Violent Crash - Mysterious punctures in tube, anyone know what caused it?

Hey All,

I was descending a very steep road on Saturday as cautiously as possible. On a bend I realized my front tire had flatted and I was catepolted violently into the ground. I sustained a fractured and dislocated shoulder, road rash on the face, and a 15”x4” hemotoma on my leg that may require surgery. All that said, I’m safe and at home recovering and feel lucky.

I was in the hospital for 4 days replaying the events in my mind and when I got our obviously wanted to inspect the front Tire. I expected to find one violent blow out possibly from heating the brakes and exploding the tube, but instead discovered something bizzare. The Front tire was new and had no marks or punctures in it, the tube however had 14 snake bite looking punctures covering half the tube.

Nothing on the rim matched or seems like it could have caused it.

Anyone ever seen anything like this? I had at least 1000 miles on that tube with no issues previously.

Show a picture of the rim tape situation.


Are those all DIFFERENT punctures you’re showing? 7 different sets? Did you perhaps run over all of snow whites dwarfs on the way down?

Correct, 7 sets of different punctures. 14 holes total.

Not sure what caused the initial flat but repeated snake bites are caused by continuing to roll on a flat tire. Happened to me before when I limped a flat tire home to avoid walking. So the tube blows, tire rapidly deflates, and rim pinches deflated tube multiple times as the wheel continues to roll before you go down.


Ahhhh this guys a smart one. I think this is more likely than my dwarfs lol.

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Just pure speculation, but if you were cornering with really low tire pressure (partially flat tire) you may be able to induce the same snake bite pattern as the inside rim wall rolls inward and pinches the tube.

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No, and Ive had a lot of flats and ridden on a lot of flats.

What was the road surface like before the puncture occured?

EDIT: Is the bike okay? :wink:

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Surface was bad pavement -20% gradient. I was riding the brakes trying to check speed, definitely smelled brakes heating up on the carbon wheels. Thought I felt something weird a bit before the turn that took me down.

Bike is completely fine, my body took it all haha

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Yeah, I’ve seen a tube like that before, as @Edmcycle said, it was after I’d ridden wirh very low pressure.

Maybe you flattened on the straight before the corner, but only noticed when trying to corner.

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Did you use a tire lever when mounting the front tire? Descending + shifting weight to front tire when braking + cornering can place large loads in the front tire and tire levers can pinch the inner tube while mounting, leading to sudden failure of the tube under load. That has happened to me and that’s why I decided to rather get blisters on my fingers and not use levers any more.
In any case I wish you a quick and complete recovery! Sounds like a terrifying crash…

Edit: I agree that those many snake bite sort of punctures are probably from continuing on the deflated tire after flatting

Thanks guys. I think you are all right. Replaying it in my head I had some warning signs where I thought something felt weird (probably a start to loss of pressure) and then on the sharp corner it was at the point it rolled and threw me down. Thank you everyone, sadly this sounds preventable had i been paying more attention. 11 years of racing and hard training without a crash and I probably got complacent. Hope this can help someone else remember the dangers and know to stop and check if something is strange, could save your life.

Snake bites? Perhaps pinch flats?