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Crashing techniques and styles

Old 06-09-22, 05:18 AM
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beng1
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Crashing techniques and styles

Crashing on bicycles is an inevitable part of riding them, so it makes sense to study and even practice what to do at that point of no return, when you know you and the bike are going to hit the ground/pavement. Over the last 55 years of actually riding bicycles, I have crashed a lot and hard, mostly while pushing limits of how fast I could go or how far I could jump over ramps, but sometimes human error or laps of judgement plays a part. Unfortunately the older you get the more slowly and less completely the body heals, so with age the bicycle crash aficionado needs to change tactics from relying on the body to relying on the mind to deal with these situations.

For older crashists like myself, I recommend as a first strategy not crashing in the first place, which entails using a little more forethought and judgement about the near future. But in the event of an imminent meeting with the surface of Earth, developing the ability to stay calm and relax, and react to the situation instead of panicking, freezing up and bracing the body rigidly against the coming impact has the most merit.

For riders of any age it is important not to get in over your head in any type of riding. Peer pressure, or pressure from your own ego to move to quickly into styles of riding without adequate preparation and training are a recipe for crashing. If you are not 100% confident about riding a certain way then doing it anyway makes crashing much more likely.

It is a good idea to study the stund techniques of hollywood and martial-arts techniques on dealing with falls and throws. If you can prepare your mind and change your attitude about crashing, then you will be more relaxed when riding at limits and less likely to crash in the first place. If you have fear while riding then you need to stop riding in that way until you can change your mind about it.

In some cases if a crash is foreseen and inevitable purposely bailing off the bike in a controlled manner can be preferable to letting coming obstacles or terrain throw you off.

Of course I am not a professional or expert in stunt work or martial arts or bicycling, so do not take anything I say as official or sound advice, I just want to get the subject rolling and compile real information on the best way to crash a bicycle and escape serious injury.
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Old 06-09-22, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
For older crashists like myself, I recommend as a first strategy not crashing in the first place, which entails using a little more forethought and judgement about the near future. .
This is like an article in The Onion.
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Old 06-09-22, 06:37 AM
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You want to know "the best way to crash a bike"? Maybe look at some Jackass type videos on youtube. I think all my crashes while cycling were unforeseen, never a serious one with major injury. At least half of them were with no time to react in any way. But. I do see your point. I was a wrestler, and through practice and experience, learned how to fall, but, only through experience does one gain mind and muscle memory to stay loose and not panic. I do not know how I could practice crashing and falling while riding a bicycle. Awareness, expecting the unexpected, equipment in top operating condition, are keys to preventing crashes and falls, to begin with.
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Old 06-09-22, 06:39 AM
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Most of my adult life crashing has been while mountain biking when exceeding the limit of my ability (running out of talent). But I think it was in my childhood days when I learnt how to minimise crash damage. Biking, skateboarding, skiing, trampolining and generally hooning around with little personal responsibility. I think that's when you learn these instinctive "crash" responses that may come in handy in later life.

Now in my 50s I run a strict zero crash policy. No risks riding above and beyond my modest ability. Touch-wood I haven't crashed on a bike in the last decade and don't plan on starting again any time soon. Practicing crashing is not really very practical. I'm not sure thinking about crashing has much merit at this point either?
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Old 06-09-22, 06:45 AM
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I've often read, go down w/ the bike. w/ hands on the bars, as opposed to sticking an arm or leg out to break the fall. I feel like that is good advice. however, thinking about the times I've crashed, I don't recall much of any reaction time to make that decision. I was lucky most of the time. here's to staying upright! cuz the view from the ground, isn't like a day at the beach


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Old 06-09-22, 06:47 AM
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Learn how to roll. Hitting the ground is less traumatic with a managed landing.
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Old 06-09-22, 06:49 AM
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I have a general strategy of never letting go of the handlebars until I actually have hit the ground. This prevents me from landing on outstretched arms and also has actually allowed me to get my bike back under control without crashing. Anything beyond that is beyond my ability to practice. I'm not undergoing stuntman training, and I fail to see what martial arts can teach you about trying to keep control of your bike and landing unexpectedly in a position you can't anticipate with a bicycle between your legs.

You do know that the basic technique of stunts is to plan the stunt in advance so you can control your landing, right?
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Old 06-09-22, 07:09 AM
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Don't crash.

Like others, I played lots of sports: football, track, baseball, ice hockey, skiing, and of course bicycle racing. I practiced how to crash as recommended in Eddie B's book. Into my 60's, I wouldn't practice tucking and rolling even on grass.

Going over the bars is easy, tuck and roll.

Crashing to the side into something immovable? You will break old bones. All those years crashing into the boards at 25 mph and I never broke anything playing hockey all the way thru college but then in an adult league, an opposing player tripped me on a breakaway. I crashed into the goal cross bar and broke ribs for the first time at 35 years old. I broke them again in roller skating race when the lead racer went down and I jumped and rolled just like Eddie B said, but the boards did not cooperate nor did my ribs. I broke them two more times doing stupid stuff and broke five of them in a bicycling crash last September.

Don't crash, fellow old men
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Old 06-09-22, 07:21 AM
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The two serious crashes I've had happened so fast that I was on the pavement before I could process what happened.
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Old 06-09-22, 07:33 AM
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My best crash was on a 400k brevet that started in an urban area at 4 am with temps in the low 40's. Just before sunrise and now into the countryside, I got to a metal grate bridge over a creek down in a hollow. Yes, it was covered in frozen dew. I was sliding and keeping it up all the way across (I hit it going very fast) until the end where there was a large metal lip. My turned wheel hit it, up and over with a tuck and roll....down a small ravine into a blackberry bush. Blackberry prickers on lycra is sort of natures velco. A hilarious mess. Just scratches......on the bike.

Probably worst crash was a broken seat post. I woke up to ambulance drivers around me. That killed my 1991 PBP plans.
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Old 06-09-22, 07:46 AM
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I only really remember one crash which I could see unfolding before me; I was carrying something with one hand and the other hand was not in a position to brake or make enough of a steering correction. My only options were to crash (in the grass) or hit a parked car head-on. I headed for the grass and kind of rolled the bike over into it. Otherwise, most crashes just kind of happened with no warning. Well, there was that one time a guy coming the other way kicked me and I went sailing off into the brush, but that too was totally unforeseen. Otherwise, I haven't crashed in many years, including all the years I lived in Peoria where I rode my bike probably more than ever before.
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Old 06-09-22, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
My best crash was on a 400k brevet that started in an urban area at 4 am with temps in the low 40's. Just before sunrise and now into the countryside, I got to a metal grate bridge over a creek down in a hollow. Yes, it was covered in frozen dew. I was sliding and keeping it up all the way across (I hit it going very fast) until the end where there was a large metal lip. My turned wheel hit it, up and over with a tuck and roll....down a small ravine into a blackberry bush. Blackberry prickers on lycra is sort of natures velco. A hilarious mess. Just scratches......on the bike.

Probably worst crash was a broken seat post. I woke up to ambulance drivers around me. That killed my 1991 PBP plans.
i like blackberries, were they worth it?
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Old 06-09-22, 08:16 AM
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Slow crashes - i.e I can feel I am going to fall, I can make sure I fall ok. Fast ones happen way too quickly to have any time to think about what to do and you really are at the mercy of the event.

My earliest potentially dangerous crash I was able to plan. I was riding my BMX bike down a steep hill after school towards my home, in torrential rain, and the brakes failed. At the bottom of the hill was a very busy intersection, lots of traffic. I was picking up speed and to my right was a lush grass verge. I stood on one pedal and hopped off the bike and rolled onto the grass. I was 15 or 16yrs old. No problems, no harm done but definitely the right option since the alternative was a brick wall or a car at greater speed.

My most recent crash as a now 50+yr old was in December, a 55km/h+ sprint on rough tarmac and my chain came off. The crash that followed happened very quickly and my first cognitive thoughts occurred after I was already on the ground. No time to react.

It's all very well pretending we can learn how to crash nicely but that only works for slow ones, anything that happens at real speed is over before any reaction is imagined. I've raced BMX, MTB and Road, had my share of crashes, none serious thankfully, only once had a broken wrist and most recent had internal bruising but nothing a few weeks rest didn't resolve.


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Old 06-09-22, 08:41 AM
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From my racing days and still serving me well when I do it - don't let go of the bars until I hit the road and greet the road with as much as I can. IE, rotate knee and elbow out to hit sooner so none of my corners (ankle, knee, hip, elbow, shoulder) become the only point taking the load. Maximize road rash so none of it is deep.

I do a lot of my riding on toecilps and straps pulled tight. I rarely separate from the bike in my crashes. I am also clumsy and I highly doubt I'd be fairing better tumbling unless I had taken gymnastics early in life (and done my bone breaking then). So sliding and road rash are usually a given.

A crash story of long ago. A early ride on modern clinchers; I'd been riding sewups the previous 15 years on all my bikes. Wet Seattle winter day. Going around a corner at the bottom of a hill I'd done many times in exactly those conditions. Realized going into the apex of the turn that these new tires were not going to hold and there was nothing I could do to stave off the coming crash. (Strapped in tight to Campy NR pedals with Binda toestraps and deep Pavarin aluminum cleats. My feet weren't going anywhere,)

I knew in that second or two while I was still up but feeling the tires losing grip exactly what the crash was going to be, how it would feel and the consequences to my body after. And exclaimed a very loud "Oh F***!". (This was a wooded street with very little traffic and only a few houses.) The ensuing crash was exactly what I knew it would be. Slid to a stop in the middle of the road and as I was releasing the toestraps to get up and assess damage, a young woman pedestrian walked by, having heard my exclamation and ensuing crash! Assured her I was OK, I was, Just bruises on the corners and road rash. My pre-crash assessment was right on. Rode the rest of the ride and bandaged up when I got home.
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Old 06-09-22, 08:42 AM
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If you're going to practice crashing, you need to learn how to crash into a fire/flames.

In all seriousness however, wherever you have muscle, that's what needs to hit the ground first. Flex it and make an arm bar, shoulder bar quad/hip bar, etc to absorb as much of the impact as possible.

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Old 06-09-22, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
Crashing on bicycles is an inevitable part of riding them, so it makes sense to study and even practice what to do at that point of no return...
When you crash, you risk injury. Why would you practice risking injury? The only crashes I spend any thought worrying about involve being struck by a car. I *sure* don't want to practice those!
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Old 06-09-22, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
If you're going to practice crashing, you need to learn how to crash into a fire/flames.

In all seriousness, Wherever you have muscle, that's what needs to hit the ground first. Flex it and make an arm bar, shoulder bar quad/hip bar, etc to absorb as much of the impact as possible.
I'm skinny with bony "corners". Landing on a flat surface means landing on those corners. Best I can do is arrange to have the movable corners hit first but not have then rigid. (I can weight lift all I want and I'm still all corners.)
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Old 06-09-22, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
i like blackberries, were they worth it?
Na. Cheaper in the store compared to ruined kit.
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Old 06-09-22, 09:17 AM
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We haven’t had a good “how to crash” thread in a long time.
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Old 06-09-22, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Learn how to roll. Hitting the ground is less traumatic with a managed landing.
...we used to practice rollouts in Judo class. There's really nothing better than Judo practice to teach you how to fall and not hurt yourself.

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Old 06-09-22, 09:28 AM
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Wanna learn how to manage a crash? Take up mountain biking.

I am in my 50s and “crash” (as in in go down) at least a dozen times a year. It is so common I don’t even count.

But most falls are at lower speeds, and speed is what kills. And dirt and leaves are not as bad to fall on as pavement.

Anyway, at this point I know pretty well how to manage a fall.

I don’t think I ever could have learned this without mountain biking. Falling on a road bike is rare, and generally a lot more serious when it does happen. It is something just to be avoided, IMO.

There is a big between crashing on the trail and the road, and I do not fool myself into thinking I can practice to muscle memory how to manage a 30 mph fall on pavement.
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Old 06-09-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
We haven’t had a good “how to crash” thread in a long time.
But we finally learn why beng1 is so ugly: "Over the last 55 years of actually riding bicycles, I have crashed a lot and hard"

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Old 06-09-22, 09:36 AM
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^^^^Yep! Road crashes can happen so fast there is no amount of prep that will help.
Only good advice I see here is hang on to the bars.
Always keep up on your maintenance and stay within your skill limits.

My last road crash was caused by a pinch flat on a downhill switchback at 20 mph.
All preventable of course. Being slammed into asphalt in a microsecond does not allow even an "Oh $#!^" moment. It is that quick.
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Old 06-09-22, 09:38 AM
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.
...while I appreciate the advice about not crashing (really, I do. I'm old,) I think it's pretty important to recognize that if you cannot accept the possibility that you might fall off it, you probably ought to reconsider getting on a bicycle in the first place. It's one of the inherent risks, and it's why we wear helments. I certainly wouldn't wear a stupid helment here, in 100* weather, if I knew for sure I wasn't gonna crash. (Hopefully this short digression will not pull this thread over into the planetary orbit of the Helment Thread. If it does, I apologize in advance.)
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Old 06-09-22, 09:46 AM
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...I dropped a front wheel into a wrong way space separation in the rubber decking for the light rail tracks here a few years ago. Fortunately I was just getting going, so I did a slow motion endo.
The light rail guys, when I contacted them to report it, were so delighted I wasn't engaging in a wrongful injury lawsuit, that they paid for the new rims and spokes to re-lace my wheels. They had it on video.

I guess I could have just done the front wheel, but I took advantage of the situation. Like any older person would.
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