A Passion For Bike Crashing


The other day, I went out for a nice after-work singletrack ride. I’ve found that it is a great way to clear out the cobwebs from a long day at work, and I highly recommend it to you all, by the way. On my merry little way, I noticed that the trails were a bit damp, something that reminded me of the previous day’s downpour. Not to worry, I thought, as the trail system drains very quickly, made up mostly of sandy, silty dirt. The soil was collecting on my tires a bit and was getting tossed up in the air around me in small bits by my tires. I am always amused when that happens, and I kept right on pedalling and having fun. And that’s right about when it happened.

I got that rude awakening that we have all received at one time or another. The trail went around a tight 90 degree turn to the left. I dove into it with a good head of steam and the dirt-packed front tire started that dreaded slide that is a precursor to, well, doom. At that point in time, I always find I enter a time warp. How else can I explain the slow motion feel that I get when I am about to be introduced to Mother Earth in a violent manner?

That feeling you get just before the impact is such a great moment! I had a physics teacher in college that put it this way: “It’s not the state of being out of control that kills you, it’s the sudden deceleration that does the damage.” He sure was right about that. I just wish the price of being out of control for that one glorious moment wasn’t quite so high. It seems like you are flying, free from the usual state of gravitational pull, and it is quite exhilarating. Then the bill comes and it’s time to pay.

Thankfully, the price tag on my day’s crash wasn’t too high. Just a slide on the left leg and forearm in some greasy earth and bruise here and there. Nothing that a hot shower at the end of the ride couldn’t cure. It was fun, actually, and I look forward to the next on the edge flirtation with disaster. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that it’s part of the mountain biking experience, whether you are a pro downhill rider or are just plunking along on some twisty single track like me. Try embracing that part of the ride and you just might be having more fun than you thought possible on your trails.

Crashing can even be looked at as a positive experience in another way: you learn what you can and can’t do; you find out what skills you need to sharpen; you can even make better choices in equipment based on crash experiences. A crash should always teach you something.

What did I learn from my bail? Well, I learned that I should be running a different tire combination when the trails are damp. I also learned that people stare at you funny when you are covered in dirt riding home from the trails. That’s okay. I know that I’m having fun getting that way. I can’t wait to do it again!

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