I few weeks back, I had a big scary crash while riding at MSS bike park. It took me out for about 5 weeks. Today is my first day back on a downhill bike. For the occasion, I decided to give you this little article about what I remember. What I will remember. And the lessons I’ve learned from my last crash.
Lesson 1: Ride Smart
The first thing is, of course, Ride Smart. What do I mean by that? Most people remember that crashes can happen on your first lap. But it can also happen at any given time. Furthermore, it can happen to any riders: pro riders, beginners, intermediate, I mean, you name it. So, ride smart. But what is riding smart?
Riding smart goes in three stages of riding. First, we should always pre-ride a trail. This is one of the mistakes I made that led to my last crash. Indeed, I just went crazy on the trail right from the get-go and didn’t take a minute to pre-ride my trail. Doing so would have allowed me to actually get the blood flow working in my body and get my muscles and my brain warmed up. It would also have allowed everything to start waking up and get ready for what was coming up. I do, usually, ride smart. But for a reason I cannot explain, I did not on that day. So, you start by pre-riding your trail, then you come back and you re-ride your trail.
Re-ride, why? Simply, because you just never know. On the first lap, your body will get going, your flow will get going. And you’ll do the trail easy peasy. Then the second time around, you get a little bit faster. You check and learn the trail. You double-check your equipment. Making sure that your bike is okay, that you’ve got breaks that you don’t have any mechanical issues. Which is one of the other reasons why I had that crash last time. We’ll get back to that later.
Of course, when your ride smart, you do your pre-ride, then you do your re-ride, and then you can actually go out there and free-ride and just enjoy the trails. However, remember, free-ride doesn’t mean to go crazy and do anything. To free-ride means you’re good to go and explore and try and work your way up obstacles. Get faster. Get better. And most importantly, have safe fun.
So, on that day, I didn’t do a pre-ride; I just went all-in right from the start. Then, during what should have been my re-ride, which I didn’t do either since I was in another trail, I noticed that I was running out of breaks. And instead of doing the smart thing and just pulling over and check my bike, I decided I was invincible and didn’t need breaks. After all, I just did my first run in one of the hardest trails of the park. So, I just went ahead and went down with no brakes, really.
Now, I can honestly see that these probably accounted for 60% of my last crash. And that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned from my last crash. Don’t underestimate the importance of riding smart. So, please do remember to pre-ride, re-ride, and then free-ride your trail. That’s so much more important than one would think. And can save so much pain.
Lesson 2: No distractions allowed
Now the second thing, the second mistake, or the second lesson, I’ll remember for quite a bit or I’ve learned is: never, never, never should we engage in a trail when we have distractions of any type, shape, way or form.
You’re going to see in the little segment of video below, I stopped taking care of the rope at the beginning of the trail. Rope that is in fact stuck there. Then a little bit further, I realized I don’t have any breaks. But I was still thinking about the rope and my wife which was way ahead of me by then. And instead of just stopping right there to assess my break, and walk my way down if necessary, I just went ahead and ignored all those signals. And voila, I ended up by crashing a second later. Resulting in a lot of pain, and me being out for about five weeks. So, in short, another of the good lessons I’ve learned from my last crash is “no distractions allowed”.
Lesson 3: Stay Calm
The third thing is to stay calm. But this was another big mistake of mine. I still can’t explain why I did panic: I know better. I mean, I did crash a lot in my life. Of course, I’ve been riding mountain bikes for many, many years, and I keep pushing myself, so accidents will happen. But one of the big mistakes I did on this crash was when I realized I was on the ground right after the fact. I was there alone for like a fraction of a minute before people came in wanting to help.
By the way, I thank all those people to have been there when it happened. I’m grateful for your help. You know, we’re so lucky that people just stop and help as they can.
Like I was saying, one of the big mistakes I did is I panicked. Even though I know better. I had a lot of pain in my shoulders, my back, and my neck, and I literally panicked. And I stood up when I shouldn’t have. Then, I sat on the trail upside down facing the trail. And on top of that, I super rapidly untied my helmet and removed it before patrol was there. Which is one thing we should never do under any circumstances on a crash like that. I mean, the crash was so hard, and, on my head, I should have just laid down there until the patrol arrived.
But, if you’re a rider you know, you’re so pumped up, you’re so on the adrenaline rush that you still don’t feel much of that pain and your first instinct is to move. And to be honest, that could have been extremely dangerous for me. Like I said, my back and neck were hurting. Removing my helmet and not listening to the advice of the guy that was trying to help, by asking me not to move until the patrol gets there was a big mistake that I made.
Fortunately, luckily enough, I didn’t have any major damage. And in the end, I didn’t hurt myself too much, so there was no repercussion of removing my helmet super quick and start moving right away right after that hard hit. But again, I’ve learned that only several hours later.
Be smart – Be aware – Be calm
Those are the three things I’m confident I’ll remember for a very long time. And I hope that it will help you down the line. Now, hopefully, you’re gonna go out there and ride safely. And remember those tips, they’re very important.
First: be smart. So, pre-ride, re-ride, free-ride. That way you’ll be able to shred all day long, and you build that momentum. And with a little bit of luck stay away from injury.
Second: be aware. Do not engage under any circumstances if you’re distracted. Or if your equipment is not right. If you have any mechanical issues or anything of that nature, I advise you to just pull over and double-check what’s going on. If you feel uncomfortable, stop right there. Never simply say, “you know what, I’ll just make it down and see”.
Third: be calm. If something happens, do not panic. If you can move, sit beside the trail, and wait. Although I highly suggest if it’s a hard hit not to move whatsoever. Assess your body and wait until the patrol gets there. It usually only takes a few minutes. They are well trained to assess your injury, help you, and stabilize your body, if needed.
So, there you have it the three lessons I’ve learned from my last crash. I hope you guys enjoyed this. If you do have any comments or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. I would really appreciate it. Keep on riding and see you on the trail.
Update from my last crash
After the crash, the patrol ended up by bringing be down in the four wheels. At the bottom of the mountain an ambulance, they had called was waiting for me. And after the first assessment they didn’t want to take any chances, they secured me on the stretcher and brought me to the nearest hospital. They kept me there until the next day as I had some water on my lungs. After several tests, I went back home the next afternoon with only two broken ribs and incredible pain in my shoulders and neck which made it very difficult to move. In the end, I was lucky. And don’t worry, I’m still addicted to mountain biking.
I want to thank the patrol to have been there within a minute and taken care of me. And also, thank the guys who stopped to help and call the patrol.
What did you learn from crashing?
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