Bike Crash. Damn big bike crash.

So, on September 12th, a fine clear late summer day, I was minding my own business enjoying my ride home on my bicycle:

Sachs bike

Mid-1980s Sachs road bicycle

A nice Sachs road bike I rescued from rusting oblivion, abandoned for seven months on the bike rack where I work.  Technically, I probably stole it.  If the owner ever shows up and asks for it, he can have it back (after paying for the bits I replaced).  But, I digress.

There I was, no shit (that’s how you tell the difference between a story and a fairy tale).  Just starting my ride home down the Rue Grande, leaving SHAPE in the direction of Mons.  This is one of the short stretches of my 8.5 km ride home that is on a road.   And, it’s a nice downhill run.  Since I was on my road bike, I was riding at a good speed.  Probably approaching 60 km/h.

Near the bottom of that hill, on my right, is a small shopping center.  The two lanes in my direction are split into one through lane, and one right turn only lane.  On the uphill side, there is a left turn only lane, where cars wait for the downhill traffic to clear before crossing the downhill lane and entering the shopping center.  That’s the idea, anyway.  Here’s a diagram of my crash, drawn from my perspective of riding downhill:

crash diagram

Diagram of my bicycle crash

Here’s what happened:  At time T1, the three involved vehicles were in positions A1, B1, and C1.  Vehicle B, an Opel station wagon, saw car A clear the intersection.  He saw no more traffic coming downhill, and began his left turn into the driveway of the shopping center.

Except I was still coming downhill, and damned fast.  The driver of car B didn’t look for any other traffic except car traffic.  Realizing there was no way I was going to avoid this impact, my best course of action was to get on the brakes as hard as I could and bleed off as much speed as possible before I hit.  Force is a product of mass and velocity squared.  So, half the speed is a quarter of the force of impact.

At T2 the three vehicles are in their postions A2, B2, and C2.  This is when I hit car B at roughly 30 km/h.  That’s a wild guess, I just know it was less than my full downhill speed, because I was able to get some braking before impact.

At time T3, I was in position C3.  That bubble over my head in the diagram is a dialog bubble.  You can imagine what I said and fill it in yourself.  I remember no details of the actual impact, it was too fast.  I heard a really loud bang as my head hit the road.  I think my head hit first, then my right shoulder.

Anyway, I was ambulatory, sat up and looked around, then got the hell off of the road.  I sure didn’t need some car driving over me to boot.  There was a surprising number of people who saw this happen, and were there to help me.  One was an off duty pompier (fireman for the provincial people who don’t speak French), and he insisted on calling an ambulance.

So, away I went to the emergency room of Ambroise Pare hospital.  Where, after a bunch of radiographs, I found I had a broken clavicle and three broken ribs.  Which would explain the pain.  After a couple hours of lying on a table staring at the ceiling, the doctor finally got back to me and put a figure of eight sling around my shoulders.  I couldn’t reach him or I’d of punched him.  That hurt like hell.

The next Monday, I saw the orthopedist, who gave me a sling to hold my arm down.  It helps with the pain in my shoulder, but does nothing for the broken ribs.  Sleeping isn’t so good, there’s no comfortable position.

The following day, we went back to one of the stores in that shopping center to pick up my bike.  It still rolled.  The only visible damage was the rear wheel was knocked out of true by about six millimeters and the spring for the clapper on my bell was gone.  Wierd.  I’d have expected the front wheel to be mangled, but it was undamaged.  Regardless, I dropped it off at my local bike shop to have all the spokes replaced and true that rear wheel up if possible.  When I rescued that bike, all the spokes were quite rusted.  I sanded the rust off and painted them white, as you see in the above picture.  It looks nice, but it’s not durable.

Yesterday, I had a closer look at the helmet I was wearing, a 2000 model from Giro, the Terramoto.  You may remember last year, I got car-doored near my house.  I didn’t have a helmet on that day, and my head did hit the street, but not hard.  Nevertheless, I re-evaluated my continued exposure to risk since I commute daily, and decided a helmet at all times was appropriate.

On first glance, the damage to my Terramoto helmet seemed superficial.  The scuff pattern on the shell is barely visible:

helmet shell

The shell of my crashed Giro Terramoto helmet

That section of the helmet is the front right quarter.  You can see the vertical scuff marks and the cracked section of the shell on the bottom edge of that vent.  Doesn’t look so bad. But something made that loud bang when my head hit something.

Further inspection on the inside of the helmet reveals a crack and displacement completely through the helmet:

Cracked helmet

Giro Terramoto helmet after a crash, cracked through.

Clearly, I hit something with my head, and damned forcefully.  Have you ever tried to break one of these helmets?  That foam is pretty tough stuff.

Next, I removed the helmet shell to have a look underneath it:

deformed helmet

Giro Terramoto helmet, deformed in a crash.

That’s some pretty significant deformation, over a large area.  The foam of these helmets is quite stiff.  To put dents of that depth over that large of an area of impact took some considerable force.

I doubt I’d have survived that impact without that helmet on my head.  I’ll repeat that thought.  I’d be dead now without it.

Don’t be an ass.  Don’t be a dumbass.  No justification exists to not wear a helmet on a bicycle.

The crash I experienced is a common type of crash.  It is also common with motorcycles, and I knew this.  I saw where this car was positioned, and I saw what could have happened before it happened.  I had good momentum, and just wanted to get home to supper.  I pushed a bad position.  Even though I had priority, and made no mistakes, I’m still the one with broken bones.  I was wearing a bright yellow jacket, I was in the correct lane position.

The thing to do would have been to bleed off some speed until I was either clear of the danger or could stop if I needed to.  It would’ve cost me 15 seconds in time of my ride.  My judgment a year ago to always wear a helmet was sound.  My judgment of this little traffic situation, not so much.

Learn from this.  Save you, it can.


I never ride it any more.


I bought this motorcycle, my 2001 BMW R-1200C in August 2001.  I’ve been riding my bicycles to work now for about a year and a half, and I am simply not driving this motorcycle any longer.  I’ve probably had it out five times in the last year.

It’s been the motorcycle I’ve liked the most, of all that I’ve had.  I wish I had a barn in which I could store all the machines I’ve ever owned.  But, the reality is, that it costs to keep a machine road worthy.  Routine maintenance.  Road tax.  Insurance.   Just to have it in the way in my garage.

Not only that, this machine was designed and built to be driven.

So, I think it’s time to sell it.

2000 BMW R-1200C Phoenix

2000 BMW R-1200C Phoenix

2000 BMW R-1200C Phoenix

What can go wrong with a motorcycle after 11 years?  It’s always little stuff.  The bezel of the rear tail light housing cracked.  A common failing in this model.

2000 BMW R-1200C Phoenix

The turn signal lenses usually do not survive a removal to change a bulb.  The pillar into which the retaining screw engages cracks off from the inside.

2000 BMW R-1200C Phoenix

right front turn signal

The chrome plating on the headers is not invincible.

2000 BMW R-1200C Phoenix

left side header

2000 BMW R-1200C Phoenix

right side header

If this sells, I will miss it.  Just like I miss all the other motorcycles I’ve had in the past.  C’est la vie.

first ride of the year

Today has been a beautiful spring day. Sadly, Harry and I laid low with bad colds. Jesse and Liam took advantage of the wonderful weather and our absence and took the motorcycle out for the first spin of the season. Here are a few photos from their grand day out.

taking a walk at the parc.

This is the "I'm cool" pose

enjoying an ice cream

enjoying the day

at the parc, with the pond and l'Orangerie in the distance.

They had a really nice time! Now, the two men are outside taking the lay of the land for my vegetable garden, Harry’s half-napping on the couch, and me? I’m sipping TheraFlu. Ahhh, the life.

A new soup.

Tonight’s supper was Irish White Bean and Cabbage soup. K will be following with the recipe. Mmmmm. Soup.

** edited many days later by K to add the recipe link and details 🙂

I found this recipe at SusanV’s FatFreeVegan blog – definitely one of my favorite sources on the net. I left out the celery (because Jesse considers it to be poison), the barley (because we’re experimenting with gluten-free eating for the next month), and the caraway seeds (because I didn’t have any).

The soup was good the first day, but amazing the next! A definite keeper. Served the soup with my first attempt at gluten-free corn muffins.


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup corn flour (masa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combined all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whizzed all the wet ingredients together in the blender, then added to the dry and mixed together. This recipe made 15 small muffins, baked at around 375 for 20 minutes.

The tast was  good, although the muffins weren’t nearly as tender as we’re used to. And they didn’t store worth a damn. If you choose to make these, I recommend only making what you need that night.

It took me a while to work out the kinks in vegan baking. Vegan and gluten-free?? The family might be in for some dodgy experiments in the next few weeks.

The grandparents came through once again.  A couple days ago, a tent arrived in the mail for the boys.  Jesse only swore five or six times putting it together.  But not just our average, everyday, run-of-the mill tent.  No, this one has a TUNNEL.  A TUNNEL that makes Harry absolutely giddy with delight.  A TUNNEL that allows him to escape and hide out from Mama when she wants to do something sinister like put him upstairs for a nap or check to see if his big boy pants are still dry.  The TUNNEL is awesome.

catch me if you can!

catch me if you can!

Although it’s been a terribly dry summer, it has been rainy and wet… oh, pretty much since this came in the mail.  So right now the tent and tunnel are taking up far too much room in our living room.  But the boys are enjoying it and it is buying me some much needed grown up time.

Liam enjoying the tent.

Liam enjoying the tent.

Liam is a very tall six, so he’s a tad too big for the tunnel and tent.  But he enjoys struggling into and out of it nonetheless.  Yes, the Bionicle is surgically attached to his hand.  And yes, that is an incredibly goofy smile on his face.  But at least it’s a smile.  AND his eyes are open. This is progress, people!

catching up on the week

We’re having a rather quiet summer here, not much to report or blog home about.  Jesse’s course finished, and although it wasn’t tailored to him and his needs, he did get quite a lot out of it.  We’ve picked up some fabulous French workbooks and are plowing through them, each at our own pace.  I think by winter I’ll find a couple conversation groups, and we’ll each take an evening out with others to work on our French.

The boys are both doing well, although Harry seems to be hitting the *terrible* twos with a vengeance.  His favorite word is *no*, he has little patience, and gets extremely frustrated when not allowed to do what he wants.  All typical for the age.  We’ve tread this path before.  He’s also taken to getting up at the crack of dawn.  Sometimes earlier.  This makes for one very tired Mama.  As for Liam, it seems he’s changing more than anyone at the moment.  He’s tall and lanky, outgrowing all his long-legged pyjamas.  He’s starting to really read.  Not just two or three letter words, but really read.  We have some easy readers Gramma Bonnie gave him years ago, and he can read 90% of what is on the page.  Of course, the stories are familiar, so some words are coming more from context than actual print, but he’s definitely progressing very quickly.  And his Lego skills are out of this world.  Right now he’s working on his newest kit – a coast guard ship and lighthouse.  No assistance required.  I love these afternoons.  He’s completely engrossed in what he’s doing, following directions, and NOT telling me how bored he is!


Safety first!  Harry loves to play on the motorcycle.  This time, he asked me for his *hemmet*, put it on his head, and climbed up on the bike.  “Broom!  Broom!” he says!


Here’s Liam with one of his most recent creations — a rocket at take off!  In the first photo he’s demonstrating what’s going to happen at takeoff.



Let’s call this one “boy in makeshift boat.”  Please ignore the pile of dirty laundry.  It had to go somewhere!


And let’s call this one “equal time!”

why Jesse's eye is twitching right now

So, today the contractor came to install the new tub. Wanna see?


Yeah. Apparently, the tub is the wrong dimensions for the area. We’re not sure how that happened, as we measured meticulously, and we took the measurements to the store with us when ordering the tub, AND the contractor was out and did a survey of the site, knowing what we were putting in. We have an appointment with the contractor and the store TUESDAY to ORDER a new tub that will fit.

Oh, one more thing. It’s almost July. The height of summer is still to come. And we’re going to be washing up in the sink for at least a few weeks would be my guess.



Catching Up

So…ummmm… October 25th… yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve been motivated to update the blog. The three people that still bother to check for updates know that we’re alive and well, but I’ll fill in a few blanks. Obviously I’ve updated the blog’s theme: let me know if you have any problems viewing anything. The links across the top aren’t updated yet. I decided I’d better put some content up first!

relaxing with Liam on the couch…

Harry — still not quite walking, although he could do it if he wanted to. I expect one of these days he’s going to realize his knees will stay much warmer if he walks, rather than crawls, across the tile floor. He’s got a few words — Dada, Mama, (ba)nana, sha-sha (that means “love you” in this house), ball, and do-ggggr (dog). He’s also using some signs to communicate with us — eat, more, please, thank you, milk, grapes, and hot. He’s such a great little guy with a wonderful personality. He absolutely loves watching Disney’s Fantasia — the Beethoven’s Pastorale is the cure for all ills in his little world. Other loves: cottage cheese, his big brother, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and all the ladies that flirt with him at Liam’s school.

by day, Fireman Harry. By night, carpenter-extraordinaire.

Liam — loving school, learning French with amazing speed. His teacher says he’s really catching on to the French. He loves playing with the other kids at school, although he has a soft heart that is bruised easily sometimes. If someone doesn’t want to play with him, he’s lost that friend forever. That kind of thing. The work seems to come quite easily to him, as of course we all know he’s a genius. He’s developed a real love of drawing and writing, and we’re of course trying to encourage that. Some of his spelling is quite inventive, but he gets his point across!

Liam is NOT tired…


Me — ehh, same old, same old. I love my boys and my husband. And they drive me up the wall. All in the span of an hour, repeated 24 times a day. I’ve made some good friends with the moms of some of Liam’s classmates, and I’m amazed at how big of a difference a little female companionship can make.

Liam playing in the first real snowfall we’ve seen in some time.

Jesse — loves his job, loves his kids, loves his dog. Pretty sure he’s happy with me, too!

Harry setting the potatoes free. He was even hugging them…

Recently we’ve had a chain of problems around here. It seems that once they start, they never stop. First there was a slow coolant leak in the car. We took it in to the garage — turned out to be the head gasket. The car was in the garage for three days. On day two, we woke up to no heat and had to call an emergency repairman. A ten minute fix cost of $$$. Got the car back (more $$$$), and Jesse left a few days later for some training in the UK. The day he left we lost phone service. It took I believe around three hours of getting passed around and hung up on in three different languages before I finally got through to someone at the phone company that could help. A week later, we had a flat tire. Please please please let this be over!

Liam in the shirt he picked out on a special day out with me.

Jesse’s done with work for the remainder of 2008. We’ll spend the next week around the house, and we leave for the Riviera next Saturday!

Portrait of the artist as a young boy.

Harry the ever-drooling bandit.