On Rule #81: Crash Test Dummies

We don’t like to talk about crashing. Talking about crashing before you crash feels a lot like tempting fate and talking about it after you crashed feels a lot like a fisherman bragging about his catch. But crashing is the worst part of our sport apart from getting hit by a car, which has all the worst part of crashing give or take a few tons of metal and possible disembodiment or death.

Waking up the morning after a crash is a feeling that can only be understood by someone who has woken up the morning after a crash. The wounds will have kept you up much of the night, not being able to sleep on one side (or both), which is somehow always your favorite side to sleep on. The lack of movement overnight will mean that the wounds themselves are tight and sore, and the force of the impact will have the result that you know the precise location of every organ within your torso.

Men don’t like to act like they’ve been hurt, unless they’re in a long-term relationship, in which case they will pretend anything hurts so long as no one aside from their partner is around. Under these same circumstances, they are highly susceptible to debilitating cases of Man Flu which require loads of coddling, soup, and beer in order to cure. Outside these two extenuating circumstances, we jump up from any accident and pretend nothing happened, like Inspector Clouseau. Pro Cyclists epitomize that spirit to the maximum, frequently coming off at speed, removing loads of skin, and hopping back onto their bicycles as if nothing happened.

Geraint Thomas, possibly the most Rule Compliant rider in the modern Peloton, epitomized that today with his crash:

Barguil just wiped me out. It was a tight right and he just came around on the inside and knocked me straight off the road. I got back up and started chasing.

Which is also the same thing he did when he got blown off the road in Gent-Wevelgem. Except this time he head-butted a telephone pole and highsided into a ravine first. The race doctor apparently asked him his name to test him for a concussion and he answered with, “Chris Froome.”

JC Peraud came off alone a few days back, for no reason that anyone can articulate other than, “a touch of wheels”, which is what we say whenever we crash for no reason, even when riding alone. He came off at speed, on some of the roughest tarmac imaginable. He was skinned alive, effectively. And, as with Geraint, he got up and not only finished the stage, but rejoined the field. Double stud with a side of Steak Tartare.

And those examples are just from the last three days of racing. The last three days.

Crashing is part of life as a Cyclist. We risk life, limb, and skin. We fall off, we climb back on. Crashing is learned; we know how to fall to minimize “important” damage. “He didn’t crash right,” we say, as if there were a mysterious way to crash right.

We don’t talk about crashing because as a Cyclist, if follows us everywhere we go. It is always there behind us, like the shadow we feel on the backs of our necks when we come up the basement stairs.

Talking about it only makes it real, and crashing is already as real as it needs to be.

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63 Replies to “On Rule #81: Crash Test Dummies”

  1. @Sparty

    G was also interviewed shortly after coming across the finish line by an American reporter.

    Interviewer: G, what happened?

    G: He (Barguil) took me out.  I head butted the pole and was caught up in the bushes down the ditch.

    Interviewer: What happened next?

    G: I got on the bike and started racing.

    Fuck yeah.

    Never have I wanted so badly for a Brit to be an American.

  2. @Dimi

    @Kevin Hoy

    That’s it? That’s all ya got?  Doesn’t even belong on the same page with JCP and G-man.  Call us when you get HURT.

    I am really optimistic that you two are intimate friends and that this is a pisstake. Although I could have done without the porny shot of the chin, from a personal perspective.

  3. @Minnesota Expat

    JC last year in Quebec. He is even smaller in person than he looks on TV on a bike. A friend called him an elf. Amazing when you consider the punishment these riders take and keep riding. American pro football players? Pffffttt!

    I saw the Tour up close for the first time in 2003 and the Alpine World Cup for the first time in 2004. (Same season from an athlete’s point of view.)

    The Cyclists were so much smaller than they appear – like birds. The Skiers were so much bigger – like animals. Both look about the same size on the tele.

    Goes to show.

  4. @frank

    @Sparty

    G was also interviewed shortly after coming across the finish line by an American reporter.

    Interviewer: G, what happened?

    G: He (Barguil) took me out.  I head butted the pole and was caught up in the bushes down the ditch.

    Interviewer: What happened next?

    G: I got on the bike and started racing.

    Fuck yeah.

    Never have I wanted so badly for a Brit to be an American.

    There’s loads of kids like G in Cardiff, just most of them are playing rugby or taking drugs rather than riding a bike.

    Can he podium? That’d be amazing…

  5. I still can’t believe how fast he was going and how hard he hit the pole. Damn. Also, good spot by the fan in the salmon colored shirt…dude got the hell out of the way.

    Never crashed on a bike on the road, thankfully. Did break my leg playing lacrosse. A summer in a full leg cast meant pretending to sleep on my back, when I can only fall asleep on my side. Never slept with road rash, but I imagine it’s like trying to sleep with turf burns. Had too many of those, from real turf, the stuff rolled over concrete, not this fancy soft field turf stuff the kids have these days.

    Any word on his sunnies? Must be in the woods or with a fan who is open to $.

  6. @RobSandy

    @frank

    @Sparty

    G was also interviewed shortly after coming across the finish line by an American reporter.

    Interviewer: G, what happened?

    G: He (Barguil) took me out.  I head butted the pole and was caught up in the bushes down the ditch.

    Interviewer: What happened next?

    G: I got on the bike and started racing.

    Fuck yeah.

    Never have I wanted so badly for a Brit to be an American.

    There’s loads of kids like G in Cardiff, just most of them are playing rugby or taking drugs rather than riding a bike.

    Can he podium? That’d be amazing…

    Can he podium? Merckx I hope so. I really don’t want to see Malmerde on there. The only issue is, and here’s where it gets interesting, is that GT has to look after Froome, while Malmerde has to look after Quintana. If Q goes, should GT go after him leaving CF and AV together. Mind you a couple of minutes is a lot to make up. Had GT not been loyal to CF, he’d be on the podium for sure I think.

  7. @edster99

    @Owen

    And the link between inhalers and being battered to f*k on the tarmac is?

    Put on your critical thinking cap, and go back and read it again. Your initial comment was in regards to how the pros get back on the next day and go and go. I responded that most of them have inhalers, which was an allusion to top notch medical care, which was itself an allusion to doping. Make sure to wear your helmet, you aren’t GT.

    Yes they get the crap kicked out of them on occasion. No one wants to watch that, and we all respect the guts it takes to get back on and even finish a stage as opposed to getting in the broom wagon. But for the subset of those crashed riders that keeps going, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t another subset for whom their recovery isn’t enhanced over that of which you or I are capable.

  8. @chris

    @blackpooltower

    I like that G’s only complaint about the incident was losing his (now discontinued) favourite Oakleys.

    The panic is over, his other half has found another pair.

    Mrs G needs to get that spare pair to him quick. He’s just not G in those Half Jackets/ Flak Jackets!

  9. Having slid along on my arse at 40k and the subsequent indignity of having Mrs G shave said arse before treating the wound, I now shave a little higher. I can’t recall worse road rash than JCP this week, that was epic bravery getting back on to finish. Nails!

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