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You're going down! What are some tactics to crash as safely as possible?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

You're going down! What are some tactics to crash as safely as possible?

Old 01-14-06, 11:14 AM
  #26  
alanbikehouston
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Originally Posted by Barese Rider
Read Eddie Bs book he has a section in it on falling and how to go to the gym to prepare for the inevitable..When my time came, I wished I had practiced what he preached..Simple advice, resist the urge to stick your hand out to break the fall, tuck the head in,and try to roll with the fall..
This is the "short" version of how I got out "light" during my last crash...the key point being..."resist the urge to stick your hand out to break the fall". Keeping your hands firmly on the bars during the fall makes it impossible to stick them out. And, the bars, not your hands, will take much of the impact.
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Old 01-14-06, 12:10 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by djtrackie
Okay, so the scenario is that you're flying down a slight downhill at 30mph... hit a rock, and now you're front wheels are wiggling around. In about .75 seconds your body will hit the pavement.

What do you do when you're about to go down? How are you going to break your fall while doing the least damage to yourself?
Don't hit that rock in the first place! At 30mph, you have plenty of time to scan the road ahead for debris/potholes and to carve a line that avoids them. The stuff you can't see isn't large enough to destabilize the bike.

Crashes can be categorized into two types. The sudden-impact, fly-over-the-bars type is when you hit something like a fallen rider or group on the ground, or a parked car, or some major obstacle like a boulder in the middle of the road that you couldn't see. The sudden deceleration of the bike will launch you over the bars. This automatically rotates your body into a rotating tumbling motion. Pull your arms and legs in to increase the rotation speed, then extend them just before vertical and you can land on your feet. This is basic gymnastics tumbling and you can practice this over and over again until it becomes automatic.

The second type of crash is a situation where your tyres slide out from under you and you go down. This is as when hitting an oily patch or manhole cover in the middle of the turn while you're at maximum cornering. There's less than 0.2s between when you hit the patch and when you're on the ground, so you gotta unclip ASAP so that you don't get tangled up with the bike so that you can roll. This will spread out the impact on a larger surface area of your body and the road-rash won't be so bad. But if you're still clipped in, one small area of your elbows, shoulders, knees and hip will be sliding across the pavement acting as brake-pads on the ground to stop you... Again, practice is the key. Pratice unclipping both feet as fast as possible simultaneously until it becomes automatic.
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Old 01-14-06, 12:49 PM
  #28  
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The short version of the story is that on a century ride last month (yes, December) I was descending a gravel, snow- and ice-packed road on my 23C tires. The snow-to-gravel ratio became less favorable during the descent and I had to abandon any attempt to brake the front wheel or to steer the bike. Unfortunately, the road had a slight double-camber to it, which meant in the absence of steering, I was now headed for the woods on my left. Bad. I had plenty of time (a second or two) to know that I was going to fall and to plan it. If I didn't fall voluntarily, I was going to go pitching off the road into the trees at 15-20mph. Really bad. The fall was good -- relaxed, chin-to-chest, landing intended for the meat of my ass. Unfortunately, I'd kept my hands on the hoods and as I went down the front wheel twisted and drove the top of my right hand into the frozen ground. Broken. Somehow I only swore once. My buddy and I walked the rest of the way out of the gravel/snow nightmare (whose dumb-ass idea was riding that road anyway? Oh, mine.) and then finished the century.

Of the several lessons learned that day, one of them was, in a planned fall like that, to pull the hands into the center of the bar so you won't bang them on anything in the fall. To hell with trying to protect the shifters (or in my case, trying to stabilize the bike optimally). Hand injuries (not to mention wrist injuries) suck. Protect those puppies.
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Old 01-14-06, 01:22 PM
  #29  
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Practice tumbling. Good coaches teach it. Bad riders ignore it.

If you ignore it, then do this:
On the morning of your crash, have a big breakfast. It may be a while before you feel like eating again.
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Old 01-14-06, 01:35 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by alanbikehouston

So, my plan for my next crash is hold on tight to the bike, and use the "fat" parts of my body as padding. Luckily, I have lots of padding almost everywhere on my body.
I don't know about that one. My last crash -- a mercifully minor one -- ended up with me flying over the handlebars, and ending up on someone's front lawn. Hence my thinking about grass rash. My shoulder/hip/head seemed to hit the ground first, and I ended up with a quarter-sized scrape as opposed to a skinful.
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Old 01-14-06, 03:25 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Boudicca
Nah. You actually have a fraction of a split second to realise you are crashing. But it's far too small a fraction to do anything about it.

Just hope the momentum will carry you into someone's front lawn. Grass rash is a lot less painful than road rash.
I've actually had BOTH types. You don't have time to get scared in either one.

Type A: life threatening scenario situation starts unfolding you have about 1-2 seconds to react. These are often scary NEAR crashes.

Type B: *BOOM* you're down

But this notion that you can prepare ahead of time seems a bit far fetched. Ride smart, be alert, be defensive - and try to make the decision that won't result in your untimely DEATH if the **** ever hits the fan.
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Old 01-14-06, 04:25 PM
  #32  
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I remember the last thing that went threw my mind before I crashed...... My Arss
I am very short now.
If you are going to ride you are going to crash .I suggest hold on to your arss
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Old 01-14-06, 04:37 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by EventServices
Practice tumbling. Good coaches teach it. Bad riders ignore it.

If you ignore it, then do this:
On the morning of your crash, have a big breakfast. It may be a while before you feel like eating again.


Tuck and Roll, some call it. It works. If you practice it enough it becomes second nature. When you get to that point you don't have to think, it's the first response. I can't help it now, I could not do anything else, it's a reflex.
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Old 01-14-06, 05:56 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes
Tuck and Roll, some call it. It works. If you practice it enough it becomes second nature.
How do you practice crashing your bike?
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Old 01-14-06, 06:25 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by LA_Rider
How do you practice crashing your bike?

Like EventServices said good coaches teach it. You practice tumbling, then you practice with an old bike on the grass. It's lot easier to explain in person or see someone do it.
It's not that hard to learn when someone shows you and you try it a few times. There are places you can read about it that can explain it better than I can. I learned primarily by reading and then trying it.

Try googling it.
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Old 01-14-06, 06:39 PM
  #36  
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This 'crash as safely as possible' concept is a classic. Does that sound oxymoronic to anyone else here? It's like when my Mom says 'be careful skiing' and I tell her 'if I was careful I wouldn't GO skiing'.
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Old 01-14-06, 07:03 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by patentcad
This 'crash as safely as possible' concept is a classic. Does that sound oxymoronic to anyone else here? It's like when my Mom says 'be careful skiing' and I tell her 'if I was careful I wouldn't GO skiing'.
Knowing how to fall (crash) correctly on skis is critical to not getting injured (although knowledge plus flawless execution is no guarantee against injury, of course). It sounds like the same holds true in cycling, although pavement is less forgiving than snow....

I've never raced on skis, but I do a lot of technical, steep skiing. On some terrain, falling simply isn't an option, but for the rest of the time, the 100s of practice falls that you took on the intermediate and beginner trails pay huge dividends when things get weird and you're going to hit the deck. Falling so as to protect your head, wrists, and knees, with a minimum of tumbling, and in such a way that you can immediately arrest your fall, becomes second nature.

Same for mountaineering. IMHO, you're a total fool if you bother to travel with an ice axe without having spent many hours practicing self-arrest technique.

I'm relatively new to road cycling, so I'd love to hear more about the correct technique for wrecking so as to minimize injury.... I've already had some experience with incorrect technique....
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Old 01-14-06, 07:25 PM
  #38  
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>>Knowing how to fall (crash) correctly on skis is critical to not getting injured (although knowledge plus flawless execution is no guarantee against injury, of course). It sounds like the same holds true in cycling, although pavement is less forgiving than snow.<<

I don't disagree, although 'knowing how to fall' may not help you once gravity takes over. There's only so much you can do. The last time I fell on skis I nailed my shoulder pretty good - and haven't been able to do pushups since.

There are MUCH worse fates than having a good excuse to bag the pushups however....
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Old 01-14-06, 07:26 PM
  #39  
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simple answer is get a cheap or old beat bike and ride down a grassy hill and learn to lay it down and how to tuck and roll at 10mph.
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Old 01-14-06, 07:39 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by patentcad
Car crashes happen in slow motion.

Bike crashes happen so fast that by the time you realize you're crashing, you HAVE crashed. So there's no time to be afriaid. Which is the good news. Or react. Which is the bad news.

Actually, all my crashes have seemed to happen in slow motion ... just slow enough for me to calmly think:

"I'm going to crash"
"This will hurt later, but it isn't going to hurt now, so just relax"
"I wonder the best thing to land on in this situation would be"
"Don't brace yourself with your hand!"

And then I usually turn my left knee outward and land squarely on it. My poor left knee has taken so much abuse!!

That photo was taken 4 days after I crashed descending a gravel road. The knee wound is fairly deep, and I'm also scraped all the way down to my ankle.
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Old 01-14-06, 08:39 PM
  #41  
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My last two bike crashes:

June, Berlin, Germany: No memory of it. Woke up in the emergency room (wheel spindle sheared off and fork collapsed into front wheel). Concussion, scrapes, no other damage to bike outside of broken front wheel.

This week, Florida, NY: Hit a patch of black ice, had time to think 'I'm going down' and I was down. No time to react or get scared. No serious injury/damage.

In both instances I was down before had a chance to get scared. The first crash: zero memory of it happening at all. Scary and not scary at the same time. Last bike crash was 12 years prior and I was down before I had time to get scared too. That has been my limited (thankfully) crash experience.
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Old 01-14-06, 08:48 PM
  #42  
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Aim for the fat chick. :-)

Long story
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Old 01-14-06, 10:39 PM
  #43  
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It's not the crash that'll get you - it's the impatient car-back that's following too closely in prep for a pass, or the car-up that is snoozing at the wheel. When you stop bouncing and sliding, roll for the shoulder and deal with the bleeding there.
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Old 01-14-06, 10:50 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Sooner Rider
It's not the crash that'll get you - it's the impatient car-back that's following too closely in prep for a pass, or the car-up that is snoozing at the wheel. When you stop bouncing and sliding, roll for the shoulder and deal with the bleeding there.

On one of my crashes (I cracked my ribs, sprained my wrist, bruised my head, had the wind knocked out of me, had broken a toe earlier in the day in a non-cycling related incident, and was fairly scraped up in general) I landed in front of a car. It was in a park and the traffic usually drove quite slowly through there so the car didn't hit me or run over me ... he had lots of time to stop. Instead what he chose to do was to honk loudly to try to get me out of the way!! I was lying there trying to catch my breath and assess the damage ... and he was blaring his horn!! The friend I was cycling with left me there in the middle of the road ... marched over to the car ... and had a little bit of a chat with him. Then my friend came back and helped me off the road.

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Old 01-15-06, 12:22 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Machka
Instead what he chose to do was to honk loudly to try to get me out of the way!! I was lying there trying to catch my breath and assess the damage ... and he was blaring his horn!! The friend I was cycling with left me there in the middle of the road ... marched over to the car ... and had a little bit of a chat with him. Then my friend came back and helped me off the road.
Driver dude totally sucked ass
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Old 01-15-06, 12:32 AM
  #46  
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Keep your arms in and stay flexible. Ninety percent of the broken arms I know of come from people using them to break a fall. Thats just stupid.

Someone said it earlier, but a shoulder roll would probably be the best option. In the USMC martial arts training they teach it to us for hand to hand combat, but since I've never found myself in that situation, I've used it mountain biking a few times and wouldn't hesitate to use it on a high speed crash. Tuck the head, roll off one shoulder and come away standing straight up.
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Old 01-15-06, 01:27 AM
  #47  
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Just started the whole road cycling thing and already had my first little incident. I had taken the toe clip pedals of my mountain bike and put them on my "rain bike", an old Schwinn World. Well, I obviously didn't torque the pedals very well and a little over a mile into my ride, I got to my biggest and busiest intersection of my ride and had to come to a stop. It is 6 lanes wide and when the light turns green it is time to GO!!!!. I got to almost the exact middle of the intersection when I instantly hit the pavement. I had no idea what happened, and was a bit shocked, but I just grabbed the bike and hobbled to the other side of the street on adrenaline. It was only when I was safely out of traffic did I turn around and see my pedal sitting in the middle of the street. I was really amazed at how quickly it happened, it literally felt instantaneous. It must have looked bad because I had two motorists actually make U turns to see if I was ok or needed a ride somewhere.

I certainly wasn't going very fast but my left hip/arse-cheek bone is still hurting two weeks later. It is the only part of me that I did hurt and thankfully hasn't kept me from riding. I was fortunate that no cars ran over me or my pedal and I was able to one leg pedal a few doors down and borrow a large crescent wrench from a guy working on the yard. I really torqued it in and finished my 10 mile loop.

Newbie lesson learned: make sure your pedals are secure
Cost: pride, pain, and a tear in my freshly wrapped bar tape!!
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Old 01-15-06, 08:07 AM
  #48  
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Lots of good advice already, but don't forget the role clothing/equipment can play in redicing injury. Two jerseys/tops means less road rash. I learned that one from unpleasant experience. Also, I am assuming that you are always, always, always wearing a helmet. In the worst of my thankfully few crashes, I went straight over sideways after my front tire blew (as in "blam," not "psssss") in a 30 mph downhill. I had some road rash (my two jerseys kept it from being noticeably worse up top that it was in the vicinity of shreded shorts) and a minor shoulder injury. It didn't even occur to me at the time that I might have hit my head. It occured to me later, though. I checked my helmet, and guess what I found? Yup, a sizeable crack in the left side, just where I would have expected it. Without the helmet, that would have been my pumpkin head that bounced off the pavement, resulting in a concussion at best and a funeral at worst. (Yes, I immediately retired the helmet.)

As for the "don't hit the rock in the first place" comment, t'aint always that simple. One of my few other crashes involved riding down a flat straight stretch of road and having my front wheel lose an argument with a big chunk of wood. Why did I hit it? Because it was a sunny day with the road in quickly alternating patches of sun and shade. The wood was just inside one of the shady spots, right where you are pretty much totally blind as to what is there. The moral is that you always have to be prepared to crash (wearing the right stuff, especially the helmet, even on those hot uphills, and being prepared to roll), because it can happen any time. Smart riding can make it years between crashes, but there's a good chance tht it will some day happen.

Also, try to always ride loose. You know, elbows slightly bent, no death grip on the bars, that sort of thing. There are any number of events that you ride through if you are loose and go down from if you are rigid. (Accidently bumping shoulders with your riding buddy is probably the prime example, as pretty much every beginning racre there ever was has found out the hard way.) Riding loose is also a lot less fatiguing.
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Old 01-15-06, 10:25 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by patentcad
Car crashes happen in slow motion.

Bike crashes happen so fast that by the time you realize you're crashing, you HAVE crashed. So there's no time to be afriaid. Which is the good news. Or react. Which is the bad news.

The best way to enhance your crash experience is - not to worry about it until AFTER you have one.
Exacty.

You have time to do something in a fall. You don't have time to do anything in a crash. If you're going 30mph and you know you're going down, try to aim it away from trees, rocks, and big trucks.

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Old 01-15-06, 10:43 AM
  #50  
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Done the 30mph crash thing going down hill and hitting an orange construction barrel on the outside coming into a turn with way to many others racing. All I had time for was to think "Oh F*** this is going to hurt" and then relax hit the deck bounce up scramble to the side of the road look my bike over and get back in to the race only finished 5 min behind the winner (was not far from the finish about a half mile out).

You just have to relax tuck and roll.
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