Mrs. Bgddy and I went for a ride on Mother’s Day with Mike, Diane and Adam, 41 miles and we were cruising along at close to a 19 mph average and all was well. The roads were wet but amazingly, we only got hit with a few actual drops as they fell from the sky – somehow we completely managed to ride around the rain.
Coming into the town of Durand, with maybe ten or twelve miles to go, we were all smiles and high-fives. We were stopped by a passing train and patiently waited to cross. Unfortunately, the Durand track crossing is actually four sets of tracks that cross the road at an acute angle.
On dry days, I know of two people who crashed on that particular set tracks. One broke his hip, the other his pride. In order to navigate the tracks perpendicular (as should be done), you have to start all the way in the left (oncoming) lane and work your way to the far right lane. With the tracks wet and after the train, with traffic in the opposing lane, we should have walked our bikes across. Oops. My wife went down first, hard, and her bike swept into mine, taking me out. After I made sure my wife was okay, I checked for other casualties. Diane was down, laying awkwardly against a track, off of the road surface. She did not look good and Adam had a pretty good tear in his shorts, along with a trickle of blood coming from his knee. I threw my bike down, off the side of the road and started hobbling over to Diane who was just starting to get up.
We fixed cocked hoods, opened brake levers for bent wheels and made sure we’d be able to ride home (no major damage to the bikes and Diane swore she was good to go. I got away cleanest with only a cocked shifter hood. I was the only one who went down and wasn’t bleeding. Five cyclists, four down (Mike miraculously made it across), in the space of five seconds.
With the angle the tracks cross the road and the fact that they were damp, we should have used better sense and walked across. We’re lucky that crash wasn’t a whole lot worse.
The moral of the story is don’t try to cross acute angled train tracks in the rain. Walk the bike across unless you can cross them exactly perpendicular. They’re slick dry… When they’re wet it’s like cycling on ice with banana peels for tires.
So, today will require a little bit of clean up. My rain bike, the Trek, is going to need some new bar tape, I’m going to have to realign the hoods and replace the bar tape which was ripped in the crash. My wife’s bike, her nice one, looks to be in about the same shape. Realignment of the hoods and aero bars, new bar tape on the bar and aero bars, a clean up and a good once-over. Her wheels will have to be trued, as they were slightly warbled in the fall. Other than that, we really lucked out as neither bike has any structural damage.