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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.

I am trying to find out if my recent bad experience is unique, unusual, common, or part of an epidemic.

About 6 weeks ago i was biking back from work (after one week in a new job in Bristol, UK), and came off my bike as i crossed some tramlines (not that surprising, even though i was going slowly at 90 degrees to the tracks). So I'm falling off the bike thinking "OK, this is no big deal", when i feel something is deeply wrong with my left leg.

As i hit the ground i notice my left foot is pointing 45 degrees out and away from my leg, thanks to a failure of my Look clip pedal to release from my Sidi shoe. Next thing i'm in an ambulance, a week in hospital, 2.5 hours of surgery, 6 weeks in a cast - and another 6 weeks before i can weight bear.

This is the current state of my left leg...



And this is a rough approximation of my mental state: :mad:

It seems to me that my equipment has not performed as it should have... does anyone have a similar tale to tell?
 

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Living to ride
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I have a had few fractures but none to do with a pedal clip. I don't like them myself.
Sorry to hear/see that, hope your back in no time!
 

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Old man on a bike
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I'm really sorry you had the fall, but I think your experience falls more towards the unique end of the spectrum from the limited information in your post. I am curious if this was a Look road or mountain pedal? Any special cleat involved? Were the cleats tight and still in their normal position on the shoe after the fall? How experienced are you riding in clipless pedals? Were they raised train tracks or those set in the ground (i.e. did you fall because of trying to cross a raised obstacle or did you slip/slide on a slippery surface?). What type of bicycle were you riding? Were you consciously trying to unclip as you fell? Do you normally have any problems in unclipping in a fall? Do you expect the pedal/shoe interface to somehow release automatically in such a fall?

Best of luck on a full recovery.
 

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I still cannot figure out why people use clipless on mountain bikes. that is a recipe for a broken collar bone. Clipless is for roadies only.
 

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...the wave won't brek
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ps249 said:
I still cannot figure out why people use clipless on mountain bikes. that is a recipe for a broken collar bone. Clipless is for roadies only.
Pritty much every XC rider I know usese clipless unless they are new to the sport.

That is too bad about your leg indeed.

I hope you are on your way to a speedey recovery.

I have takes some nasty spills riding clipless peddels and have never had a problem like that. Any injeries I sustained were cuts and scrapes.

When was the last time you had any maintenance performed on the bike?

Are you 100% shure the peddels were in good working order?

Accidents like these are more often then not relaited to maintainance.

Good Luck with a speedy recovery

A
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks Bikinfoolferlife. All good points, which I will try to answer:

1. Look mountain pedals.
2. No special cleats.
3. Cleats still tight and in position in shoes afterwards.
4. I've been using this combination of pedal and shoe for about 5 years.
5. The tracks were slightly raised - tram tracks rather than train tracks, but I fell because they were slippery.
6. I was riding a 1998 Kona Caldera with 1" road tyres. Bike is in excellent condition.
7. I wasn't trying to unclip as i fell - I didn't have time, but no i never had any problems unclipping before, except a few years ago when i first got the shoes and was learning to use them (in the park).
8. In all the time I've been using these pedals, they have *always* automatically released whenever I have fallen off. Indeed, they were sold to me on this basis, and I doubt i would have bought them otherwise.

So i agree it sounds like a freakish accident, but my feeling is that i happened to pull out of the pedal at the one particular angle at which the release mechanism was not optimised. The question is whether this is a design issue, and how improbable the angle i pulled out at was...

Recovery-wise i've just started physio, but can't weight bear for another 6 weeks, so i'm focusing on extending the range of movement for the time being...

Bikinfoolferlife said:
I'm really sorry you had the fall, but I think your experience falls more towards the unique end of the spectrum from the limited information in your post. I am curious if this was a Look road or mountain pedal? Any special cleat involved? Were the cleats tight and still in their normal position on the shoe after the fall? How experienced are you riding in clipless pedals? Were they raised train tracks or those set in the ground (i.e. did you fall because of trying to cross a raised obstacle or did you slip/slide on a slippery surface?). What type of bicycle were you riding? Were you consciously trying to unclip as you fell? Do you normally have any problems in unclipping in a fall? Do you expect the pedal/shoe interface to somehow release automatically in such a fall?

Best of luck on a full recovery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I use the mountain bike as a road bike to commute to and from work. Set up is road: 1" tyres, fast rear cassette etc. I use the pedals for the same reason anyone does: efficiency and comfort. Anyway, i broke my ankle not my collarbone...

ps249 said:
I still cannot figure out why people use clipless on mountain bikes. that is a recipe for a broken collar bone. Clipless is for roadies only.
 

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not trying to solicit medical advice, but...

How old are you?
But...just to be thorough...One of the questions is..So your foot was still in the pedal after the fall, it was just pointing 45 degrees?
Another question is....Did you break your ankle becuase you couldn't clip out OR Could you not clip out because you broke your ankle (your bike slipped, generating enough lateral force to snap your ankle before you fell)....Granted, i'm not an expert when it comes to clipless, but in ten years of biking, i've never heard of anyone breaking an ankle while biking (again, my exp is limited and i can understand the mechanism of injury so your story is very believable and freak accidents due occur). On your follow up appointment, i would ask your doctor if he thinks its a "pathologic fracture", given how much of a freak accident it seems....Just to make sure you don't have any underlying medical disorders that may have predisposed you to having a fracture. ( yes, i know, it's most likely trauma and the story fits, but you have to be thorough).
 

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Sounds like you hit the one particular....

stress angle that will cause any ankle to break. I know there is one with most joints. A friend of mine had a similar break occur just stepping off of a curb while crossing the street. Totaly freak thing, he was (and still is) in excellent health, no skelatal problems etc. It didn't require surgery, but it sure made him scratch his head for a while. Anyway, almost everyone I have ridden with in the last 20 years has used clipless pedals without a problem, with one exception. About 3 years ago I was attending a local race in Minnesota.
It was an early season race and the course was quite slick. A young man in the sport class was comming down the last hill before the finish line on his second lap. The bike slipped out from under him and he went down. Didn't look bad at all for a crash, but it snapped his right ankle. When we got to him his foot was off at a 30 to 45 degree angle similar to yours, and still attached to the pedal. We had to stabilize the ankle as best we could, then loosen his shoe and pull it off. The only difference that I can see is he was using shimano pedals and this was off road. He did have to have surgery to repair the break and probably went through the same regime that you are going through now.

In my experience what you had happen is quite rare, but it does happen under the right circumstances. It usually involves a sudden slip of the bike sideways and the resulting crash. But there is a very specific angle of the ankle and application of force involved. I've had many similar crashes using various pedals, Time, Look, Shimano, Icon, etc. and never had this happen to me, Thank God! And I've known many others that have crashed in the same manner as well. My best guess is that it is a very specific set of circumstances that is the proximate cause of the injury. I'm sure that clipless pedals do contribute to it though, as they tend to keep the foot attached and act as a lever laterally. Without the attachment the foot would simply come off the pedal. I really don't think it is a design defect in any given model of clipless pedal, but rather the nauture of all clipless pedals.

That's my take on it with the limited experience that I have had with such injuries. I sure am sorry that you had that happen. And do wish you a speedy recovery, And in the future, I think I'd put some flats on my commuter, and be VERY cautious at rail crossings. I have flats on my winter/crappy weather/commuter bike just for that reason. But for everything else I still like my clipless pedals. So here's wishing you a speedy recovery.

Good Dirt
 

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ps249 said:
I still cannot figure out why people use clipless on mountain bikes. that is a recipe for a broken collar bone. Clipless is for roadies only.
I agree. Still got my (knobby) training wheels on b/c anything < 4 wheels offroad = an accident waiting to happen :D
 

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Sorry to hear about your fall - and right at the beginning of the season, too! That sucks! I hope you're better soon ... keep up the physio, that's made all the difference with any sports injury I've ever had.

I'm not going to comment about your fall, but I can give a pedal suggestion. I ride Speedplay Frog pedals, and I wonder if they might have helped this situation. They are one of the few pedals that does not have a positive engagement (ie no spring), which is both good and bad. Bad, because it takes a couple rides to learn where the clip-in point is (there's no 'sproing!' as you enter), but good because there is zero resistance to popping in or out. Twisting your foot simply moves it out of the 'clipped' angle, without a spring tension to overcome. I wouldn't say never, but almost never have I high-sided, because the natural 'putting-your-foot-down' movement pushes it out.

Get well soon!
 

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mine might have been from clips

I have been in a cast for six weeks also

here is the thread from the day after:

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=168622&highlight=tibia

I think the cleat may have got loose, or just the fall was really bad, at relatively low speed, and I fell quite a distance...it is open for discussion...but I have had clipless pedals for 15 years and never hurt myself like this time!!

I didn't have to have surgery and returned to work the week after. I also was lucky I didn't concuss myself or break anything else.

BUt it indeed sucks being in acast for a long, long time. I had no idea!

Good luck with your recovery
 

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joshuat said:
8. In all the time I've been using these pedals, they have *always* automatically released whenever I have fallen off. Indeed, they were sold to me on this basis, and I doubt i would have bought them otherwise.

So i agree it sounds like a freakish accident, but my feeling is that i happened to pull out of the pedal at the one particular angle at which the release mechanism was not optimised. The question is whether this is a design issue, and how improbable the angle i pulled out at was...

Recovery-wise i've just started physio, but can't weight bear for another 6 weeks, so i'm focusing on extending the range of movement for the time being...
I'm not a believer in anything automatic for clipless release; perhaps a learned reaction, but it doesn't happen by itself. Certainly never should have been sold on that basis, it's not possible to promise that for any current clipless pedal in my opinion. It's not a design issue, it's more a caveat emptor thing. I injured my left ankle a long time ago running down a mountain trail, as we couldn't take our bikes with us to the Mountain Play (on Mt Tamalpais in Marin, a summer theater festival sort of thing). That ankle still bothers me, I'm just glad I didn't break it as I can only think how much worse it could have been.

Heal well, and be careful over any kind of tracks! They're one of the things I fear the most on the road (I've seen a couple people on road bikes do serious damage to themselves slipping out on them).
 

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Squash said:
It usually involves a sudden slip of the bike sideways and the resulting crash. But there is a very specific angle of the ankle and application of force involved.
This kinda reminds me of my running days, when I ran XC in high school. The course are all across fields and uneven, so we spent a good deal of time running on bumpy grassy fields to build up lateral strength in our legs.

Cycling trains our legs to be very strong going up and down, but not so much side to side. I'm not saying the accident was necessarily preventable, but given the right circumstances anything can happen.

Anyway, just a few thoughts. Hope you heal quickly. You'll be riding again in no time!
 

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I also broke my ankle with clipless

Joshuat,

On April 28, 2006, while descending fairly slowly on an intermediate trail, my front tire got caught in a dried-out tire rut and I fell sideways from my bike. It happened to fast and so unexpectedly that there was no time to unclip. The next thing I knew I heard a "crack" and I was laying on the dirt with a funny feeling in my left ankle.

When I tried to get up and put weight on it I immediately knew I was in trouble. Thankfully the rest of the ride was all downhill and I was about 1 mile from my truck. I ended up having surgery that night (four pins) for a dilocated ankle, broken tibia, and broken fibula. I am now 8 weeks after the accident and the cast is finally off....but it will be at least a month or so before I can even think about riding again (which I will, no doubt)

Im 38 yrs old, an experienced mountain biker (I started riding in 1988), riding a full suspension X-country rig. I was using shimano SPD pedals at the time of my accident. I've been using clipless pedals since 2001. At the time of my accident I had been riding off-road for about 3 days a week for a total of about 30-40 miles on advanced single track .

How many times have I wrecked prior to this...let's see. I've gone over the bars at least three times. I've had the bike slide under me countless times due to loose sand, have pitched over in mudholes, streams, have hit rocks, have landed on my back, on my head, on my ass, have had cuts, bruises, etc etc.. and until now never seriously injured myself. All those previous times i came off the clipless pedals without incident.

As i've been basically an invalid for the last two months I've had plenty of time to think about what went wrong.....blaming everything from my new prescription sunglasses to poor trail conditions, shoes perhaps not laced up tight enough, fatigue, lack of concentration, springs on the pedals set too tight, etc., etc, etc.etc. etc. and I finally came to this conclusion: MOUNTAIN BIKING HAS ITS RISKS AND **** CAN HAPPEN.

I hope you heal up....I am doing OKAY although I am still in a cast......you should probably switch your pedals to flats or the "old-fashioned" clips for a while and get back on your bike after you heal up just the way I plan to......i figure my injury was just a simple payment that was due for the many years of fun on epic rides, twisting turns, beautiful sunsets, and adrenaline-filling adventures that I have been blessed to experience since I started mountain biking almost 20 years ago.
 

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Well, I'm definately not a newb, but I really love a good platform pedal. I like to ride some pretty crazy stuff, so being able to bail w/out thinking about it is a must. Plus, they're more comfortable.
 
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