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A Brief Moment of Carelessness...(8 posts)

A Brief Moment of Carelessness...Shad
Dec 23, 2002 1:21 PM
A few weeks ago I had just finished moving my chainring to the inside of the crankarm in an attempt to correct the misalignment in my fixed gear's chainline. It was nearly midnight, but I wanted to see how well it would all line up. I attached the cranks to the BB, mounted the rear wheel, pulled the chain tight in the workstand and cranked the axle nuts down snug. Out of laziness I didn't bother putting the pedals back on. I started spinning the cranks around with my index finger, but unfortunately my finger got caught between the chainring and the chain as the cranks came around. Upon feeling the highly unpleasant sensation, I immediately pulled back to find the tip of my finger missing. A rather disconcerting sight, to put it mildly. It looked like I had stuck my finger in a pencil sharpener. About a centimeter of my finger had been ground away, leaving a bit less than half the fingernail. I wrapped the bleeding finger in a towel and called 911. The policeman that responded discovered the amputated fingertip. The EMT placed it in a bag with ice and I headed for the ER, baggie in hand. The ER Doc sewed the tip back on, but the reunion wasn't meant to be. The tip had to be removed and I underwent some minor surgery to pull skin up over the open tip. The pain of having the tip cut off felt quite pleasant compared to the two days after the anesthesia from the surgery wore off. It's all healing well now, but I thought I would post my hard-learned lesson to remind everyone to be careful. As I have since discovered, I'm not the first person, nor will I be the last to have something like this happen.

One interesting side note to the story. The ER Doctor that sewed the tip back on was a cyclist that had recently relocated from Michigan. He used to race while in medical school, but had stopped during his residency due to time constraints. He's serious enough to have a Campy tattoo on his leg. (He's not on the Campy-only website though - I asked.) He's been looking for a group and will be joining our Saturday Club rides next spring. He hopes to get back into racing. So it looks like I recruited a "team doctor" for the club!
Ouch.....Dave Hickey
Dec 23, 2002 1:40 PM
I hope you fully recover. I've never done damage to myself but I have screwed up some bikes working on them when I was too tired. I totally screwed up some bottom bracket threads because it was 2:00am and I was tired.

Take care of that finger................
a painful lessonTig
Dec 23, 2002 3:25 PM
I almost caught a finger the same way when cleaning the excess lube from the chain just last week. The close call was sobering, but not as much as your painful story. I'll be extra careful now, as will others. Your lesson will be passed on, so hopefully the pain won't be without a reward.

A former teammate has an interesting set of chainring scars across a few fingers after a bizare track crash years ago. He's lucky to still have the fingers, and in working order.
re: A Brief Moment of Carelessness...fixedgearhead
Dec 23, 2002 4:53 PM
A sobering tale indeed. There are stories of the early days of racing when they used to shift the chain from the front derailleurs with their hands and you could tell the experienced racers because they often were missing a few finger tips.
On a similar note, in one of my other lives I have been a woodworker/carpenter for 35 years with nary a problem; Unless you count the smashed thumbs from misplaced hammer blows. After 10 years of retirement I managed to run my left index finger tip into the table saw on my birthday last year. Thank goodness the injury was able to heal with little disfigurement. It is still more sensitive than before but it took about 8 months to fully heal. Machinery of any kind is unforgiving and lest we forget, bicycles are machines. It sounds like you will recover and be back up to speed in no time at all. Good luck.

Dec 24, 2002 4:13 AM
heal well dude;
merry xmas.
re: A Brief Moment of Carelessness...Oneheart
Dec 24, 2002 6:11 AM
Thanks for passing this on. It's a good reminder to us all. I had read some warnings about this possibility with fixed gear bikes and knowing it really happened to you will make the lesson sink in. No one should ever doubt your commitment to recruiting riders for your club!
re: A Brief Moment of Carelessness...desmo
Dec 25, 2002 9:58 AM
Good post, you may save somebody else some grief by sharing yours.

A good idea when working on, or cleaning the drivetrain of a fixed gear bike is to rotate the drivetrain with the rear wheel and not the crank arms. It offers up a lot less torque and keeps everything spinning a lot slower. Much safer when holding rags and digits close to moving parts.
That's a good tip! (Pun not intended).....nm.Ginz
Dec 25, 2002 1:55 PM