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CI, crash investigation

ben-----ben----- Posts: 573
edited June 2016 in Commuting chat
About 6 weeks ago I had an off, and fractured my skull! :/ (No I wasn't wearing a helmet, yes I should get one now really, probably.) I don't remember the whole ride. I have no idea what caused me to fall. Total memory loss. I've got a horrible feeling/suspision the cause of the accident was me blacking out. I've just got that suspicion. I'm fully recovered feeling-wise now (took about 4 weeks), had to go into hospital today (cycled there, my first ride since: I was *absolutely* knackered, went quite slow, not fun - at least that proves I was fit and that fitness had a positive effect; something I was never sure on - first time I haven't cycled for more than two or three days for years) because they were worried about my hearing at the time and this was a hearing test to see if it's OK. It is. The doctor asked me how things were etc., I mentioned my fear/suspicion of blacking out as the cause and he thought it was silly. Mentioned how quick it can happen.

Why I think it could be right: My injuries, except my head, were minuscule and minimal; Slight grazing on left shoulder (the head injury was the left side of my head above ear). And an even more slight, tiny graze on right elbow. That was it.

I had a fairly nasty off some years ago, road wet after long dry spell, tyres should have been replaced, recent road works just there, I wasn't paying attention. Hit road really hard, serious (in my book anyway) grazing on elbow, knee, ankle, possibly shoulder can't remember. Not a scratch to head. Because as I was going down my reactions kicked in - stuck arm out etc. to break fall.

If you're going down surely reactions will kick in to break fall, maybe unsuccessfully, but it doesn't appear I even tried. It would seem my head broke the fall.

There's only two reasons for that I can think of: blacked out and fall happening very fast. And, unless there's another vehicle involved (which there's absolutely no indication there was), or something of total surprise (eg wild animal?) it can't happen that quick I wouldn't have thought - it doesn't seem possible to fall off a bike so quickly you don't have time to react with your arm?

I suppose a third possible reason, I've just thought of, could be a kind of psychological one: for some reason your reactions just don't kick in. I don't know.

I went back to where it happened a while after (in a car), only knew where it happened from my GPS, it's just a straight small country road with absolutely nothing of any danger, completely normal. Have cycled along there many times before. Also from GPS, I wasn't going particularly fast: 16mph.

I certainly did black out, GPS shows I was stationary for about 5 or 6 minutes, but as I said, my suspicion is I may have blacked out before the accident and that was its cause.

My question is, what else, can anyone imagine, might cause such an accident? Fast or surprising, no reactions to break fall?

It seems that I might have rolled (injuries and bit of bike damage both sides, right and left) or even possibly summersaulted (mudguard scratched not just on the side but also fairly slight scratching (I'd just put a new strip of that black but reflect white 3M tape on the rear mudguard so the slight scratches were noticeable) on the centre/top of the curve of the rear mudguard.

Any thoughts/guesses? Is there anyway a front break could suddenly lock on? Probably not.


  • SMESME Posts: 389
    I lost an eye to cancer 2 yrs ago which means I don't see things with depth now - I have to look at marks on the road and (from experience) guess they might be a pothole, etc.

    It's not a great hindrance at all really, but does catch me out occasionally. But one night I did misjudge a curbstone, one of these thin ones, between the edge of a main road and a side road. It was raining and I went to turn across it steering at a very shallow angle - I didn't turn onto it enough and the front wheel just slide along this very sightly raised curb.

    I dropped like a sack of potatoes and just didn't have time to react. I remember the wheel beginning to slide, and then opening my eyes lying on the ground with ringing in my ears, my arm hadn't 'gone out' to break my fall - it was trapped under me. The helmet was flattened but done it's job.

    So I guess yes, you can fall quickly enough not to have time to react. And I think the brain has a way of blocking out trauma - I don't remember the 'ground coming up to meet me'. Also, some years ago your reactions may have been quicker - I'm almost certain mine would have been.

    I've never known of brakes locking on. On country roads it is possible to get debris in the spokes or between rims and brake blocks, either may jam a wheel.

    Why are you suspicious that you may have blacked out beforehand, have you a history of such, or is it in the family? Do you get any dizzy symptoms, see stars, etc?

    Anyway, glad you're on the mend, and back on 2 wheels. Take care, and ponder if a helmet may have helped. I was annoyed because mine was only 2 weeks old, but I bought it to do a job, and it done it.

  • ben-----ben----- Posts: 573
    Wow, blimey, that's bad (the loss of eye).

    > I dropped like a sack of potatoes and just didn't have time to react. ... my arm hadn't 'gone out' to break my fall

    Right, yup so it happens.

    > On country roads it is possible to get debris in the spokes or between rims and brake blocks, either may jam a wheel.

    Yup possible I suppose. The spokes thing would surely leave some visible damage though. Have looked for that kind of thing but think I'll look again.

    > Why are you suspicious that you may have blacked out beforehand,

    I don't know, just something's made me think that.

    > have you a history of such, or is it in the family? Do you get any dizzy symptoms, see stars, etc?

    Not particularly, apart from a bit of fainting years and years ago - me and mother. Used to know when that was going to happen though.

    Yup, should get a helmet really. Thanks.
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 22,800 Lives Here
    Somebody else on this forum had a remarkably similar sounding accident a couple of years back. I was riding to work on a shared path in a large park and saw a paramedic car ahead with lights on. Got there to find the paramedic in attendance along with a couple of people that found him. Straight bit of path with no obvious dangers apart from possibly avoiding a dog or some form of wildlife, I don't think he knows what happened to this day.
    I don't think memory loss is unusual after a bang to the head. I fell off my bike when I was about 12, first I knew about it was waking up in hospital the following morning with my old man in a chair next to me. Asked him what happened and he told me, I remember everything from that point on. But I don't remember that we had the same conversation repeatedly through the night or the few days before the accident. I didn't even know I'd been given a new bike for my birthday a couple of days previously.
    Hope you make a full recovery, head injuries can do all sorts of strange things. Without trying to turn this into another helmet debate, I would say that is probably the kind of accident a helmet can protect you in. I choose to wear one because it may help in such a situation and it helps stop the wife worrying too much.
  • The main thing is you are ok!

    I don't think you'll ever know what happened, and no matter how much you think about it you won't remember.

    Anything could have happened, and unless you have a history of blacking out I think it is highly unlikely you did so. Well not until you hit the floor with your head anyway.
    As for not getting your arms out, well, that can easily happen if it goes off quick enough.

    Saw someone get a rabbit in the spokes once, neither of them knew what happened until it was all over.
  • squiredsquired Posts: 1,216
    It could have been something as simple as a wet branch from a tree or a stone in the road, which would have long since gone. There is a lot of potential debris on a country lane that can get caught up with wheels and cause nasty accidents. You should also consider minor road repairs. A few weeks back I had a nasty fall that happened extremely quickly and gave me no time to brace my fall. In that case it was due to a line of tar that had been put down to seal the road between the main surface and some work that had been done. The tar was wet and to my bike it was like ice.
  • prowlbassprowlbass Posts: 159
    I had something similar 2 years ago - came off, no real injuries to my body or bike, but cracked my head open (despite wearing a helmet).

    Coming around a corner, a combination of wet, diesel in the road and some loose gravel meant I hit the deck before I'd even registered I was going down - no time to put an arm out or react at all. It was after a brief up hill, so I wasn't going particularly fast. Presumably the helmet limited the damage and I didn't lose conciousness, but it took a fair bit of staring at the road and talking to the cyclists behind to figure out what had happened before popping off to A&E for some stitches.

    Seems unlikely you blacked out - any number of things could have bought you down very suddenly, with no time to react (and left no evidence in the road). I'm afraid it sounds like you just got unlucky.
  • davisdavis Posts: 2,566
    Aye. I came off and didn't really have time to react.
    If your front wheel washes out then you can go down like a sack of the proverbial, and if it locks up (stick through the spokes?) then you can cartwheel over the bars quicker than you would believe.
    Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.
  • tootsie323tootsie323 Posts: 197
    Memory loss is easy from a fall in which your head take the brunt. Not on a bike, but walking home one evening in icy conditions, I slipped and hit my head. The last thing I recall is touching the top, seeing blood on my fingers and thinking: oops nicked my scalp. Next thing I'm awake in hospital with a train-track of staples across the top of my skull.

    I've absolutely no recollection of continuing to walk home after the fall, apparently collapsing at the doorstep, vomiting on the couch, having a friend take me to A&E because the ambulances were busy and allegedly struggling with the nurses who were trying to help me. That was seven years ago and there is still a blank in my memory.

    As others say, it's most likely a case of memory loss through head injury. It's pretty common with concussion.
  • alan_shermanalan_sherman Posts: 1,153
    Could it have been as simple as a small item sticking in the front wheel (brake blocks maybe)? Happened to a fiend at a ace many years ago - locked the front wheel, blew a tub and took down a few other riders. Was just a very small twig and 'one of those things'.
  • rower63rower63 Posts: 1,991
    Last year my colleague from work was approaching a set of hidden bridge-steps leading down to the road when a woman stepped out from behind the buttress by the steps. Peering at her phone, she stepped straight onto the road directly in front of my mate. He was doing around 16 mph and rode straight into her, they both went down. He went over the handlebars and ended up on the other side of the road. They were both "out" for a good few tens of seconds, and an ambulance was called.
    I was about 5 metres behind him as this happened and saw it all. He has no memory whatsoever of the incident, he only remembers getting up off the road wondering how he got there.
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  • PufftmwPufftmw Posts: 1,941
    When I was a kiddy, I used to do Judo. Week after week we would practice rolling and breaking falls until it became second nature. It still is. Front wheel locked on a motorbike at about 60 and I went OTB but instead of sticking my hands out (lookup scaphoid injuries - yuk), tucked head and rolled and broke the fall. Numerous other times with accidents, trips/slips its been automatic to dip shoulder & roll to avoid splatting. Most times it works and I escape but accidents happen really quickly, even for muscle memory and 2 times its not worked. T-boned by a u-turning car and I landed on my shoulder before I could complete the roll and another time a car reversed into my motorbike at some speed and I literally landed on my head before I could do anything. These things can happen damn quick so I wouldn't go blaming yourself or worrying that you blacked out.
  • Walls82Walls82 Posts: 126
    You may have hit a small stone at a funny angle with your front wheel, might explain why there's no "evidence" at the scene.

    I wouldn't beat yourself up about not wearing a helmet I think the general consensus is they're good at stopping cuts etc but don't really do anything when it comes to impacts, a quick google tells me they are tested for impacts around 12.5mph...
  • Walls82 wrote:
    I wouldn't beat yourself up about not wearing a helmet I think the general consensus is they're good at stopping cuts etc but don't really do anything when it comes to impacts, a quick google tells me they are tested for impacts around 12.5mph...

    Anything is going to help, I just cannot understand the people who don't wear them.
  • ben-----ben----- Posts: 573
    Right, so the consensus is definitely that it's quite possible/common for it to happen quick enough for no arm-out-to-break-fall reaction to happen. So I guess blacking out probably wasn't the cause. I guess that was me coming up with something - anything - to fill in the missing information, rather than just leaving it as simply unknown. Great, thanks for all the responses, much appreciated.
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,147
    I am the one Steve/Veronese68 found.

    I have a faint memory few minutes before then nothing, I fractured the back of my skull, plus two subdural hemotomas.


    I have a collection of islands of memories around that month which are not locked in time or sequence. for example someones voice telling me they needed to cut my clothes off. I hardly remember Christmas 4 weeks later and was still rather odd/frail 5 months on!

    it did unfortunately cause a brain injury/damage so I'm not what I was.

    I had injury to my left hip and elbow I think, as to why? best guess is I made a mistake. I'd really not worry about the why, you'll probably never know.

    you've not mentioned any congitive effects? and i'd really not worry if your any thing like me, you'll of had a battery of tests done at the time? not that I remember any of them!
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,302
    Mrs Bomp arrived at work on her bike as usual one day a couple of years ago. She was bit freaked out by the stares her colleagues were giving her, then spotted the blood all down her jacket...
    She now remembers approaching a junction about two miles from work; a vague memory of riding through backstreets near but not on her route; and then her colleagues' reaction on her arrival. She was wearing a helmet, had bruising and abrasions all down the left side of her face but no other injuries: looks like another "hard down on the side, no time to put a hand out" fall, and we'll never know what happened.
    By contrast, all my falls (just the one with quite serious injuries) are only too clear in my memory.

    Stay safe everyone!
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,302
    veronese68 wrote:
    But I don't remember that we had the same conversation repeatedly through the night or the few days before the accident.
    Years ago I took a friend to A&E after he'd banged his head (chin in fact) in a climbing fall.
    The conversation went like this, verbatim:
    "So how high did I fall from them?"
    "About fifteen feet"
    "Fifteen feet? Right. Think I've cracked a tooth as well"

    Later, he could recall being a bit perplexed at my reaction - but not that we had the conversation about six times.
  • FingerbobsFingerbobs Posts: 39
    I was cycling through Tewkesbury with a mate, who is an ITU consultant, the next thing I remember is walking out of a supermarket clutching a bloody paper towel to the back of my head. No idea what happened, nor does he as he was in front of me, he just heard an almighty clatter as I hit the deck. Split Giro helmet, grazes on all my corners, bust a few ribs, but bike and kit intact save for the helmet. On walking out of the supermarket I asked my worried looking mate "why am I in Morrisons? What happened?" He too explained for about the tenth time I'd had an "off" and my wife was on her way to take me home/A&E.
    I lost 45 mins through retrograde and antegrade amnesia, I still find it quite unnerving. However I'm eternally grateful I didn't find myself walking out of the supermarket with a Halibut from the fish counter clutched to the back of my head rather than the paper towels from the toilets...still could have as easily been the Ladies as the Gents, I'll never know.
    Get well, and cherish your nearest and dearest.
  • I got badly concussed and my head split open at rugby training. I remember the collision and then nothing much after it, although I had been taken to our physio's room and sewn up by a student doctor who played for us. Apparently when I was in the shower (I don't remember this) I asked my mate when we had decorated the changing rooms (we hadn't, apparently I was referring to the rooms at the club I had played for five years earlier). I don't remember getting home (my friend drove me) and my wife assures me I ate my dinner. I only really have a clear memory of waking up about noon the next day with an absolute sod of a headache and wondering why I had stitches.

    Head injuries are funny things. I wouldn't worry about it too much - it's pretty unlikely you blacked out.

    Get well soon.
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  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 22,800 Lives Here
    I am the one Steve/Veronese68 found.
    someones voice telling me they needed to cut my clothes off.
    That wasn't me by the way. :shock:
  • porlyworlyporlyworly Posts: 439
    I wouldn't read too much into the lack of injuries on your arms.

    I once hit half a house brick in the dark and had a fairly bad off, didn't see it at all - one second I'm peddling, the next I'm in a bit of a crumpled heap, absolutely no reaction just hit the deck hard.
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  • jedsterjedster Posts: 2,004
    Sorry coming to this a bit late but I have had two offs which happened so quickly I couldn't break my fall and in both cases my helmet struck the road quite hard (hard enough to crush the foam). Both cases were losing the front wheel on diesel. Front wheel skids mean that your head tube fires towards the tarmac at a rate of knots and you tend to hit, thigh/shoulder/whip head onto road.

    I always regarded helmets as "might help a bit, unlikely to do anyh arm" before the first of those offs. Now I think they are probably a bit more important than that.
  • kingstongrahamkingstongraham Posts: 11,443
    I came off this year without having any chance to break my fall either. Chain came off while I was accelerating on a wet road, lost control and next thing I knew I was sliding along the tarmac before my head smacked the floor. I only worked out which way I'd fallen from the damage to the bike, clothes and me. I don't think not knowing what happened necessarily means that you blacked out.

    (I was wearing a helmet and also now keep my new chain, chainrings and cassette in better condition.)
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 4,330
    I've knocked myself out twice cycling.

    First, as a kid I rode over a pine cone- front wheel washed out. Came down a box of tricks.

    Second, old enough to know better, I clipped a kerb whilst rubber necking (on holdiay, rental bike). I headbutted a tree that a cemetary no less. The tree was unharmed.

    I thought mine was tough to beat, but I think Roger wins "best X-ray".
  • chillingchilling Posts: 267
    I wouldn't worry so much. Sometimes things happen so quickly you don't have time to react.

    Have you seen Jens Voigt's crash in the TDF 2009? He's pretty much still holding on to the bars as he hits the road, and that's someone with the skills and reflexes of a pro athlete.
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 19,692
    I've had the same black out but I saw the crash that caused it just didn't remember it for a few days afterwards, coming home in mid summer perfect warm dry evening straight down a descent from the station into a sharp left right crossing and would you believe it total fog just at the junction, which made me brake hard to stop pull right across the field over a raised bank out then back into the next field via two hedges and one more road.

    So I get up dust myself off fix up the bike and ride home about an hour then I pickup a puncture a mile from home and it starts raining at this point i first notice I'm bleeding from my right ear and taking the tyre off requires the concentration of a round of crypton factor so I call my wife, who strangely is very worried at how long it's taken me.

    Got off the train at 8pm it takes at the most 75 mins but it's now 2 or 3am, so my guess is I spent hours laying in that hedge fully knocked out.

    The bleeding was from the whole in my ear lobe with a bit of branch stuck in it, I went to work the next day by bike of course but found myself standing on the train platform wondering where I was and how I got there.

    I took a few days off after that.

    To the OP get well soon and get as many tests as possible, twice!
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  • dhopedhope Posts: 6,699
    itboffin wrote:
    Got off the train at 8pm it takes at the most 75 mins but it's now 2 or 3am, so my guess is I went to the pub
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  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,747
    So as a result of you accident you didn't notice it had gone from daylight to pitch black during the 'course of the accident'? Impressed!
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 19,692
    yep and any of the journey to the eventual puncture and said pick up, the point is a serious blow to the head is well very serious
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  • ManiaMuseManiaMuse Posts: 89
    Something like this? Even the best cyclists sometimes hit the deck with no warning.

    If you hit your head hard enough (which it sounds like you did) then your brain might have automatically stopped recording short-term memories, or wasn't able to file them to where long term memories are stored. Ever had an alcohol induced blackout from drinking too much too quickly? It is possible for someone to appear and act normal (just very drunk) but have absolutely no recollection of it in the morning, even when prompted.

    /totally non-scientific speculation
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