Left Leg Only

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Yesterday my 2016 luck just continued.  And that isn’t a good thing.  I decided to go outside and brave the drizzle, wind and cold and ride.  I thought I’d just go for an hour or so, but I felt pretty good and decided to just ride into headwind until I felt like turning around.  The wind was mainly from the west, but a little north.

Pretty soon I was on a real ride.  I felt pretty great, at least for January, and my power was super.  So I rode about an hour out against a 30 mph headwind and started back.  My average wattage was approaching 300, but I knew that would go down with tailwind.

Fast forward a few miles and I am about 8 miles from home.  One hill left.  I decided I’d sprint the hill and call it a day.  I’m not too big right now hauling through town, mainly because of all the sand on the roads, but also since I really can’t use my left hand, which is my rear brake on my cyclocross bike.

Anyway, I am at the bottom of the hill and get off my seat to sprint and next thing I know I’m going over my bars.  I was using the Bar Mitts, so my hands were essentially stuck on my brake levers.  That was a pretty weird feeling.  Kind of like toeclips for your hands.  Before I hit the ground, I realized that my right pedal had broken.  But, I was wrong.  My right crank arm broke at the pedal spindle.

On Strava, it said I was only going 23.8, but I hit pretty hard.  I got up slow, cursing the whole time.  I was standing in the middle of the road and a Highway Patrol car pulled up with his lights on.  He said he was going at me from the other direction and saw the whole thing.  He asked if I was alright and I told him yes, not really knowing if that was true.

He told me he would give me a ride home, but I told him I was okay.  I told him my crank arm broke and needed to find my pedal. I thought it should be connected to my shoe, but it wasn’t. The officer got out and helped me look, but it wasn’t around.   I thanked him again and he took off.

I decided to call Trudi, but she didn’t answer.  She was out riding.  I looked for the pedal and piece of crank arm again, but no luck.  I had fallen on a bridge and it must have just went off the edge.  I walked down the rock pile they had put for erosion, but soon realized I would be frozen by the time I might find it.

So I got on my bike and rode home, left leg only.  The first hill I was only climbing about 7 mph and I knew I had 8 miles, so thought it was going to take a while.  But I was riding mainly tailwind and when I got on the flats, I was cruising mid 20’s.   So, I got home fine.  For sure this is the furthest I’ve ever ridden with one leg.  It wasn’t so bad.  I averaged 186 watts.  Maybe I should try it more often?

My bike was a mess.  My cranks, obviously, were ruined.  The arms had a Quarq power meter attached, so that isn’t good.  Plus I destroyed my Bar Mitts and did a number on my Dura-Ace Di2 carbon levers. Plus, lost my right pedal.

Clothing, I destroyed my booties, gloves and thermal jersey.  My hat and tights made it out unscathed.

My body could have been worse, but it isn’t great.  Of course, I re-injured my thumb.  That is a given.  But I also broke the ring finger on my same hand, (left).  I’m going to head over and get an x-ray this morning to see if it is displaced.  Plus another one of my thumb.  My left hand is a mess.  Plus I tweaked my neck, hitting the ground somewhat headfirst.  That will get better I think.

The good part is that I was going pretty well.  Was thinking about searching for a race to do.  I better put that on the back burner until I figure this all out.

Later yesterday, I drove back over to the crash site and searched for my pedal and crank arm piece for about 30 minutes.  It is super bad luck it happened there.  I think it went off the bridge and went down between a bunch of rocks.  I’m really not that interested in looking anymore.

What are the chances of my crank arm breaking? I guess it happens sometimes.   Okay, maybe that is it for the year?  I can only hope.

Search area. Bad luck it happened here.

Search area. Bad luck it happened here.

Bar Mitt. I only had them a month.

Bar Mitt. I only had them a month.

Bad finger.

Bad finger.

Culprit. By the color of the aluminum, it looks like it had been cracked before it broke.

Culprit. By the color of the aluminum, it looks like it had been cracked before it broke.



40 thoughts on “Left Leg Only

  1. Craig

    Shit you are lucky you didn’t go off the bridge! I broke a crank arm once but got off luckier than you did … good thing about not being able to put out those kind of watts! 😉

  2. andy

    For sure get a hold of Rotor and see if they can send you a new set of arms. The Quarq should be transferrable to the new arms.

  3. Mike Rodose

    Glad you’re not hurt any worse. That’s not part of the drivetrain you expect to break! I haven’t seen anything break like that without previous damage.

  4. Dan Joy

    Steve, same thing happened to me this past summer. My shop sent it into Quarq, as well as my frame and components. My drive side leg was still clipped in after a sprint as the main bolt failed. Quarq replaced everything, including my frame. While I was trying to slow down, in an effort not to crash, I brought my clipped in leg wth chainring attached to the middle as I was grabbing as much brake as I could. This resulted in the chainring gouging the seat tube. Because it was a carbon frame, I was concerned over the integrity of the frame. It took several weeks, but I’m now riding Shimano 😉

  5. Jay

    Man I only use Rotor cranks. That’s scary.
    Glad you’re really not hurt. Laceration or puncture could have happened.
    Hope you heal fast.

  6. C Klaren

    Those internal holes that close to the pedal spindle threads appears to be a design flaw, or at least a questionable design.

  7. Krakatoa East of Java

    Amen. The hollow part of the crank arm extending past the beginning of the pedal spindle threads? That’s freakin insane (and irresponsible) design. There are so many things that can go wrong there.

    Crank arms shouldn’t break. Ever. Period. I’d even dare think of this as a CPSC issue (feds).

  8. K Burnett

    Looks like an early 80’s Campagnolo failure. We used to see a few Super Record cranks break like that each year, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a failure in that spot.

  9. Spinner

    I broke a Campy record arm awhile back. Campy replaced it after I sent it to them. Interestingly, the Campy arm broke in the middle. I had never crashed on the arm but had rode thousands of hard miles with it. I went over the bars also, Steve. Smashed my noodle and right arm good but I was MUCH younger and recovered fast. If I did it now it would be beyond terrible! Hope your finger is OK. You seem to be having your share of bad luck….

  10. Dave M

    1. Call a lawyer – injury resulting from product failure.
    2. Inform CPSC – injury resulting from product failure.

  11. Clifford

    Damn. Glad you didn’t slam your head.

    I broke a couple crankarms in MTB days but never a road crank.

  12. The Cyclist

    Crazy bad luck. For these very reasons I only ride my dedicated winter bike in the winter. No carbon parts what so ever and everything else properly oversized. When things get cold they can get brittle.

  13. old and slow

    I rode for more than 30 years before I broke my first crank arm. In my case it was a Huret New Success that had a reputation for that with the pro team they had sponsored and just 300 yards from my house. In front of people I knew so I was home laughing about it in five minutes, but still not nothing at all to look forward to.

    Went over the bars just like you did, didn’t damage the bike at all; did trash an old Open 4 CD front rim with rusted ferrules that I should have replaced a few years earlier.

    In my limited experience it’s not a yield strength type of thing; it’s a total cycles type of thing and I was nearly coasting up a small hill when it happened.

  14. jeff

    had that happen before – crank arm breaking off… many times with carbon and only once with steal. I only ride steal cranks now, won’t touch carbon. Especially when its cold (fatigue limit on carbon sucks…)…

  15. Fsonicsmith

    Sorry to digress but as someone else mentioned and as you Steve likely recall, the early 80’s Campy Record and SR crankarms were known to fail due to the channel milled lengthwise on the outer surface. In Columbus OH we had a racing club known as FBCI and a young and upcoming racer named Chris Corrado , maybe 20 or so, (if memory is correct) was training in Florida and had his Campy crankarm fail and DIED as a result. Been shocked/burned into my memory ever since and that was thirty years ago and I really did not know Chris.

  16. RB

    For god’s sake, I ride 7,000 miles a year, 50ish races, and not .01% of the stuff that happens to you happens to me.

  17. Ken

    I snapped a left SR crank right through the middle on a hard ride some years ago, hitting my unhelmeted head very hard – blood, stitches, concussion, etc. I have never ridden without my helmet since that day. Until today I did not know this was widespread. A warning to all L’Eroica-type riders who are dressing up their bikes with those old 80’s-era Campy cranks.

  18. dave

    Fsonicsmith, let me correct you. His name was Chris Carrano, it was Valentines day 1993, 23 years ago, and it wasn’t his crank arm breaking, it was some idiot driver crossing the road and hitting him head-on. Not sure if driver was drunk or not.

  19. dave

    Steve, I think I see your pedal! I zoomed in and it’s down low in the rocks near the ice on the left. Here, let me virtually retrieve that for you.

  20. jake

    Dont hire a lawyer who doesnt know the difference between your and you’re. 🙂

    as for your crash, I would never ride that brand of crank ever again. thats a totally preventable and unacceptable failure mode.

  21. Rob Walker

    My FSA K-Force Light crankset failed drive side at the pedal attachment. The aluminum threaded insert is loose causing the pedal to rock.

    I caught it before complete failure (and possible injury) but FSA’s response was essentially “too bad” since I was not the original owner (it was a take-off).

    Maybe we (collectively) should rethink which parts to upgrade in pursuit of a lighter bike – cranksets in particular.

  22. Larry T.

    I see SHIMANO displayed at the top of your blog. I’m no fan of theirs but they don’t let the customers do the R & D. Why aren’t you using their stuff? Hard to believe some power-meter gizmo can’t be used with their stuff as I’d bet plenty of the pros are using ’em. That crank arm looks like it was cracked for quite awhile, perhaps your inspection/washing regime has fallen down lately? Hope you get over all the injuries and that it warms up where you live – or you get the hell out of there for a place that is warm!

  23. Jim

    Hmmm, someone seems to have deleted my post.

    “Clothing, I destroyed my booties, gloves and thermal jersey. My hat and tights made it out unscathed.”

    I simply asked how your helmet did?

  24. dave

    Well, I guess if Steve says his hat was OK , then there’s your answer. I do wish Steve would answer back to questions that are at least within a few days of his post.

  25. Mark Considine

    I don’t really know much about metal detectors but maybe you could find your pedal with one? You know the kind people use on beaches to find money & jewelry.


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