Crashing, Part 2: 
Understanding your Event

Being afraid of crashing makes you a higher crash risk. Convert fear to Mindful Excitement, then create a plan to deal with crash-causing situations. Then, go execute your plan.

In our previous post, we covered the first 2 steps of a 5-step plan to deal with crash phobia:

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  • Develop Mindful Excitement
  • know the course
  • understand the event
  • develop core fitness
  • acquire handling skills
  • have a post-fall protocol
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Let’s look

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Certain Races are Riskier

Different types of road races have different levels of risk. Let’s look at the different types, knowing that you can always simply sign up for races that suit your current willingness to accept that risk.

Time trials
Time trials are a really great way to begin to get your mind wrapped around racing your bike. It’s the race of truth: just you, the road, the start line, the finish line, and a clock. If you do encounter another rider in a time trial, it’s because you’re passing them (and you’re not allowed to draft) or their passing you (ditto.) Crashes are infrequent in time trials simply because of the lack of interaction with other riders at speed. But you get all of the thrill of a race — especially if you have an event with a live clock and standings displayed at the end. Watching your name and time as it jostles about with others can be humbling, exciting, or both.

Road races
Road races, as a category, can vary wildly. Some are point-to-point affairs, some are little more than criteriums over big, looping courses of many miles. Some are flat, some rolling, some with big climbs.

The name of the game with crash concerns in road races is in selecting the terrain that suits your strengths and comfort. Do a realistic self-assessment: If you’re not comfortable with high-speed bunch sprints, avoid races with long, flat finishes. If you feel comfortable as a climber, enter races with hills, as sprinters tend to have challenges when the road goes vertical.

Criteriums (or “crits”)
Criterium races where you go balls-out for 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes around a short course with potentially dozens of other racers is pretty darned risky. Crashes aren’t simply possible with crits, they’re downright probable. If you haven’t honed your pack riding skills at speed with a group of fellow fast riders you trust, simply don’t sign up for crits. If you aren’t comfortable with getting low and diving hard into tight corners 4 abreast, just say no.

[icon_box icon=”hb-moon-bike” icon_position=”left” align=”left”] Question: Do you find certain types of racing more attractive — or more frightening — due to their crash-causing reputations? Chat it up!

Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.

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