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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I took a pretty big spill yesterday. Second day out on my new bike (well, new for me, I bought it lightly used from a co-worker). Was moving pretty quick down some singletrack and got into some rough, tight, rocky stuff. There were some low-hanging branches, sight lines weren’t great and I braked at the wrong moment (and I think put too much pressure onto the front brake). Wheel plowed into a wedge and I went flying over the handlebars. Complete somersault. Luckily I flew almost directly into some saplings which somewhat broke my fall, but I smacked my head on a rock in the air. I ended up pretty much upside down on the ground, resting on my upper back with my legs above me against the trunk of the tree.

Managed to crack my helmet where it hit the rock AND I somehow got a pretty bad laceration on the top-back-left of my head. I’m still not really sure how this happened because none of my head actually hit the rock; my helmet took the full force (and saved my life, no doubt). I ended up going to the ER and got six staples to close up the gash in my head. The fall caused a minor migraine but no concussion. Doctor says I should not do anything that might cause me to hit my head again until the staples come out and I’m cleared by a doctor or via a concussion clinic.

I’m bummed I can’t ride for a couple weeks but I’m also kind of nervous and scared to go back out there. I’m still a new to the sport and I know I have a lot of “learning” to do...I don’t want to sound completely stupid here but…what’s the key to getting better? Mileage? Should I take a mountain bike clinic? (Can’t really afford one…). Ride with friends who are better than me? (Not many of my friends ride…). Hell…watch YouTube videos??

I got a mild concussion about a month and a half ago snowboarding (which I’ve been doing for almost 15+ years). I absolutely do not want to turn into another Kevin Pierce (former pro rider who almost died from a major head injury riding halfpipe). I guess what I’m asking for is inspiration and any advice so I don’t end up giving up on this sport. Any of you had any bad crashes that made you think twice?
 

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EMBA MTB Lead Instructor
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Glad you are safe.

It is totally normal to be scared. I have a friend that faceplanted and cracked his helmet in 3 places... and continued to ride the trail laughing about it. He's not normal, and half his face was purple the next day.

Join the local bike club and do some clinics. Ride slow, don't be afraid to hop off your bike and walk. Practice grabbing your front brake in the parking lot or on grass to see how much it will take to endo you (don't endo... just build some muscle memory). Use this opportunity to buy a better helmet :)
 

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The summer before last I broke my foot in 3 places. Last season I rode a little, but didn't do nearly as much as usual. You just have to take it slow. This season I'm more confident about the foot so I don't think it's going to slow me down. Without confidence, that's an accident waiting to happen.. So take as much time as you need. Falls do happen though.

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I'm really not an aggressive rider at all, been doing it for years, and bombing trails and obstacles is just not my thing. I've had plenty of hang ups, falls, and a couple over-the-handlebars instances too. My advice is just to take things at your own pace; for me, that pace is SLOW lol. I opt to take up the rear of any pack that I ride with, and what I've realized is that I'm never far behind, but I feel no pressure to rush through obstacles, etc. If I need to put a foot down, I do. If I need to walk the bike, I do. I'm sure I'm not riding as hard or progressing as fast as others, but I'm not trying to make a career out of this, it's just a hobby for fun and exercise. Just go out and ride again once the doctor clears you. Take it slow and your confidence will build up again in no time.

One thing I also did which upped my confidence is started wearing elbow-guards. It's kind of motivated me to commit to more obstacles that I'd normally bail on, and know that if I go down, I probably wont get hurt.

Funny, I also had a bad fall snowboarding recently. I rarely go down these days, but apparently when I do, it's bad. Definitely ended that outing, but didn't stop me from taking the next opportunity to ride. The risk is part of the sport; nothing you can really do to avoid it besides being aware of your comfort zone and skill level, and pushing those limits incrementally rather than blowing them all out.
 

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Everyone crashes now and then. Sometimes riding with "better' riders isn't always the best idea if you're a beginner. Most of the better riders that I ride with just ride and I find myself pressing to keep up. At times, I'm that better rider of the group and when I am, I usually like to ride at the back or middle of the pack and am rarely out front. I like to keep an eye on my friends, especially on the more technical parts of the trails. The only time that I do ride up front is when the people I'm riding with has never ridden the trail before so they'll just follow my line.

Recently, I had a crash and although it wasn't a bad one, it still sticks in the back of my mind. Its natural. I was bombing down a pretty even fireroad of the section and on a turn, I leaned in too far and my tires slid out from under. I went sliding down a small hill with a bunch of thorny bushes. I got some good road rash and few abrasions. My friends and I pretty much laughed it off as I got back on the bike and finished the ride very slowly. That little crash was in the back of my head for the next few rides to the point where I was the slowest out of the group, by a mile. One time, I was going so slow through a rock garden that I did an endo and just bailed. A rock garden I've ridden many times with good speed and here I am walking my bike through it. Eventually, I forgot about that crash while I was riding and everything just clicked back on for me. Literally like a light switch.

Just take it slow and don't rush it. A good clinic never hurts but it won't stop you from crashing. Its not abnormal for crashes to happen.
 

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Professional Crastinator
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I've been riding for a pretty long time. In the same way that a trail feature triggers a response like "go faster", "get light", "pull up", "slow down", whatever... there are conditions and features that make me flashback to past mistakes. Sometimes I still scare myself, but I think I have learned from all of them and I usually decide that I will ride them, knowing what I know now. Was I going too fast? Did I brake wrong? Did I forget the trail? Did I have my weight going the wrong way? Was I not looking where I needed to go?

You'll be scared for awhile. If that trail was really over your head (you know better than anyone), you might want to ride elsewhere and work up to it. If it wasn't, and you just made a mistake, then go back and try it again. Maybe walk it and take a good look at it and decide how you will do it differently (and properly!).

If your front brake is giving you problems, practice in the grass with maximum braking, weight transfer/body position to control front traction, and, my favorite: how to get off a moving bicycle. ;)

I'm glad you didn't knock your head any worse. I think you'll be fine!

-F
 

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Rollin' a fatty
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Good to hear that you survived the spill, it won't be the last one believe me.

Get back on the bike and take it slow, speed up as you feel comfortable and you'll slowly but surely get the confidence back.

To improve watch other riders and if possible shadow them, you'll fine tune technique this way. On group rides follow a rider that is better than you technique wise but rides at a pace that you can handle. Also don't feel bad about dismounting if you think that danger is imminent, as I said, watch others and learn by using their technique and follow their lines.
 

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totally understandable...

I was victim of a car hit-and-run last summer, and it certainly takes the wind out of your sails for a bit...I've got a good friend that does the rodeo ditty, and he coached me to "get right back in the saddle"...it takes a while regain confidence, but you will overcome :thumbsup: good luck and hope you have a quick recovery...
 

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Hermit
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I know how you feel. Couple of years ago I got a new bike, and on the FIRST ride on it at West Branch SP OH I broke both bones in my lower left leg.

I had plenty of time to think about it as I healed, and was very tentative when I finally got back on the bike. The trick for me was to take my skills progression at a more reasonable pace. While I still would try moves that I hadn't been able make before, but I was focusing on mastering the easier obstacles before trying to make the big moves on the way tough ones. It took me a while to get back in the swing of riding, but I've kept that 'slow and easy' progression rule in mind since then. I wouldn't be surprised if that attitude had saved me from more injuries.

Good luck.

Steve Z
 

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Bikesexual
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From another noob, my humble advice is to pick a good beginners trail and master it (I do a somewhat intermediate trail) but I've ridden it consistently to build confidence, and it has helped me a lot! Especially coming down the trail, I feel so much better. I'm planning to that with another trail, and so on.

On my first few rides, I took bad spills although other than road rash I came out ok.

The truth is if I don't feel confident enough I will walk my bike and I have no shame, if anyone laughs, I could careless, no one is paying my bills - lol -

Hopefully you recoup quickly, get back out on the saddle, and re-build that confidence!
 

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RAKC
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Another newer rider here, this is season 3 for me. Have had couple nasty spills, no broken bones or stitches but battered and bruised,concussion and on my 3rd helmet. Oh and tacoed front wheel.

Lesson one I learned, if u don't know the trail well take it slow. Do "scouting" rides which means just cruise,see what the trail has. Take time to learn which routes are in ur comfort zone and and master them first, gradually adding in things that add difficulty.

Learn your front brakes!!! Otb sucks ass. My method isn't the greatest but it works. When in doubt ride it out. If stopping is dangerous especially risky using front brakes, I dont touch the fronts, drag the rears a bit, bring my weight back a bit and ride through it. Much rather fall to the side or bail than go otb at speed.

Next is skills clinics. Local clubs offer them all the time. Here we have 4 over the next 2 months, being they are in the evening during the week, I plan to ditch work one night to attend. We do no rider left behind for these. I have no desire for crazy stuff but skinnys and small drops still make me nervous.

Better riders to ride with are only helpful if they willing and understand properly teaching and have the patience to do it.

Finally, DONT BE AFRAID TO WALK. Every rider out there has done it plenty, anyone who says otherwise are liars.

Meeting good people that are friendly and will walk with u even though they can ride a section in their sleep are the best riding buddies to have. Thankfully im yet to meet anyone in my club that isn't like that. Find yourself a similar group and ur confidence will jump leaps and bounds (not to mention your skills) in no time.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone. I think I'm going to look into joining the local MBA near me (Greater Boston NEMBA seems really well organized....anyone a part of it??) and see if I can get in on some local rides and clinics.

Appreciate the input!
 

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You just need to get back on and ride as soon as you're cleared.
The first time I went back to the bike park after this, I was nervous also, took a few runs to get back up to speed.
 

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I'm not sure if this helps or not. But here in Louisville we have meet up and they post group rides all the time.
I've not been riding long, but I ride with these groups every chance I get
 

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just crashed hard myself, with broken ribs, separated shoulder, etc.

motivates me to not crash again. am getting really really tired of hurting every time I move or sneeze.

I bought some pads today, the POC tee and their elbow & forarm stuff, and their knee and shin stuff (and the pants).

I will look super ridiculous on the mostly flat Houston trail, but the parts that I shy away from trying, or do only half heartedly _are_ kind of dangerous, and I should have been wearing pads all along.

Falling down is part of riding bikes, imo. I am trying to get better at falling in ways and places (and with the right gear) that the outcome is not so bad.
 

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Take it easy and let yourself heal.

Then, slowly ease your way back into riding at speed.

Two things have kept me from major injury. The first being learning to read the trail. The second learning how to fall. Tuck and roll. I've had plenty of minor injuries from crashes that could have been very major if I didn't fall the right way.

Having a healthy desire to stay healthy/alive helps, too. But it doesn't help you much if you can't read the trail and decide that something is too much for you.

Your terrain makes a difference, too. Rocks are pretty uncommon where I live and ride, and when there is a rocky trail, the rocks aren't very sharp. Slippery and smooth, sure. If you've got rockier trails, some light armor and a helmet with better coverage might be a good idea.
 

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Consider getting a full face helmet. On easy climbs I strap it onto my backpack and wear it for the descent. Gives me some peace of mind.
 

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Every crash serves as a lesson of what you did wrong. Analyze it, play it back in your head and determine how and WHY it simply happened and what you can do to prevent it from ever occurring again. Then, conquer that fear of returning on the bike and chances are....it will NOT happen again, unless you really want it to.
 

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I had my fair share of wipe outs during my first year of hardcore MTB. I did a nice OTB after my pedal struck a tree stump that launched me and the bike (clipped in) in the air with me landing on the dirt trail and bike landing on me next.

next time I had stopped on the top of a decent drop. Was with a buddy and wanted to take a minutes to compose myself before we dropped in. Grabbed tree, got both feet clipped in, let go of tree and went 5' before front wheel hit exposed tree root running at an angle. Turned the bars out of my hand and tossed me OTB again.

This time though it launched me into a tree that was in a V. Rib cage took the tree square and made lots of cracking sounds. I was 4 miles into an 11 mile ride. Rode it out in pain. Went to DR next day, fractured a rib.

It gets better with time and experience, I don't fall off very often now. You skill level will increase and you will know how to handle the bike over time.
 
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