Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tire recommendations, anyone?

So remember how a few weeks ago while riding with Elden, my front tire washed out in some gravel and I crashed, taking him down with me? Well yesterday at lunch, on my second ride on my new bike, I was coming down Bobsled, a somewhat technical trail in the foothills above my office. I had made it through all the “hard” parts and was just rolling along, thinking about tweaking the air pressure in my fork to get the ride just right.

I came through an off-camber section that was covered with gravel, and with no warning whatsoever, my front tire washed out, and I hit the ground pretty hard on my left side.

My arm hurt pretty bad, so I decided to look and see how badly it was cut up. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I didn’t think it was possible to be cut that bad in those circumstances. Unless, you know, someone took a hack at my forearm with a machete as I went down. I’m pretty sure the white part was bone.

After screaming in pain and frustration, teetering on the brink of panic and being rational, I was able to force myself to be rational and called Mark N. and asked him to meet me at the bottom of the trail and take me to the hospital. I mentioned he should probably bring some paper towels or something, because I was bleeding. Heavily.

Once at the hospital, they cleaned the blood around the exterior of the wound. The nurse doing the cleaning removed my glove, which was full of blood, and started wrapping it up to save it for me. I told her she could just throw it away. She said “I ride bikes—I know how expensive biking gloves are. You can wash it.”

They also hooked me to an I.V. and gave me some pain medication but denied my request for a coke, or anything to drink for that matter. Apparently they didn’t want to clean up anything but blood if they could help it.

I then went in for X-rays to make sure there wasn’t a fracture and there wasn’t any debris deep in the cut that they’d need to dig out.

X-ray turned up negative for fractures and deeply embedded debris, so they numbed things up and the real fun began—scrubbing the wound out with a brush. For the first time this fall, I was not happy about the leaves changing color, as apparently a good number of leaf bits had stuck to the inside of my arm.

Did I mention how grateful I am for local anesthetic? Because just cleaning around the wound was almost more than I could bear. I can’t imagine what the scrubbing would have been like had I actually been able to really feel it.

Once things were clean, the doctor stitched it back together. I asked him how many. “Fifteen,” he said. But that was an estimate, as I don’t think he was interested in going back and counting to be sure.

Through it all, Mark N. was really calm, the hospital staff pretended like it was no big deal, but I’d seen it, and I knew what it looked like. When my dad got to the hospital, he was the only one to have a proper reaction. If you want to have your own look, Mark was kind enough to snap a picture after they cleaned around the wound but before they cleaned the inside and stitched it up.

Best not to look at this if you’re eating lunch.

Or if you get squeamish around blood.

Or if small children are present.

Or if your wife is present and you’d like to be allowed to ride your mountain bike anytime soon.

See how I’m making sure you actually have to scroll to see the picture and it doesn’t show up right away?

That’s because I would never, ever want to see this photo if it weren’t of me, and I hadn’t already seen it.

I made it through an entire road racing season, which included about 20 crits, without going down. At Leadville, I had the 53rd fastest time out of over 1,000 racers descending Columbine mine, faster even than Chris Holley (if only by less than a second). And while there’s always room to improve, I don’t think my bike handling skills are all that bad.

Yet in the last few weeks, I have had two wrecks, both from my front tire washing out in gravel. I’m blaming the tire and will be getting a new one forthwith. It couldn’t possibly be my skills.

I’m just glad the doctor is better at doing stitches than I am at riding my mountain bike. But you want to know the worst part of this injury? I’m going to have to use those disgusting floss picks for the next two days.


  1. I expected to find you sitting on the side of road waiting for me to drive up. Instead I see you descending the road on your bike. And what was the first thing you did after I pulled over? You lifted up your bike and put it on my rack! That's hardcore.

    The reaction of the first ER Attendent who looked at your injury in the waiting room was priceless. They must not have believed me when I stuck my head in the office and asked if you could go to the front of the line because you'd wrecked on your bike and were hurt pretty bad because a guy came out and asked to see it. You removed the paper towels, he took one look and immediately said "Keep that covered up!" 20 seconds later you were on a wheelchair. Pretty funny.

    Speaking of funny, I still feel kinda bad for the poor guy who received an email yesterday with that picture attached when I mistyped Dug's address. :)

  2. That is nasty. I was ready for it but still got light headed when I scrolled down. I will NEVER complain about mild road rash again!

  3. Ouch- but seriously, have you thought about your stem position? Sometimes a stem too low or forward will cause problems..maybe try an adjustable stem and play with it to see how the bike performs, especially in the steepest and deepest drops. Good luck and may your rubber side stay down!

  4. So the Spouse bought me a bike a couple of months ago. One of my friends was all over my having a bike 'cause she says she wants more girls to ride with. (She doesn't believe me when I say that I pale in comparrison when it comes to gumption. I think you know her - Jillene? You bikers all know each other.)

    Shortly after receiving this bike a friend of mine broke a femur (you prolly know him too), another broke his nose going over the handlebars. Jillene ended up with a micro tear in a shoulder ligament shortly before Leadville.

    I have since banged up both knees and shins and elbows and such "practicing" the clipless pedal emergency pull-outs in Lambert park.

    Your newest gash is not helping. Is it really fun? Please say it's fun.

  5. UTRider: Let me know if the "other Doug" responds. I hope he does.

    lifein360: I used to think I would rather crash on the MTB than on the road bike. I've changed my mind. I'd prefer not to crash on either.

    Velocodger: if anything, my stem is too high/short at the moment. I've got a 70mm stem @ 0 degree rise on a 29er. Bars are actually higher than the saddle. I'm toying with 90mm drop stem to help lower the bars. This wasn't an "over the bars" wreck either, nor was the last one. Just good old-fashioned tires failing to grip.

    Rabid Runner: it's killing me not to get out today, stitches in my arm notwithstanding. Injuries on the bike are less frequent and less severe than running injuries in my experience. And yes, I know Jillene. I would ride with Jillene any time. I also know the guy who broke his femur. He's the reason I rode Leadville this year.

  6. That is a healthy gash. Nasty stuff. I hear the numbing spray is worth the co-payment for any road/trail rash clean up. Luckily I was not the "other Doug". Sorry to hear about the digger. I like my Maxxis Ignitor's. I am fairly slow but I am big and I use a lot of front break and I have had no issues. I probably just cursed myself and you will read about me tomorrow. Knock on wood.

  7. It's funny you would mention Chris Holley in this post. Because he once ripped open his arm racing at Snowbird. Karl Vizmeg stitched him up in the parking lot.

  8. Sounds like I need to become friends with Karl.

  9. Excellent gore. Must have been something sticking out of the ground to rip your arm open like that. nasty.

    You crashed for the blog post, didn't you? Like Watley (from Seinfeld) converting to Judaism for the jokes.

    Not sure if any tire can deal with gravel well. I hear all the DH / Freeride guys rave about the Nevagal for it's cornering and grip. I hear good things about the Ignitor, as Blackdog mentioned. I've been happy with my Crossmarks, but I feel them wiggle in loose gravel a bit so not sure they do the trick for you. Lots of folks like the Bontrager Jones tires, maybe give them a look.

  10. That is totally radical. The nurse in me is loving it! Seriously, if you hadn't offered photographic evidence, I might not have believed you about the "machete" part. Yes, new tires will be a good investment...your body is only going to put up with this for so long...and its not looking good so far!

  11. Kris & Blackdog: I've heard good things about the Ignitor. Leaning towards a Continental just because of the team hookup. I've run Nevegals before and currently have one on the rear of my single speed. Decent tire, better as a rear than a front, the 2.1 is a better tire than the 2.35 for reasons I don't understand.

    Jess: Not sure, but I think I'd prefer 15 stitches in my arm to 5 in my fingertip. That looked like it hurt! Bring your bike next time you're in Utah and we can go pedal around the old neighborhood.

  12. Nice wound! I would guess LDS hospital gets its share of bike wound cases courtesy of its close proximity to the Boblsed.

    Bonty Jones ACX is a decent front tire for loose stuff. I love my Racing Ralph 2.25s in pretty much every condition, but I want to try the 2.4 for some real big volume up front. Ignitor is alright, but too narrow in my opinion. I know some people like the Conti Mountain King 2.4 up front, haven't tried it. With a true 2.4 you may have clearance issues with your fork.

  13. I recommend the Conti Mountain King 2.4 that is really a 2.3. I have been ridding it all season on my 29 er and have never felt it give. Not to mention I think it rolls quite fast as well.

  14. ok, my little booboo from my endo is nothing.

    i shall never speak of it again.

  15. http://www.wtb.com/products/tires/29er/weirwolflt29er/

  16. Jason M: Leaning towards the Mtn King 2.4. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    KP: Do you run that tire tubeless? I tried the 26" weirwolf a few years back, had it blow off the rim setting it up tubeless, and was unimpressed with it once I finally got it on my wheel.

  17. Oh crap. I read Mark N's blog last night and thought... hmm, doesn't he work with SBJ? Then I was in an all-day mtg till just now and finally checked your blog. Glad nothing was broken and hope the recovery is quick.

    P.S. Guess that means I won't talk you into that pre-dawn night-ride tomorrow morning...

  18. Oh I forgot. My front tire is a Kenda Small Block 8. Favorite front tire ever. Breaks traction real slowly/predictably. I ride a 26" (2.35") but they make a 29.

  19. you should have just ridden to the hospital and parked you bike in the ER. that would have been hard core.

  20. That sure looks painful. I think that may be the worst I have seen. It even tops your crash on Hulls a few years ago where Mark P and I dropped you by the Dr. office to get your arm scrubbed. That pales in comparison to this.

    I hope you have a speedy recovery.

  21. Primetime: when I got off the trail and realized I could see the hospital from where I was, that thought occurred to me. In fact that's what I was doing when Mark picked me up.

    Psycho Rider: this one was worse, way worse. And that one was the benchmark for crash injuries to this point. Not sure either compares with your clavicle, though.

  22. I feel like I'm going to throw up.

  23. My wife happened to be walking by right as I brought up your post...Maybe I'll be able to mtn bike in the spring.

  24. Yeow!! I thought you were putting the bike away for the winter?? Maybe the universe is trying to tell you something.

    I hope your pain is under control soon.

  25. Have you considered a 26er? It is likely not your tire? What kind of pressure you running? Stem may be to short and not properly weighting the front wheel? May have to move things forward to get balanced on the machine. Heal up!

  26. SBJ - I am not sold on the tubeless movement, tried it a few years ago and switched back. A few people I know are running the Weirwolf on Stans rims and really like it. I was nervous to try the tire but the smaller tread and higher volume has worked great since its RAWROD debut. My highest priority for a tire is cornering in loose stuff and so far so good. I run an Exiwolf on the back. I'm on a rigid bike so I am not hitting the downhill as fast but I have really liked the setup.

  27. By far the best front tire for that situation is the Nevegal IMO. Heavy, but sticks in corners. They are outstanding fronts, but slow rolling rears.

    If you shorten you stem, you should lower your bars as well.

    Make sure your rebound on the fork is not too fast.

    It looks like you have a saguaro on the front right now, which does not suck, but they are really sensitive to pressure and too much pressure makes them sketchy.

    Nice laceration. I pretty much wear elbow guards/knee pads all the time because it is always some easy piece of trail that burns you when you least expect it. It looks lame, but it keeps you out of the ER. I can't tell you how many times I have crashed on something mellow, rolled onto the pads, got up and just kept rolling.

  28. Ouch! Heal up, this is prime time for the BST. I really like my Maxis Ignitors on the 29 inch wheel. They are lightweight and grab the loose stuff nicely.

  29. A very kind former racecar driver sat in the passenger seat and actually urged me to go faster. car tire pressure gauge

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