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Favorite recumbent bike spills and thrills

I'd like to start a thread to hear about hitting the pavement while riding your bike. While this is a recumbent forum, all stories are welcome so we can compare between recumbents and other bikes.

I'll start with two similar falls I took on my new Lightning Phantom that happened when the rear wheel caught the edge of very bad roads. The first occurred just after getting my new bike, and I'm riding through a very busy four-lane intersection with heavy traffic. I'm waiting at the stop light, the light turns green, and I move through the intersection and most of the cars pass closely by me on the left. I have the Lightning panniers on, and as the cars accelerate by me, I'm hugging the curb, riding on the cement. The asphalt and concrete junction are in terrible condition, with the asphalt road about two inches higher then the cement, and as I move away from the curb, the back tire cannot make it, and I immediately fall to the left in the middle of the road. Luckily, there are no cars now in the right lane, I get up right away and get on the sidewalk. Some very kind people ask about me, but I'm able to ride off

The second fall happens just a few weeks later on a 70-mile day trip, and is almost identical to the first fall. At an isolated stoplight intersection, there is one car on my left. I start when the light turns green, staying close to the right side of the road, and the car is going slowly and passes me on the left. The road is in good condition, but there is no shoulder at all, and my right wheel falls over a three-inch drop on the side, and again the bike instantly falls over to the left. There is no other traffic, so I pick up the bike and ride on.

Both falls were low speed, fell on my left hip, and both times there were large bruises, but no other injuries. The panniers cushioned the bike from damage, but the fabric tore slightly. After these two incidents, I pay much more attention to the road condition, and any large dropoffs of the side of the road. Also, in both incidents, the bike falls instantly, with no time to adjust.

What's your story?


Bob Krzewinski wrote about a close encounter he had with a car a couple of years back. I found a picture in a Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association newsletter of Bob, Wally Kiehler, and Bob's trashed bike.

The photo is towards the bottom of the gallery section of this site. Luckily, Bob came out alive and (mostly) well. Maybe he could tell us more about what happened?

If I remember correctly, Bob was rear-ended by a hit-and-run car driver.

I have gotten off pretty easy so far with bike accidents. Every year or two I miscalculate how fast to take a turn, and find myself sliding on my side while losing some skin. One nice thing about coroplast fairings is that they help you survive intimate contact with the pavement with most of your flesh intact.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

I've had two hard falls on my head, both times n a DF bike. Sometime around the 1980s, I had just taken off on a ten-mile ride, and was only a few blocks from my starting point passing the parked cars, when a large German Shepherd casually walked in front of me. The dog walked out into the road from behind a car, so I didn't have time to avoid him. I hit the dog right in the chest at about 15 mph, traveled gracefully through the air and landed on my back with my head hitting the ground. The next sight I had was of my parents looking down at me and asking "Are you alright?" I don't remember yelling, but the nice lady who came out told me that's what alerted her. She also was the daughter of our next door neighbors, so she was able to call my parents immediately.

The frame was bent, my helmet split, the back wheel tacoed, and in the hospital an insurance representative from the dog's owner asked me to sign a waiver. My parents politely told him to leave, as I was pretty woozy for the day.

I recovered quickly, got a new Nishiki, and the crash took place in the home town of Tim Brummer, who was just someone that was in the high school band with me.

Crash two next week.


Hey Larry,

So what happened to the poor German Shepherd dog? Did the dog survive? A few years ago Tyger (the racing maniac) Johnson - pictured in the gallery area of this site - hit a dog while riding his F40 at high speed.

Tyger came out OK, but the dog was killed.

I love dogs, but they sometimes are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like people.

Safe riding,

The dog was frightened, but ok. I hit the dog square in the ribs, but I wasn't going that fast and he had started to move away.


Hi Larry,

My first recumbent was a 1998 BikeE "RoadE" that I was quite proud of. I had the full length Zzipper fairing, a pannier rack and bags, high pressure tires, and enjoyed tweaking and improving it's components.

I planned to use it for commuting. The first day I decided to try riding it to work with the Zzipper fairing installed, it was a beautiful day. I cruised the 7 miles to my employer, and when I arrived I noticed that there was a small rivulet of sprinkler runoff washing across the entrance to the parking lot. So I braked a little as I approached the turn on the way in. This didn't help.

Before I even knew it, I was sliding along on my side with both wheels in the air. My new fairing ripped from its mountings and wrapped itself under the bike. I slid all the way across the entrance to the lot, and came to rest at the far curb. Of course, this was in full view of the break room windows, where some of my cohorts were watching. A car driver had followed me in, and leapt out of the car to see if I was OK.

The cost was rather high: one jersey and one pair of shorts, one pannier, my fairing, and a disturbing amount of skin from my shoulder, elbow, thigh and side of my knee. It was the worst road rash I've had.

That was a very rough day. I tried to tough it out at work for a while, but no amount of gauze and tape could keep the goo from oozing out and messing up my clothes. Plus people kept wandering up to my cube to ask what had happened and how I felt. "Are you going to bike to work anymore?" Augh! I caved in and called my wife to collect me after a couple of hours.

There were a couple of bright sides to this incident. 1) Tegaderm transparent dressings - they come in large sizes. Great for seeping abrasions! 2) I called Zzipper and told them my sad story. They came up with a repair kit for me that included a very slightly blemished, returned lexan fairing shell at a great discount. That's why my P-38 has a Zzipper too.

I'm also much more cautious about washout conditions when riding. So far, it hasn't happened again. And I've been cought in some heavy downpours!

Happy rides, Scott

Scott C.
Cary, NC USA


That sounded painful, and I've never had an audience. Do you think you would have suffered greater injuries if you were riding a regular diamond frame bike? Thanks for the tip about dressings. I took a motorcycle class recently, and the instructor advised the students to carry womem's absorbent pads for injuries.

You've encouraged me to write about my second bike fall.

Safe riding,


Hello Larry,

Regarding your question, I can say that the injuries would have been different if I'd had a similar experience on a DF bike. The first few differences I can think of are:

1) I've been able to save myself after my bike started to skid many times on my DF bikes. I have pretty fast reflexes, in part from taking many falls on a mountain bike. The BikeE was very new at the time, so I had some learning to do. But the accident seemed instantaneous to me. Being farther from the ground, a taller bike gives you a few more milliseconds to respond when it falls.

2) I suspect I would have done less sliding if I was unable to recover, which would have reduced the amount of abrasion. But because the distance is greater, the risk of bruising and injuring bones, ligaments, and tendons is higher.

3) Sometimes on my MTB, I can get my feet out of the pedals and separate from the bike when I lose control. I probably could not have done this on my road bike under these circumstances, but I may have been able to bring my legs into play to get some control over the situation.

Totally guesswork though. The only thing I'm certain about is that I'm better at saving myself when a wheel slips on a DF.

Scott C.
Cary, NC USA

I was on a lunch break in Lancaster, California, and I took a short ride home. This was around 1983-84, and some of the roads in Lancaster had two-inch wide and deep drainage channels near the curbside. I had just started at an intersection, about 3 mph, both feet on the pedals on a DF bike, and the front wheel went into the channel. I instantly fell to the side with no time to put out my hands. My left shoulder hit the ground and my helmeted head cracked the road.

I got up quickly and made it the rest of the way home, but I had a terrible headache, and didn't go back to work that day. I should have gone to get my head checked. The helmet didn't seem badly damaged, but I did get it replaced.

Next week; other crashes I've seen.


Larry - my most glorious and inglorious spills occurred during my DF bike racing career. I rode my first race as a Junior in 1958. Much road rash, many broken bones, and several concussions have peppered my illustrious racing career. But I will limit myself to the last year or so of recumbent riding; last year on a Gold Rush, and this year on my P-38. All of my spills have come during take off and landing of my recumbents. Here is what I have learned:
- Make sure you are in a low enough gear for a smooth and safe start.
- Don't pull on your handle bars for extra leverage while starting.
- Make sure to lean hard to the left when stopping (I always unclip my left foot).
Thank goodness for the low seat position of both my P-38 and GRR. The few take-off and landing spills I had, resulted in embarrassment, but no serious injury to me or my bike. A Bachetta may have been a different story.
Cheers - Bob


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