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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a commuter; been commuting on the bike off-and-on since '91. Since about last June I've been trying to ride consistently at least twice, more often three times a week. My round trip is 22 - 25 miles depending on route. Last August I bought a new road bike (Specialized Sequoia Expert) and got rid of the old Giant hybrid. I'm now riding on 25c tires, much narrower than I'd ridden since the old 10-speed in the '70s.

So yesterday I fell off my bike for the second time in a month. I'm OK, the bike is apparently OK (more on this below) but the event has left me with a few questions.

The first fall was when I was crossing a fairly busy street with railroad tracks buried in the asphalt. Was watching traffic, turned in between the rails and promptly dropped the front wheel into the depression between the high part of the rail and the asphalt. Down I went on the left side.

Yesterday, I was turning into the office driveway, where there's a roughly 3/4-in lip where the concrete driveway meets the asphalt of the road. Took too narrow of an angle, lost the front wheel and went down, this time on the right hand side. Again I smacked the shifter against the pavement, enough to scratch the aluminum and move it slightly on the bar.

1) Before these two incidents, I hadn't fallen since I was in college...am I being too careless on the bike? Am I too stupid to ride?

2) I now have holes in both knees of my fleece tights. Does anybody have suggestions on best methods for patching these?

3) After the first fall my left shifter (Shimano 105) went belly-up. I smacked it pretty hard. The LBS replaced it under warranty no questions asked but it took 2+ weeks (problems with Shimano spares inventory?). With the second fall I'm worried that the other shifter (of course I fell on the opposite side -- Murphy is my co-pilot) may crap out as well (although it shifted fine all the way home). Comments? What are the odds?
 

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Bad luck, etc.

Sounds like a combination of getting used to a different style of bike and a string of bad luck. Narrower tires tend to accelerate and roll faster, but they do have more limitations when it comes to road hazards. Railroad tracks are deadly if you hit them at anything other than a right angle. You need to adjust your line when the tracks cross the road at anything other than perpendicular -- maybe by turning one way then cutting back to cross them at 90 degrees. Same with other road hazards such as ruts or potholes -- narrow tires require a little more care. It also pays to learn to "bunny-hop" your wheels over some of these hazards. Don't worry, you'll adjust. You probably just mis-judged because you are accustomed to wider tires that will roll over most of that stuff.
 

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get wider tires...

I've got an old hybrid that I use to go on short rides with my wife. The advantage of a 38mm tire on rough and irregular surfaces is immediately obvious.

IMO, a commuter bike should have wide tires with thick tread. Fewer flats and much less chance of getting caught is a crack or downed by a bad mismatch in the road.

On my road bike I have to pay close attention to cracks or separations in the concrete road. The lanes around here are poured separately with expansion joint material between them. I've seen openings wider than my tires. I dropped into one once and almost went down. From now on, when I cross lanes, I make sure I'm not at an acute angle to avoid this problem.
 

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What'd I do?
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I agree, maybe

C-40 said:
I've got an old hybrid that I use to go on short rides with my wife. The advantage of a 38mm tire on rough and irregular surfaces is immediately obvious.

IMO, a commuter bike should have wide tires with thick tread. Fewer flats and much less chance of getting caught is a crack or downed by a bad mismatch in the road.

On my road bike I have to pay close attention to cracks or separations in the concrete road. The lanes around here are poured separately with expansion joint material between them. I've seen openings wider than my tires. I dropped into one once and almost went down. From now on, when I cross lanes, I make sure I'm at an acute angle to avoid this problem.

I use Conti touring tires on my commuter/fixie. I can feel the difference in handling and acceleration. I can also feel the difference in my fingers, as I haven't had to change a flat in the middle of winter. If those tracks and the curb are your only hazards, then it may not be worth it to get new tires. However if your hazards include many many potholes, glass, gravel and other unpredictables, new tires are worth the money.

--Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
More info, further questions

First, thanks for the replies so far, however I'd like to slightly redirect the thread.

I'd say that the problem isn't so much my tires (which by the way are Specialized Armadillos -- no flats in 800+ miles so far) but a lapse in attention in each case. I wasn't crossing the tracks the first time I fell; rather the tracks cross that particular street at the point I was also crossing and I got between them ('cause I was watching for traffic), rode into the gap and fell over, much like C-40's experience with the expansion joints. Wider tires wouldn't have saved me. In the second fall a bigger tire probably would have allowed me to climb the lip but I knew it was there; I just got distracted.

Here's the thing: I find that after a half hour or so on the bike, I lose that laser focus on my riding. I start thinking about other stuff, noticing what's along the roadside,etc...and as we all know, not paying attention on a road bike can have disastrous consequences.

So how do YOU keep your focus?

And am I the only guy who ever ripped his tights? I'd sure like to be able to patch them.
 

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Sir Chargen said:
And am I the only guy who ever ripped his tights? I'd sure like to be able to patch them.
My girl friend patches the holes in my clothes. I don't even have to ask, she just looks at the blemish and decides it needs fixing. I think it embarrasses her to see me walking/riding with holes. Do you want me to send her over?
 

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Sir Chargen said:
Here's the thing: I find that after a half hour or so on the bike, I lose that laser focus on my riding. I start thinking about other stuff, noticing what's along the roadside,etc...and as we all know, not paying attention on a road bike can have disastrous consequences.
:confused:

Do you have the same problem driving a car?
 

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It's a Sledgehammer
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patches

My wife teaches sewing so I have some tips on fixing those tights...(her advice not mine - so you're safe) First off it's a tough fix. You need to find some similar fabric that is 4-way stretch, have it sewn on with a stretch stitch like a triple zigzag. She says it's a tricky job and your best bet if you don't know anyone who sews is to go to a local fabric store and ask for help. They could hook you up with someone who can fix it for you. My wife gets alot of jobs this way. Good tights are $$$ so it's worth trying to save them - good luck.
 

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Turn the damn headphones off! If riding alone doesn't keep your atttention then maybe it's time to take the bus... seriously you're on a new bike-give it some time and a few more miles and you'll get accoustomed to being on this ride.
 

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nothing better to do but be offensive???

I revised my post to "not at an acute angle". An acute angle is any angle less than 90 degrees. An obtuse angle is greater than 90 degrees.

Technically, if you don't intersect a line at exactly 90 degress, you create both an acute and an obtuse angle, depending on the side of reference.

Happy now?
 

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Commuting to work

Sir Chargen said:
Here's the thing: I find that after a half hour or so on the bike, I lose that laser focus on my riding. I start thinking about other stuff, noticing what's along the roadside,etc...and as we all know, not paying attention on a road bike can have disastrous consequences.

So how do YOU keep your focus?

And am I the only guy who ever ripped his tights? I'd sure like to be able to patch them.
Give it some time especially with a new bike & a faster one, I would believe. After a few more trips to & from work, you will get to know the roads better & will know where the trouble spots are for traffic & bad surafces too.Then, you should be able to automatically be alert as you approach these trouble spots.
As for the balance of the ride, enjoy the scenery, perhaps you are fortunate enough to pass a bkery to smell the produce of the day, enjoy the sun & most importantly, enjoy your ride.
Hope this helps!
 
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