I crash. You crash. Heck, even Amaury Pierron crashes. We all crash. Crashing is a fact of life for the mountain biker. It's part of the deal. Part of the thrill.
There’s a potential crash around every corner, on every descent, on every tricky traverse. I’ve even gone over the bars whilst climbing on several occasions. It’s the potential of coming off our bike that is an agreed upon aspect of riding bikes off road. Even the most mild mannered mile muncher is doing their thang with a frisson of danger and unpredictability in the mix.
Personally I seem to save my biggest stacks for my local trails. Proper instant-catapult airborn-ragdoll type of things. None of your delicate dabs or semi-consensual bails here. I’m usually riding on my own and quite often I’m mostly upset that no one has witnessed one of my spectacular offs. A crash shared is an experience doubled. Or something like that. It’s good to have someone else there to add a dimension of embarrassment/laughter.
I’m good at crashing. This doesn’t mean that I crash very often, I don’t (ooh, get you Mr Modest), it’s just that when I do crash I seem to evade injury. Well, cuts and bruises aren’t injuries really are they? Again, cuts and bruises are merely part of the expected and accepted outcomes of mountain biking. I’ve crashed hundreds of times and the worst I’ve ever experienced is a cracked rib or two. Some people aren’t so good – or lucky – with crashing. We all know of someone who rarely goes a year without a protracted period spent off the bike and in plaster.
Crashes tend to occur when the level of rider relaxation is off kilter. What I mean by this is that crashes are often the result of either being too relaxed or not relaxed enough. There exists a sweet spot in the relaxation spectrum where it’s nice to be, where everything flows and connects.
Two recent experiences I had illustrated this theory very clearly. Okay okay, I did just claim to not crash very often didn’t I? This last pair of recent successive spills must have been the Law Of Averages catching up with me after a long crash-barren spell.
The first crash was a biggie. Hurtling down a piece of trail that I probably ride at least once a week. It’s a fun track. A speedy piece of heather edged singletrack. Anyway, I wasn’t concentrating on the task in hand at all. I was thinking about something else altogether. Now then, when riding a bike, thinking about nothing is fine. It’s nirvana in fact. A higher state. Autopilot. Out-of-body. Sublime. But thinking about something else is lethal. So whilst I was hurtling and thinking about something else, something (f*** knows what) happened. I was on the ground instantly. No slow-motion airtime. Just hard ground meeting kneecap. It hurt like hell. It made me feel sick. Nothing was broken but it left me shaken for pretty much the rest of the day. Just too darned relaxed.
The second crash wasn’t quite as kinetic. It wasn’t actually a solitary crash. It was more like a prolonged series of mini stumbles down a massive Scottish mountain in the middle of nowhere. At the top of the descent a lethal thought popped into my head. Basically I became all-too-aware of how bad it would be to seriously come off my bike in this location and situation. We were miles from anywhere. The snow was coming in. The light was dropping. It’s just not very responsible to push your luck in genuinely wild areas like this. And so on and so on.
And that was it – as soon as I thought that thought the game was over. I couldn’t ride my bike for toffee. Over-braking. Over-steering. Over-thinking. Over-the-bars.
Riding a bike eh? It’s best not to think about it.