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As my previous post discussed risk taking and crashing in road races. No one plans or wants to crash, but crashes can also occur if you are overly cautious and uncertain.
If you watch the Pro riders on the Tour de France, you can see that even the very best bike riders in the world crash. It also happens disturbingly often and many are quite spectacular, given that the are 200 riders tightly packed together in a frenetic gallop to the finish-line. It just takes one misjudgment or lapse of attention by one rider to cause a domino of riders to tumble.
Some riders also get bad luck more than others, like Julian Dean, who has signed with Green Edge; has had a crash filled racing career.
There are plenty of amateur riders around the world that take part in group rides, stage races, criteriums etc and since we all ride in close proximity to each other, crashes can invariably happen. But there are ways to avoid crashing where possible.
To help mitigate the chances of crashing, I have come up with the following tips:
Maintain your Focus
Stay focused on whats happening ahead and don’t get distracted by your gadgets on the handlebars (GPS, power meters, computers).
Hold your Line
This means no sudden swerving and its a good idea to drink and eat at the back of the breakaway or where you can refuel without causing problems for other riders behind you.
Squirrelly riding is frowned upon in the peloton… be predictable, don’t be erratic with your speed and gently tap on the brakes when riding in the middle of the bunch. Stay away from riders that are not comfortable bike handlers.
Go with the flow and stay relaxed
Relax your grip on the bars and relax in the shoulder region. Relaxed riders are more fluid on the bike and will crash less often than tense ones.
Don’t Panic and overreact
The unexpected can happen but it does not mean you will crash. Sometimes the initial mistake is not the cause of a crash, but its the chain reaction…
Stay at the front of the group
This is usually the number one piece of advice any good rider will give you – stay near the front. But you have to be strong enough to get there in the first place and you have to be willing to contribute to the smooth running of the rotating pace line if there is one. If not, you’ll be pushed out and out towards the back.
Don’t be packfill
Ride positively, make your own attacks and follow other attacks. This way you will always be off the front and less chance for crashing!
Regardless, if you race enough, you will at some point be in a situation where you just can’t avoid crashing. Its happened to me a number of times and it is just part of the sport of cycling.
Some more tips on Cyclingtipsblog on how to avoid crashing