A Cyclists Companion: Fear of Crashing

Question: What would Jens Do? Answer: HTFU.

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.

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61 Replies to “A Cyclists Companion: Fear of Crashing”

  1. My first big crash caught on tape. Last lap, my partner is leading me out on the outside, we’re moving past everyone, I’m about to start sprinting. Two douchebags try to come inside us! We’re already damn near in the gutter! One of them goes down right in front of my lead out, he goes down right in front of me. (Depsite what everyone thinks, there are two nearly simultaneous crashes. The one on the outside, and the one caused by the guy with the neon orange bike.) At :34 seconds you can see me tumbling on the white line. My partner was knocked out. Ended up in the hospital with a subdural hematoma, broken clavicle, two broken ribs (caused by me t-boning him I imagine) and a broken pelvis.

    I walked away with some road rash on my back and pair of broken glasses. Bike was fine. I raced again two weeks later.

    SGW’s big crash

  2. I became “risk-averse” many years ago. I don’t think it affected the outcome of any races, but I was never that person who’d try to go around the hairpin 5kph faster because if it worked it would be the best way to win the race (they crashed).

    My paranoia tends to be more of being driven over from behind. I tend to figure my bike will look after itself, a cursory glance over the QR’s and general well-being and the first few potholes will tell me if anything more is wrong. I should be more thorough, like frank, because equipment failure is what caused my worst crash.

    Oddly, I was riding that day without a helmet (a very rare occurance) and with prescription glasses (equally rare because I normally wear contacts). Riding out of the saddle on the flat at 30kph, the stem snapped. I hit the deck with my face and buried my glass-lensed glasses into my face. Obviously I lived and after a hospital visit to have glass pulled out of my face and an overnight, I walked away with no other injuries. Thankfully I didn’t remember anything about it, but I wear a helmet all the time now.

    The occasional races I’ve done in the last couple of years have highlighted a yawning skills gap at the lower end of the racing spectrum. Until, or if, I have enough fitness to contest sprints from near the front, I’ll race to try to get away or make people hurt, but I’ll duck out of the last few km when people start getting silly.

    A far as Voigt goes, we rode up Le Petit Grand Bernard last year to watch the Tour come over, near the top I bumped up a realy large ripple in the road surface, it was a good couple of inches, and thought that could be nasty to catch wrong. I guess Jens caught it wrong. Didn’t join the masses racing down afterwards though.

  3. In answer to Frank I merely cite Rule #5. I think it best that we all put this unfortunate lapse behind us, move swiftly on, and never speak of it again…

  4. @SGW
    I’m surprised you can sit on a bike, your balls are so big – posting a video of your own crash. Good on you. I watched that about three times. First time through, I couldn’t figure out why you went down, but the muppet came from behind and took you out.

  5. @Jarvis
    Ouch, dude. OUCH. Risk-averse is a good plan.

    Was your stem aluminum? Carbon gets such a bad rap for breakages, but aluminum generally doesn’t give any warning before failing, either. Handlebars, stems, forks. Three things I don’t want breaking.

    What the fuck? Jens has got a saddlebag in that pic. Burn him…

    Close one, but no – it’s not. It’s one of those devices that transmits effort data to the broadcast stations for display. Why one would do that, I’m not sure…but at least it’s not a saddlebag. There would be questions.

  6. @all
    It just occurred to me that perhaps my cleats are on wrong, and that’s why my shoe is popping out. Turns out, there is a left and right for Time cleats. Woops. I’ll change that and see if it makes a difference. I’m guessing, “Yes”.

  7. @frank
    No, no. I’m not the one shooting the video. When the vid starts, I’m way up front–of course. There’s a flash of me catching my lead out’s wheel before the crash at :45-:46 all the way on the outside, i.e., the left in the vid. Then you see me at :34 seconds. If you pause, and look outside toward the curb, to the left, you can see me tumbling on the asphalt along the white line. At any rate.

  8. @SGW
    Oh, OK. Studying it more, is it possible the douche who caused the trouble made it out? Is that the guy in white who made it through on the far left?

    In the crash I described in this article, the guy who dove through the non-existent gap made it out unscathed, who knows what place he got. It was like 25 minutes from the end of a 50 minute crit or whatever. He dove through, clipped my and the guy to my right’s bars, we fell into eachother and went down with a shitfuck of other guys. One dude split his gorgeous Look 525 in half; my (first) XLEV2 was fallen on by some fatass who spaghetti’d it. The thinest part of those tubes are butted to like .75mm. Light, but not burly. The greatest bit was that, on the way out to the race, I remember thinking, “Hey, I got rid of that last noise! My bike is finally silient!

  9. There are only five replies to this post – Rule #5, Rule #5, Rule #5, Rule #5, Rule #5!

    My most “Fun” crash was going for a prime 2 up in pouring rain (yesterdays stage in the Giro reminded me of it) heading down a slight hill into the last wide open corner in the lead losing it as I started the turn and sliding (strapped in old school) with about 75 feet between me and a telephone pole. All I remember is trying to get my hip and knees off the road with my gloved hands and spray coming out between my fingers as I slowed thinking “am I not slowing fast enough so I’m going to hit this telephone pole?” I did stop at 2 mph at the curb jumped up unhurt and got back on as the pack passed and very little road rash that time. But boy I was pissed about missing that free tire.

    Ok so all the other crashes are boring run of the mill and I am either lucky or brilliant but they never stopped me finishing a race and I am intimately acquainted with road rash – trying to sleep was the worst of it.
    So after a few seasons of racing the crash thing just becomes a background little thought in your head but its sort of like thinking about if you might catch the clap or crabs its not going to stop you enjoying what your doing.

  10. 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.

  11. @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

  12. @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.

  13. @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.

  14. @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.

  15. 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.

  16. @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!

  17. @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.)

  18. @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.

  19. @frank

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

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

  21. @ 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

  22. @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.

  23. @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….

  24. 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.”


  25. @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.

  26. 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. :)

  27. 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…

  28. @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!”

  29. @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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. @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.

  33. @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.

  34. 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?

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

  36. @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.

  37. @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

  38. @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.

  39. @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.)

  40. 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…

  41. @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.

  42. @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.

  43. @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*

  44. @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

  45. 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.

  46. 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!

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