Friday, May 9

Horrible Crash . . . Averted

Last night was one of the evenings I decided to go without a helmet. I went to work, and got out at about 1:30 in the morning. As I was pedaling home, I decided to go for an all-out power sprint down the strip on Congress street, past where the Portsmouth Criterium's finish line is. The wind was whipping freely through my hair as I pounded the pedals, about 30, 35 miles an hour when my chain missed a cog or something, and I stepped right through the pedal, and the full force of my 165 pounds fell straight through to the ground.

I reflexively pulled my foot up, kept a firm but relaxed grip on the handlebars, and had about 50 feet (one second) to think "Oh wow, this is going to really hurt, big time" as my bike serpentined left and right, with the top tube firmly wedged in my rear quadrant. As the bike's front wheel was figuring out where it wanted to go, I got my foot back on the pedal. From there I regained balance, got back up on the saddle, and kept going. All without touching the brake. I really wish someone had seen it, because it was amazing. It was almost exactly like this video of Alberto Contador's brilliant recovery in a 2004 race:

In all of my most horrible almost-crashes, I'd have to say that the best advice I can give is to just relax and let it happen. If you tense up, jam on the brake, try to jump off the bike, or have some other kind of panic response, you are probably going to get hurt. You'll find that your bicycle wants to keep rolling--it doesn't want to fall over. Be relaxed, trust your bike, and 90% of the time you'll be okay.

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