Keri Williams sees the funny side of falling off your bike
Write a blog they said, it will be fun they said, well my daily cycling life is not that interesting but I thought why not write about the most fun part of cycling .. ah yes, that will be the crashes then!
First off some terminology here, cyclists crash…. we do not have “an incident”, “an accident”, “a moment”, “a wobble” or worse still, “fall off” our bikes…. we never, Ever, EVER, just “fall off”.
We crash, always spectacularly and don’t let anyone tell you differently!
The ways in which we can crash are innumerable, inevitably painful but more than occasionally funny and after a lifetime of riding, racing and crashing, well I thought I’d list the main types and some of my personal examples, for you all to laugh at and maybe tick off as well!
The newbie or un-clippie
We have all done this, so the more experienced amongst you can stop smirking now, it is not limited to newbie cyclists, although truth be told, they do tend to be somewhat specialist at this one.
I am of course talking about the day you put clippie pedals on your bike for the very first time, you come to a junction/ traffic light/unexpected stop and have that moment where no matter how hard you try, you cannot get your feet to unclip from your pedals.
It seemed so simple in practice, twist foot, pedal disengages, happy days! Unfortunately we tend to get the order wrong, the brain disengages first, we try to pull foot upwards, panic sets in as we stay attached to bike and then, we gracefully prove that gravity does indeed exist and we topple over, ending up in a heap on the floor.
If you are lucky, then this happens when we are on our own, on a quiet country road, with no-one but some sheep watching but there are those amongst us, who have done this in the centre of Banbury, in front of crowded pubs, pulling up outside the home of our girlfriends, in front of our children, on club runs and on one memorable occasion, rolling up to the start of the 13 mile TT .. no your Timekeeper did not laugh…. much!
The Mechanical or “revenge of the bike”
Snapping chains, collapsing wheels, suicidal rear mechs, frames breaking, tri bars slipping, seat pins sliding, gears jumping… the means by which our bikes can get their revenge on us, are many and varied.
Not all end up with us on the floor but my favourite of this type of crash is the poor track cyclist who managed to snap a seat post whilst sprinting for the line but sadly did not notice until he tried to sit back down after the sprint… all on live TV, coupled with the memorable commentary that went along the lines of “ooo… that’s got to hurt!”
Personally my worst / best example of this came when I managed to pull the handlebars out of the stem whilst going downhill, there followed a long, protracted series of oooooooo/aaarrrrrrgggghhh /**&^%$$$£%^^&’s!!! before of course I totally lost control and ended up in a ditch.
Salutary lesson here being .. keep your bikes maintained!!
The “but it wasn’t my fault”
You know the feeling, you are trundling along quite happily in a bunch, when someone next to you touches wheels, misjudges a corner, swerves to avoid a pot hole/shadow/road kill and manages to bring you down in a heap. Usually they leap up fine, leaving you sat on floor battered and bruised, wanting to kill them but knowing a “no really its fine” is what is expected!
Over the years we have seen some great examples of this on Star club rides but my favourite is probably the one where, whilst pulling up at a junction, one of our more experienced cyclists had a un-clippie moment, fell left causing a domino effect leaving 4 or 5 Star casualties in the road.
Either that or the downhill moment, when the entire club run stopped at the base of the descent, apart from the final tail-ender who, amongst much squealing of brakes and expletives, managed to ride straight through the bunch, thankfully missing us all, before shooting across the road and ending upside down in the hedge opposite!
The “Spectacular” or race crash
Always a crowd pleaser but never nice to be part of, crashes in races tend to be dramatic, involve more than one rider and are often caused by .. well any of the above really!
We have all seen these types of crashes on TV but we have more than one or 2 Star riders who can testify how scary, serious and painful it can be to be involved in a road race crash.
Personally, I have gone head first over a hedge and then been left there as the race cavalcade moved on, I have ended up in a heap on the floor with my hand through another riders wheel, who then promptly tried to ride off taking my hand with him and on one memorable occasion had the dubious honour of my bike coming 2nd in a bunch sprint but not being given 2nd place as I was not attached to it at the time!
This last experience was made all the better, by the race organiser refusing to let me get into the ambulance until he had taken my number off as “ they cost money y’know lad!”
Bit of a catch all this one, covers all those events where you really have no control and little option but just to get up afterwards and think…. what the??
Numerous examples from Star riders include encounters with deer, a squirrel who decided it would be a great idea to run through a front wheel and a club run encounter with a ford which was considerably deeper than it looked but the most spectacular was probably one of my own, whilst riding on rollers ( pre turbo days this! ) in the front room, when the cat decided to leap onto my back, causing me to come off rollers, shoot across the living room ending up collapsed on the sofa, with bike still attached.
All completed perfectly by my mother coming in to see what all the noise was about and asking “what are you doing there?” as if I was trying out some weird new training regime!
I would love to hear your own stories of crashes gone by but I should say now, that crashes are thankfully rare. Do stay safe out there though people, wear a helmet at all times, bright reflective clothing and lights if you can and do please maintain your bikes but if you are going to crash .. well can you make sure you do it well away from me please!! 😉