stood up, pulled my bike out if the road and discovered the cause of the mishap—a rough patch of road about 2 ft x 6ft, with a gaping pothole about 3” deep at the rear. I must have dropped right into that pothole, and since I was out of the saddle, I took off over the handlebars like a field mortar round. I never saw it, and I didn’t hear anyone yell “Hole”. One factor might have been the light—the sun filtering through the bare tree branches camouflages potholes very effectively. Because I instinctive curled my upper body, I escape without serious wounds to my shoulders, collarbone, neck or head.

The worst of it seemed to be a lot of scrapes and bruises. Both hands were bleeding from more little spots than I could count, and my jacket had a bunch of rips. I wasn’t sore in any major muscle group, so I thought I survived without a serious injury…until I took my gloves off and discovered that a finger on my right hand appeared pushed in.

The first bright idea someone had was to ride to a gas station so I could get ice; we just passed a restaurant, so we went there instead. My mind was clear, and it wasn’t painful to ride, but it didn’t seem too smart to try to continue or even ride home. Jason, one of our leaders, agreed to stay behind to help me, and called his wife, who drove from Manhattan to pick us up. X-rays confirmed that I sustained a fractured 4th metatarsal in my right hand. I will have a procedure on Tues. to have a pin inserted, and my hand will be in a cast for six weeks.

I’m trying to stay positive. I could have sustained injuries that would delay cycling a lot longer than six weeks. I’m truly disappointed, however, that I will not be able to continue the A SIG series. I will do my best to stay in shape by using an exercise bike at the gym, and perhaps I can use this opportunity to gain some flexibility and loose those stubborn last five pounds, but I think it’s safe to say that when I return to the bike, you will all be in much better shape than I will be.

But I will be back; I’ve been riding obsessively since I was 17. The next time I ride, at least I’ll be in shorts.


Anonymous's picture
Herb Dershowitz (not verified)

David, sorry about the accident and hope you recover quickly.
I know this will engender comments, but done correctly you shouldn't have to speed up to get back into line. You should be going at the speed of the group by the time you fall back into the pace line. Sprinting from the relief line to get back onto the pace line will eventually wear you out.

Anonymous's picture
david (not verified)
I agree

You're right, I shouldn't have to sprint to catch up, but the moment I pulled off, the person who was drafting me accelerated, and suddenly everyone was going a lot faster than I was.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Accelerate to get back on.

"I’m sorry to hear about your paceline mishap.

I agree that one should ideally be at the same speed and effort when you reach the back of the line.

That is why communication at the end of the line is just as important as at the front. ""2nd to last, last…etc"" –lets the rider know where he is in relation to the tail end. (I’m sure your fine leaders have mentioned this.) You’re right to try to get back in ASAP because you are out on your own flapping in the wind. You are riding a different line so their obstacles are not your obstacles, but you do have a clear line of sight so you should be able to see what you’re riding over.

Pacelines can accelerate due to the slope of the terrain, or change in wind directions without increased effort from the lead rider. And like you mentioned, somebody can be a little juiced up to take a pull. A smooth transition takes time to learn, if done correctly the second, third … riders should not feel any change in effort.

In the beginning when things are fast and furious, everybody wants to contribute and put in a good pull at the front. A common mistake is to stay too long thinking you work is done when you pull off. It’s important to have a little left to hop / accelerate back on BEFORE you can take a breather. In addition to getting dropped on hills, a lot of people get dropped after putting in a too hard/long of a pull.

I’m sure you’ll be back on your bike in no time if it’s not a huge cast. On the lighter side- you’ll have a finger at the ready for the cab drivers of nyc.

Keep your spirits up,


Anonymous's picture
Ivy Pool (not verified)
Thanks for this...

I am sorry to read about your accident. I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your post (as I'm sure fellow SIG riders do, too). It seems to me that one of the best ways to prevent future accidents on group rides is to share information with each other about the nature of those accidents that do occur - why did it happen? where did it happen? and what was the outcome of the accident? Thanks for sharing this news with all of us. Hope that your spirits stay high as you recuperate.

Anonymous's picture
Rick Braun (not verified)

Very sorry to hear about your accident!!! I hope that your recovery is quick and not too difficult.

You allude to 2 points of which all group riders should be conscious: 1) riders should call out and/or point to dangers for the riders behind, and 2) although Herb is correct of course in his comments, given what you said happened the rider who took over the lead should not have accelerated when doing so.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

I hope you recover soon and well.

I too had a broken finger and stayed off the road for several weeks. I required no pin, but did go from a hard cast to a soft splint to bandages in a month.

I trained indoors. No potholes!! I bought 1” pipe insulation and fit it over my bars for comfort. Take it easy for a couple of weeks, heal and keep your edge.

Good luck!

Note: Why is 501 so much more popular than 9W????

Anonymous's picture
Judith Tripp (not verified)
Fractured finger - similar experience

David: Sorry about your accident, you obviously fall very well. In 2000, after 4 weeks of the A-Sig, I sustained a displaced, rotated fracture of my ring finger, running with a large dog with my hand in the leash loop, an apparently fairly common occurrence. People said, oh it's just a finger, see if you can get a soft cast, keep going with the Sig. But I had several pins inserted and a hard cast half way up my forearm. The accident was on March 19 and the cast didn't come off till April 24! Actually that's only 5 weeks. But it was too late for the Sig. And after the cast was off, physical therapy, for weeks. I expect 6 weeks is worst case scenario for you, and anyway best of luck!

Anonymous's picture
Bruce Gordon (not verified)

Hi David. I'm in the A-Sig class and Sunday was my first rotating paceline. Usually I had to put in some extra effort when rejoining the group. When we're beginners our technique is flawed and our attention fixated. I hope you recover quickly, and can enjoy the rest of the spring cycling. -Bruce

Anonymous's picture
fred steinberg (not verified)
Recover well

David- Sorry about your accident. It could have been much worse. You did everything you could, but eventually some part of you has to meet the ground. Recover fast and well. (I noticed that crater Saturday. Winter has just begun to take its toll...)

Anonymous's picture
david (not verified)
winter's toll

Tim McCarthy and I were just saying that the SIG leaders may even want to consider avoiding some roads altogether. Winter was particularly harsh, but frankly, municipalities have fallen way behind in repairs to roads. On most Sundays, I ride on 9W to Nyack or from Nyack, and I've practically memorized the locations of some particulary nasty craters, and they've been there for months.

Same with Central Park--LAST spring, the Tavern on the Green morning ride featured who ever was pulling at 110th Street warning of the holes...that are STILL THERE. Sheesh.

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)
report potholes to 311!

For all those NYC potholes whose locations you have memorized, please do us a favor and report them to 311 or fill out the form at . DOT has been out fixing potholes recently, and they do keep stats on their response to this kind of thing.

Now we need NJ and Rockland (and Westchester and Long Island) to get a 311 system.


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