Ever wonder why bmx kids seem to fall out of the sky and walk away unharmed? It’s because they’ve crashed many times before and have learned to control the situation. Us mountain bikers can learn a lot from them and improve our chances during a fall.
Innocent tumbles can sometimes lead to very serious injuries while massive falls can leave a rider unscratched. How is this possible? It gives us hope that we have some control over one of the few constants of our sport… crashing.
Controlling the impact can lead to drastically different outcomes during a crash. And the preparation one takes plays a major role as well. Check out what Seth has to say as he is well versed in the subject. Lots of practice and experience definitely helps.
One area he doesn’t cover is the subject of protection. Knee and elbow pads, full coverage helmets and clothing are key to improving our chances during these unplanned get-offs.
1. Know that you can always improve your predicament
Even if you can’t save yourself outright, you can usually find a way to get less hurt. When you’re crashing, time slows down, and you can use it wisely. As you’re crashing, you need exercise whatever sliver of control you still have over the situation to minimize your injuries. Maybe this seems obvious, but keep it in mind and internalize it. The next time you’re going down in flames, act quick and be decisive.
2. Totally disregard your bike
We all love our bikes, but they can always be repaired or replaced. Even if you make minimum wage, a new wheel or set of handlebars will likely cost less than your medical bills, especially here in the US. Also, what good is your bike if you’re injured for the rest of the riding season? You can’t put a price on that. So, when you’re crashing, put yourself first. After all the demonstrations in this video, my bike just needs to be hosed off.
3. Practice dismounting in a hurry
If you’re clipped in, your feet should always come off before you let go of your bars, so hold on and try to jump off the bike quickly without getting hung up. Whether or not you hold on to your bike after that will depend on the scenario. If you’re riding flat pedals, it’s not so important to get your feet off first, so you can actually jump off in one step. Although you may not want to practice ghost riding your bike, getting good at quickly dismounting can save you big time.
4. If you’re going OTB, do it feet first
Yes, it’s possible to go over the bars and totally escape injury, that is if you can get them under your feet. This makes it possible to land feet first, or into a controlled tumble. While this might not be easy to practice, you can at least get comfortable with the motion by finding a horizontal bar to jump over. By holding on while getting your feet over, you can attempt to commit this to memory. This maneuver is particularly hard to do while clipped in. The only advice I can offer is to try and twist your feet while you toss your bars.
5. When you hit the ground, Tuck and Roll
If and when you make an emergency dismount, you’ll usually be traveling at speed. Sometimes it’s possible to run out of a dismount, but not always. The best way to minimize your injury is to tuck and roll. To do this, put your head down and loosely tuck with all of your appendages, letting yourself tumble to a stop. You don’t want to tumble head over heels though. Instead, try to do more of a barrel roll and keep your feet near the ground. This also lets you regain control of the situation at the soonest opportunity. Also keep in mind that staying rigid and trying to break your fall can lead to the worst injuries. It’s better to cooperate with physics and roll out of it.
So now that you know these 5 tips, how can you get better at bailing out of a crash? Will these tips really help you when you’re hurdling through the air? Over the short term, no, but through experience crashing can actually be something you can get better at.