Do you ever completely get over a crash?-
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  1. #1
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    Do you ever completely get over a crash?

    I had a pretty bad crash in July of last year. I was taking a corner in a shady area of a paved bike path and my rear tire slipped in some algae type substance and the rear end of my bike flew out from under me. I fell chin first on the concrete, completely busted out a tooth, fractured a few more teeth, and ended up with a gaping hole in my chin that had to be stitched up. It took a few trips to the dentist but I finally got my smile back. However, I still haven't completely recovered from the crash mentally. Since the crash I hardly ever clip into my pedals anymore (I have Forte Campus combo pedals). When I do force myself to clip in, I am very uneasy and after a mile or so I realize that I've unclipped without even realizing it. I'm even considering going back to regular flat pedals because I very rarely use the clip side of my pedals. Additionally, I corner like a little old lady now. Actually, that last statement may be unfair to little old ladies.

    Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else has been in a serious cycling accident and whether or not they have completely mentally recovered.
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  2. #2
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    Reputation: BrianMc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon76
    Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else has been in a serious cycling accident and whether or not they have completely mentally recovered.
    My spouse might say, no.

    I say it changed nothing. I always was this way.

    I am more cautious, less trusting of others I share the road with, more realistic about my skill levels, and I improved some skills to help me avoid an exact repeat. I had over 20 years of cycling before the accident that could have killed me, so it stood out as a special case and not the norm. A perfect storm of contributing factors. It was before clipless pedals. But I was clipped in and straps snug. I feel 'lost' on pedals with no fore-aft positioning.

    For me, the physical aspect of not being able to sleep on my left side for long before discomfort sets in, remains almost 30 years after. The mental scars show every time someone blows a stop or hooks me. Fortunately, they come after I have dealt with the current threat and not during the process.

    Captain Kirk said it: "I need my pain. I AM my pain." Use it to make you a better stronger cyclist.

    PS: I had a 'skid to chin plant' racing to get out of an approaching tornado, I had managed save the skid once only to have it go the other way, but it meant only a badly split chin with asphault bits instead of dental surgery. Sorry yours was more severe. If you live, you learn.

  3. #3
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    I can`t say, Solomon, but obviously all of us will react differently. IME, I`ve only had a few semiserious crashes and no real doozies. I think the one that affected me the most as far as future fear factor goes still fights its way into my mind when I find myself in a similar situation and does slow me down three years later. That said, it happened while I was mountain biking and I really haven`t done much of that lately, so maybe if I had continued to mtb and successfully conquer more and more too fast rocky, techy downhills, that niggling fear would have eventually been burried under all those more recent successes. Ironically, that accident with such a strong impact on me wasn`t the worst I`ve had. The worst was years ago, on my way to school (4th grade?) and I don`t remember having been all that shook up by it. In that case, I rolled off the back of my bike while warming my hands in my pocket on a cold morning and I don`t think it even convinced me to keep my hands on the bars thereafter.

  4. #4
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    I have only really had one crash where I went into the side of a car when it pulled out in front of me, two seconds earlier and I would have been underneath it! All in all it has made me a more cautious bike rider I wouldn't say I have lost any confidence just more vigilant.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    I've had a couple of fairly bad ones. I lost a front wheel when I got hooked by a car several months ago, and while I didn't have any contact with the car myself, if the timing had been a little different, that could have been a much more serious accident. I've also laid my bike down a few times, and my hips have the scars to prove it. Also, my hand, my chin...

    I think it's lowered the speed that I think of as "as fast as I can see." I'm a lot more likely to take the lane when I'm commuting on my bike, and if I think I'll be out late, I throw my big, expensive, very bright light in my bag rather than using a "be seen" light. (Also a rear blinker, of course.) I'm definitely more conservative on my commuter bike than on one of my fancier ones. Which is more a reflection of where I ride - city streets, vs. routes chosen in part for fewer cars and intersections.

    I wouldn't say that I'm scared when I ride, or that I'm too cautious. But I think I make safer choices.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    Dec 2009
    My only real crash that was more than just cuts/bruises was the sprained ankle I got at the indoor MTB park last winter. Nothing severe. But I switched to flat pedals for the rehab & then ended up putting the clipless on the cross bike I got, and decided to stick with the flats with sticky shoes for MTB trailrides, both because I can be braver & have more fun on tough sections than with clipless & also I feel less likely to re-injure the ankle. I have not been mentally worried since it healed up, but it probably helps that it occured in a totally different environment than the one I normally ride in. If I go back to the park, it wion't be with clipless.

  7. #7
    Ovaries on the Outside
    Reputation: umarth's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    The best way to get over a crash is to crash again. This weekend I ate it on the trail and got a branch in the side. It hurt, but it was kinda cool, so I'm sorta amped about it.

  8. #8
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    I've just had my second big bike wreck a little over two weeks ago. After the first one it took years until I got my confidence back on the mountain bike, it took months before I even got back on the bike, I'll let you know when I get my confidence back after the second one

    Actually this time I'm chomping at the bit to get back on any type of bike, but doctors orders are to limit exercise until my headaches stop. The couple spins I've taken around the block felt fine, but I don't know how I'll feel the first time I get back on a real trail.

  9. #9
    member since '97
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    I was going to give an unequivocal yes, but then again I haven't been as fouled up as Solomon was.

    I once had a car pull out without looking or signaling while on my road bike. My hand went into his rear lens (b***tard ran leaving me on the road.

    I had a door prize once. I saw the door open then close, I thought he saw me. Turns out he was reaching to the passenger seat. Time dilation is the only cool thing about a crash. I remember bunny hopping as hard as I could to clear the door ( FUTILE EFFORT). landing and rolling. and then thinking "where is the bike?" as it flew over my head and landed infront of me. it was less than sec but felt like a minute. I thanked the guy for not having air-con, otherwise I would have gone through the window of his camaro. (after he explained I and realized it was just a perfect storm.

    My worst was clipping a root with the front tire (hard to explain) and being thrown into a tree breaking my collar bone. I had to walk the bike until I saw pavement and then ride one handed.

    plus about a dozen others that may or may not have required xrays and pulling things from my skin

    When you learned to ride a bike you were probably afraid, and you eventually got over it. Your accident sounds kind of freakish (1 in a million). You're not stupid, you know you'll crash again. But the chances of that happening again are very improbable. When you think about crashing, try to visualize some minor "road rash" instead of "worst case scenario". Think about having fun on the bike, not crashing.

    It takes time. How much time, depends on you.
    Life is too short to race through it. When life is a blur, you'll miss the magic.

  10. #10
    A guy on a bike Moderator
    Reputation: TobyGadd's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    I biffed pretty hard a little over a month ago while mountain biking. I broke my nose, but it could have far worse. While it's often not fair to say that "I got lucky" after an accident, I can definitely say that I was lucky to have as little damage as I did. Scared me, and the memory still does.

    After a month of riding, I'm still struggling with cleaning technical sections. I slow down, go rigid, then stumble off my bike. Pathetic.

    But it's getting better. What seems to be working the best is to approach tricky spots with the attitude that I'm learning how to be a better rider. A little slower, a little more thoughtful, and a lot less bravado. Kind of like when I was first learning how to mountain bike. Instead of thinking, "Damn, I could have ridden this so easily before my crash," I think, "Cool, look, some technical stuff. Is that a good line? Where's my weight? Etc."

    In other words, I'm trying not to depend on past reflex and muscle memory, but rather trying to re-build my skills somewhat from scratch. It's almost like the fear of crashing had become overly-associated with the "old" skills, while the "new" skills are fresh and clean.

    You might want to play with sketchy corners. Find something slippery (hopefully with some grass nearby), wear jeans & maybe some pads, unclip from your pedals, and goof around a bit. Try sliding your back wheel around. Keep your mind in a playful and "learning" state. Rather than just saying, "Damn, I need to overcome this stupid fear," focus on learning how to ride slippery stuff with control and focus.

    As the saying goes, that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. True, but only if we actually learn from the experience rather than just trying to deny that it happened. Seems to be working for me, but I admit that I've still got a ways to go!

  11. #11
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    Aug 2008
    do you ever completely get over it!? yeah.
    but only with time and you never know when.
    one day you'll be mid-air thinking "gee this is familiar! wait.. when did I start hucking again!?!"

    just keep riding, your self-preservation instinct isn't wrong... it's just overactive right now.
    If steel is real then aluminium is supercallafragiliniun!

  12. #12
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    Reputation: harpdog's Avatar
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    Wow, I crashed last July also - VERY similar circumstances. Downhill and around a U shaped turn on a smooth paved bike path covered in slick rotting vegetation, but it was my front wheel that slipped. I went down hard. My right hand slapped down and took a lot of impact - wrist broken in two places. Bruised ribs and numerous abrasions.

    I had surgery to place a metal brace on the wrist bone on the thumb side. I year later, the strength is there but the hand doesn't work as well.

    I was super cautious when I finally rode again, months later. Still pretty cautious, but then I always was.
    I'm back to commuting to work on the bike.

    BTW, $10 to repair bike damage. $40,000 to repair my wrist.

    You can see the titanium brace, screws, etc. The other side has a broken chip suspended in scar tissue.

    You'll get over it. We ALL need to be careful.
    Last edited by harpdog; 07-10-2010 at 08:48 AM.

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