Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club

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Casey Jones Express, AA/2 Express

Wed, June 26, 2019 5:30 PM | Blake Altman

Ride Leader:  Blake Altman

Date: June 26, 2019

Ride Name:  Casey Jones Express

Ride Distance:  25 Miles

Average Speed of the Ride:  21.3 MPH

Ride Class:  AA/2

Mechanical Issues:  None

Mishaps:  Crash

Weather: About 90, mostly sunny, not too humid

Guest Riders:  Gordon Schrader, Rachel H.

Member Riders:  Eric Williams, Scott Walker, Douglas Cater, Lynne Blake-Hedges, Tyler Hill, Alan Canfield, Chris Zabriskie, Sue Estes

Ride Report:

We had a big turnout this week.  We welcomed back Eric, Gordon, and Rachel who we haven’t seen in a while. 

The ride started out a bit slow but soon reached high speed on Spring Hill-Newtown Rd.  From there it was a ride of attrition.  We lost some riders on Spring Hill-Newtown Road, some on the hill on Route 6, some on the hill on Budd’s Creek Road, some on Route 301, and some on Fairground Road.  By the end of the ride, the lead group was down to three riders including the ride leader.

Returning to La Plata, St. Mary’s Avenue goes downhill past Glenn Albin Road and then up another little hill.  It frequently happens that there is a final sprint up this little hill.  Sue and another rider sprinted up the hill and the ride leader followed not contesting the sprint (too lazy).  Sue won the sprint and then she and the other rider rode side-by-side on the flat with their speed bleeding-off but still moving fast.  This is when the crash happened.

Sue was on the right and the other rider was to her left.  As they approached St. Anne Street, the rider to Sue’s left started to turn right to continue the normal route and for some reason, Sue continued straight.  Both riders then corrected with the outside rider turning left and Sue to the right.  By this point, they were past the point they could turn into St. Anne Street and Sue’s correction took her past the point she could continue straight on St. Mary’s Avenue.  Sue went up the sidewalk on the ADA curb cut; for a moment, it looked like she would be able to ride down the sidewalk or perhaps ride on the grass and come to a stop.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  Sue rode down into the ditch next to the sidewalk and hit a drainage grate, which caused her to go over the bars.

Sue hurt her shoulder and hit her head (she had a rub mark near her eye and the front of her helmet was cracked).  Despite repeated pleas from the ride leader and others, she refused to allow us to call an ambulance.  After laying on the grass for a while, Sue was able to get up and walk her bike back to the start.

Sue’s bike at first appeared to have only a flat tire; doubtless a pinch flat caused by hitting the grate.  Unfortunately, once the bike was loaded on the back rack of her car, I noticed that the frame was buckled at the steering tube; my guess is that the frame is ruined.  It was my sad duty to point out the damage to Sue.

The crash was a true accident.  No one was being reckless and in fact the ride was basically over and we were starting the cool-down ride back to the start.  The crash stemmed from slight miscalculations by the riders and bad luck since it happened near the grate.  (You can’t blame La Plata for the road design; the grate was in a ditch.)  I have to believe that a contributing factor was the fatigue of the riders after a hard ride.

I called Sue after the ride and she seemed to be doing okay but sad about her bike.

Be careful out there…


  • Fri, June 28, 2019 12:53 PM | Susan Estes
    It is a good idea to consider practicing bike handling drills in the grass with another rider. The experience can help to know what it feels like to touch shoulders while moving forward and how to optimize your reaction without overreacting. As two riders join at the shoulder, it is like a tractor beam- it feels as if you lock together as one moving object. The tendency, however, is to over compensate- this sets up a chain reaction and next thing you know you are leaning right back into the rider you just bumped. Only a very slight pushing-off motion is required to separate and regain independent control. Unfortunately for me, the 2nd bump at speed gave me nowhere to go but up onto a sidewalk, because I was on the inside. Practice may help, if and when it happens unexpectedly. Here's a good video of the drill on Youtube call Bikebug Coaching: Bumping Drill : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDPS2F4qk3E Man, my save would have been epic if it were not for that pesky storm grate!
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Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club
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Oxon Hill, MD 20750-0081

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