Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Crash recovery

Josh posted a comment asking why it takes a lap or two to get going again after a tumble during a race; and its true, it always seems to be the way, you slide off and can't get back into the groove. I think most of it is due to the fact that the tumble takes your focus off your attention to racing as hard and as fast as you can. Even if its a simple slide, you still need to remount, sort your unshipped chain or change gear if your levers hit the ground and shifted gear without you asking, you always spend a moment deciding if your bars, levers or saddle have moved, and if it was a slightly harder hit for sure you start riding cautiously before you decide if nothing hurts.
If its especially muddy then you need to wipe the worst off the hand you landed on, unclog your shifters and straighten your helmet.

I think most of the key to quick recovery is dealing with all of the above as quickly and as calmly as possible, then without panicking and trying to over extend yourself, simply concentrating on getting back into the race. This takes practise, or rather experience, as experience gives you a pretty automatic feel of what is right or wrong both with your bike and your body. If you are just starting off 'cross racing then your bike feels weird anyway if you ride it in mud when you normally ride on the road so it might take a while to realise something moved during the tumble.

So I would suggest a quick check-list as follows:
You find yourself on the floor; did it hurt when you landed? Does it hurt as you jump back up and grab your bike? Delay decision on pain unless it is severe until you are back riding...

Pick bike up and run a few steps to get up to speed to remount. As you take these steps look at chain first. If its off, stop and put it back on. Quick decision... can you get chain back into a gear that means you can ride the next section or will you jump on just to jump straight back off and run it, as you cant get your feet in or are overgeared?

If chain is on, quick glance at saddle and bars. Are they both pointing in the direction they were when you started the race?! If not, stop and straighten with a quick slap to the front of the saddle or front wheel between knees as you twist the bars straight.

If the above are all good to go, and you've checked this out in the space of four running steps only, then on you get. Once back on and riding then its a very fast pain diagnosis. Your pain threshold, the importance of the event, and also the appearance of a significant amount of blood (which can leak from you without too much pain, especially when its cold) will make the decision for you on whether to continue, and if so if its going to take a while to get back up to speeed or not.

If all seems fine then focus. You slipped off and lost 15 seconds and 4 places. If it was your fault give yourself a mental slap and dont repeat the error. If it was someone elses fault, maybe they dived under you going into a corner and took you out, then go get back past them!

Finally, consider if its worth changing bikes next time past the pits; did you slide off because your tyres were too hard, if your bars twisted they might need tightening, your pedal and shifter on the side you landed might be full of dirt.

But to Josh who posted the question, its definitely not just you!
I mentioned this incident in the 'Cross book but its worth repeating it here as its a great example of how people react differently to a problem. At this years World Championships a crash took out Nys and Wellens whilst they were both in the lead; a TV quad bike flicked a traffic cone marking the TV bike lane out into the course and one of them hit it and they both came down. They both got up and sorted themselves out although Wellens was obviously having trouble and initially he lost the most time and ended up back in the teens. But he got his focus back, the bit between his teeth, and you could see the fire in his eyes as he moved forward, moved forward, until he ended up 4th. It was only as he crossed the line that the pain took over and later it transpired he had fractured his wrist. On the other hand Nys went the other way; the crash wasn't his fault and you could tell looking at him he was pissed of that it had happened and was thinking about it. A second crash that was his fault happened a lap later and it looked like he was going to launch his bike into the crowd and crawl off somewhere to feel sorry for himself, but I think he reminded himself he was at a home-country Worlds and had to finish, but there was no focus or fight.

I think it shows that it is a different scenario for every rider, and each will deal with it in the way that most matches their character.

Josh, hope that helps.

4 comments:

DB said...

Maybe a stupid question:

WHat's the fastest way to put a dropped chain back on?

About Simon said...

If its come off on the inside, so off the small chainring and is resting on the bottom bracket, pull bottom of chain so it moves rear derailleur jockey wheels forwards and put chain back onto small chainring "backwards" so anti-clockwise.
If its come off over the top of the big chainring and is on the outside of the crank and resting on the bottom of the front derailleur its the opposite to the above, so from the top by the front derailleur put the chain on a couple of the large chainring teeth then pick back of bike up and turn pedals to engage chain back onto the ring.
If its not happened to you in a race before its worth practising in the comfort of your own garage so you can get a feel for it and check out what is happening as you move the chain around with your fingers.

josh said...

thanks simon

Brooke Hoyer said...

Excellent post. I had to smile when I read it cause I wrote this a couple months ago:

http://hoyerfamily.com/cyclocross/?p=138

Now I can pat myself on the back now that the expert had concurred.

I think that Nys really packed it in after his third spill -- over the bars at the root. I imagine it was because of all that psychological baggage from so many Worlds opportunities lost.

It occurs to me that your friend might be racing in Portland, ME, not Portland, OR where I am.

Did you send me a mail? My email spam filter might have eaten it if you did. You can try again at:

brooke [at] hoyerfamily [daht] com