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article on crashing

Discussion in 'Riding Tips' started by spike, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. spike

    spike

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    i know no one wants to crash but heres an interesting article discussing our worst fear :shock:

    Going Down - The Art of Crashing
    By Warren Pole
    Welcome to the taboo world of the crash. What they're about, why they happen and how not to have them. All you ever wanted to know about something you don't want to do




    Painful, expensive, embarrassing, sometimes very sad, sometimes downright hilarious, crashing and motorbikes have gone together like MPs and mistresses since man first attached two wheels to an engine. They are the Yin to motorcycling's Yang, the misunderstood bastard offspring of motorcycling's loins, and the one part of riding we could all do without.
    Or could we?

    I don't think so.

    Because without crashing where would be the fun in riding? If we couldn't crash, going fast would merely be a matter of opening the throttle and the fastest rider would always be the one with the most cash and the latest missile (with engine blueprint, hot cams, big bore, race system, turbo, go-faster anodised bolts, matching bar-ends and go-faster purple headlight cover of course. Ahem). The skill of riding, the very essence of its satisfaction, would be lost. No longer would you be able to edge towards your bike's limits and dance on the heady twilight of adhesion with the adrenalin pumping into your brain like a neat, cold, tequila shot because those limits wouldn't exist anymore.

    Fast riding would be no different to playing an arcade game and every Herbert would be at it. Why shouldn't they? After all, the only reason people don't get into bikes is because they don't see the potential risk (crashing) as worth it. You know as well as I do this risk is way lower than the non-biking majority perceive it to be, but we don't want them to know that just yet, eh? After all, if they thought riding was safe our badassed, thrill-seeking public image would be in tatters. Take the risk out of biking altogether and it becomes as safe as knitting. Oh dear.

    Nope, we need crashing and that's that. From the 10mph topple in the drive all the way through to the 130mph GP highside, they're all a part of the experience.

    Not to say they're all good. No way, because smashed limbs, hospital food, death - yes, it does happen although it's as likely to come from an errant rollerskate at the top of the stairs as from being on a bike - and the sheer mental and financial anguish of turning your P&J (that's 'pride and joy') into scrap aren't exactly experiences to relish. But without lows, you don't get highs and as bikes are all about seeing, feeling and tasting a little more of life beyond the everyday norm, it stands to reason this can apply to the bad stuff too.

    Then again, there's the upside to crashing.

    Like the stories. Once the crashing's all over, the damage assessed and the injury pinpointed as no more than dented pride and a sprained wallet, crashes can be very funny.

    Take the example of my mate (who shall remain nameless) who, following a massive row with the missus, stormed out of the house at three am, leapt on his bike, gave it massive revs and went to make a dramatic departure, leaving his guilt-wracked tearful girlfriend pitifully calling his name into the empty night. At least that was the plan... Unfortunately, cold tyres and greasy tarmac conspired to highside him immediately into a parked car ten feet away before the bike landed on top of him and pinned him to the road. She'd already shut the door and he spent ten minutes stricken underneath it before she relented and came to his rescue.

    And inherent in any good crash story is survival. After all, whichever way you slice it, getting hurt sucks, and even when you are alright the financial implications of a spill can still hurt. But, walking away from a major off at the track is an awesome feeling. Looking down on the tarmac from a vantage point 15-feet up while traveling backwards well in excess of the motorway speed limit is not something most people get to do and is an experience you should make the most of should it happen. The same goes for the graceful lowside slither into the gravel and the earth-sky-earth-sky-oh-no-not-the-collarbones tumble across the grass. If you find yourself in any of these situations, relax, kick back and enjoy the ride. After all, what else can you do?

    CRASHING: HOW THE BODY REACTS
    Most crashes are preceded by a massive stab of fear and involuntary expletives as you realise it's all gone tits up and your previously peaceful ride has now, for whatever reason, become an altogether different animal.
    Whether it's the instant the car ten feet away pulls out, or the moment you just know you're running into a corner 30mph too hot, or even one of those crashes where you're halfway through and staring at the front wheel before you know it's happening, your body goes into 'fight or flight' mode. Essentially, you become turbocharged to give you the best chance of survival, and this little response is all thanks to our cavemen ancestors who faced death and fear on a daily basis in the form of wooly mammoths and the like.

    Medically, the amygdaloid nuclei and hypothalamus in the middle of your brain send the 'disaster imminent' message out and the process begins. You get a massive surge of adrenalin and glucose energy, while your breathing gets heavier all for maximum energy, your heart rate rockets and blood flies to your muscles where it's needed and leaves your abdomen and stomach where it's not (this is what causes butterflies by the way), your pupils dilate, the ciliary muscle in the eyes relaxes letting you see further than normal to make the most of your now super-alert brain. Oh, and your sphincter contracts to minimise possible mess...

    So now you're off the bike, mid-crash, and seeing everything in perfect slow-mo clarity. Why the slow-mo? It's all part of your turbo-brain and senses now taking in far more detail than normal.

    There's no medical explanation as to why it always goes so quiet at this stage, but it's probably just down to your sudden closing off the throttle and ejecting from the bike which take you away from all the noise you've been surrounded until the instant you crashed.

    Then it's back to earth with a bump and it's all over. It's taken a split second and you're still wired to the nuts on adrenalin. On the blacker side of things, this means if you are badly hurt you're unlikely to feel a thing. On the other hand, if you are largely okay, the adrenalin is what gives you the superhuman strength to lift your bike up in front of the 30 pedestrians invariably watching.

    Now you're into the comedown phase. Injured or not, you're going to feel whacked out, perhaps a bit spaced-out and anyone who's ever smoked is going to want 20 Marlboro reds as soon as possible, no matter how long since they last touched the evil weed. As for the future, chances are you're going to feel funny about riding again, no matter how well you are physically, but the only way through this is to get straight back on. If you're still dead nervy after a couple of days, get yourself on an advanced training course and get someone who knows their stuff to ease you back into the groove.

    ROAD CRASHES: AVOID 'EM
    Gary Baldwin is an accident investigation officer with Thames Valley police, an ex bike racer and advanced instructor. What he doesn't know about riding and crashing would fit on the back of a stamp. Here are his top crash causes:
    1 Too fast past junctions: "it's always the same this one. Car pulls out, bike hits car, rider gets mangled. Sounds like the car's fault? Not so. More often than not on open roads when we piece it back together, turns out the bike was going so fast it wasn't there when the car driver looked, but appeared in the split second it took for them to look back and pull out." Advice: "whatever you do elsewhere, back it off past junctions. You can always get the speed back in seconds."

    2 Giving up: "rider goes into corner, thinks he's going too fast, panics, hits the brakes, runs straight on and invariably hits something hard. Trouble is, analysis afterwards nearly always shows the rider wasn't anywhere near the maximum possible speed for getting round the bend." Advice: "arrive at the corner already at the right speed, if you do think you're not going to make it relax, don't touch the brake, look to where you want to go (avoid staring at the roadside tree/car you're heading for - look at it and you will hit it), and nine times out of ten the bike'll go round no problem."

    3 Untidy Overtaking: "bike overtakes car as car turns right. Of course the driver should have been checking their mirrors before turning, but if you're dead who cares who's fault it was?" Advice: "don't overtake past right-hand turns, lay-bys, pubs, and anything else on the right people could turn into. And beware the car traveling slowly - more notorious than most for the unpredictable swerve into your path."

    5 Look where you're going: "not just where you are now, but where you're going to be. The further ahead you're looking and planning, the better prepared you are to take evasive action and avoid dodgy situations before they happen. If you can't take in enough information as you go, chances are you're going too fast. Back it off a touch."

    CRASHING ON THE TRACK
    Road test ed Niall Mac's had his share of track crashes (400-plus at last count). Here's what he's learnt:
    "I'm all in favour of letting go as soon as possible - I'm not one to be still hanging onto a bike once I'm on my arse. Obviously don't let go at the first twitch of the back tyre, but when you can't get it back just let go. If it's a highside, I always have time to think 'I'm fine now but it's really gonna hurt in a second' and give a quick prayer that I'll be alright before hitting the floor. Once I'm on the floor, in any crash, it's a case of battening down the hatches and preparing for tarmac attack. I'll pull my arms and legs in as much as possible because it's when they start flailing that things get broken and dislocated. After this I just wait for the end and never get up too soon. I did that in my early days - either standing up still going backwards and falling straight back down again, or doing it going forwards, taking a few giant 30mph steps and going straight back down on my face - and realised it was best to just relax. As soon as I stop, I don't move. I prefer to collect my thoughts, wiggle my feet to make sure they still work, and wait for the marshals to come and do their stuff."
    Trackdays: Don't Fall Off
    "If you're racing you accept you're going to crash from time to time, but at trackdays you can slash your chances of lobbing it by following a few basic tips. And here they are:

    1 Stay calm: "Easier said than done but if you're into a corner too hot, or think you are, chill out, look where you want to go and stay off the front brake. Chances are you'll make it round fine. And if someone ahead comes off, resist the temptation to brake - chances are they'll go straight by you anyway. And if they don't, by staying calm you've got a better chance of missing them anyway."

    2 Don't go too mad too early: "most trackday crashes I see are in the morning. It takes a bit of discipline but spend the morning getting into it, learning (or re-learning) the track and building up your speed session by session. Oh, and watch out for cold tyres on the first few laps of each session... At the same time, don't go bananas in the last session either. Even though you feel right on it after a day's riding, you're concentration will be down and your tyres'll be shot too - a perfect recipe for a cartwheeling mess of bike bits and limbs if ever I saw one."

    3 Take breaks: "If you feel tired out or stressed, back it off and chill out in the pits for a while. Have a drink, a light bite and go back out when you've recharged. You'll be less likely to crash and you'll be faster too."

    This feature was first published in the March 2002 issue of TWO
     
  2. andysjt

    andysjt

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    good article spike ,

    i can identify with the crashing thing , calm ,quiet & slow-mo then bang back to tarmac its exactly how it happened to me , unfortunately i can also recognize the giving up section as I have done that a few times ,most recently today would you believe ,went into a corner that was tighter than i thought so i panicked for a spilt second thinking i was too hot ,so did something stupid & killed the power & hit the front brake ,result stood the bike up & drifted towards the middle of the road at the apex ,but got away with it by immediately correcting the mistake , but it is still an occasional reflex action that I wish I could avoid . i probably wasn’t going too fast & the bike would defo do the corner its just having the confidence to relax & get though it easier said than done
     
  3. spike

    spike

    Thread Starter

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    Location: oswestry
    i agree andy, had a couple of get offs myself and the world certainly does go slo-mo for an instant :eek:

    if i can make a sugestion without sounding like im telling you to suck eggs m8 regarding the urge to grab the front brake.......
    next time you go into a corner overcooking try feathering the back brake m8 it will tighten up your line without the bike standing up, when the urge hits to grab the front just shout out to yourself BACK!!!! it works for me, also you can still be on the throttle whilst on the back brake
    try it next time your out when your not overcooking it on a bend and see how the bike tightens up its line, plus its handy to practice it so that you dont lock up the rear by slaming on the back brake when your having an oh f*ck oh f8ck moment on a fast bend :D
    hope this helps andy ;)
     
  4. andysjt

    andysjt

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    thanks i will go & play
     
  5. Good article especially the bits about road crashes. Its something I generally practice and have been lucky enough not to have a major off.
     
  6. D41

    D41

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    Good advice about trying to relax your body during the actual crash - it's counter-intuitive because your natural instinct is to tense up. Definitely a technique to remember should the worst happen.
     
  7. SV_Justin

    SV_Justin

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    Im scared now! I think i'll give it an hour or so before I go out lol. Good read though
     
  8. Sorry to offer this opinion but should the worst happen this thread will be the last thing thought your mind.
    A bit like a flies arse as it hits your visor lol
     
  9. D41

    D41

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    Location: Orange, CA
    Learned it the hard way I'm afraid, racing MTBs for a long time - only hope I never have to exercise it on (or off!) the bike.
     

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