View Full Version : Any experienced crashers out there?

Greg LeClair
06-24-2003, 12:47 PM
I was reading the thread about leathers and ran across some posts that talked a little bit about how to avoid injury during a crash. I was just wondering what advice experience riders could give. Let’s call it crashing 101, or “so you’ve decided to part ways with your bike at speed…how to do it with as little pain as possible.”

I became intensely interested in this topic as I was flying above the track at Oak Hill after a high side. I remember thinking, “tuck & roll” -that approach was quickly replaced with the popular “tumble wildly like a rag doll” method as I hit the ground.

Seriously, I’m sure the first advice is to not crash, but let’s say one finds themselves in that position. I think if I had spent more time BEFORE riding thinking about what to do with my hands, arms, legs and body position during a crash, I might have had better chances of fewer injuries. Some of it probably just comes down to experience, and how much time you spent as a kid being thrown off BMX bikes or dirt bikes, but I’m also sure that some of it can be learned.

I saw a series of pictures from when Colin Edwards went down at the very beginning of that MotoGP race this year and in every picture he has both hands clenched into fists – I guess so as not to break fingers.

My game plan is to stay upright from now on, but just in case, I’d like to hear any advice you think is relevant.

AM #103

m novak
06-24-2003, 01:31 PM
Don't stand up until your done sliding. Failure to do so will result in a BIG tumble.

If you are lowsiding, lift high side leg so it doesn't snag...

If you are highsiding...hope someone has a camera so you can at least make the pages of RRW. /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

nee nee
06-24-2003, 04:49 PM
I bet some stunt bike riders would be able to give you some real good pointers. I saw some footage on another t.v. program and they showed what to do if a car would come into your path and crashing was inevitable, he showed the classic "tuck and roll" although, it seems to me, if you mentally don't want to crash how can you prepare for crashing which =(equals) panic and I'm sure you know ...that's why the drunk person usually walks away from accidents-he's relaxed. It's hard to find a happy medium inbetween the two, prepare for a crash or don't prepare?? I think you have asked a very good question and I am curious to see others respond.

Jonny 748
06-24-2003, 05:04 PM
Martial arts, tumbling and yoga.

... and stay loose or stuff starts to snap.

...If you really want to get some practice: - get some old leathers and a helmet, have the sig. other drive around any empty parking lot while you jump from the moving vehicle. Start slow - say 15 MPH and work your way up to maybe 120.

And let us know when you're going to do it because it would be really fun to watch.


anthony c smith
06-24-2003, 06:27 PM
Try puting 50 lbs of pressure in a YSR tire and racing at Katy. I have heard that will give you some experience in how to get off. Anthony.

Jack Giesecke
06-24-2003, 07:46 PM
Somehow I have always avoided the collar bone in a low side. I have this instinct to roll either to my back or front before I hit. Somebody said it, but if you're sliding at high speed and begin to tumble, tuck in your arms tight to your chest. Arms flopping about can break stuff. I've high sided twice. I can tell you, you have NO frickin' control on how you're going to land and landing IS going to hurt! I've had two concussions out of two high sides, landed square on my noggin both times.

marcus mcbain
06-24-2003, 08:04 PM
I think avoiding injury during crashing has 4 factors:

1) Speed and Type of crash - A low side at 30 mph is usually something the rider walks away from. A highside at 70mph is usually a collarbone snap waiting to happen. Low-Sides tend to always be less brutal.

2) Track Layout/Safety - A lowside in T2 at Oak Hill is a much better situation that a lowside at T8 TWS.

3) Does the individual know how to fall? I think for me all of the football drills and playing quarterback (in which you are going to get hit in everyway imaginable) is what has kept me from serious injury for the most part. That instictive ability for you body to know exactly how to react when your equilibrium (sp?)is questionable is something difficult to learn. Martial arts seems to be a good training tool, but I believe for it to actually become "instinctive" would require intesive training over an extended period of time. If you didn't play a hard contact sport (or motorcross /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif )for some time before you were 18, I believe it is going to be hard to train "instinct" into your body.

4) Luck - Man, sometimes you are just unlucky and there is not much you can do about it.

I have probably crashed about 50 times on the RR track and have had only 5 crashes that resulted in broken bones. 3 or 4 of them were over a 100mph at time of get off, but most where at the 50mph-70mph range.


Travis Pierce
06-24-2003, 08:09 PM
From Prior experience with 2 really fast crashes. One coming into 1 at Oak Hill and the other going into 3 at TWS.

Scream stay loose over and over and ride the ride. If you tense up, your gonna get hurt worse.

Ever wonder why drunk drivers hardly ever get hurt. They have slow reflexes and usually decide to tense up after the crash is over, during the crash, they are loos like rag dolls.

Oh, and when you think you have stopped moving, before putting anything to the ground(like your feet)count to 10 and start doing an assestment of body parts. Don't move and slowly start checking fingers, toes and limbs by moving them slowly before you try to get up. If you have an injury, you can figure it out pretty quick. If you just try to jump up, you may end up hurting yourself worse.

My 2 cents.........................

Shane Thorn
06-24-2003, 08:13 PM
Its been a long time since I tasted the pavement, but the rule I follow is if you know its goingto happen exhale and go limp, like a wet noodle. This always worked for me in the early days when I still liked jumping off every once in a while. And I had 3 or 4 crashes over 100mph, some of you out there may remember me going down the front straight a tws, and walked away without a scratch, my bike wasn't so lucky after bouncing off the wall. I also made the ESPN crash highlights from Road Atlanta in '94, again not a scratch. And some one else made the point about drunk drivers not getting hurt due to being relaxed.

Shane Thorn

Van Blaylock
06-24-2003, 08:36 PM
There is a vast difference between crashing at high speeds and low speeds. So different in fact I would say that a different strategy is needed. I have crashed at more speeds; +135mph to a low of -5mph. Every weather condition, and on a larger variety of bikes than I care to elaborate on. Both of the +- extreme speeds were high sides and I have high and low sided at every speed in between. And I have at least walked away from all of them and sometimes ran. Here is what I have learned:
At all speeds it is important to never stick out your arms before you land. Try to keep them center as though you were standing with your hands clasped in front of you, but not with your elbows locked because if they are too tight your chances of dislocating a shoulder or cracking a collar bone become much greater; it wouldn't hurt to have them out a little as to better absorb the impact, but not so much that they might become a pivot point that could start a tumble. You must RELAX! When your arms are in this position it creates an excellent impact area between your latisimus dorsi (that big muscle in the bottom side of your shoulders that weight lifters refer to as wings) and your tricep. By keeping your arms together like this it keeps your shoulders high enough to limit head movement as well. That is when you land on that area toward the side of your back I mentioned. Did I mention the great necessity to relax?
Any way, once you have made contact and given you are still coherent there is more work to do. What is the proper course of action depends on speed. At high speeds the centrifugal forces acting on your body make it difficult to position your body appropriately but don't worry 'cause your hauling a$$ and you'll be in it for a while. Try to keep your back and shoulders square to the ground, elbows as well but not your hands, keep them up and away. Don't let your heels drag, let your feet lay somewhat flat to the ground. If your sliding real fast you can kind of wedge your boot between your but and the ground (kinda the same way you cross your legs to sit indian style) to keep your arse from bursting into flames. It is my belief that there is a much larger chance of fracture or sprain at speeds of 50mph or below. I think this because the body is very prone to tumble at lower speeds. Again, DO NOT stick out any appendages that you may wish to use in the near future! Try to position your body in that previously described landing position and RELAX. Keep your CG low to keep from tumbling and enjoy the ride. Through experience I've learned that it is possible to get away with dragging the arms and legs if it is necessary to scrub off speed quickly; however, I would not recommend to take that into common practice as it increases the chance of hurting yourself and at lower speeds the heels can dig into the ground very easily.
As a final note I strongly recommend stretching before a race. I've noticed over the last couple of years that fewer and fewer people do this, which is sad because it increases flexibility and that is key in preventing injury.

Crashing can be fun but expensive.

I have a scooter and a big parking lot behind my apt. so its good times to throw on a pair of old leathers and go slide! helps keep the skills in check ya' know.

Happy crashing!

Nathaniel Orona
06-25-2003, 08:16 AM
Well, I guess since my only 2 crashes have come at TWS I can throw my 2 cents in. My wreck last year going into turn 6, Nate Weber ran in hot and I was on his butt. He tucked the front as did I without realizing it. First instinct, slide, hands and legs up. Worked out great until I went off into the grass and the drop off flipped me a couple times.

Result: Fractured 3 ribs, badly sprained ankle, and very sore shoulder.

Last weekend, hit the 2 puddles of water coming out of the chicane's onto the front straight at TWS and high-side heaven at 100mph. It happened so fast and going over the front of the bike was unexpected. (Wish someone was taking pictures of that fall because I am sure it looked pretty sweet. ) First thought, THIS IS GOING TO HURT, then I tucked my head in, which was the first thing to hit the ground and I tumbled twice before stablizing and sliding gracefully to a stop. My only mistake, besides on the gas too much and going through the puddle was sticking out my arm and landing on my hand, last 3 fingers smashed up pretty good. Basically, you can do everything in your power to try and control the fall, but sometimes other factors interupt your plan. This was a bad high-side with less injury than my tucking the front. Goes to show you sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not so lucky!

Result: 3 fingers badly bruised, hole in leg down to the bone(see Problem with Teknic thread).

Bryan Altmeyer
06-25-2003, 08:38 AM
Renee and Travis hit it.
How not to get hurt when you crash is simlpy to be drunk while racing :rolleyes: J/K /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

06-25-2003, 08:41 AM
I think evryone has it right when they emphasize relaxing. I don't have extensive experience in this on the RR track. 3 lowsides and 1 highside over 3 years of racing (I know E. Templett! Amazing!) But the more relaxed I was the better you flex and absorb the energy. Sliding for a long time beats tumbling for a long time and Air fence is a god send! the exhale comes pretty natural, especially in highsides!

BTW, if you want practice...Forget the old leathers and get out on the lake. Inner tubing, skiing, or wakeboarding will get you in practice for the equilibrium and relaxing stuff at 'round 20 to 50 mph without the road rash!
Chris Smiley

Greg LeClair
06-25-2003, 09:27 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Originally posted by Bryan Altmeyer:
How not to get hurt when you crash is simlpy to be drunk while racing </div></div>:D Too funny. I'll just swill some tequila before the next race.

Chris, you're absolutley right about the wakeboarding - I've spend a lot of time experimenting with different varieties of face plants - I think it probably helps.

I do think there is probably a lot of luck involved in coming out of a crash with no injuries, but I'm sure it doesn't hurt to be prepared as much as possible.

Van, and everyone, thanks for the great info. Exactly what I was looking for. I hope never to use it. /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

06-25-2003, 11:11 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Originally posted by Bryan Altmeyer:
Renee and Travis hit it.
How not to get hurt when you crash is simlpy to be drunk while racing :rolleyes: J/K /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif </div></div>hat dushn't wurk ear...

DAMHIK! /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/shocked.gif

Sheesh, Now I gotta go and agree with McBain. EARLY training to develop muscle memory so that relaxing is a reaction rather than an action was the key to minimizing my injuries in 27 years of roadracing. I started riding bareback, saddle bronc and bulls in junior high and originally went to college on a rodeo scholorship. Trust me, you ARE going to fall... /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/eek.gif

Being on the rodeo team, we had to take "tumbling" and gymnastics. I still "tuck and roll", even when I fall in the shower...

06-25-2003, 11:53 AM
back in the early 70's there was a mag called Auto Week sort of like a newspaper. They did an article on drunks and injuries correlated to car damage. Well it turned out drunks were much more likly to die with little damage to the car. It was written by someone named satch Carlson?? or something he made it sound funny but....

06-25-2003, 05:43 PM
I learned a valuable lesson a couple years ago a TWS! I low sided entering the chicane~ I was doing OK sliding on my back until I lifted my head ever so slightly and that little tiny movement sent me head over and landed on my Left shoulder and tumbled the rest of the way off of the track. If I just hadn't raised my head, I would have just slid on my back. I guess keep the back to the ground if possible, don't raise your head or very little, the back protectors really help! I was sore for the next two or three months. No broken bones, but I can't get over how my fingers on both hands hurt so much!! It seemed like slow motion but happened so quickly (that make any sense!)

06-25-2003, 07:47 PM
I forgot to mention how close I came to getting out of "racing"! I've only raced twice/mainly do track days. I have to say it was mainly because of my family fearing that I was going to become disabled(pretty good reason I guess). I even had put my damaged EX500 up for sale.

I'm so glad that I didn't sell my bike!! I love doing a track day! I love going fast! I love leaning my bike over as far as I can and occasionally dragging my knee!! IT's by far THE MOST EXCITING THING IVE EVER DONE!
just thought I'd tell ya'll.
Besides, I wouldn't have met all you wonderfull people!!
love you all!

06-25-2003, 11:59 PM
its amazing the amount of things that go thru your head as you crash. Some i remember, some just a blur had no idea which way was up. Guess the coolest, if you can call it that, was a nice little highside and i had the superman feeling. Anyone else ever get that? Its like cool, so this is what superman feels like flying, then you realize your going earthward at a much higher rate of speed than the superdude ever did and wondering just how hard that curb is. Does anyone know of any type of research done on this subject. would be interesting as all the input on this thread is.

06-26-2003, 09:07 AM
i did rodeo for about a year but what i learned is to land on your feet but this is different situation when your going 100+ /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif you don't want to tense up. /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

Nohl Haeckel
06-26-2003, 10:04 AM
Lesson Learned: If you are pitched over the highside, It does not look like you are going very fast from 10-15 feet in the air as you get closer to the ground your true speed is revealed.even if you are a track star you can not move your legs fast enough to run out of it.Trust me I KNOW..the use of your feet is nice to have in your day to day life

Yuliya Marcer
06-26-2003, 03:30 PM
Rob, totally agree. Had a highside on Monday at Cresson, right on Tombstone. Memory #1 - rear is sliding out.. waaaay out.. Memory #2 - I'm doing superman (superwoman I guess) over the handlebars, looking way down at the bike.. Memory #3 - I'm lying on my back in the middle of the racetrack. Huh? No memory of landing or how I got there, and doubt there was anything I could have intentionally done to protect myself from injury.. highsides happen way too fast for that. Thank god for gear.

06-26-2003, 03:47 PM
From reading the comments I have started thinking I was WAY robbed in my highside experience! I got no superman action at all!

After a false neutral on the warm up lap, TWS last september, I lazily opted not to pull in the clutch. It was just warm up after all... then while rolling thru the horseshoe, turn 8 0r 9?, I hear a sickening thunk as the tranny falls in to the next lower gear, locking the rear tire, and then the sound of squealing rubber. I went from full sideways left lock to laying on the asphalt, bike on it's left side. Don't recall ever leaving the seat. Don't recall ever having exhaled, although it took about 2 minutes to get a full breathe of air. Low speed to be sure, but not low pain! Why did I not get the benefit of the out of body, floating above the bike exerience?! /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/confused.gif
Chris Smiley

Greg LeClair
06-26-2003, 03:55 PM
I'm bummed to hear about your highside, are you OK?

Rob, I distinctly remember the superman moment I had at Oak Hill, but like you mentioned it seems to be only bits and pieces of the whole event. There seemed to be a ton of stuff going through my head - I remember knowing that I was not in any pain or injured while I was flying over the track. I also remember watching my bike sliding away and thinking "man, I'm way up here."

It seems like there really wouldn't be that much time to think all that stuff. I remember smacking the ground and the instant pain in my neck...then the tumbling.
The weirdest thing I remember is going from the speed and violent motion of the race & the crash to the very stillness of staring at a few blades of grass while telling myself "you should probably try to breath now..."

I'm hoping not to do a lot more research in this area. :rolleyes:

Greg LeClair
06-26-2003, 04:01 PM
Yeah Chris, sounds like you got ripped off, man.

Try highsiding in a faster section of track next time, you might get the superman treatment. /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

Bob Cronin
06-26-2003, 04:51 PM
Yuliya hi-sided? She's one of us now.
The get offs that I have had have been hi-sides. There is nothing super hero about them. There is a moment of time that seems to stand still long enough for you to think the words, "this is really going to hurt", then BOOM!!!
The next thing is someone is asking you what day it is. My thought is, "I want my mommy and you are asking me what DAY it is?" The next thing out of my mouth is usually, "is the bike okay?"

Yuliya Marcer
06-26-2003, 05:39 PM
Greg, thanks for the concern, just a separated shoulder and bummed knee. I'm counting my blessings, as the bike is fine, noone ran over me when I landed mid-track and nothing's broken. Helmets can always be replaced, even though my beautiful Racer KBC was less than a month old - but it served its purpose well, I certainly clonked my head pretty well and have no memory of the impact.

Now back to regularly scheduled programming /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

06-26-2003, 06:22 PM
did the slow motion thing sliding on my head and all. Sort of fun when you don't hurt yourself and you forget about what is happening to that bike tumbling along 30 feet behind.

ps f3 s sure are strong.

Mathew Wise
06-29-2003, 01:37 AM
I usually have my "superman" moment just before crashing. The crash is what brings me back down to earth...

Jack Giesecke
06-29-2003, 08:47 AM
If you CAN remember the feelings you had after a high side, life is good... /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif I've lost as much as 7 hours in a day from concussion after high sides. One time, I was at Aquafest, drove up there on my own. Good thing I came out of it before time to go home. It happened in practice, con rod broke on my RD just as I was coming onto Riverside Drive and over the top! Speared the ground with my Bell. A few minutes later, everyone was loading up, the day was over! "Hmm, headache from hell, what happened?" I remember the back stepping way out, coming over the top, that's all I remember until the drive home!

See, this is what keeps me off those danged big bikes now days. Yeah, I'm a coward. I'm fifty years old, don't bounce like I used to.... :rolleyes: I don't need to ride no high side launcher to get my kicks.

E. Templet
06-29-2003, 11:45 AM
Jack, a coward would never admit he was a coward. You make an excellent point concerning big bikes and fun. I don't think it would matter what I ride, as long I can twist, shift, clutch, and brake.

I have been considering a small bike so that I could spend some time with my daughter and son on the race track. I just don't want a 2 stroke, and I'd like something competitive in an endurance sort of way. I think that would be great fun for us.

Thanks for the words of wisdom. ...if not wisdom...the knoweldege gained through experience. /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

Take care and keep that helmet off the pavement.

Jack Giesecke
06-29-2003, 01:36 PM
Gene, what you want is a TTR125 or XR100 modded, set up for middle weight mini endurance. You can go motard or YSR chassis, they're great fun! And, next year there'll be the mini motard class for sprinters!

07-02-2003, 02:11 PM
One thing I didn't see mentioned, but has been an issue is medical expense. Make sure you know what your insurance covers and how much you are going to be liable for when the bills come in. I am self employed and getting medical insurance is a pain even if you are in perfect health. It gets to the point that my alscheimers has to kick in when reporting my medical history. Most medical plans say they don't cover you if you do anything fun in life. So if you crash, make sure you do it on your street bike. They haven't tried to outlaw that, yet.

With my own crash experience, I was on the back double apex entry at Cresson in practice and 'bang' I was sliding down the deck, never knew what happened or why, and didn't black out. Just all of a sudden I was on the concrete in a low side. That was a broken left collar bone two years ago. About 12 weeks ago in a freak accident broke my left fibula (ankle) which needed a plate and screws, on an XR100. Those two operations cost me about $5000 and $3000 respectively. The collar bone was more expensive because I took the ambulance ride as it the experience was 'unpleasant'. With the ankle, I was with a bud who gave me a ride to the clinic. If I didn't need the plate, then I would have gotten out much much cheaper - like a few hundred. This all depends of course on your deductables and what you can afford, but with today's kinder/gentler/gimme money insurance, well, you know the story.... /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/frown.gif

Oh, and those figures didn't include bike damage, which in the first was a couple of pegs, and in second, nothing! Oh well...

Bob Cronin
07-02-2003, 03:51 PM
Why does a wreck tend to be like this:

Bike suffers little/no damage, rider is seriously messed up.
Bike is total loss, rider walks off with bell rung.

Todd Gyure
07-03-2003, 09:23 PM
Irwin, I think you must of hit yo head again...remember when U jumped off at Cresson on the Duc Monster U had just got those 916 forks put on by Nash, and had failed to check the adjustments...the front end was like a pogo stick. I adjusted them post crash, and the front end felt great....is it coming back?? Good to know why one crashes...SOOOOO comforting right!!?? Hee, hee!! If racing was easy/safe everyone would do it.....an we would have to hang with "regular" people!!! Yuk!!! ( :

Mathew Wise
07-06-2003, 11:33 PM
... That brings up an interesting point. Always try to learn from your crashes. It dosn't just happen. There is a reason, you just have to find it to learn from it.

Unfortunately, it is not always possibe to prove your theories... I'm positive I hit a frog with my rear tire at Hallet, but by the time I got back from the hospital, the poor little guy's remains had been washed away... :rolleyes: