Crashing bikes, is, in a way, divine. It’s almost as though the ground accepts you, collects your body from the air in its arresting embrace. If that be the case, this guide is your passport to divinity.
Crash lore has it that there are two kinds of riders: those who have been down, and those who are going down. It seems like a contradiction to me because the former state of being doesn’t necessarily preclude the latter. So, really, there’s really only one kind of rider, and I am he.
Now, granted, you could perhaps say that some of the crashing I’ve done, on my mountain bike at least, was due to my own buffoonery. True, I like to jump bikes into the air. True, I attempt trackstands on 29er mountain bikes. True, I do these things despite a prodigious natural suckitude at mountain biking, but the upshot is I have a little experience with wrecking my mountain bike. In fact, pretty much every time I ride the thing, I wreck it at least once. I’m also fairly well versed in crashing BMX bikes, although that was long ago, and I have a smattering of knowledge on crashing road bikes, but I think some focus is best.
Step One: Get a mountain bike
This step is kind of perfunctory because, by and large, most people who go buy a bike get themselves a mountain bike. They do this regardless of the fact that they spend most of their time riding that mountain bike on sidewalks and bike paths. I guess it’s sort of like the SUV craze. If someone offers you a thing that is big and vaguely outdoorsey, for God’s sake buy it. The zombies could be here any second!
Step Two: Get clipless pedals
First of all, they’re just better. Once you go clipless you’ll never go back. Having said that, they offer you, the future heap of bones and shame, an excellent excuse. Even if you crash due to your own abject stupidity, you can always blame not being able to clip out in time. It happens to everyone. In fact, I crashed in a parking lot once because I failed to clip out in time. A flat, featureless, danger-free parking lot. Doop de doo, just riding my… Ah, god… WHAM! Didn’t clip out in time.
Step Three: Develop a false sense of confidence
This one is easy for me because I suffer from high self esteem, but if you need a little boost, I recommend the Forks Area trails (or FATS) near Augusta, Georgia. They’re the most fun trails I have ever ridden on a mountain bike, and there were tons of opportunities to leave the ground, of which I happily availed myself. Jump after jump landed without incident, and I began to think that I had actually developed some skill at riding.
Step Four: Identify the place where you will crash
All I can really tell you about this is that when you see it, you will know it. In movie land the male lead and the heroine lock eyes and we, the audience, know that they are destined to be together forever against all odds. In life, that certain inexorable destiny can only exist between you and the crash site. Relish the feeling, and worry not. You will be there shortly.
Step Five: Crash
Finally, whatever ungainly maneuver or ill-advised flight you have embarked upon ends, and upon making contact with the ground you start the rest of your life with one more story to tell. Gone are your hopes that you could save this thing. Gone are your alarmed cries. There is only you and the ground and what you will be together going forward. I recommend that you lie there a while and look up into the sky. Breathe air into your lungs if they still work. Feel the adrenaline and the endorphins for a few precious seconds because soon enough, creepy Uncle Pain will be around to check in.
After these steps you are on your own, as far as I’m concerned. You may wish to ascertain the position and/or condition of your various bits. Is your collarbone stabbing you in the neck? You may wish to fret about how far you are from the car should you prove to be seriously jacked up. Whatever happens, know that you took a chance that a lesser human being may not have taken. You had the courage to risk failure. It just so happens that this time, Fate called in her marker, and you had to wreck bodily into that moment in order to move on.
But you’ve done it now, and it is finished, so move on, wild one. Move on.