No matter what your expertise is in terms of cycling, a fall can happen when you least expect it. There’s no way to master falling off a bike, but levels of bikers from beginners to professionals should know the correct technique to reduce the risk of severe injury.
Some bumps and scrapes are definitely expected along the way, but you’ll want to keep the injuries at this level. When all you have on is a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, or possibly a bib or a jersey, the protection won’t be there to help make your landing any smoother.
How to Fall When You’re Sliding
You can feel the slide as soon as it starts happening, and when your bike is out of control, you feel out of control. The best thing to do in this scenario is to avoid braking, especially if you’re sliding due to slick conditions. This allows the wheel to keep turning so that it has a chance to grip again so that you stop falling.
If you aren’t able to recover the slide, you’ll hit the ground on your side and continue to slide there.
If you haven’t been able to correct it and you’re going down, try to get your upper body to parallel the direction of your bike’s slide. Remove your hands from the bars and try to get the back of your shoulder to take the impact. If you’re traveling at a fast rate and are able to, fall feet first with your legs extended so that they can be used as a brake.
Flipping Head over Heels over the Bars
This is the type of falling that fills the heart of every cyclist with terror. You’re riding along and your front wheel bumps up against something large enough to stop the bike in its tracks. You feel the impact and you know that it won’t be long before you’ll be heading over the bars.
When it’s happening it will occur quickly and you’ll need to be prepared ahead of time and know exactly what to do.
Let go of the handlebars and extend one arm so that it will take the initial impact instead of your head or face. If possible, let your forearm make first contact with the ground instead of your wrist.
Next, roll yourself up as much as possible with your chin in your chest and wrap your other arm around your head to keep it protected. Once you feel the hit allow your body to roll over your shoulder. The most important thing is to avoid a serious head injury by having another body part absorb the majority of the hit.
Whenever you’re falling it’s a good idea to think of a rag doll and become one as much as possible. Think of a rag doll that’s dropping from your hands to the floor. It bounces and the stuffing inside it remains intact.
On the other hand, a plastic doll will feel the impact and parts will break or completely fall off once it hits the floor.
The less tension that you have in your muscles the more you’re going to be able to absorb the impact and lessen the chance of injury. Go into the fall with a rag doll approach and try to roll with it. Hopefully you’ll be able to stand up and brush yourself off after the crash with only a few cuts and bruises left to show for it. There’s no better situation than getting back on your bike and riding home after a crash.
Falling With Clipless Pedals
If you’re clipped in the advice is completely different Check out what this experienced cyclist from bikinginla.com had to say.
“Instead, this what has worked for me: I try to remain clipped in the pedals, grip the handlebars tightly, and tuck my elbows into my body. At the same time, I tuck my head down between my shoulders, and round my shoulders to shape my upper body into a ball. My momentum will continue to move my body forward, rolling me over the handlebars, still attached to my bike, which helps me maintain my curved position. So now, instead of flying face forward, I’m likely to land on my shoulders and can roll with the fall to release momentum.” 1
Now this is totally his opinion. Personally, I want out of those cleats because I’d much rather hurt a shoulder while falling than an ankle. I think the most important thing to do is be able to confidently get out of the cleats. You need to practice and practice and then do it some more until detaching your cycling shoes 2 from the pedals becomes second nature.
The gentleman at bikinginla.com does seem to be a much more experienced cyclist than myself so maybe he is on to something.
One last tip, learn when to shift gears as well. It’s one more way to be in full control and prevent injury.
Just don’t let this happen to you.
You’re wearing a helmet when your on your bike, right? Please say yes. It’s your best protection, and if you’re not you have bigger concerns than how to fall.