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Go Back   DCSportbikes.net > Sportbike Operation > Crash and Rash

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  (#1)
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July 12, 2004, 06:45 PM

....but usually it does.

You can learn a lot from crashing. Crashing doesn't have to be nothing but a bad experience. Crashing can teach exactly how far you can push. You can push and push and push and not necessarily know how far you are from the "limit". When you crash that defines the "limit" pretty clearly. Well, one limit anyways, there are a lot. I've been down the road quite a few times over the last 9 years. None of my crashes have been the same. Be it the cause, what transpired during the crash, or the results of the crash.

The most serious injury I've suffered was a rashed hip that got infected. That was just a medium speed crash. Had I been wearing my jacket I would not have had to slide on my hip and back rather than a leather-covered arm and back.

Most of my crashes resulted in some road rash, even while wearing proper gear. Amazingly my fastest crash, also the most recent, resulted in the least injury. 90mph, lost the rear, lowsided and rolled. I didn't have the slightest hint of rash, a bruise, or even aches and pains.

As a result of my crashing experiences, I believe have learned how to minimize injury to an extent.

Some keys to avoiding serious injury: When no longer on the bike, do what ever you can to stay away from it. It will be mad at you and want to hurt you, especially if you just highsided.

Avoid fixed objects. Nothing says amputation/decapitation quite like a guardrail. Guardrails are hell on bikes too. Been there, done that x2. When you're railing, give a thought to what would happen and where your body would go if you crashed. This usually isn't an issue on the track.

Don't slide for too long on one spot. You will burn through whatever you're wearing. The faster you were going the more likely this is.
Roll. Clinch your fists and pull your arms in tight with your fists under your chin. Make like a log and roll. This is how I dealt with my 90mph get-off. I was dizzy as hell when I finally stopped and stood up. But you'd never know I just crashed at that speed.
Even jeans will last longer in a roll than they will in a slide.

Most off this stuff doesn't really apply if you get hit from out of nowhere. In those cases most likely you won't know what the hell happened, much less be thinking coherently enough to be able to control what happens to you.

Crashing is a big part of learning what to do and what not to do. Learning from the crashes of others is the preferred method.


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  (#2)
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July 12, 2004, 06:55 PM

great read and great pointers


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  (#3)
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July 12, 2004, 06:59 PM

great write up travis.. i like the part about getting away from the bike....
Quote:
Some keys to avoiding serious injury: When no longer on the bike, do what ever you can to stay away from it. It will be mad at you and want to hurt you, especially if you just highsided.


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July 12, 2004, 07:11 PM

LOL...were you at Laguna Seca this weekend too?

Before the first WSB sunday the announcers had Keith Code in the box yammering on about how to crash....how experienced riders know how to crash safely. Almost verbatim what you posted.

If you watch the crash vid you posted you see many of the riders pulling their limbs in tight when they can. Saves quite a few casts if you can do it.
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July 12, 2004, 07:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArlingtonRider
LOL...were you at Laguna Seca this weekend too?

Before the first WSB sunday the announcers had Keith Code in the box yammering on about how to crash....how experienced riders know how to crash safely. Almost verbatim what you posted.

If you watch the crash vid you posted you see many of the riders pulling their limbs in tight when they can. Saves quite a few casts if you can do it.
No, I wish. This is actually something I first wrote up in April and never got around to posting. I still think I'm leaving something out, I can figure it out


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  (#6)
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October 6, 2007, 10:31 PM

To the top, with an emphasis on

Avoid fixed objects. Nothing says amputation/decapitation quite like a guardrail. Guardrails are hell on bikes too. Been there, done that x2. When you're railing, give a thought to what would happen and where your body would go if you crashed. This usually isn't an issue on the track.


I think it's time that this be re-emphasized.


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October 6, 2007, 11:11 PM

Good write up Travis. Every crash I've had I have learned something from them.
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October 6, 2007, 11:33 PM

Helpful post. Thanks Travis.


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October 7, 2007, 12:15 AM

I don't fear crashing....all I think about is getting run over.


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Well you see, Norm, itís like thisÖA herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.-Cliff Claven

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October 7, 2007, 01:41 AM

this was a GREAT post. Love the last line.


"No race has ever been won in the first corner, but plenty have been lost there."

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  (#11)
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October 7, 2007, 07:25 AM

This also brings up an interesting point--"muscle memory" (in actuality, spinal reflex / cerebellum memory) one of the reasons why seasoned racers, our travis for example, seem to know how to crash well is they've done it a bunch so its an "instinctive" reaction to do the proper things...while everything seems to slow down, you really don't have time in the first moments of an incident to consciously react--so practice falling (keith code also mentions this in his books). I did judo when I was younger, and that has helped me alot in the few low-sides I've had, and I recommend it as a training tool...your mileage may vary of course.

but building instinct takes time and experience. I've mentioned this before, the reason why professionals seem to be able to deal with all sorts of non-crash dynamics (rear wheel abrupt sides followed by traction, front wheel lockup, etc) is they've experienced it at lower levels a million times, so their instinctive reaction is the correct one, hence allowing them to operate at smaller margins. I guess I'm saying that practice makes perfect and exploring the envelope on a track is probably the safest way to build up that repertoir (sp?) of proper instincts. While for a new rider, chopping the gas, or hitting the brakes when things get squirrely may be the instinct, its likely the wrong one. There is a famous quote "I've never lost the front when I've been on the gas"--nearly uniformly true. Motorcycle suspensions are designed geometrically to be the most stable when accelerating, and the weight transfer and swingarm angle associated with light acceleration assures the best possible lateral traction, especially for the front.

so I would recommend in addition to travis's points on crashing correctly, that if you are going to ride fast, practice safely and build up your instincts. Athletes call it muscle memory, when in fact its simply your lower brain building a bunch of "if this, then this" fast reactions--instincts. BUT since many of them are contrary to what you do in a car (most cars are designed for understeer, for the primary purpose that if it gets squirrely, hitting the brakes or chopping the throttle will result in stability), new riders will likely have the incorrect reaction.

learn to fall: limbs out = bad 99.9% of the time (initial extension of limbs to stop a fast tumble is valid in judo may be valid, but if in doubt, legs together, arms in the tucked up, fists to chin position as travis described)

learn from low margin cases: say you spun up the rear and stayed on the gas, slid it a little, and recovered without incident...think over your actual reactions post-incidents. everytime you react correctly to a situation, you just had a valid learning experience--capitalize on it.

one of my thoughts that may or may not be valid, or work for everyone--try to make it subconscious to be updating an "escape" plan in your head, especially on the street--what if that guy changes lanes? brakes? what if he darts toward that ramp? what if someone pulls out onto the road? try to make this a background mental task--you'll find if you do this alot, it become second nature, and in effect, you are (to use computer terminology) caching the next few commands for your body--you'll find that you will react faster if you have already figured out what to do--and what would have required an unconscious, instinct dominated reaction instead becomes a smooth, conscious plan--and smooth means not only will you react in a better fashion, but the bike dynamics will accept the inputs more readily.

ever watch professional martial artists? I mean really really good guys, say using something like krav maga--it almost seems too smooth? watch how they practice (oh, this is one of the reasons tai chi is a martial art)--by going through an attack / defense / counter-attack scenario slowly, then building up speed bit by bit, the movement plan (implemented by the spine, lower brain and cerebellum) become instinctive, though a much more complex, program-like instinct rather than a reflexive action (which by definition is less smooth)

This works on the track to, at least it has for me--while the bulk of your brain should be doing what mammalian brains were designed to do--planning (e.g. what is this guy ahead of me doing wrong, where can I catch him, how is my bike performing, what is the best path through this turn), you can use your predatory part of your brain to do what it does best (how fast am I approaching this turn, what angle should I take to catch him, etc), and put all the incident planning and reaction down in the reptilian brain--if I slide here, if this guy chops off my line, etc) the results of each lower part flow upward into your long term planning brain and you'll notice that the "overhead" associated with riding seems to be less--you'll be thinking more about what you are doing overall, more about the proper line, more about proper tactics and strategy and less about the millisecond by millisecond reactions. While I'm relatively new at the racing thing, after watching the really good guys in the zone, the calmness and smoothness implies this level of divided attention--something that can come from natural talent, or in my case (someday when I get to that level), a hell of alot of practice.


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October 7, 2007, 08:38 AM

I crash the same way I tell skanks to get out of my truck....Tuck and roll bitch!



Great post Travis.


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October 7, 2007, 09:37 AM

I think you offer some great advice in your post. Such as not sliding in the same spot, staying away from the bike, etc.

However, some may not be able to learn from their crashing. Their first crash may be their last. Can you control certain aspects of your crash? Sure... but I don't think I like the idea of a newb reading this thread and saying "oh, I can control how I crash and know what to do to not get hurt so lets rail!" what can I say, it's been a bad season...

Don't get me wrong.. I'm not trying to poo poo your post because, as I said, I do believe you offer some great insight. Also, I understand that crashing is inevitable, unfortunately and learning is the only good thing that can come out of it.

Also, I like birdman's thoughts on an "escape plan"... The best crash is the one that doesn't happen

ride safe out there guys... and GO SKINS
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October 7, 2007, 09:54 AM

Travis, I'm with you 100%, but I want to add... I'm a slider. I had a lowside in 2002 at CMP at 140 mph in the kink on the back straightaway. Sliding was bumpy once I got off the pavement, but the violence I experienced in the subsequent roll was the worst. It became logrolling with an occasional end-over-end flip. I saw the bike, the sky, the dirt... in no particular order. I was going so fast that the grass was just green blur. I extended my arms and legs because I didn't like being so out of control. You have to submit to a crash to some extent, but I say avoid getting pulled into the fast rolling. Rolling fast can have outcomes like broken necks, etc. If you have clean leather, I say keep sliding as long as possible.

At Summit, I had a lowside in turn 9 in 2005. I remembered the logroll injuries I had at Carolina, so I slid into the grass at Summit's turn 9 until I squared my back off against the tirewall. I bounced off of it, and landed on my feet, not even a bruise! I could have been hurt badly by rolling into it, possibly headfirst. I think your advice is great, but I would add that you should roll slowly, and avoid rolling too fast to stay in control. It's easy to get grabbed and roll out of control as you slow down. So sliding is preferable until you can control the roll. It helped me at Summit, and I think I could have avoided injury at CMP with the same technique.

Great write-up for new racers! May I quote you in the MARRC classroom?


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October 7, 2007, 10:10 AM

oh and +10000000000000 on "Learning from the crashes of others is the preferred method."
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