Crash Recovery, 5 Important Steps

We have all been there, you’re riding your mountain bike along some wicked fast trail and then the next thing we know, you’re are on the ground wondering what just happened.   If you’re fortunate enough to still have your limbs and bike intact, you remount and carry on down the trail.

Several years back, I crashed resulting in a breaking my collar bone.  I remember being concerned telling my team manager that I was injured and would be back as soon as I could ride again.  He replied “we’ll see”,  I said in a panic… I will be back.  Again, he replied “we’ll see”.  I scratched my head and had no idea what he meant.  Unfortunately, my team manager was right,  it took longer than I expected to get back up to my prior skill and confidence level.  I really struggled to get the fear of repeating the crash and injury out of my head.   Since then, I have spent some time contemplating why riders come back with different levels of “coming back”.

If we lock the fear into our thoughts, the fear will linger for a long time – possibly forever.  As you may have already figured out, crashing is part of our sport — what you do right after a crash (or after you’re healed up) can have a big impact on your future riding and skills progression.

Step 1 | Self and Bike Assessment

Immediately after a crash, access your body and bike to determine if you’re safe to continue riding.  If you have any doubt, head back to the car — ride over.

Step 2 |Figure Out What Happened

Next, focus on what happened that caused the crash.  Was it a riding error, wrong line choice, over braking or …?

Step 3 | Visualize Success

After figuring out what went wrong, visualize yourself riding the section successfully.  Do this several times in your head, picking different line choices and figuring out which is the best for you and your bike.

Step 4 | Keep Things Simple

Over thinking the proper line, riding position or seat height is usually a sign your nerves are running too high.  In this case it is best to walk, no reason to crash again in the same spot.  It’s way better to walk today and come back another day.

Step 5 | Try Again

After you visualize success,  grab your bike and ride the section again.  Ride the section a few times to solidify the success in your head creating a positive imprint to hold onto.  If things go wrong on the second attempt, skip it for the day and come back with a clear head.

Step 6 | Think Positive Thoughts

Your confidence will return once you find your groove.  Positive Self Talk is the key success – focus on cans, not cant’s.  If you tell yourself you are unable to ride a challenging section of trail, guess what — you most likely will not beable to.  Tell yourself you can, and that chance of riding it without crashing increases.  You have to tell yourself, and convince yourself.  Unlock the fear as soon as possible.

To be clear, I am not suggesting you huck yourself off something in hopes you make it, then convince yourself later you can.  Make sure you are riding at your current level and not above it.   Skill improvement can come from a crash when you evaluate what happened and make the corrections to your riding.

Get out there, have fun and make good choices!

Author: Randy Inglis | Lead Ninja Instructor

About Richard La China

Richard La China is a Professional Mountain Bike racer, USAC Certified Cycling Coach and a IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.

2 Thoughts on “Crash Recovery, 5 Important Steps

  1. old geezer on July 19, 2017 at 6:56 pm said:

    Levels of experience relative to current terrain, age, recent riding hours, and more affect one’s balance and poise and control. Knowing your comfort zone and only pushing gently on the envelope may seem to slow your advancement, but nothing slows it more than a few months of post-op rehab. Slow speed falls, where you can likely get a foot down and under, as long as your pedals are free (if cleated, clean and dry-lubed for smooth release) should be inconsequential, as long as you don’t lock your arm to brace, instead crumble and roll so no bone system is directly taking the brunt of impact. Many places you simply can’t afford to fall – exposed drop-offs, steep embankments with rocks and trees – and even moderate trails become dangerous above ten to fifteen mph if you hit something. Never let buddies bully you into ignoring your internal safety sense; they are not the ones who will bear the bruises or breaks. If no one is paying you to ride, you are an amateur riding for fun; if the fun has faded, back off and slow down.

  2. falllinemaniac on August 31, 2017 at 10:53 am said:

    Assessment is key, crashing can dump major adrenaline and you really gotta take an extra half minute to make sure arms still bend, shoulders mobile and hands still grip. Stand up if you are up bend knees, ankles.

    If there is a injury you should know by now, check the bike.

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