This is another stupid way to fall. Just that it can turn out to be pretty lethal. I learnt the hard way.
4th of February. The day started like any other week end. I set out at dawn to meet up with the others at the WE Highway. Kaushik was not coming today.
I got to the highway. Vaibhav was the only one to show up. So we rode off to Utan. The route initially is through urban areas, but soon passes through salt pans and open fields. The surroundings become pretty rural and peaceful. We rode in peace, taking in the quiet and the cool air.
The Utan route is a 45 km ride. So, we were done pretty soon. We had our customary coffee break- which, as we chatted, got extended to a pretty long break.
From there, Vaibhav and I parted ways. I rode homewards. Past 10:30, but as has been the case this year, the weather was still pretty cool for Bombay. Traffic was building up. Being a Saturday, things were still not clashing with our peaceful ride. I was now getting close to my home.
With less than a km to go, I sort of entered the home stretch- a smooth, wide and dead straight stretch of newly laid concrete. I crossed the first of three speed breakers.
Well almost. As soon as I crossed the speed breaker, I found myself sprawled on the concrete. I took a while to collect myself and get my bearings. My face had hit the road and my head was ringing like a bell. I got up and made the curious observation that the front wheel was some distance away from the rest of the bike. As I picked the wheel up, I noticed the skewer lying further away. By then a few people had gathered around. Someone was shouting. I looked at him and he cringed.
I tried fitting the wheel back into the fork, when someone pulled the bike away from me and the wheel. He said something about keeping the bike safe at the motorcycle workshop nearby. I said I was all right and would ride home.
Another person was now shouting. He said something about blood and a huge cut in my chin. I touched my chin and my hand got covered in blood. I was not feeling much pain, but the blood sort of swayed me away from my bike
Someone with a motorbike offered me a lift to our doctor. I am sure I must have spoiled his motorbike seat. I thanked him and walked into our doctor’s dispensary. His eyes widened and he exclaimed. I had got used to that by then. He put a bandage with some medicines on the wound and gave me an anti-tetanus shot. Made a phone call and wrote a note. I took that and went home- next door.
Another round of shouting and sad faces later, I changed and with my wife, went by auto-rickshaw to the surgeon’s clinic. He had arrived and they were ready and waiting for me. From then on, things were fine.
Except that now I shall be off the bike for a couple of weeks at least. A post mortem suggested that the front wheel skewer was loose. I had attached the wheel after the 26th January ride, and had ridden this bike on 29th for about 70 km. We had ridden pretty hard at times, and over pretty rough stretches as well. No incident. This day also, I had bunnyhopped over the speedbreakers in the morning on my ride out.
The only conclusion I have been able to draw is that as I crossed the speedbreaker and the front wheel lifted off, it also split away from the fork. Now as the bike descended, it dropped a foot further and though I had my hands on the hoods, I pretty much somersaulted. I had risen off the saddle to lift the front wheel. This only helped in pushing me OTB.
The landing was ugly. My fork touched down first followed by the handlebars. Next to touch was my face. Thanks to the helmet, the skull was intact. The chin on the other hand, was not so lucky. Many, many stitches. Bruises on my face and shoulder and other parts too.
So, the only conclusion I can draw is that I have been able to draw is that the quick release was loose. So, I have to, from now on, be extra careful about how tight the quick release is.
Why I am posting this is to warn you guys. It is such a simple act, retightening the quick release before you ride. In fact, usually, I check this myself, but somehow, this time, I am not sure I did. Now after this incident, I can’t highlight its importance enough.