Another Crash! Bad luck or bad bike handling (or two things that can be true at the same time)

Couple of weeks ago I posted this:

Got a lot off great advice and was excited to get back out there. Next race, I crashed again. This time I think it was truly bad luck, but I nonetheless submit myself to the judgement of the TrainerRoad forum jury:

What do people think this time?

Mostly wrong place, wrong time….sometimes bad schitt happens no matter what.

That said, it looks like you may have had some radar-lock on there. You appear to be fixated on the crash vs. looking for a way out. You will always go where you are looking…and if you are locked onto the crash, that is where you are going. It appears there was some room to move to the left and avoid it, but you gotta start looking for the bailout immediately and not watch the crash.

But this is as much a skill as good cornering….it takes time to develop. Like I said, mostly wrong place, wrong time.

You are definitely on a bad luck streak…hope that is the end for you.

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Yeah, 100%, I think this is right. In the moment, I was on the breaks hard and kind of skidding into the crash, but was definitely staring right at it and it felt like the pile-up had a gravitational pull to it.

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Yup, classic “target fixation” and something that is hard to avoid in a tense situation like that. Agree with the above being bad luck for the most part here.

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I’m with @mcneese.chad

I just crashed tonight riding to a ride! LOL Watch that gravel and sand in the corners. Going pretty slow but, sometimes those are the worst. Check out the hematoma on my right hip. Ballooned up almost instantly…

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Ouch, that looks brutal. Hope it heals up quickly!

My face went into a guys chainring, but thankfully oversized sunglasses are fashionable these days so only a few concentric cuts. Hands were pretty cut up, and have some nasty bruising on my right hip and shoulder (but not nearly as bad as yours).

To make matters worse, the guys drivetrain was absolutely filthy so my jersey looks like a shop rag now.

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My default is going to the grass but couldn’t see well if that was even an option or it required a jump. H

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Actually, you can’t steer if you’re hard on the brakes. Doesn’t matter where you’re looking, you’re going straight forward.

In order to have swung left to avoid the pileup, you would’ve had to make a split second decision to let off the brakes entirely. This type skill is more likely to be developed through mountain biking. Beginner mountain bikers eat a lot of sh*t because their panic reactions are to grab brake.

Skills aside, your positioning in both crashes was far right. I think maybe you need to forget about getting the best possible draft or quickest line, and instead give yourself some suitable exits.

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Give yourself time to heal. It takes more energy than I think we think it does…but yeah hands cut up is annoying. My right hand is ooozing a lot right now. Not sure how this will work with work…lol!

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First things first, I hope you’re ok and heal quickly.

Rather than critique you, better to look at a good example of what to do….check out the guy in blue with white sock/shoes (just ahead and to the left who’s right behind the crash), watch as he brakes but then steers around it as the gap opens….

Not sure how much of that is instinct or experience or if it’s trainable…but the second you lock you’re brakes you lose the ability to steer which is often your best form of ‘escape’ (same in your car btw!)

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I take it your the camera man if so it was mainly you were in the wrong place at the wrong time (bad luck). The actual event might have occurred far enough ahead that you might have had a chance to avoid it, but hindsight is a wonderful thing don’t beat yourself up about it and heal fast!

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In theory, it was maybe avoidable (as others have said, by instantly heading left). In practice? I’m not so sure. This looks mainly like bad luck to me. I think we can all suppose ‘what if?’ but actually doing it in that split second is very, very hard.

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It seems this second time there was enough time to brake enough to get to a stop, however, many times people brake too long and dont look at where to go to avoid the crash but instead, look at the thing they dont want to run into, and therefore, keep riding directly towards it.

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that is such a split second decision and trying to even judge if you can get over to the left without compounding things by causing a bigger crash is tough. So yeah, in theory, maybe he could have gotten over but I think that would be risky.

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Basically agree with the others that it is mostly wrong place wrong time, but it was an avoidable crash from where you were.

You were still pedaling/moving up as the crash was happening - better attention to the group in front of you could’ve given you an extra second to figure things out.

Given the curb to your right and enough prior experience I think you could’ve better prepared for this and thus avoided it. Subconsciously ‘knowing your out’ would’ve meant you instinctively went left or immediately went hard right and hopped the curb, instead of trying to react to the crash

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I am coming to the same conclusion as well. The other contributing factors here was a significant drop in confidence having crashed in the previous race, was overreacting (grabbing breaks hard) to any sign of trouble…

So i went back and looked at the video again and did some analysis…at :04" the crash has begun and the rider w/ a light blue jersey is starting to fall over to the right into the grass. Just after that (still showing :04" on the timeline, though…which shows how fast this stuff can happen), two riders are in the grass and the rider in front of you is heading towards them (also probably radar-locked).

At :05", the rider in front of you is sideways and half into the grass…but the lane to the left is wide open. That was probably your window to avoid the crash (actually a bit before it, but it is most visible at this time). Plus, you need to think about the “momentum of the crash”…IOW, which way will the wreckage travel based on the direction of the race / course. Easiest example to understand is a crash in a corner…the momentum of the crash will be towards the outside of the turn and your “out” is usually to the inside as a result.

Again, this is a skill / experience thing…it is really hard to not focus on a crash when it happens right in front of you. It is totally natural to do that. Someone above mentioned “knowing where your out is”…this is a critical racing skill. It is a constant observational skill that gets enhanced the more you race.

In the case of this crash, your “out” was always gonna be to your left…you were up against the right edge and the momentum of the crash was going to the right. The only option you had to avoid the crash was to go left.

But as most of us have said, this was primarily wrong place, wrong time. You definitely didn’t do anything wrong, but in the future, you can perhaps do some things “better” (if that makes sense).

Did you end up getting banged up at all in the crash? Bike OK?

Thanks for the detailed analysis! I have to imagine this is something that, with experience, is going to become more intuitive than explicit.

I think I was starting to build this experience through 2019, but after the 2020 race hiatus it feels like starting from scratch.

Novice “racer” (want to have a go at Cat 4 shortly) here so just trying to take as much analysis from this as possible…

A lot of folks suggest there is an “out” to the left at some point once the crash has started. Are those people just pulling left at the first opportunity or have they “checked” left first for other riders?
I guess the good riders “just know” if someone is on their left shoulder but if they are does this change your decision to pull left?
If there is any doubt as to the safety of going left are you still doing it rather than taking the crash?
To me I’d be so scared of putting someone else in danger by making an “erratic” move left to avoid the crash that I would probably just accept my fate and look for my safest way to crash into the pile-up… but maybe that is something I need to change in my thinking?

A few thoughts….

  • yes, you tend to develop a sense of what is happening around you
  • your primary responsibility is to keep yourself upright. You are under no obligation to sacrifice yourself to protect others.
  • once a crash starts, all bets are off…riders in the crash are already being erratic and those behind need to be aware of the constantly changing situation.
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