Crashing and how to deal with it.
Crashing or dumping your bike isn’t something anyone plans to do, but it happens to everyone. This summer I managed to create two not so great crashes and a couple more incidentals. The first one was actually out in Wyoming, but then the second one was in my backyard at my local trail. In both of these incidents I managed to acquire a few scratches, bruises and some hits to the ego. Before I go into detail about each of my finer moments lets break down common crashes and how they can be avoided.
Trees, they seem so innocent when they are just sitting there minding there own business. Have you ever seen one jump out at you into your current path. It seems to happen to me all the time. I am beginning to think trees are evil. So what can you do about them? Easy don’t hit them. But what if you really want to? Do what you must, just remember it will hurt. My advice is to start looking farther down the trail and especially around turns. I know that is easier said then done, but anticipating where momentum will take you will help to create many more near misses then direct hits. Honestly of all the ways to crash your bike the tree hit is potentially the most painful. Trees are big, solid, and don’t give much. Best bet is just don’t hit them.
My next favorite way to lay myself out is the “Endo”. You know that fun time when you hit too much front brke, get your body out too far over the bike and then flip forward. To watch one in slow motion is so much fun. Actually doing it, not so much. How do you avoid this common gaff? Actually it isn’t as easy as just not hitting the front brake so hard. I mean sometimes it is, but often times this crash is caused by transferring too much weight forward while your front wheel get stopped by an obstacle. Most of the times I have done it has been going downhill and at the same time trying to go over something in the trail. Best advice here is actually counter intuitive. When the obstacle requires you to hop or quickly transition from front to back a little extra speed helps. Practice on smaller obstacles to gain confidence before attempting large trail “features”. Oh yeah 29ers help with the larger attack angle on the wheel. I have found even 650Bs are much better than the standard 26″ wheel for quick up and over roots, logs and ravines.
Last killer way to look like a fool on the trail is the slide out. This is when your bike leaves you while in a turn or over the side of the trail. Either way the cause is the same, loss of traction. Here is where tires, trail conditions and balance come together. Seriously I can’t say this enough. Having the right tires for the conditions makes all the difference in the world. Mud tires will hang on really when in the mud, but slide out on dry trails. Dry tires will pack with mud quickly and become a slick. Gravel requires a bit different tread pattern than say hard packed dirt. Personally I love packing a dry tire with mud and then see how far I get before I end up with a face full of dirt. Usually not too long. Although trying to sliding off the side of a dry trail with mud tires can be quite fun too. Mix it up a bit and see where you can embarrass yourself the most.
On the summer I had one really nice endo and one great trail slide out. The endo was in Wyoming on the downhill course. There were a number of factors there at play, but ultimately too much front brake and off balance caused it. Fortunately over time I have become the master of literally stepping forward off the bike and letting it crash behind me. In this case my leg got caught on the wide handlebars and the bike wouldn’t let me go. The damages could have been a lot worse. So just a ripped glove, bruised thigh and bleeding wrist was not too bad. Oh yeah and a mouth full of dirt.
Next up was a slide out at Pets on one of the higher trails on the side of a bluff. Silly me I thought because it had not rained in 4 days the trail would be dry. Instead I created a sweet set of slicks out of my dry tires packed with mud. So when I slowed down to avoid a tree (ha it didn’t get me!) my front tire slid right off the trail and down the hill. To make it more fun I had my new platforms on with some nice new pins. The bike sliding pinned my inside leg to the frame and the other pedal went right into my side. Not sure how I didn’t get hurt more, but some deep scratches on my side were about all I took home. The nice new pins felt so good in my side…….
Both crashes could have been worse, but I always take the following actions. First release the bike and let it go. Don’t try to stay on or save it. Just let it go. Next is try to get your feet on the ground. I know this sound like it would be difficult, but it really isn’t. Just look for a landing spot to land in. Things happen quickly so reactions sometimes are all you have. Last thing is hopefully you have some protective gear on. Helmet, gloves, shirt, shorts and shoes seem like common sense, but I have seen some people on the trails without that minimum gear. More protection the better depending on trail and obstacles. Prepare for the conditions you are going to ride in, anticipate the trail in front of you and try to think quick. Hopefully the worst injury you will incur is a damaged ego.