A Cyclists Companion: Fear of Crashing

A Cyclists Companion: Fear of Crashing

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I thought I was the only one.  It was a truth I admitted to myself only in the darkest hours of the night, when you lie awake and are faced by those haunting thoughts that are otherwise whisked away before they float to the surface.

But now, I can say it: I am afraid of crashing. Especially of equipment failure.  I never climb aboard my bike without having made a cursory check of all important parts: inflate the tires, check the headset, check the brake pads, bolts and cables, check the quick-releases.  (There is something in the name “Quick-Release” that unnerves me and forces me to harbor a doubt that they will release suddenly and unexpectedly.)

I’ve been particularly nervous about it the last week or so.  This year, I’ve noted that I’m descending and cornering faster; my confidence in my bike handling skills having skyrocketed since picking up mountain biking again. In the last week, I switched to a new pair of shoe (the White Ladies, passed on to me by John), and since doing so I’ve occasionally been clipping out of my inside pedal when leaning into a turn. It turns out that having your foot attached to your pedal contributes considerably towards staying upright.  (On a side note, I wonder what the connection is there?)

Crashing is part of cycling and, like most of us, I’ve spent my time on the tarmac.   Sometimes bad, sometimes not so bad.  Like the time when I borrowed an English friend’s bike and pulled on the front break instead of the rear.  And the time I overshot a corner racing my sister down a mountain in New York.  Sometimes you pick yourself up and ride home, other times you head to the hospital.

The risks increase when racing, of course, and the scariest of all my crashes was the first time I went down in a bunch during a race.  (I’d like to take this moment to thank the guy who thought he’d win the race by going through a non-existent gap from the middle of the field in the middle of the race.)  The first time you find yourself suddenly laying on the road being hit and fallen on by other cyclists is a moment that is occupied not by any realization of what is happening but instead by trying to assemble the fragments of information being sent to your brain.  You first become aware of what happened after you stop moving and continue to hear the wheels whizzing by your head as the rest of the riders (hopefully) avoid the carnage.  The feeling of helplessness is particularly acute as the desire to remove yourself from the road washes over you.

But watching the Pros, they seem to take it in stride.  I long held the view that after crashing so often, they have grown accustomed to it and generally don’t mind hitting the deck.  They are hardened by the reality of their occupation and get on with their job.  But I was happy to read a piece in the New York Times that said otherwise.  Jens Voigt, cycling legend, hardman extraordinaire, and Velominati hero, is also afraid of crashing, as it turns out.  Not only that, but so are the other Pros.

No matter how long you’ve been in this sport, there’s always that fear of crashing in the back of your mind, especially in the rain.

Crashing, as we are all aware of, is not a very pleasant experience. Everybody is scared of it, no matter who they are.

Not a very pleasant experience?  There’s an understatement.  I would say that crashing ranges anywhere from “Sucking” to “Fucking Terrifying” on the “Bad Things That Happen” scale.

That that in mind, take this spectator video of Boonen’s crash in the Tour of California.  The riders yelling just before the fall, and the distance they slide is rattling.  The callousness of the fan who scampers over to pick up Boonen’s bike with no interest in the rider’s well being before yelling at his friend to photograph him “quick” like it’s some sort of trophy is staggering.


Obviously not a cyclist, that one, because cyclists cringe and relive their own crashes any time they see a fellow Velominatus go down.

// Etiquette // Racing // The Rules // Tradition

  1. I’m always amazed at the crashes pros take and (generally) walk away. How quick they come back from injuries is unreal as well. All part of earning a paycheck on two wheels I guess.

    I’m a bit of a freak. After spending literally thousands of hours on two wheels, my injury rate is insanely low. I never seem to crash. Luck, skill, being a wimp – who knows…..

    As a kid, tons of time on bicycles – playing BMX rider on clapped out Sting Rays, road rides on Huffys, and general cruising around – few crashes and no real injuries.

    As a teenager, spent loads of time riding dirt motorcycles and dabbled with actual motocross racing and hare scrambles events (longer distance races). The occasional crash, nothing big. Tweaked back out once, x-ray on knee another time – nothing broken.

    I’ve ridden thousands of miles on street motorcycles. For a few years, rode and commuted almost daily. I’ve never dropped or crashed a motorcycle on pavement – ever. I dressed for the event – full leathers, quality helmet, road race boots and gloves – never needed. Lucky and not normal.

    Since 1984, as the alleged adult, a few zillion bicycle rides on road and dirt. The occasional mountain bike crash – that’s gonna happen. Besides a few scrapes and bruises, only two dirt related actual injuries – separated shoulder from a 3 mph fall in the ’90s (teaching a mountain bike class – ironic, eh?). Then about 3 years ago, crashed big time in a mountain bike race – slamming thigh on log. Not broken, but felt like it. Limped around for two weeks, 3+ weeks off the bike. Entire lower leg turned purple, yellow and blue as it healed. Freaky and scary.

    I never crashed a road bicycle until a few years ago – my only pavement crash ever. Some goofball took me out on the Burke-Gilman Trail. I was headed to work, he was on the Cascade RSVP ride. Street intersection on the Burke in the U District. Dude was hugging the curb on the wrong side of the road, then cut onto the trail – in front of me. T-bone yard sale crash in the street….

    No real injuries, but I did sport a black eye the next day – bonked my helmeted head harder then I thought. I did continue to work that morning and rode home. Dude’s RSVP ride was over with a totally taco’d front wheel. The RSVP ride is my most dangerous commute day of the year. Hundreds of riders headed in the opposite direction on the BG Trail. Some years require yelling at riders to avoid a head on crash. Lots of fun….

    Beside the commute crash, I’ve never touched tarmac on a road bike – after 25+ years and thousands of miles. Must be some sort of bizarre record. I’ve never raced on the road though, if I did, would have eventually crashed for sure – and be dropped regularly as well.

    Crashes scare and fascinate all cyclists. Nobody wants to go down, but you can’t help watching those that do.

  2. @SGW seem to be a lot of people riding on the hoods and trying to sprint at the same time and with very high front end as well. Possibly the worst combination, they might as well be racing on tri-bars. Reminds me of those days when Spinachi’s were legal and people rode them in the bunch, and then skittled themselves into the kerb at the slightest touch from someone else.

    @frank the stem was Alu. The weld failed. To be fair to ITM I had been running the stem for over three racing seasons and a mate had the same failure 6 months earlier. I’m quite fastidious about checking and changing my bars and stem these days and I doubt you’ll ever find me on carbon ones

  3. @Dan O, be careful friend. All cyclists crash and its just a matter of time til one does, just be prepared.

    My last one was my hardest. Taken out by a 100lb dog who t-boned me, i was rolling along at ~45kph, never saw him coming. I was spinning in circles like a smashed cat on the pave. Split my bell sweep helmet in 5 places. But, I was ok. Rode home (stupidly), bloodied….pissed, then got stitched up, took 9 stitches to put my scalp back together as it was filleted open to the skull. The helmet saved my eggs.

    I must admit, after this ride, I was in a fog…a flux if you will. I had to sit out of the saddle a few days to heal and missed the bike intensely. However, even after return, it was weird, almost sad in a way, and i too was a bit nervous and scared. However, a few days later maybe a couple weeks, I observed Rule #5 realizing I am a cyclist, I am who I am, and I crash. It was a wonderful thing to work through and get over and have ridden best since and enjoyed taking Pussies who never got through this.

    I have crashed a good many times, probably less than most, but is simply happens. Its cycling, and accepting that we ARE cyclists, its part of the gig. Be prepared, and see Rule #5.

  4. @Jarvis
    Super Mario won a sprint from the hoods in a stage of the Giro one year. That was amazing. I’ve never seen that since.

    I agree the hoods is a dangerous place to ride anyway…very easy to fall off when standing. It’s good for climbing and for seated power, but really, Jens’ fall in the Tour last year might not have happened had he been descending in the drops; he was on the hoods and when his hands slipped, he crashed. It’s not as likely to happen in the drops.

    Very cool, by the way, that you were at that stage. That is always a really cool experience, I think.

  5. @Rob
    I absolutely am delighted that you managed to compare crashing to the clap. I have much to learn, Sensei.

  6. @frank No, no I am the grasshopper.

  7. @Souleur Too true, its like being a paratrooper in WWII – some got shot or chewed up by the prop when they left the plane, some made it to the ground only to die then or in a week, some are 80+ and are alive today. The point is it is a lottery when you’re on 2 wheels, motor or not.
    Be careful and never let down your guard.

    The odd thing though, is that it does take a Zen like detachment, if your tense it only ups the chances so it is best to work on your skills and keep everything relaxed. Alcohol, pot, and sex are good but it is best to find it from within.

  8. No, No…you are neither. You’re an ass. Frank..I dont think Rob did any of these things but I am confident he has the clap and crabs.

  9. @Dan O
    You probably have some pretty sick handling skills with that BMX background; Robie McEwen-style. But I’m with Souleur; be ready for that crash – it will happen. DEFINITELY riding the Burke Gillman. Mixed-use trails are disasters waiting to happen.

    The depth of your background never ceases to amaze me; always love hearing about it. Keep it coming!

  10. @Souleur
    That sounds like an awful crash. Makes me second-guess my Sweep! I rode over a dog once. The dog lost. (I am a dog person, this really bothered me.) Back in my Nordic ski racing days, dogs would go bananas when they’d see me roller-skiing (which is the lamest pass-time in the world. Realizing this, I picked up cycling.)

  11. @Rob
    Absolutely. And, always remember. Watch where you want to go; not where you don’t want to go. If you stare at the mailbox, you’ll hit the mailbox.

  12. @frank

    So true. I’ve been preaching that for years to whitewater paddling students. It’s also a handy metaphor for life.

  13. @Andrew
    Fortunately there are powders and pills for my aliments but yours are beyond redemption – tell the boys here about your dawg thing!

  14. @ Rob: Agreed!

    @ Frank: I later went back to the owner that evening, he witnessed the crash, and at the time I told him I would be back to kill his dog. I know what he was thinking when I pulled up his driveway that evening, but we had a civil conversation. Forgiveness is another part of the equation I found to be quite helpful. I had to let go of my anger and just ride it off. Quite actually, the dog was probably just out for a ‘play’, big…dumb and clumbsy like many of my friends, but if I were to be ill-prepared that day I would have been hurt worse.

    The reality: I will crash again and think of it everytime I shave my legs in preparation of digging gravel and crap out of them

  15. @Andrew
    I have long felt that Rob must be too good to be true.

    I suspect he is in fact a Russian Prostitute who is embroiled in a hopelessly complicated plot to garner a Green Card into the US.

  16. @Frank
    Considering how much riding I’ve done, moto and pedal powered, you’d think I’d be some super rider. Trust me, I’m not. I’m no better then average. Riding in the dirt, I push it a bit at times (for me), but take no crazy chances. Jumper I am not. I’m the total XC geek. When I occcasionally race mountain bikes, 45+ Sport class, I’m hanging off the back of the pack.

    When I was a kid and raced motorcycles, same deal – off the back hanging on for life. I have no natural talent for this stuff, but still dig it.

    On the road, I will give myself credit for being good at reading traffic and knowing what other people are going to do. Part of that comes from riding motorcycles on the street. You really gotta pay attention to what’s going on. Even so, have there been times I should have been tagged by a car? Sure, a few, but I lucked out. Nobody is invincible. Even driving a car, I’m good at looking ahead and reading the situtation. Same for scanning the road or trail ahead. That would be my only strong point.

    Man, the talk of failing stems and other hardware – that scares the crap out me. Having a stem, handlebar or fork snap – ugly. Sometimes when I bombing a hill at 40+ mph, I think about that carbon steerer tube holding it all together….

  17. Every time we lift one leg over the top tube, we automatically sign a contract with ourselves, and everyone we car about/is around us/knows us that we will come back in one piece.

    We have all been in the situation where someone else on a training ride bombs down hills like their bike is made out of U-237, and you struggle to catch on. Eventually, you start disregarding your own safety and skill-set to reach this dude, and you either succeed, or fail. If you succeed, just like in a video game; you have just gained a few more experience points and leveled up. If not, you know that you were testing the odds, and risking everything you have.

    One of my first road bike rides ever included a really twisty downhill averaging 12% for 900m, laden with grit, gravel, and hairpin turns. I ended at the bottom of the hill a minute or so slower than the collegiate racer I was with. I asked him what his technique is when he hits spots like this.

    His reply?
    “Are you one with your maker?”
    “Just go, and leave the rest to the lord.”


  18. @Jarvis I looked at the crash video again. (I’ve got some perverse fascination with watching myself hit the asphalt. I must have watched the thing 100 times.) I don’t see anyone not in the drops. High front ends? Well, it was a masters race.

  19. I’m a noob when it comes to road racing. I just got my Cat 5 license. I used to fancy myself a speed demon until I crashed a street luge about five years ago at around 55mph. I gave up the BMXing, gravity bikes, et al. and turned to road bikes for my speed fix. A couple of summers ago I was on a training ride with a bunch of Cat 1/2 types and after a rest at the top of a 20 mile climb I was the first one to head back down. Going into a corner at about 45 mph I found myself basically tucked under the armpit of one of the Cat 1’s and there was some sandy gravel in the corner and I watched his line slide toward the outside of the curve about three feet and it didn’t even phase him. However it unnerved me and I guess I was pretty tensed up because farther down the road I got the hellacious speed wobbles which fortunately I was able to get under control. But since then I can’t descend worth a shit because I’m scared out of my mind. A new (stabler) frame has started to build my confidence back up but I still get a little wigged out when the speeds get over 50 mph. Oh well, it’s a good thing races are rarely won descending cause then I would be screwed going up and down. :)

  20. Went down this morning. Puncture, turn, and the bike went out from under me (saddle wound up at 9 o’clock). Some nice road rash on right shoulder and hip, hole in the ankle of my sock, and sprained left thumb (still trying to work that one out). Wasn’t going more than 20km/h, but it was precisely the equipment failure mentioned in the piece above. Not 10 minutes before I was descending a winding hill at 50-60km/h, so it could have been worse. My first thought as I slid across the tarmac was: “The bike! I hope the bike’s okay.” Worried about a somewhat mangled front wheel, I walked the last km home (end of the ride and not far from home””it could have been a lot worse). Along the walk, I reflected on the surreal, slow motion experience of it all: it all happened so fast and yet so slowly. And after I discovered no rip in my shorts, I was surprised how much I actually relished the pain. Nobody wants to come off their bike, and I take pride in my bike-handling abilities, but this is a part of riding. The real test, I suppose, comes tomorrow morning…

  21. @Steampunk
    Yeah, you mean tomorrow morning when you realize that every single organ in your body is in a slightly different configuration, and you realize the original spot they were in felt better?

    Sounds like a nasty little crash. I’ve been going harder and harder in the turns. I’m holding my breath.

    My first thought as I slid across the tarmac was: “The bike! I hope the bike’s okay.”

    Well, once your sweet Velominati kit comes, you’ll be thinking a dual thought – “The bike and kit! I hope they’re OK!”

  22. @frank
    Actually, no. Hoping that I don’t find myself being too cautious and tentative tomorrow. Overthinking the ride and every turn and descent. Crash wasn’t nearly so bad as to upset innards, and I’ve been running around all afternoon and waiting to apply some new bar tape (the only real casualty) once the little ‘uns are tucked up.

  23. I crashed on my way to work this past Monday. I was crossing a draw-bridge just after the rain stopped. The bridge was the kind that the roadway surface is a steel grid, constructed to resemble a cheese grater, more or less. As I was going down, I was having visions of the mess I was going to make of myself. That kind of surface will truly grind you up. And they are slippery as snot when wet.

    With immense good fortune, I managed to slide over near the side, and went down on the sidewalk. Only some minor road rash.

    A friend crashed on a similar bridge a few years ago and spent a long time in the hospital getting skin grafts, etc.

  24. I had my first serious crash yesterday, despite riding pretty regularly for the past six years or so. Powering downhill, I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but the chain dropped off the crankset, and seconds later I was skidding across the road. Fortunately I had an opportunity to apply Rule V, get back on, and ride home, much to the amazement of the girl I was with. She doesn’t yet understand Rule XI, clearly.

  25. @Chang He
    Good to hear you are okay and even better to hear you impressed the girl. As far as crashes go, not to shabby.

  26. @Cyclops
    50mph!!! (Of course you mean 80kph) It’s strange but while on the flat with some wind from behind I can get to about 55kph and it’s not scary. Descending at 55kph terrifies me – well I’m getting a bit more confident after about 8 months on a road bike but I always descend on the hoods. Thankfully I have read this discussion and have learned that this could be my downfall. It’s been because sitting higher causes more wind resistance and I find it easier to reach the brakes. After my shower this morning I’m going to adjust my brakes so they’re easier to reach in the drops and meditate on descending as in Rule #85. AMercx.

  27. I seem to have terrible luck when cycling, I have only been riding 6 months but spend a disproportionate amount of time on the tarmac. The fist was entirely my own fault, I had been invited to a houseparty and decided that I wasn’t too bothered about drinking but wanted to show off my shiny new bicycle. Bad idea. Numerous pints of beer and a bottle of tequila later I set off to ride home, forgot the helmet and could not see a thing on dark lanes but I had alcohol induced confidence. (This was also my first ever journey with clipless pedals) I put my wheel down an open drain and flung myself off at 45KPH and landed directly on my cheekbone, took all the skin off my hands and broken a rib, I haven’t really drank since, very stupid idea. The second big one was two weeks ago, I was descending a hill and a tractor towing a trailer full of potatoes was going the other way, as it went round a corner many of the potatoes fell off and one hit me directly in the testicles, I went onto a hedge where I promptly curled up into a ball and did a lot of shouting. While I was down there a bee decided it would sting me on the leg. Should I just give up?

  28. @luke
    Statistically speaking, you should be bullet proof for the next year, but I would steer clear of potatoes just in case.

  29. @luke

    You could look at this in one of two ways, firstly; given that they say these things come in threes, your best bet would be to pack up your shiny new bike and ship it to me. Then retire to bed, it’ll be safer that way.

    On the other hand, while no crash is ever enjoyable, your telling of the second does have good comedy value. I look forward to hearing about the third.

  30. @luke
    look at it this way, has the bike been totally wrecked at any stage and your limbs are mostly intact? and is it not the most exquisite thing in to world to be on a bike? if you’re feeling apprehensive about getting back on then that is totally normal and we’ve all been there at one stage or another. Look at it on the upside, in the second crash you ended up in the hedge rather than removing however much skin from whatever part you might have happed to land on. Apply Rule V and carry on

  31. @luke
    Oh dear. I have tears coming out of my eyes about your story.
    That’s the funniest fucking thing I’ve heard in ages. I’m imagining some serious karmic payback involving you molesting a packet of honey flavoured chips.

  32. @luke
    No, you should not give up – neither riding, nor sharing high-quality tales of your less successful outings. (You have, though, set the bar pretty high. A bee-stung potato-testicled tractor incident takes some beating.)

  33. My worst spill involved some gravel and laying the bike down during my commute home last summer. To get to my building was a long, flat strip of one way street with a few lights. Caught greens the last few thanks to a a sprint or two. At the end of that is a left hand turn downhill and into the parking garage at the bottom of said hill. At about 45 kph I took that turn, hit some gravel or loose stuff of some sort, lost my wheel and laid the bike down. Mucho road rash on the ankle, hip/ass, wrist, and leg in general. Also very embarrassing with the cars waiting for the green light getting a great view of the incident. I walked the remaining 20 meters to parking garage…

  34. @luke
    Awesome! If you ever meet my partner, flatmate, parents and siblings and they start laughing their arses off you’ll know why.

    FWIW when I get a new bike I’m such a pansy about crashing it, I kind of reset the risk taking I do on the bike and that has some interesting consequences. One greasy descent, I kind of cooked a couple of successive corners and ended up needing to make an emergency stop before I go over an edge. Due to my absolute genius with brakes, wet roads and being a massive chicken, I managed to come to a complete stop on the grass strip, a steep cliff on one side and the road on the other. Of course I unclip the wrong foot and end up tumbling down the bank, bike left at the top laid carefully on the grass.

  35. @luke

    I think we should pass the hat around to invest in a helmet-cam for Luke.

    We’ll make a fortune just from selling the clips to comedy TV shows.

    A1 Classic.

  36. @luke

    Dude, you’re lucky to be alive after the drunk faceplant in the dark, but the flying potato-in-the-testicles incident is Pure Fried Gold.

    *cleans coffee off keyboard*

  37. @Minion
    Rule #4 respected, nice work

    Not belittling what happened to you, but just think what would have happened if that truck had been full of turnips, or worse still large carrots – that said pretty poor form by the bee, to take you out whilst you were on the ground, sort of shoddy behaviour you would only expect out of a wasp

  38. Tears of respec’, nay, pure convulsions of giggling for Luke !!

    My favourite crash happened when I was quite young. We lived down a modest hill, which allowed a decent turn of speed on my first bike, a green Dragster with a rear coaster brake. You know, the kind where you have to do a quarter turn backwards before any braking happens. I was riding as fast as I could down the hill, turning into our drive, and hitting the brakes, progressively leaving it later and later each time before I applied the brakes.

    On the last fateful pass, I determined that I would not brake until I was actually inside the shed.

    Can you guess what happened ? Of yes, I came flying down the hill, counter-steered through a perfect turn into the drive and entered the shed at Warp V. As I applied the brake, I had the pedals at 3 and 9, so after the quarter turn, they were at exactly 6 and 12, a position characterised by a complete inability to apply any braking pressure at all.

    I analysed the situation in a flash. Like the auto-pilot in the famous Bugs Bunny scene, I felt the situation was beyond redemption, and bailed off the bike. The bike proceeded to arrive, riderless, into a dining setting at the end of the shed, right next to the open kitchen door, where my poor mother was washing up. The noise was horrendous, and I have no idea why my mother did not die of fright.

    As children do, I bounced. I can’t even recall taking any skin off, though I probably did. My growing years were characterised by a permanent revolving skinned knee which migrated from side to side on a regular basis.

    These days, I’m a bit wary of crashing on descents, as the hills I ride on have steep drop-offs and big trees, as well as rough pave, and the results would not be pretty. So, I descend like a pussy, mostly.

  39. I have only ever had one high speed crash…and as per usual it was in the wet on a cycle path in Bristol…daily commute at the time. It was entirely my fault. I flew passed a jogger at about 35kph straight in to a chicaine, I tried to dink my way round it and suddenly had this very wierd sensation of the bike no longer being there and somehow being suspended in mid air…right up until my thigh hit the deck followed by the side of my tin lid!

    Polished my left thigh perfectly…not road rash, I mean perfect skimming off of the top few layers of skin. Helmet saved my bonce and I got up and cycled on to work. All day my new thigh seeped clear liquid periodically velcroing my trousers to my leg. Bizarrely it was a particularly painful crash but it was my one and only (apart from the standard early mishaps with cleated shoes etc).

    I have had a couple of near misses recently with traffic and thank my lucky starts I am still here, the only thing that has saved me is having modicum of caution and staying fully awake and alert at all times….daydream=donefor!

  40. @Deakus Meant to say…it was NOT a particularly painful crash…

  41. @Jarvis When you are capable of creating a gap so large, that you can pull over and change a flat, you are allowed to break some of the rules.

  42. That idiot who is more concerned with getting a picture with Boonen’s bike than the rider needs a reality check. Easy knowing that this dude has never had a high speed crash. Now on to the latest crash I’ve had myself on My Cervelo P3 while doing some training. I was riding in the hard shoulder of a non-motorway just after turning at a roundabout. I was on a slight up hill rise getting up to speed and as I hit 26 mph the road takes a bit of a dip. I just looked down at the road for a few seconds and the next thing I was in a world of pain. Absolute sheer agony. Damn an idiot driver was parked in the hard shoulder just where the road dipped. A blind spot. A dangerous place to park. An illegal place to park. Just for the information of drivers in Ireland. The Law states that the hard shoulder of non-motorways is to be used only by Cyclists, Pedestrians and for breakdowns and emergencies for road vehicles. It is not for driving in or parking, taking a snooze, attending to crying children, talking on a mobile phone, etc. Damn I hit the rear of this dumbass persons vehicle who was parked in the hard shoulder. Who was it only some woman parked for no reason. Two kids in the vehicle. I was nearly feckin killed !!. I landed some 30 metres ahead of the vehicle out in the middle of the lane at the mercy of on coming traffic. Jaysus I was nearly killed !!. It was like hitting a brick wall. The pain was bloody unbearable. And it was all this feckin idiots fault. My head took a massive blow on the ground and the helmet saved my life. I was knocked out for a small time before I came to and cripes the pain. I was lying in the middle of the feckin lane. Feet still in the cleats. I was in that much pain I was unable to get up for several minutes. Even when I did get up it was a bloody struggle. I had so much pain in my lower rear neck that I thought it was broken. I was held up by a woman, fair play to her, for half an hour, not the feckin idiot that was in the car, but some concerned individual. Jaysus it was pandamonium. Drivers stopped to offer assistance, fair play to them. The Police arrived. Two ambulances arrived. The carbon base bar on my bike was sheared off. Whiplash on my back and neck caused unbearable pain. I was still confused and dazed from the blow too my head. Terrible road rash on my back, legs, arms and hands. My forehead was cut and bruised. My hands later swole up like two balloons. So did my arms. The skin suit was ripped. I was rushed to hospital. Had 4 x-rays done. Absolute miracle no broken bones. Still sore after two weeks. But on the mend. I am very lucky to be alive. Great folk them Nurses and ambulance drivers. Fair play to them. If any one thinks that this is not a tough sport then think again. Its hard enough without hitting the deck. Do not park in hard shoulders. And always wear your HELMET !!.

  43. @Steve Oh I forgot to mention that while I was being rushed to hospital in the ambulance while strapped to a spinal board and a neck brace on ect I was given three shots of Morphine and I was in that much pain the Morphine had no effect at all. Always wear a HELMET to protect your NOGGIN !!.

  44. @Steve Glad to hear you’re ok. I had a very similar accident in 84. A 10 mile TT on the Westferry course near Langbank in Scotland. About 1 mile in on the course (on dual carriageway (aka highway, but not interstate in the US) this guy who was teaching his pal how to drive stopped at the side of the road to change drivers. He wasn’t sure if they were on motorway or dual carriageway. (It transitioned about a mile back, and in the UK learners can’t drive on motorway/interstate) He opened his door. I rode into the door at about 28 mph. It was 84 in a TT. No helmets required, no helmets worn. I was very, very lucky to get away with concussion and 6 stitches. The bike was totaled. Riders and folks stopped to help. Basically got the bike replaced through insurance. In the US I’d have had lawyers chasing my ambulance all the way to the hospital as it was an illegal stop and as I hit the door I was clearly going past him.

    Like the dick who picked up Boonen’s bike, my dickhead driver didn’t think that he should look around for cyclists. It was a lovely May evening and there were dozens and dozens about and he would have driven past the start. I always wear a helmet now.

  45. Great post on crashing from Paul Kimmage here: http://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/cycling/stakes-are-high-with-skin-in-the-game-and-your-skin-on-the-road-30282663.html

    Particularly where he claims all pros have a fear of touching wheels and going down that “never leaves you”. Reminds me of the thing in professional cricket where all batsmen are scared of being hit by a 90mph bouncer to the head, but none of them admit it.

  46. squirrels….I hate them, 64 kph descent yesterday and had one run pass under me, between both wheels…not a good feeling..

  47. This thread has a long life . . . and I will continue to extend it with my post here. The most common refrain is: “wear a helmet!” I agree. I am a very experienced cyclist, having commuted, raced as a Cat. 3, toured and generally lived the life of a velominati for 30 years now. With a few years off here and there, I’ve been deeply committed to the sport since I was 14.

    With that said, it must be stated that it is not *if* you will crash but *when.* I have had at least 4 serious road crashes, half of them in races, the other half on training rides. A couple of weeks ago, on a spirited group road ride with some of my closest friends, I clipped out of my speedplay pedals on the downstroke, sprinting for a city limits sign. We were going at least 45kph. I could not control the bike and launched onto the tarmac, with my shoulders and head taking much of the blow. My Bell helmet was destroyed in many places. There were pieces of it on the road. I had no idea where or who I was until at least an hour later. I did get a concussion, but after a week and a half am back at work and doing fine. Otherwise, I received some road rash and a pulled groin muscle. I firmly believe that the helmet most likely saved from something terrible . . .

    So, indeed, always wear that helmet! This was a far worse crash than anything I’ve ever experienced in a high speed crit. Helmets are so important, even when training.

  48. Helmets, schmelmets.

  49. @Souleur

    Were you concussed? I am having a heck of a time recovering from my concussion from my last crash. Still not able to ride much at all or ride hard.

  50. Crashing doesn’t have to be unbearable if we are not too concerned with trends, looks, perception and the fashion police. Die hard tradtionalists would accept road rash is a part of cycling but I say most injuries can sure well be minimised if bicycle wear industries could revolutionise the traditional bike kit (ultra thin and breathable lycra) and provide more protection around prone areas for cuts and rashes on shoulders and thighs and glutes, and also make it fashionable for ultra lightweight material around elbows and knees.

    Yeah, we can all say Rule #5, Rule #5 HTFU, and I bet you the majority of those who religiously stick by these rules and think your not a man if you let crashes get in the way is pretty dumb and brainless. I’ll rather shorten my recovery period and save from broken bones after a crash as oppose to your mates calling you out for ride and you have to put a raincheck because you are still healing. They might think its heroic and tough to use this as an excuse and his mates end up telling him about Rule #5 so he can’t pretend to be wuss so he goes out riding with unhealed wounds and sores and risk crashing again meaning more time out of the bike.

    Its tough and cool but pretty fcken stupid, wake up and use your brains and ride smart, not ride tough!

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