The handlebars shook so violently that all I could do was lock my elbows and try to hold it straight, while using my body to lean away from the other bike. The noise was horrible. I just knew I was going down with the other rider. His rear skewer was eating into my front spokes.
The temperature hovered around 66 F, and the route was 72 miles. A Sunday afternoon ride, the wind was relentless; it swirled and hammered, and slipstreaming was a mute point most of the time. The group is a very experienced bunch, and we constantly changed positions in the slipstream, based on the wind direction. At the time of the incident, we were staggered off of each other’s left side with a bit of overlap. THE SHIFT: A gust of wind came out of no where from our right hand side, slamming into our right flank. The rider to my right front shot over, his rear wheel to my front. The noise had a oh-my-goodness-we’re-going-down beat to it. At around 25ish miles per hour, I braced for impact. Later, one of the riders in the group said that he knew at any moment he would hear the splintering of carbon and bodies hitting the pavement. But as soon as we engaged, I knew to try to keep my front wheel as straight as I could while leaning away from the other rider. What seemed like an eternity only took a few seconds for us to dislodge. My heart monitor was through the roof, by the time the group checked up.
All in all, the paint was gone from the other rider’s skewer, and I had two bent spokes and a wheel not true to say the least. I have thought of what could have been done differently to avoid this. I want to chalk it up as a fluke, and maybe it is. Overlap? Staggered to tightly? Maybe. I can arm chair the thing to death, but I want to learn multiple things from every ride. Things happen. At first I was aggravated with the other guy and then at myself for not reacting quick enough, but I guess you live and learn . . . or rather ride and learn.