how to crashPosted: October 7, 2013
If you ride a lot, accidents and mishaps are inevitable. Hopefully with the following tips they won’t be disastrous.
Today I had a minor crash with minor injuries. Thankfully they were minor. I have had more serious crashes in the past, including one where I was knocked unconscious (some discussion is here). I’ve been reading up on crash techniques lately and I tried visualizing how to put them into practice if needed. I visualize myself tucking and rolling, trying to go limp, and not locking any of my extremities to brace my fall. As I ride along I imagine myself doing exactly that. And you know what? It works. I’m scraped up and my ribs are pretty sore but my head never hit the ground and I haven’t broken anything.
So here’s my advice: as you’re riding along, try to imagine how to react if you crash: think relax, tuck, and roll. Don’t try to stop yourself from falling; go with it. Don’t hold your arms straight in front of you to brace your fall; try to tuck them into your chest and land already rolling, with your body relaxed. Tuck your head in so you don’t land on your helmet. Let momentum carry you until you stop rolling, staying relaxed the entire time. Skinned knees and elbows heal rather quickly; bones take a lot longer to heal.
Stand up and take some personal inventory to see how you are – if you have grit embedded in road rash you can use your water bottle to flush some of it out. It’s also helpful to ride with some band-aids and a wet wipe or two. Hopefully you don’t have any broken bones.
Check your bike. Your handlebars may be askew. Are your pedals okay? Is your seat crooked? Do your wheels look to be relatively in true or are they wobbling? Are any spokes loose? In today’s crash I bent my rear derailleur; I managed to un-bend it enough to limp to my REI and the wonderful mechanic there straightened it out for me at no charge. I have only accolades for the bike mechanics at my REI – they have always treated me so very well.
Since I am car-free and my bike is my only transportation, getting my bike fixed was my priority. Only after it was back in good working condition did I ride home and pop two ibuprofen before cleaning my road rash and jumping in the shower. My bike is ready for the next ride although my ribs may need a couple of days to heal before I can lift my bike to carry it up and down my stairs. But at the end of the day I’m so glad all the time I spent imagining crash techniques paid off and my body automatically did what my mind trained it to do. Try to visualize these techniques as you ride along – they may help you avoid more serious injuries.