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First and foremost, when crashing a bike remember that safety comes first. Protect your head moreso than anything else. Bones can mend and heal but if you hit your head too hard you can suffer all kinds of brain injury leading to memory loss, shift in personality, or death. Wear a helmet and make sure it's a good one.

Perhaps you're asking, "Of course safety comes first, what else is there to think about when crashing a bicycle?" Excitment and curiosity come to mind.

Here is a brief list of things to consider when crashing a bicycle:

1. If you are prepared to ride somewhere, you must be prepared to crash there. Don't just assume you'll make it. Bicyles can go very fast and when you're competing with automobiles you cannot ever win. The best you can hope for is survival. Think ahead of time and do not leave without a helmet and appropriate pads. You decide what "prepared" means. If you're prepared to break a few bones, that's fine. I think you're kind of an idiot, but that's all right. If you're prepared to die, don't even bother with the helmet. If you aren't ready to die, you'd do best to either don the cranial protector or avoid high speeds.

2. Don't stop thinking. Accidents often happen fast but that doesn't mean you have to stop thinking. While you're flying over the handlebars or skidding into traffic is NO TIME TO STOP THINKING. Many people tend to lose control and just give up or go limp. Sometimes no amount of control will help you, but if you're biking in traffic or around other bikers there is not only a certain ettiquite to crashing, there is a larger safety issue to consider and it is not time to just sit back and let things happen to you. Do not stop thinking. This means that you can't just be a baby when you get hurt. If you legitemately need medical assistance, then there is nothing you can do but wait, so just sit and wait for it to come, but otherwise, grab your bike and get out of other people's way. This requires that you keep thinking the whole time. Observe where you are going to fall and be prepared to get up. Observe where your bike is going to be and be prepared to get it out of the way. Don't Panic. The first sign of an impending accident is not always the last chance to alter it. There is often a brief period where you see a crash coming and though you may not be able to stop it, with a little effort you can make it safer for everyone involved.

3. If you can, choose what body parts you are going to land on. If you have enough time, do your best to ready yourself. There's no way to get into the exact position you want, but you'll want to land on as much muscle as possible. Unless you are, as previously discussed, at peace with the eternal, you will want to do everything possible to protect your head and neck. This is almost totally impossible to explain with words, but don't worry, you'll probably react properly without even thinking. Just know that bones break whereas muscle only bruises. If you're going to do anything physical like this I recommend practicing falling. Many martial arts emphasize learning how to fall and they really have the right idea. Practice. Get good at landing without hurting yourself. It helps. If you have access to some practice mats, that would be ideal.

4. Zen. Don't forget to enjoy yourself. Crashing is a unique experience. Just like every tragedy it is full of oppurtunity. I can't describe the feeling I get when I hurt myself biking, get up and just know that I can survive something like that. Knowing your abilities is very useful, not to mention interesting. One day you know that you can program a VCR, tie your shoes, play guitar, write the great american novel and juggle, but today you know you can do all of those things and crash a bike.

It's Easy To Crash, If You Want To!

While other write-ups give excellent tips on how to deal with crashing a bike, here are some actual methods and approaches to crashing. I've crashed many a bike in my 19 years of cycling (actually just five bicycles, but each of them many, many times), and can honestly say that utilizing any of these techniques can successfully produce a crash.

  1. No Helmet, No Pads - Murphy's Law, in practice. Just like you're more likely to flat when you don't have a spare or a pump, you're more likely to crash when lacking a helmet or pads of any sort. Some call it natural selection, others call it cosmic fortune; I call it a guaranteed asphalt-kiss.
  2. Go Fast - A crash is just falling at speed. So get some speed if you want to crash dramatically (and I think we all want to crash with verve). The very act of going faster than you are used to is itself sometimes enough to initiate a panic-induced crash. Cycling faster reduces the available time to react, thus increasing the odds of crashing due to obstacles as well. And furthermore, the faster you are going, the more likely you are to be hurt/maimed/killed upon impact.
  3. Panic - If you assume you are going to crash, you can keep a clear head and bail out, abandoning bicycle before impact occurs. But, if you panic, you will clutch the handlebars in a death grip, and be tossed asunder like a cigarette butt from a passing motorist. Panic practically assures a crash.
  4. Be Unfamiliar with your Surroundings - The less familiar you are with what's around you, the more likely you are to be surprised and hit something that will cause you to fall. And if you're going quickly enough, that fall can be a crash. Explore at top speed!
  5. Focus on Obstacles - Or, target fixation. If you're on the trail, and there is a rock in your way, look at the rock, not a way around it. If you're on the road, concentrate on that pothole in your path. That car passing you on the left probably won't hit you if you don't veer into it. So focus on it!
  6. Forget how to Brake - This assumes you already know how. Using the front brake is a very effective way to stop, so don't use it. Or, alternatively, you could brake on the front hard, but don't brace with your arms or move back in the saddle, allowing yourself to tip over forward. On downhill slopes on trails, you can have a very dramatic crash very easily with this technique. I've done it plenty of times, and you can too!
  7. Neglect your Brakes - If you neglect your brake system, it's possible that they can fail in a moment of emergency. This is different from the other methods. You know it will happen eventually, you just don't know when.
  8. Be Impulsive - Being unpredictable is great. Decide to turn right, suddenly! If you decide too late, and you're going fast enough, that can be enough to send you flying. Also, the more random you are in traffic, the more likely you are to collide with an otherwise-friendly car. In foul weather, this technique is even more effective.
  9. Disregard all Traffic Laws - This one is super-easy, and super-successful. Stop sign? Not for you. Red lights need not apply. Crosswalks are for vehicles over 300lbs, thank you very much. The concept of right-of-way should not even enter your mind if you really want to crash. And, after all, how else will you be able to get drivers to hit you? Unless they are evil (unlikely) they draw no joy from harming or killing a peaceful human. So you've got to take the initiative. It's also easier to hit pedestrians this way, which can just as easily harm you if you are going fast enough.

    This approach is also helpful when you take into account traffic laws requiring lights at night, and riding on the correct side of the road. If they can't see you, they can't avoid you. And, if you are riding against traffic, you can increase your effective speed at impact by a factor of two or more. Again, more speed equals more drama.
  10. Ride in Heavy Traffic - This one is kind of iffy, in that it doesn't guarantee a crash. It only makes one a little more likely. But, if you're not too passionately looking for a collision with the ground, ride in rush-hour traffic. This method combined with the previous two is a sure-fire way to get the crash you want.
  11. Impair Yourself - You know what this means... booze. Or, for the more adventurous, LSD, ludes, marijuana, PCP, etc. If you happen to be of the straight edge persuasion, a blindfold will work to impair your vision well enough.

Of course, there are other ways to crash your bike, such as being hit by a drunk driver, errant waterfowl, or asteroid, but these are eleven things you can do to crash. Also keep in mind; just following one of these methods sporadically might not be enough to cause a crash. In order to guarantee a bicycle accident, combine methods. If you ride blindfolded in heavy traffic on PCP, people will be amazed if you don't crash.

So, there you have it. Eleven easy ways to crash a bicycle. For those of you who don't want to crash a bicycle, perish the thought, you might try avoiding these habits.

Have a good ride!


Thanks to maxClimb for the tips on reaction time vs. time to react and target fixation.

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