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Best Way to Fall In Low Speed Accident? "Fall Thought"?

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Best Way to Fall In Low Speed Accident? "Fall Thought"?

Old 03-25-20, 04:00 PM
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UsedToBeFaster
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Best Way to Fall In Low Speed Accident? "Fall Thought"?

I've only had two accidents and fortunately both were slow speed and I had time to react. Except I didn't know HOW to react so just put my hands out.

In both cases the crash was under 5mph. In the first case I was just starting to ride in the rain, got out of the saddle to push down and leg slipped (I had a good 1 second before my face hit the ground). My hands helped a little but not a lot.

In the second case, I started off down my drive way and as I hit a bump the handle bars gave way and I again had a good second before my knee hit the ground. My hands stopped me going face first and I was inadvertently turned to a side so only one knee got scraped up.

So what SHOULD I have done in both situations? Is there a standard "good" way to fall (i.e. turn on your butt) that one can use to guide them in these situations.

Just as in golf you have a swing thought to guide you when you are swing, is there a fall thought?

Thanks in advance.

P.S. In both cases I got banged up pretty badly. It shows you how dangerous cycling can be as the impact force was really just me falling down, if I was traveling at speed it would have been much worse.
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Old 03-25-20, 04:25 PM
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As a general rule, you want to avoid putting your hands out. That's a good way to beat up your hands and transmit energy straight to your collar bone.

If you can, much better to pull your body into a ball and roll. You'll still get road rash, but you're less likely to break things.

With all that said, if you have time to think about how to fall, you're probably better off not falling. But if your first reaction is to wad yourself up on a ball and use your shoulders and hips (areas with big muscles) as shock absorbers, you're doing it right, in my limited experience.
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Old 03-25-20, 04:46 PM
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If you have time to react, try to hold onto the bars and roll to your shoulder/back. As mentioned, putting your hands out is never good. I had a low speed crash and was able to roll to my side and came out fairly unscathed.
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Old 03-25-20, 05:04 PM
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Up. Down hurts.
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Old 03-25-20, 05:05 PM
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All the advice in the world won't help - you need to practice.
I've had many bruises, a broken collarbone and some torn ligaments from all the practice I've done but I'm still not very good at it.
Gloves help.
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Old 03-25-20, 05:15 PM
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My racing days rule was "Don't let go of the bars until after you hit the road". (Regardless of speed.) I also tried to present as much skin a possible to the road. (Now, this was done in the days long before clipless pedals. If you were riding with cleats and straps pulled tight, you weren't pulling your feet out of the pedals..

The object was to 1) not break bones and hence loose training time and 2) keep the road rash as shallow as possible, (More square footage = less severe rash and faster healing. Less lost ride time.)

Ben
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Old 03-25-20, 05:30 PM
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Take a tumbling and/or marital arts class and learn how to do it right.

That said, it often happens so fast that you don’t have time to use the right technique unless you have practiced.

Agree don’t put your hands out, increases risk of collarbone fracture.
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Old 03-25-20, 06:19 PM
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I don’t think holding tight onto the drops is a good idea. That’s an excellent way to skin your knuckles to the bone. I’ve seen it. Doesn’t heal well. Still wondering why no road gloves have any knuckle protection.

Holding onto the tops is better, but if you have the time/awareness to switch to your tops, you probably have the time to mitigate the crash.

I’ve heard that the best thing is to cross your arms across your chest and fall on your back. Biggest surface area, and your spine is really good at dissipating impacts in that direction.

Screw that up, though, and you could be looking at a fractured vertebra and possible spinal cord damage?

It’s hard to say “this is the best way to crash”. Most of the time, if you’re going down, it’s because you didn’t anticipate whatever caused you to go down. Going down is gonna hurt all the time, and sometimes you get unlucky and you fall just the wrong way to really mess yourself up.

I prefer to do my PT in advance. If your body is in shambles and then you get hurt, it’s gonna be a lot harder to get back to normal. I had a friend who did a lot of lifting get absolutely destroyed by an SUV while commuting on the bike (not a recreational cyclist). Tons of shattered bones, ripped tendons etc. He made what I consider to be a miraculous recovery, and barring the nerves that were destroyed beyond repair, has made a nearly complete comeback and is back in the gym, pumping iron. Not saying that’s evidence, but it’s an example. Being a stronger person means being more resilient during impact and having an easier time recovering.

It also helps to ride defensively. Perhaps even paranoid-ly. Yes, you’ll always be slower that way. But if it means you get to ride more, you’ll come out stronger in the long run. So many of my teammates have crashed hard when they were feeling amazing on the bike, only to have to claw back all that fitness. We don’t get paid to do this, and it’s only your ego that takes the hit if you tap those brakes once in a while.

EDIT: Sorry for the off topic rambling. Just feel strongly about this subject

double edit: I read over your crash scenarios again. Both of them seem extremely avoidable considering that they’re both solo and not really related to equipment failure (unless you mean your handlebars broke). For #1: are you using clipless pedals? Roadies like those because they’re very secure and don’t slip in the rain. I’ve had flat (metal) pedals like that and they are no good. I’d recommend something with more aggressive bite if you insist on flat pedals.
For #2: hindsight is 20/20 but hitting a pothole should pretty much never be a crash unless it brings you to a dead stop (in which case you should see it coming). A lot of people like to drape their hands loosely over the hoods but this is not a secure position. My friend did this on a 30mph descent and lost his grip when he hit a rock. Unless you are absolutely sure there is no immediate threat ahead of you (like on climbs), you should maintain a secure grip on the bars.

Last edited by smashndash; 03-25-20 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 03-25-20, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
That said, it often happens so fast that you don’t have time to use the right technique unless you have practiced.
This ^^^^
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Old 03-25-20, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
This ^^^^
Another This. I’m a solo rider and twice crashed at about 15 mph which resulted in a lot of road rash, soreness and sprained wrists. No time to react properly.
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Old 03-25-20, 10:30 PM
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experienced crasher..

OK, maybe I'm pushing my luck now while pushing 70 but I have over the years (and still- 2 last year at speed) managed to never break any bones when (solo) crashing, Basic gymnastics, martial arts and flexibility are the keys.
I have crashed far more time than I can remember. I'm including counting in a couple years of motorcycle racing here.
When crashing at any speed keep you arms and legs close but not tight in. Use them only to "guide" yourself down and not try to catch yourself. Think almost "ragdoll". Except for lowside slip-downs higher speed usually give you enough "scare warning time" to react. And here is where practice comes in. Bail off as deliberately as possible. And most important do just about anything to avoid striking anything else that is moving. And yes I failed at that and lost bones and wheelchair time more than once for it. Each of those were a car drivers' fault, but you can only do so much.
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Old 03-26-20, 04:19 AM
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It happens so quickly most of us don't get to consciously choose how to react.

Even with highly trained pros in their prime, look how they fall. Most of the time they have little or no time or control over how it happens. There are a few exceptions, cyclists with superb reflexes. Most just fall the way any of us would.

I've watched several casual, recreational riders fall and have never seen anyone show any ability to control their fall, roll with the fall, etc. Even at slow speed we go from vertical to horizontal in a blink. It's not like Grand Prix motorcycle crashes when the rider is leaned into a turn and feels the bike slipping away, so they slide with it.

Last week I slipped on an icy puddle. The temperature was in the 50s so I'm guessing it was left over from sleet or hail the night before.

Fortunately I was traveling less than 10 mph. It still happened so quickly I have no idea how I fell. I can only guess from looking at the wet and muddy streaks on my kit that I was holding the handlebar and fell on my right shoulder and hip, rolling back slightly. I certainly didn't consciously roll with the fall. Maybe instinctively, but it's been decades since I practiced martial arts and I learned long ago those tricks are all "use it or lose it." If you don't practice falling regularly, you probably won't do it properly in an emergency.

Surprisingly I didn't re-injure the shoulder that was broken and dislocated a couple of years ago when I was hit by a car. The surgeon who examined my injury and X-rays a couple of years ago said I probably landed on my shoulder and didn't try to reach out with my arm/hand to break my fall -- no evidence of injury or bruising to the elbow or forearm, which has happened on previous minor falls with only scrapes and bruises. I don't remember. That incident also happened too quickly.

But since then I've done a lot of physical therapy to strengthen the upper body. I have early onset bone density loss that isn't responding to supplements (due to a thyroid problem, not the alleged bone density loss with pro cyclists), so I need a little more cushion from muscles.
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Old 03-26-20, 06:39 AM
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What about.your noggin?

Lots of advice saying to keep your arms bynyour side etc. But if you dont use them or something else o brace your fall dont you run the risk of hitting your head.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by UsedToBeFaster View Post
Lots of advice saying to keep your arms bynyour side etc. But if you dont use them or something else o brace your fall dont you run the risk of hitting your head.
Don't use your head to break your fall.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:33 AM
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This is an unhelpful anecdote, but illustrates the potential for falling "right." Got hit from behind by a hit and run driver a couple of months ago. Reconstruction from a witness and the bruises and abrasions to me, my clothes, and the bike makes it clear that there was a big speed differential and I went down mainly on left side and back and had zero time to react in any way. I sustained temporary damage to both ulnar nerves at the elbow, a mild concussion, and a terrific bruise on my right buttock where the ******* hit me, and it took a month for my lower back to feel okay, but the lack of more serious damage, particularly to my 63 year-old bones, was impressive. Wish there were video.
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Old 03-26-20, 08:01 AM
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Low speed accident..... jump off the bike onto your feet and then move out of the way of anything else.

Now if you'd ask about high speed accidents, I feel that staying attached to your bike, GENERALLY, is helpful. But YMMV!
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Old 03-26-20, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
If you have time to react, try to hold onto the bars and roll to your shoulder/back. As mentioned, putting your hands out is never good. I had a low speed crash and was able to roll to my side and came out fairly unscathed.
it depends on the type of fall(sliding vs tumbling)
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Old 03-26-20, 08:52 AM
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I've been lucky that in my low speed solo crashes I have instinctively curled up and kept my head from hitting the ground. Usually I fell on my shoulder side and got away with some bruises and scrapes.
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Old 03-26-20, 08:52 AM
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BF sees these type of threads about once per year.
How to avoid common cycling accidents would be more beneficial?

My last three accidents were ultimately caused by me. After the last "accident" and a more severe concussion, I figured it is much better to stay upright and get off my bike when crossing wet wooden bridges; insure my limit screw is properly adjusted and my chain is swapped out for a new chain at least every 2,000 miles; and lastly, get off the bike and walk over railroad tracks.

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Old 03-26-20, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mercator View Post
All the advice in the world won't help - you need to practice.
I've had many bruises, a broken collarbone and some torn ligaments from all the practice I've done but I'm still not very good at it.
Gloves help.
Agreed - all of the skiing I've done in my life has helped me with falling off a bike.

I've fallen maybe half a dozen times over the past 25 years, zero broken bones or sprains, just bruises and road rash (3 stitches - elbow on fresh chip 'n seal). I instinctively ball up and roll as best I can, I DO NOT stick out my hands.
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Old 03-26-20, 09:21 AM
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Only two crashes ever? That blows my mind. You've got some serious talent.

As noted by others with whom I share this general experience, virtually without exception, every one of my crashes has been over and I have been on the ground before I ever realized they were happening. I can think of two exceptions, both super low speed, where I was somehow able to recognize something and unclip in time and get a foot down. But I chalk those up to dumb luck, not planning or skill.
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Old 03-26-20, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post

As noted by others with whom I share this general experience, virtually without exception, every one of my crashes has been over and I have been on the ground before I ever realized they were happening. I can think of two exceptions, both super low speed, where I was somehow able to recognize something and unclip in time and get a foot down. But I chalk those up to dumb luck, not planning or skill.
Funny story. I came to a stop sign and began to unclip, but a fellow rider pulled up right next to me. My foot got stuck in my pedal and I leaned my weight onto him. Next thing I know, he says “whoops. Sorry” and rolls forward. Couldn’t unclip in time despite all the warning in the world. Timbeeeeer
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Old 03-26-20, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
Agreed - all of the skiing I've done in my life has helped me with falling off a bike.
Bouldering, skydiving, and playing rugby were key for me. Hips and shoulders are great for absorbing energy. When I went skydiving, we actually spent time practicing falling off a 3' platform and learned to fall to the side and roll. The methods they used to teach us stuck, because 35 years later, I still go down (maybe once a year on the road, much more than that in CX practice and races) in a ball or clinging to the handle bars in a tight tuck. So far, so good.
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Old 03-26-20, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Don't use your head to break your fall.
I wish I had read this post, and taken this advice, about two years ago.
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Old 03-26-20, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post
I wish I had read this post, and taken this advice, about two years ago.
I hope all is well, now.
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