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How bad are the crashes?

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How bad are the crashes?

Old 01-31-06, 03:26 PM
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gonesh9
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How bad are the crashes?

Well I'm getting really into the idea of racing this Spring/Summer, but all this talk of crashes in Cat4/5 races admittedly makes me a little weary. Now I've been a mountain biker for years, so I've sustained more than my fair share of nasty crashes, and have always been able to dust myself off and get back on.... but the thought of skidding across asphalt and having other guys run over you just seems worse to me. I'm curious if most of these crashes just result in a lot of scrapes down the legs, bloody knees, arms, etc., or if it's really that common for people who go down in a road/crit crash to break something serious. I can certainly handle cuts/scrapes/bruises, but I've broken a leg before and just don't want to go through that type of thing again. For those of you who have been part of a crash, how bad were your injuries?
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Old 01-31-06, 03:34 PM
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I would say that you being a mtn biker; you already have the ability to crash safely going for you. I crashed out of the last road race I entered last season in the sprint for the line, I only had a few scratches and the guy next to me had to be scraped of the ground and into the ambulance so figure that one out. I wouldn't worry about it too much, being that it's the people who are frightened of crashing usually are the guilty parties in the first place. Just stay at the front until you are good enough to get out of cat 4/5, you'll get a better workout anyway.
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Old 01-31-06, 03:34 PM
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I haven't been part of a crash in a race, but I've seen a few. They span a wide range. There was a big crit where I saw a bunch of guys go down (4-5) some came unclipped and went over their bars, but got back up and continued in the race, albeit with a lot of road rash. On the other extreme, a friend of mine was knocked over by someone who swerved to get around a crash. My friend came unclipped, flew over two people and landed on their elbow and had to have surgery.

I think it's something you have to be aware of, but I wouldn't let that deter you from racing. One thing to keep in mind. It is much better to do an emergency stop to avoid a pile-up (if there is one in front of you) than to swerve suddenly to try to go around it. There were a lot of crashes in the CAT4 women's field last year in my area when people tried to swerve around a crash. they would have been better off doing an emergency stop then to take out 10 more people by swerving.
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Old 01-31-06, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
I haven't been part of a crash in a race, but I've seen a few. They span a wide range. There was a big crit where I saw a bunch of guys go down (4-5) some came unclipped and went over their bars, but got back up and continued in the race, albeit with a lot of road rash. On the other extreme, a friend of mine was knocked over by someone who swerved to get around a crash. My friend came unclipped, flew over two people and landed on their elbow and had to have surgery.

I think it's something you have to be aware of, but I wouldn't let that deter you from racing. One thing to keep in mind. It is much better to do an emergency stop to avoid a pile-up (if there is one in front of you) than to swerve suddenly to try to go around it. There were a lot of crashes in the CAT4 women's field last year in my area when people tried to swerve around a crash. they would have been better off doing an emergency stop then to take out 10 more people by swerving.
Be careful on being too subjective, if everyone slammed on their brakes all the time there would be a lot more crashing going on...I for one have saved several field sprints through my own bike handling merits as opposed to panic stops.
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Old 01-31-06, 03:52 PM
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I can see your point in some ways, but I think at the higher levels you'll find more people with better bike handling skills. in the beginning women's field you have a huge range of people. Some who probably are strong enough to be 3's and just need a few more points, then there are complete new riders who don't know much at all, and then (oftentimes) the more dangerous types which are strong riders who don't have bike handling skills and are very wiggly-woggly on the road. If people know what they are doing, they can swerve and probably make a go of it, but if they have crappy skills, they may just take a lot of people down, like what happened when my friend got taken down last week by someone who wasn't watching what they were doing.
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Old 01-31-06, 03:55 PM
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true, true, cat 4/5 is like a box of chocolates.
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Old 01-31-06, 04:22 PM
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Isn't it obvious that crashes can vary from zero problems at all (if you can land on some grass) to getting really F-ed up. Like any accidents - car, motorcycle or bike - the bulk involve minor injuries, and a few are serious.

I raced for 5 years (~50x/yr - up to Cat 1 & have seen ever severity of crash possible (except someone dying).
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Old 01-31-06, 04:57 PM
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I bet you never saw someone lose a limb!
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Old 01-31-06, 05:11 PM
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First off, I think you're already ahead of the game if you've been "a mountain biker for years". There will still be things that you'll have to learn a far as packs and flows but you'll most likely be much better at looking ahead as opposed to your front wheel and when an occurance does happen have the skills to brake or swerve as necessary.

I too am new to this but also had a lot of experience from my earlier years on a mountain bike. I just tried to always be aware of where everyone was and stayed out of the middle of the pack. It payed off and I avoided a wreck in large part because of that.

As with every sport, there's always the horror stories. The way I see it you can take precautions, go for it and assume some risk. Or, sit on the sidelines where it's safe and always be a spectator. You make the choice.
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Old 01-31-06, 05:38 PM
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get out to the races and see what it's like for yourself. that way you won't have to rely on information from people that you don't know and if they've raced one time or a hundred or none. that's the problem with forums like these, evaluating the information you receive without knowing between the actual experts and the self-proclaimed experts.

i'm really tired of the people who seem to think that they need to buy a cheap bike for crits, like it's demolition derby or something. i have seen 4/5 races where there was a large number of crashes but have seen many with none. if they are so worried about their bike so much to not ride it in a crit then their bikes too good for them or maybe racing's not for them.

...or maybe the racing is that bad in other parts of the country...
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Old 01-31-06, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz
get out to the races and see what it's like for yourself. that way you won't have to rely on information from people that you don't know and if they've raced one time or a hundred or none. that's the problem with forums like these, evaluating the information you receive without knowing between the actual experts and the self-proclaimed experts.
Ain't that the truth..... for the record I included my inexperience disclaimer

Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz
i'm really tired of the people who seem to think that they need to buy a cheap bike for crits, like it's demolition derby or something. i have seen 4/5 races where there was a large number of crashes but have seen many with none. if they are so worried about their bike so much to not ride it in a crit then their bikes too good for them or maybe racing's not for them.

...or maybe the racing is that bad in other parts of the country...
I don't know that that's the case. Yes there seems to be a lot of hype about Cat5 crashes, but some of that risk is real, be it Cat 5, Cat4...... As such, I think it's reasonable to take that into consideration and prepare appropriately be it equipment choice, group rides, handling drills.....

Take the crash in my video...that was a totally avoidable crash and was caused by inexperience and I don't need a lot of crit race experience to make that observation
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Old 01-31-06, 06:16 PM
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Well, your MTB experience will have you be better off than most of the other beginning racers. Bike-handling is a very important skill that a lot of people forget about. Being able to manuveur your bike on the exact line intended, having quick reaction-times, being able to bunny-jump kerbs and downed riders are just as important as fitness.

The one thing that you'll want to be careful about is monitoring the terrain. In off-roading, the terrain is the mountain, the hill and the singletrack. With road-racing, the terrain is the pack and the other riders. Everything you do is based upon what the other guys are doing. So you'll want to pay attention to the entire pack, especially the guys ahead of you. Trouble can start well ahead of you and if you're staring at the wheel just ahead of you, you'll get caught up in all the wrecks.

What to do when a crash occurs? First, DO NOT LOOK AT IT, and DO NOT GRAB YOUR BRAKES. Typically there's 6" to 18" of space between riders, you'll want to look to see if this gap is bigger on the left of the right and immediately aim for it. But do not move more than that. Your body only requires about 18" of space to clear, there's no need to swerve across the entire road to miss a wreck, you'll take out other people as well. So, just slightly nudge the guy next to you if necessary to clear. His 12" of space on the other side of him is more than enough for him to move over and have both of you clear.

If you're one layer away from the wreck, and you see someone next to you start to move to avoid it, move before he touches you. Don't move more than he does or you'll take out the guy to your outside as well. So, he moves 18", you move over 12" and you both should be fine. You'll then be rubbing both elbows/shoulders, but you'll be upright.

If however, you're too close to avoid the wreck, like the guy just ahead of you went down, then aim for the neck...

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Old 01-31-06, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Snicklefritz
I haven't been part of a crash in a race, but I've seen a few. They span a wide range. There was a big crit where I saw a bunch of guys go down (4-5) some came unclipped and went over their bars, but got back up and continued in the race, albeit with a lot of road rash. On the other extreme, a friend of mine was knocked over by someone who swerved to get around a crash. My friend came unclipped, flew over two people and landed on their elbow and had to have surgery.

I think it's something you have to be aware of, but I wouldn't let that deter you from racing. One thing to keep in mind. It is much better to do an emergency stop to avoid a pile-up (if there is one in front of you) than to swerve suddenly to try to go around it. There were a lot of crashes in the CAT4 women's field last year in my area when people tried to swerve around a crash. they would have been better off doing an emergency stop then to take out 10 more people by swerving.
Or in Lance's case pick your bike up and run around. Sorry I couldn't help my self from bringing that up.
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Old 01-31-06, 10:24 PM
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Some people have died. Most don't. Road rash ain't fun but stiches are worse, and broken collar bones heal. Its not really worth thinking about, **** happens, ride hard, and remember health insurance generally covers you injuries...your bike on the other hand...
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Old 02-01-06, 08:09 AM
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it really does run the gamut. By far, the most common result is road rash. The most common "serious" injury is broken collar bone. There is the possiblility of severe head trauma, severe internal injuries, and death, although, the odds are pretty low. I've seen people off course into fixed objects and fubar'd, but that's rare. I've also seen cars get on supposedly closed courses.
On average I'd bet doing a crit on a closed course, your odds of serious injury or death aren't much worse than riding in traffic.
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Old 02-01-06, 09:01 AM
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I am heading into my 16th season. Racing anywhere form 30-70 events per year. I'd say I crash on average twice a year. Not too bad, as I don't take too many chances and I only do bunch sprints when feeling good. I have totaled 3 broken bones (elbow, wrist, wrist) in 3 seperate crashes, all about 5 years apart.

Guess I'm saying, if you are in the sport, things are bound to happen. Can you deal with cleaning road rash ocassionally and do you have good insurance, so you won't have to worry about bills when you get on the trainer with your sling, in preparation for the big comeback.
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Old 02-01-06, 10:05 AM
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This thread is just bad luck man.

Crashes happen so fast that I don't think any advice here will be remembered at that instance.

Worst crash I've seen involved broken collar bones and a fractured skull. The guy with the skull was in bad shape but thankfully made it. But I'd say most of them envolve tangle ups and road rash where people finish off the race.

Now I need to go knock on some wood somewhere.
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Old 02-01-06, 10:49 AM
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I have seen near death, I have seen people get up without a scratch. I have seen 50 rider pileups, I have seen guys crash at zero MPH at the start line. It is all about luck in this game, no other way around that!

But then crashes are probably the reason why medically I will not be doing crits for quite some time!
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Old 02-01-06, 12:21 PM
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You're fooling yourself if you think that crashes are only limited to races.
Some of the worst crashes I've seen have been in Club rides.

It's also a dichotomy to be afraid of criterium corners, for example, but never practice the art of cornering. Or to be afraid of falling but never practice the art of tumbling with a bike, say, on a grassy area.

Learn to spot the situations where crashes usually happen.
Learn to spot them BEFORE they happen... such as dramatic changes in speeds, etc.

When you learn how it works, there's less to be afraid of.
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Old 02-01-06, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by EventServices
You're fooling yourself if you think that crashes are only limited to races.
Some of the worst crashes I've seen have been in Club rides.

It's also a dichotomy to be afraid of criterium corners, for example, but never practice the art of cornering. Or to be afraid of falling but never practice the art of tumbling with a bike, say, on a grassy area.

Learn to spot the situations where crashes usually happen.
Learn to spot them BEFORE they happen... such as dramatic changes in speeds, etc.

When you learn how it works, there's less to be afraid of.

Yeah. +1 to the grass thing. Once you've actually fallen off of your bike a few times, you're a lot less worried about it and thus you're safer in the races / rides. In my experience at least (although I started with a horrendous over-the-bars collar-bone breaking crash in one of my early races). It took tumbling in the grass when I picked up cycling again after 1.5 years off to help me regain my confidence.
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Old 02-01-06, 01:56 PM
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In racing you gotta be attentive and process all the info quickly. Watch everyone in the race, keep a mental map of where the strong guys are, where the weak/sketchy ones are to avoid them. I have an aerial view in my head of that so I can keep track of the guys behind me. There's a saying, "Train your weaknesses and race your strengths". If you're unsure of the corners and can't scratch your pedals safety, practice, practice, practice. In road-races, the downhillers can make up just as much time going down as the climbers can gain on the uphills, so if you can't keep up with the fastest downhillers, practice your descending skills.

BMW had a great driving-school where you play follow-the-leader in a paceline around a road-course track. The lead car's a station-wagon and at random times, the guy in back tosses out traffic cones, soccer balls , suitcases, blow-up dolls and other debris. Your job is to avoid the obstacles without crashing and the guys behind you have to avoid the guys ahead as well!

Our coach has a similar exercise. Aside from the usual slalom and figure-8 cone exercises in parking lots, we had a reaction-time practice as well. He'd stand in the middle of the lane with a cone about 15ft in front of him. Everyone lines up about 100ft away and rides at him & the cone. At the last minute before you hit the cone, he'll randomly point left or right and that's the side you swerve to avoid the cone and him. So you gotta be paying attention to your speed, to your distance to the cone as well as watch the coach. We've had people who had their heads in the clouds and would run over the cone and almost take out the coach.

Here's a good video on what practice can do for you: LearnBikeFlips.wmv (2.7mb). Practicing tumbling off the bike's a good skill. Just lay down a mattress and ride right into it lengthwise at 2-3mph. Slam on your front brakes when you hit it and fly over your bars. Relax, pull your arms in and land on the mattress gently. With practice, you can even land on your feet after flying over the bars...
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Old 02-02-06, 04:36 PM
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There were at least four crashes that I saw in my race last weekend (EB#4 Masters cat 5). I was one of them. I slid across the road.

One guy tried to bunny-hop my bike - I was curled in the fetal position hoping the pack wouldn't pile into me. I remember him going up over end. A much higher impact. I think he landed on his shoulder. He was down for a bit but I don't think he suffered anything broken.

The other two crashes that preceeded looked like impact crashes (rather than skids). One rider went to the hospital, not sure about the other. Both were on the ground for a bit.

The paramedics just worked their way up the street.

In my opinion, skidding is preferred to anything that stops your body suddenly. Rolling would probably be better but I just don't see that happening. I got a good dose of road rash. Not trying to be tough, but it really didn't hurt. I'm sure the body is in a state of shock at that point. The worst part was the first shower.
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Old 02-02-06, 05:39 PM
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In 9 years of racing from Cat 4 to Cat 2, I had 3 broken scapulas (right one twice), one comminuted (crushed) clavicle, several broken ribs, one concussion, and loss of several square inches of skin

FWIW, most of my racing was criteriums
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Old 02-02-06, 05:46 PM
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Don't you mean square miles of skin? I think I've scraped off more skin than covers my entire body, multiple times over! Luckily in my 10 years of racing, I never broke anything. Although I did have a minor concussion from sliding into the kerb in a rain crit up in Davis. That was my teammate's fault actually as we were 1 & 2 coming around the last corner and he ran over the "T" in the STOP painted on the ground. After 45 minutes of racing and getting around that last corner OK, not sure what happened this time, but he went down right in front of me and I flew over him and slid. I hit the kerb first and he slammed into me, kinda adding insult to injury..
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