The Good That Comes From Crashing Your Bike

The other day I went out for an early morning training ride. But on this ride I crashed. Hard. And I learned a few things some of which may help you.

To give you some context this was the first time I had gone down on my bike. A few years ago I flatted out on a descent and my back wheel was flailing about like a fish. I gradually brought the bike to a stop but my spiked heart rate kept going for a well. It took a number of weeks, maybe months, to feel comfortable pushing it downhill again.

And up until this morning I was feeling comfortable on the bike. I got in over 500 km during our trip to Hawaii and have gotten out for some good rides around Kelowna since we’ve been back. And I’d include the ride where I crashed in this category. There were lots of good take-aways.

But before I get to the positives from this ride I want to explain what happened. I was going down a descent after finishing on Glenmore road and heading down to OK Center. I guess I had a little too much lean and little too much wheel turn. Plus I think I hit a patch of pebble or loose gravel. Before I knew it was down and sliding along the pavement. Checking my computer at the end of the ride my max speed was 60 km/h. I don’t know if I hit that speed at the time of the crash but I do know I was checking my speed after the crash. So there’s a good chance I was going close to that speed.

After I stopped sliding I took a moment to see how I was. What was sore? What hurt? I felt my arms and legs for injury. I burned off a good hole in my cycling kit. I had a good road rash on my forearm and hips were sore. My neck was hurting a bit too.

Exhibit A from my bike crash. Merely a flesh wound (said in a Monty Python accent)

Exhibit A from my bike crash. Merely a flesh wound (said in a Monty Python accent)

crash 2 crash 3 crash

I picked up bike and walked back up the hill to collect the garage sale of items from jersey pockets. I spun the wheels and noticed they were still true. The drops on the left were bent but quickly and easily bent back into position.

My immediate thoughts were to turn around and bike home. And that I’m not doing the Fondo, the Big White ride or any other races this summer. I wasn’t going to ride my bike anymore. Or at least for a while. Maybe I’ll just sell my bike?

In other words I was making excuses for myself and acting like a big baby.

Then it hit me…

What if I continued on my ride? Could I still get in a good training session? Would I be OK? Could I make it in time to Immaculata to coach the sports academy?

And so I made the decision to press on. And here are 5 lessons from my crash that may help you.

  1. Don’t Over React in the Short Term – ‘I’m not racing anymore. I’m not riding anymore. I’m not (your choice) anymore.’ How often have we been guilty of this? 10 minutes after my crash I was back on the bike. I had a great climb on Camp Road. I made it from laying on the ground in Lake Country to KLO road in about an hour. This turned out alright. When things don’t go as planned, take a pulse. Don’t make a rash decision. Don’t commit to anything. Wait for the emotion, adrenaline and cortisol to drop before making any decisions of consequence.
  2. Win or Learn – I never want to lose this mindset. In sports and life it has to be win or learn. Sometimes things go as planned and with get a positive result. Other times we experience defeat and disappointment. From this morning I learned to check my speed a bit more on the hills. Maybe if I didn’t crash I’d keep pushing for higher speeds and sharper turns. I always learned to be aware of how much I lean and to try and keep both  wheels straight. Lastly, I learned even when you crash you can still turn things around and reap the benefits of a great ride.
  3. What Would Baili Do? – Last year Baili Guidi competed in the Penticton Fondo as a 17 year old. Just after the halfway point of this 160 km race Baili crashed. He  could have dropped out of the race. He could have blamed a fellow competitor. He could have done a lot things. But what he did was dust himself off, straighten out his handlebars and get back in the race. And guess what? He was only 10 seconds off from winning this race. So as I contemplated calling for a pick up or riding back home I thought WWBD? And I swung a leg over the bike to try and ‘win’ my training session.
  4. Face Your Fears/Lean In – What are your phobias? What scares you? For me it’s snakes. And at 632 am last Thursday it was getting on my bike again. Besides being a little gun-shy I was also wondering if everything was good mechanically with my bike? It could have been very easy to call for a ride and not go again. But that would have made the next ride harder to do. When you have an opportunity to face your fears go for it. Do not delay. Find the fear and lean in. The confidence you’ll gain in these scenarios is incredible.
  5. Quit = Can’t Win – You only lose when you quit. As soon as you give up then it’s over. And unfortunately a number of people quit before they give things a chance. Or they make an attempt and don’t win the first time they try so they pack it in. Find anyone that has had success in sales and ask them if they close every deal? Or if the first few cold calls they made paid off? Fear of failure paralyzes us. It causes us to not make further efforts. Success could be, and often times is, right around the corner. As an athlete, if you had stuck it out could you have made the team? Could you have gotten the scholarship? Could you have won? Could you played another year? There’s a time to retire but it seems to me there’s a whole lot of quit and not a lot grit. Not a lot of resiliency. Ask for help. Ensure you’re on the right. Try different approaches. Step back to reevaluate and get perspective. Because if there’s any part of you that wants to succeed than you owe it to yourself to see it though.

What about you? Do you agree? Disagree? What are your fears/phobias? When have have you faced your fears and leaned in?

Let me know in the comments section below.








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