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  1. #1
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    Falling, not failing.

    Ok, so why do so many riders freak out about falling, especially around other riders?

    I fall all the time. It's ok. I don't mind (with the caveat of minor scrapes or bruises, nothing serious). Because I feel like that if I don't have at least one spill during a ride I'm not trying for bigger and badder sections, or riding sections I can normally clear faster. Certainly I'd like to hit zero spills or footdowns at a nominal pace, but until I do there will certainly be a blooper reel.

    But I notice so many people act like falling is a fate worse than crapping their pants during at a wedding. The last spill I saw, and again it was a minor one, the dude acted like he couldn't even hear me ask if he was OK from a few feet away. And even my buddy who I got into riding made a huge point to say he doesn't normally fall the one time at saw his front wheel wsh out. He freaks out when I spill and usually I am laughing by the time my palms hit the dirt.

    So yeah, am I just a masochist or do a lot of riders put more effort into denying the fall then learning from it??!

    Neil Young paraphrase: It's better to wipe out than stall away.
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  2. #2
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    I don't mind unless they're cute.
    Time wounds all heels...

  3. #3
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    I fell twice today, once on my knee and the second time on my elbow and shoulder. Before today I hadn't fallen in a couple months and it was in the back of my mind that it was bound to happen again soon enough. I don't like falling because every fall has the potential risk of injury that can affect my job, my job is physical and is pointless without all of my working limbs.

    I "freak out" about falling because medical bills are expensive.

  4. #4
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    When I first started riding I went down multiple times on every ride,actually went down more then I should but slowly got the hang of it.....well,until I started riding clipless. lol

    I'm much more of an XC rider today and go months at a time without crashing.

    Oh...have no issue's with crashing for an audience.

  5. #5
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    Falling happens. You have to learn how to fall - make sure you protect yourself and relax at the same time - sounds counterintuitive, but it is a natural response to immediate threat and you have to learn to go with the shit that's about to happen.

    Having said that, once you start accumulating the effects of multiple injuries, you sure don't want more. The misery and incapacity and potential loss of income are compounded by time off riding (etc) and then progressive rehabilitation to your previous level of skill and comfort. It not called hurt for nothing.

    However, the OP is right that lots of people fear injury and most do sometimes. It's all relative to skill-set, previous experience in the same or similar sports, relative exposure and how you feel on the day. Fear can be positive and make you focus, or it can be negative and make you fight the trail. Some of us may need a glass of cement; there's no point sooking about a bruise or scrape, but when you get older and sustain another fracture (or worse), it's not going to be good.

    Also, OP, falling off a MTB is not like falling on skis in soft snow. It cannot be included in your learning curve. You can gage your progress far better by not falling.

  6. #6
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    Part of riding a bike is falling off a bike. I first learned that when I was five years old and I continue to prove that the theory is correct Yeah getting hurt sucks so I armor up and hope for the best.

  7. #7
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    If i fall and nothing is hurt, i can laugh about it. Unfortunately, my learning curve is way past the fall on smooth ground at 5mph stage. When i go down it tends to involve rock gardens, jumps, or going too fast (or any combo of those three). It is not OK to crash once per ride. In fact, id love to go a full season without a crash.

    Nothing to do with ego at all. Bodies and bikes break, i prefer to avoid that.

  8. #8
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    Re: Falling, not failing.

    Of the op is a pro, how about some tips? Most of my falls are when I stall trying to ride up a big rock or log and can't clip out in time so it's all been low or zero speed. But I've picked up a lot of speed with my 29th and am waiting for my first spectacular wipeout.

    Aside from relaxing what else can you do when you reach the point of no return? Hold on tight? Kick the bike out? Break your fall or absorb it all with the torso?

    I realize every situation may be different but maybe something works for high side vs low side or straight over the bars?

  9. #9
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    ^^^This.

    When I fall, it tends to be in places where falls hurt. I tend to fall in fast, rocky downhills and slow techie rock gardens (seeing a trend here? Rocks are not my friends) Just the other day I didnt notice a 2 foot drop followed by a corner. I entered waay to fast and tried to slow down, grabbed too much brake, and went OTB into a tree. Falls like this suck, and leave you sore.

  10. #10
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    Most of my crashes happen when I'm flying down a trail, usually clipping a tree that's snug on the trail or hitting an unexpected stump or rock...I've yet to break anything (my bones, bike is a different story...), but crashes seem to happen so fast, I definitely don't have time to really calculate my fall
    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

  11. #11
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    Im not sure I buy the whole, "If you don't fall you're not trying or riding hard enough" moniker anymore. Maybe its because I ride in Arizona and any fall results in blood or cactus needles or both. Or maybe its because Im getting older. Regardless I ride way more now then ever, faster than I ever have, over rougher terrain and I fall less then I ever have. I chalk that up to several thousand miles of experience and not to "not trying hard enough".

    Maybe the saying comes from the initial steep part of the learning curve.

    As for falling around others I dont care. I dont want to fall because it F'n hurts.
    Last edited by Douger-1; 12-02-2013 at 01:11 PM.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  12. #12
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    If I fell on every ride I wouldn't be able to ride anymore (unless I wore DH pads and a full face helmet on these "falling rides.") Not sure what types of falls you are having on every ride but something seems off if that's the case. And I agree with Douger, I don't buy into the "if you aren't always falling you aren't trying hard enough" mentality. I dunno, maybe some people are just really bad at catching themselves before they actually fall.

  13. #13
    Si vales, valeo.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    Im not sure I buy the whole, "If you don't fall your not trying or riding hard enough" moniker anymore. Maybe its because I ride in Arizona and any fall results in blood or cactus needles or both. Or maybe its because Im getting older. Regardless I ride way more now then ever, faster than I ever have, over rougher terrain and I fall less then I ever have. I chalk that up to several thousand miles of experience and not to "not trying hard enough".

    Maybe the saying comes from the initial steep part of the learning curve.

    As for falling around others I dont care. I dont want to fall because it F'n hurts.
    I also ride in AZ, and my last couple falls were OTB on National, and one ended up causing enough damage to my hand that I could even grip the handlebar for a couple of weeks, let alone ride. The other broke a brake lever and my light, which sucked being about 3-4 miles in on National at MIDNIGHT, lol...

    Falls always seem to brake something, whether it be my bike or my body.
    "An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered." G.K. Chesterton

  14. #14
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    Same here. I don't see why I should fall and be happy about it? Don't get me wrong, it happens. But it would be really stupid for me to cause it be doing more than I can. I am not a pro. I don't have the luxury of destroying bikes and hurting myself so I take care of myself and my bike and I try to gradually improve my skills.

  15. #15
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    National is no joke. Hope you heal soon.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  16. #16
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    A couple months after I started XC I came back home bloodied. A spill just wasn't bad enough, so I had to add a nice shin peal as I was just learning how to clip in/out. Wife freaked, kids laughed, and I said... Hey, when riding trails sometimes gravel happens.

  17. #17
    Si vales, valeo.
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    Re: Falling, not failing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    National is no joke. Hope you heal soon.
    All good now, no worries!

    Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk
    "An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered." G.K. Chesterton

  18. #18
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    Chalk up another falling isn't the end of the world, but I'd rather not do it. I'm a clyde, so when I go down, I typically go down hard. Yes, I could maybe push things a bit harder in the name of improving, but sometimes I just don't.

    I have nothing to prove!

  19. #19
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    Hmm, getting a lot of new perspectives and I can appreciate that. I have limited funds and have only been able to ride what's within a 100 mi radius or so, and typical east coast. I have never ridden crazy sharp AZ rocks or other terrain a few have mentioned. I'm glad those with more experience or different regional perspective are chiming in.. Again, something I can learn from.

    I am probably riding terrain most of you could eat for breakfast, blindfolded. Certainly no insane DH or jumps here. I can appreciate that you are riding sections where the degree of injury to error curve is really high. I hope to join those ranks some day (of clearing that stuff, not getting *badly* injured!). I'd never wish serious injury on another rider, especially the type that keeps you off the bike!

    However, a couple people put in quotes: "if you aren't always falling you aren't trying hard enough"...

    If those are "air quotes" regarding an adage you don't agree with, I get ya, but if you are "quoting" me, I never said that. I never said anyone wasn't trying hard enough, and I referenced myself and my own progress. My main point was the spills that only bruise yr ego, and people acting like they never happened. Not ones that send you to the hospital.
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  20. #20
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    Plainly put, falling breaks things. Not always, but often. By 65 I look at a season off trying to heal an old bone could be one of my last! Worse yet, a biking injury could kill my tele ski season!

    I've hurt just about everything now and all of those things are older and more fragile and healing is tougher every year! When I ride I balance risks and consider the probability of a crash, the consequences of a crash, and the remoteness of the situation and I am quite willing to get off and walk if the risk is too high.

    Read through some of the old threads on the forums and you'll see that you can, and will, get hurt mountain biking and you can get hurt really bad. "Wimping out" is sometimes the choice that let's you bike again next week.

    That said, this is mountain biking and I do ski mountaineer in the backcountry and I really like to go fast, so invincibility is not an option. I try to stay as safe as I can without whitewashing my sports.

  21. #21
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    Falling, not failing.

    Quote Originally Posted by telemike View Post
    Worse yet, a biking injury could kill my tele ski season!
    Ha! I look at it the opposite way. Non-release bindings go away at the beginning of March.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  22. #22
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    My neurologist has forbidden me from ever having another concussion (8 so far). But my worst one came on the only ride I ever forgot my helmet, the best way to go OTB is to ride like you're trying not to go OTB. That being said, I won't ride without a dog strapped to me, keeps me sane but not riding like I'm trying not to wreck. Falling off the bike at low speeds is one thing, and I do that all the time, but high-speed wrecks are best avoided by not riding at high speeds. I'm sure this makes me a *****, but my health issues from too many concussions are no laughing matter, so I ride well within my abilities nowadays. Other riders are more rad, sure, but I feel I'm having as much fun as they are, so no worries -- they aren't grinning any more than I am.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikefat View Post
    My neurologist has forbidden me from ever having another concussion (8 so far).
    I'm pretty much in the same boat - only 3 for me, but the last OTB was a doosey - Grade 4 concussion.

    Anyway, falling has never bothered me, it's part of the sport. I've seen guys wipe out and freak as though someone was porking their girlfriend/wife. My group or I try not to ride with guys like that - it gets old fast.

    Others, everyone mostly laughs, unless an injury results to the bike (the rider doesn't matter - LOL)

    I went almost a full season without a major dump and had 2 in 2 weeks, so it all evens out.

  24. #24
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    I ride mostly XC so can go for months without a spill, but I think it is inevitable when you MTB. I don't really freak out about it.

    I had a nasty one in July this year when a dog (large German Sheperd) decided to run past me at speed on a fire trail, trying to go between the wheels He took the right pedal out from under me and flipped me over - took me a while to sort out my shoulder after that one, but I was on the bike the next day against my Doctor's advice!
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  25. #25
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    One thing you might want to keep in mind is to let less experienced riders know it is ok to not go as fast or attempt techy sections like the rest of the group. I have ridden with guys less experienced and after witnessing them make spectacular crashes and get hurt I now always make a point to let less experienced riders know what is coming up on the trail and assure them it is fine with the group too walk when they see fit to. I also ride in Arizona now but I learned to ride in California. I now fully appreciate what a good fall can do to your body. I've lost far more blood in 3 years of riding in Arizona than the previous 7 in California. Safety on the trail should be your first concern. I've broken both collar bones, fingers, cracked ribs, and more abrasions and cuts than I can remember. You are in control of your own safety.

  26. #26
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    To many, having any other part of you, except shoe soles, touching the ground is a foreign and frightening concept.

    Children are often protected to the extent that they no longer know how to run or climb or do a roll on the ground, not to speak about falling, or having a bloodied knee. "Don't run", shouts the mother.

    If nothing ever happens to you, you don't know how to handle it WHEN something does happen. I had the good fortune to be able to play in the woods, crash on XC skis - and practice karate for a few years. That gave me some instincts about how to handle myself when I go down.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    To many, having any other part of you, except shoe soles, touching the ground is a foreign and frightening concept.
    Why yes. Yes it is.

    Falling, not failing.-gila-bike-pack-028.jpg

    Falling, not failing.-azt_others5.jpg
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  28. #28
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    Having spent my high school years on a skateboard, I learned how to fall gracefully and that translates well to MTB. I have recently had a rash of falls but none of them were serious. I laugh them off now, but I won't if they ever get more serious. It is funny to see people eat it and look around to see if anyone was watching. Stuff happens, sometimes the ground comes at you faster than you can react to. I say chin up and learn from it.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by honns View Post
    It is funny to see people eat it and look around to see if anyone was watching.
    Well, sometimes we're just trying to figure out where we are...
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  30. #30
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    If you can't ride it clean, you can't ride it.

  31. #31
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    I like my elbow and knee pads, they work well. A practiced shoulder roll come in handy now and then. Falls happen. Usually a slow speed tip over or a missed tech section. I have less OTB's with my 29er. The front wheel gets over those wheel traps better. I have years of bike crashing experience. Blame 2 older brothers and the popularity of Evil Kenevil.

  32. #32
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    If I were still falling every ride after 15 years of doing this, I would have concluded I'm simply not very good at it and would have given up by now. I usually count the numbers of falls I have each year now (I'm at 4 this year), not each ride. Although I did have a fall that sent me to Instacare for the first time since 2004, so that goes to show that it still happens from time to time (not my fault on this one, though -- equipment and/or bike shop failure).

    And I'm riding stuff I would not ride 7 or 8 years ago (or in some cases, 2 years ago). But I think I'm probably approximating the intersection of my skill and my intestinal fortitude -- the obstacles I don't/can't ride by now, I probably will never ride; I'm not going to huck myself off that monster rocky gap jump to see if I can make it any time soon. It is just the natural learning curve of the sport, I suppose!

    Good luck.
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  33. #33
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    I have been falling off moving bicycles since 1974 - and I'm no better at it now than I was then. I just tolerate it better - although as I age, I am healing slower.
    (my poor mother... I have mucho sympathy for her now that I have my own kid)

    The funny thing is the people around me. It is somewhat rare, but usually comical when I fall because it can happen to me anywhere. Despite consistently clearing some really great obstacles, I have actually gone OTB uphill, crashed riding over a dirt pile, and fell off a snowy bridge, among many others, but they still freak out like I was just in a helicopter crash ("Are you OK?!"), and they stop to ogle the situation. Maybe I look worse in my dismount than I think, but I always wave them off and tell them to just go. That's what I would do. Anyway, I WILL catch up - or crash trying.

    So, sure, ask me if I'm OK, but just keep going. Nothing to see here.

    -F

    PS - my knees are so scraped and scarred, they don't really bleed any more.
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  34. #34
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    Seems like most bad falls result from trying to break the fall by reaching out to break the fall. I tend to hang on and do the tuck and roll during contact. I've been over the handlebars, off the back and down from both sides. In every case when I let go and tried to break my fall I've come out worse for the wear. Keeping attached to the bike and doing my best impersonation of a parachute landing fall seems to yield the best result.

  35. #35
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    I always try not to fall. I push my limits, for sure. I try not to push them too far though. Like other have said, the more time that goes by, the slower I heal and where I ride, I've got rock or cactus to fall on or a cliff to fall off. I don't fall often, but if I do, it will be good. In the last 4 crashes I have had (in the last 6 years), one resulted in a few broken ribs, another in really deep "road-rash" and a good concussion which included breaking my helmet, and the other in 4 shattered teeth and a broken jaw.

    My mind would say that I am not learning from my own mistakes if I fell every single ride...
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you’ll crash.
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