First crash - recovery and confidence advice

I had my first crash today in a road race. Lots of road rash on my right leg, elbow and shoulder in what was a nasty spill on the last lap of a few laps around prospect park, Brooklyn here in New York City. My first crash during my first season of road racing. :slightly_frowning_face:

I’m OK now and treating the scrapes but I think I’m going to take it easy this upcoming week, as I was scheduled for a mid-plan FTP test on the general build mid volume.

For those who have crashed before in road races, what do you do to recover and more importantly (as I feel this will be something I will experience), how do you gain your confidence again to do another race?

Healing was easy, just covered all roadrash with teraderm and did recovery rides for a few days to keep the blood flowing.

Hardest part was gaining the confidence to race again. Here are a couple things that helped me.

  1. I took apart my whole bike, inspected it, and built it back up, I didn’t want to have any doubt about the safety of the bike.

  2. I did a group ride to get used to riding with people again.

  3. Visualized the crash and figured out what I could have done to avoid the crash. If this would require some skill, I’d practice that skill on your own in a parking lot or something.

  4. This is by far the hardest one, but I signed up and paid for another race online, basically committing myself to racing again.

  5. Took a criterium clinic that was held before the race, this gave me some additional confidence when actually racing that day.

Hope some of these tips help. Good luck in getting back in the saddle!

  1. 2 days after is the worst. Buckle up for that

  2. Road rash is weird healing. The new skin is very thin. My advice is go for bandages and neosporin for longer than you think you need. By 2-3 days.

  3. You won’t lose much fitness - don’t worry.

  4. Confidence: depends a lot on what caused it.

But I’d try to find a sweeping downhill turn you can session a little. Hit it over and over adding speed and tighter turning. Get comfortable leaning that bike over again!

Then ride with a buddy. Find somewhere quiet flat and straight. Ride close. Closer. Closer. Touch. Put your arm around him or her and ride for a bit.

Last from my own experience- see if you can find some GoPro footage of the crash. Seeing it from another angle can help see what happened and how to avoid. From one of my crashes I had 2 different camera angles and I quickly saw “oh…if I didn’t break I would have been fine. “

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Firstly, hope you’re not too badly bashed up?

I kind of look at crashing as an inevitable part of racing. It’s likely to happen at some point, but that’s not ever going to make it easier. Make sure you take care of your body so you heal up properly. Don’t worry about fitness as you’re healing. If you’re able, try and get back to you’re usual group rides sooner rather than later. As above, I check my bike over and then get a professional to look at it.

I try and not analyse with any blame what happened, but just look at the facts. There’s always something to learn from a crash. Sometimes I’ve learned things I can do different, sometimes it’s a race that I’ll not do again because of the circuit, sometimes is so unpredictable that there’s nothing that would have changed the outcome!

I’ve also learned that if you think a bone is broken, it probably is. Don’t wait 3 months to get it x-rayed unless you want a finger that doesn’t bend straight anymore😂


I often counted myself lucky to avoid a lot of crashes until I was clipped by a car that decided to overtake into a group of cyclists, in a race I might add.
I basically bounced off the side of the car and the wing mirror hit my hand, miraculously I even stayed upright, it turned out the impact did a fair amount of damage and I was off the bike for about 9 months as I physically couldn’t hold the bars.

Mental recovery is just as important as physical.

My first race back I opted for a shorter route and was a ball of nerves, it was scary but I knew I had to do it.
When I realised I could ride without getting hurt the next race was fine.

You might find yourself tensing up on the bike, holding on really tight and slipping out the bunch, I did, but I knew what was happening and let it happen without beating myself up and focused on relaxing and getting a rhythm back which I had a week later in my next event.

Everyone processes things differently but if you can mentally replay why it happened you’ll know what to avoid in the future.


Something that didn’t look too bad at first took me 2 months to heal fully, nothing was broken, but plenty of cuts and bruises, hips, elbows, shoulders. Few first days after are the worst. Never realized how much we use our elbows :slight_smile: I was racing a week after, but confidence was totally gone, could not get close to anyone’s wheel, stupid thoughts all the time. Cornering ability suffered the most, including descending ability. A year later and I still can’t corner as I used to. It never completely came back. I remember every fall with a vivid detail. I do lots of XC, which definitely helps, but it is not the same. Feeling quite vulnerable on the road bike.

I’m thinking to stick CX tyres onto a road bike and hit some local fireroads and trails, if that doesn’t help, I’m not sure what will.


Ouchie… sorry to hear about your kissing of the pavement… she’s a cruel mistress…
I have had a little experience in gravel rash :frowning:
I have found that the non stick dressings are the best (Melolin and similar) when used with a wound healing gel.
Depending on the size of road rash the waterproof stick on bandages with the dressing already set on the centre are amazing… If you get it on sealed, you can shower and they dont catch on clothes, but if you are training remember to change them regularly and wash the areas around the grazes too.
I ended up with irritated skin, and pimple like things where the sticky part. had been… it was almost worse than the gravel rash.

Bruising… well thats just really annoying. I have had some luck with bruise creams…

as some one else said… get blood flow to the area, if you are able the sooner you are able to get back on the bike… even if at a slower pace the better.
Do a few coffee runs or similar.

Oh and often you will pull mussels and strain things that you weren’t expecting during a crash, more than not from suddenly tightening up when you realise your going down.
stretching, massage and professional adjustments (physio, ostio or Chiro can assist)

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@daveambrose hey man sorry to hear! As someone who has been down more times than I can remember I totally understand where you’re coming from. The last big crash I had left me in the hospital (just a day) for collar bone 8 ribs and a bruised lung.

I thought I was being a tough man/hero getting on the trainer soon after and riding/training xxx weeks after. My advise is just remember that it takes energy to heal the body from these events. Not knowing how bad off you are it’s safe to say some time off the bike would be a really good thing. Once healed and feeling like you wan to ride do some group rides to get your feet wet. And then jump back in. Confidence is important so it make take longer than your buddy or me or Nate…Hang in there amigo. Don’t give up.


Last big crash I had was a wet drain, one minute I was cornering and then bang, I was sliding down the road.

It sounds a bit perverse, but treat it as a right of passage. You’ll be a bit sore and tender for a while but the skin will heal fairly quickly, good wound treatment etc. as advised above will help a lot.

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Get yourself some Duoderm patches and Manuka honey. Load it up and leave it on for a few days at a time. Couple of weeks you’ll be good as new. The days of keeping it dry and plasters and bandages are gone. This stuff is brilliant.
I’ve healed some deep and horrible road rashes brilliantly with this stuff. Trust me - I sit in an office feeling really sorry for myself when i’m injured and spend a LOT of time researching the best ways to get fixed. :slight_smile:

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Subscribing. Crashed four years ago and never recovered to race again.

I had 2 big crashes and 2 super close calls within the space of a year and a half. All and all, my confidence was not all that shaken and I got back to racing just fine. I think it helped that the first crash was a freak equipment failure which did freak me out but, it was something that is not likely to ever happen again in my lifetime. The 2nd crash was a result of me taking a risk in a particular race situation that I should have recognized sooner and avoided, or at least managed better. Lesson learned. So, a positive outlook and lots of rationalization is your friend!

As for the 2 close calls, both times I avoided going down as a result of other people’s issues solely due to super human bike handling (a/k/a blind luck). It really was more luck than skill but I did prove to myself I do have some skills in the midst of mayhem and can react to things properly when there is no time to think. That did give me confidence in that even if all hell breaks lose, there is always a chance things will work out for me.

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all great advice in these responses. thanks for sharing.

second day is definitely better after much needed rest (I actually found this video before going to bed last night really helpful that talks through another rider’s approach to healing:

i’m waiting for a video to popup of the crash to analyze what happened and how i can prevent next time around. @STP, my crash was in a similar situation where i was feeling strong on the last lap and attempted to move btw. two riders on a very fast descent.


I had my own run in with the road about 10 days ago and messed up the side of my knee pretty good.

I had a few questions if you don’t mind:

  • I can’t get a straight answer from people on the difference between tegaderm and duoderm other than the large price difference. Is duoderm that much better?
  • Tegaderm seems to handle the natural knee movement welll. Will it be able to as well. The thickness of it leads me to think it would peak off right in pretty short order as it catches on pants, etc.
  • Do you put ointment if some kind with the tegaderm or duoderm? Some people say yes, others say the dressings have it already built in.

Thanks for you advice,

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I’m not sure what the difference is. It might be pretty much the same stuff, just a brand name difference. Don’t know.

Duoderm is great stuff though. I also smeared a ton of Manuka Honey gel over the wound before putting the Duoderm on and then covered the whole thing with a big square wound pad taped in place just so my trousers wouldn’t move it. The Manuka stuff is better than any Silver based artifical gel - i read a medical study on it to get the full info as i was sceptical of my wife’s hippy dippy recommendation.

Then just leave it in place for a handful of days before changing it out. It’s supposed to be sloppy and mucky in there as the skin reforms in a sort of juicy matrix. It can’t do that if it’s dry.

When you come to peel it all at the end it comes off easily and is not the horror show of pain that you’d imagine.

Good luck. I feel a lot less scared of road rash now that i’ve been through it with the modern medical technology solution :slight_smile:

From my research, Tegaderm traps the body’s fluid under the bandage. Duoderm and J&J Advanced Healing seem to incorporate some type of gel that leaves less of a bubble under the bandage.

Tegaderm instructions say not to use anything under the bandage.

Wearing 4 of them right now.

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Similar boat here man, I crashed in a crit yesterday. The hurt to the ego and the wallet is worse than the hurt to the body (luckily). I ripped up a bunch of clothes and my wheel is in rough shape. I was supposed to start my specialty plan tomorrow but I’ll probably take this week easy and hold off until next week.

As far as gaining confidence to race again, I think you probably just have to get back out there, or at least go on a few easier group rides to get your head back in the game. I was thinking about racing again next weekend, but I’m going to see how I feel about that later this week. Hope you have a speedy recovery!

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feel better as well!

Make sure you recover from your wounds first. Stationary trainer might be ideal to maintain your fitness but be careful pushing it too far as your body will use some of it’s energy to heal as well.

In regards to the mental aspect. I’ve had a couple of crashes during the races and for me it was more about finding the reason for the crash and determine what I could have done to prevent it. One crash was in a 180 degree turn in the lead up to the finish line with some gravel on the inside of the corner. I wanted to take it quicker than my breakaway companion and took it too fast -> didn’t affect me afterwards, knew what happened and why.
Another crash happened when it started raining during a race. This was after a long dry spell. there was some oil on the surface of the road and someone in the front of the pack hit his brakes and a whole bunch of us came down. I found this harder to recover from mentally because every time it starts spitting now during a race I’m much more aware that a crash is more imminent and can be totally out of my control. I even try avoiding racing in wet conditions for this very reason.
I do find that just after a crash I’m a lot more cautious cornering but over time you gain your confidence back and after a couple of rides you corner just like you did before.