A habit of crashing and now I am scared!

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Dougie
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Postby Dougie » 10 Nov 2011, 18:22

Having struck the ground twice in six weks. Breaking two $300 Helmets, collecting road rash, big bruises, deeeeeep pain and a general feeling of tenderness on about 89% of my body I am more than a little gunshy.

I have two real concerns. Firstly, is my skill set poor? If I was a more skillfull cyclist could I have recovered the handling problem and remained upright. If I can't recover should i be better prepared for the fall? The second issue I now have is of confidence. The notion of decending, speed (anything faster than 30kph) and corners are terrifying. I can feel this translating into not riding.

BTW both recent falls were front wheel slipping out from under me. 1. a slippery patch of road paint at Slowies and 2. punctured a gatorskin on a corner on the Gongride. Both falls knocked the stuffing out of me.

I am keen to take positive action as I "want" to ride.

I would appreciate feedback from the fallen.

cheers

The Crash Test Dougie

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weiyun
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Postby weiyun » 10 Nov 2011, 20:52

Fear only comes on the unknown. So my suggestion is to thoroughly analyse the root causes of the two crashes.

Some possible questions,
- What kind of tyre were you on in the first crash? What was its condition and inflation status?
- Why were you on road paint? Were you watching and mentally trying to avoid the paint?
- Did you let off the power and allow the wheels to glide over the slippery bits? Did your body suddenly tense up and cause sudden direction and/or posture changes?
- What do your eyes focus on when you ride?
- What was the condition of the gatorskin?
- What caused the puncture?
- What were you watching before and through the corner? Were you aware of a risk coming up?
- Do you feel you are an aggressive rider who push through every corner and turn and take risks?

Maybe one or more of these can help you to pin point some root causes and lead to some alterations to your approach. Then it may just all be luck... Although I believe that luck can be influenced by our actions.

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mikesbytes
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Postby mikesbytes » 10 Nov 2011, 21:35

I've ditched gatorskins. The problem being that once they slide there is almost zero chance of them gripping again

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geoffs
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Postby geoffs » 10 Nov 2011, 22:17

Not much you can do about a puncture in the middle of a corner. I've tried doing this at over 60kmh and the resulting skin loss wasn't fun.
As for sliding out on the paint I would say that that is a skills problem that is learnt best by sliding out on paint. You wont do this again ( I hope) as it's a lesson learned.
A few years ago we did the Queensland "port Douglas to Mission Beach" ride. It was raining when the cyclists started riding across the narrow gage train tracks which crossed the road at angles. At the first crossing I think we saw about 20 people getting first aid help after sliding out. At each crossing after less and less cyclists crashed until everyone had learnt how to cross them without crashing. No we didn't crash!

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weiyun
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Postby weiyun » 10 Nov 2011, 22:55

geoffs wrote:A few years ago we did the Queensland "port Douglas to Mission Beach" ride. It was raining when the cyclists started riding across the narrow gage train tracks which crossed the road at angles. At the first crossing I think we saw about 20 people getting first aid help after sliding out. At each crossing after less and less cyclists crashed until everyone had learnt how to cross them without crashing. No we didn't crash!

You know the other possible explanation of this observation is one of natural selection, right? Elimination of the maladapted. I am glad that you have superior genes. :mrgreen:

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Simon Llewellyn
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Postby Simon Llewellyn » 11 Nov 2011, 05:42

Hey Dougie,

As someone who has had a lot of little minor mishaps over the years and few major prangs ending in surgery, I don't think that there is necessarily much you can do about the sorts of crashes you are having. The one thing I have learnt over the years however after a couple of small mishaps like you describe, I would normally find myself in a position of low to no confidence which then would lead to more trouble if not corrected.Lack of confidence can lead to poor balance, an inability to navigate through gaps which would be otherwise no issue and uncanny natural sense of finding wet or slippery surfaces when no one else seems to have any idea.

There are a few things you can do to get out of this predicament. If you are in a bunch ride find a safe steady wheel to sit behind till your confidence rebuilds. Concentration is crucial, so a pre-ride coffee could be the answer and wholesome breakfast if you do not already do so. Finally you just go to keep riding in order to ride through this bad spell! It just takes time often to get over a bout of bad confidence.

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mr mojo
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Postby mr mojo » 11 Nov 2011, 08:48

Hi Dougie,

I think Simon's post makes good sense, but Mike's comment on the Gatorskins is also worth a thought. I personally love them as I haven't punctured since changing over but I have noticed that they can slip and skate over the road especially going around corners in the wet.

Maybe, change to something else "grippier" Even if they don't have more grip, the fact that you have made a positive change and believe they do will help restore the confidence (similar to the placebo effect).

I had the same confidence problem after my first fall, which was similar to yours (lost the front tyre in the wet), but luckily at low speed so no major damage to me or the bike. It's perfectly normal to feel the way you do. The thing that cured it for me was time and riding.

Good luck and hope to see you soon on the bunch rides.

Cheers
Spiros

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Stuart
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Postby Stuart » 11 Nov 2011, 11:39

Dougie - mate - bring it in close. Everybody crashes sometime and we learn from it. I've crashed motorbikes at way faster speeds than bicycles (although not as fast as Tim's crash at the creek) and got back on. I learnt from them though, mostly about braking control, lean angles, braking lever pressure progression and watching the road surface (oh, and not going faster than my ability or conditions allows!). No way you can avoid a puncture induced crash but white lines are always slippery so best be as upright as possible and use rear brake. If you're concerned about the front end, put a Conti GP4000 'Black Chili' tyre on the front, they stick like *censored* to a blanket. But really, when it's wet bicycle tyres are all crap as they have no tread.

maybe also check out some bike handling video's on the web and do some descending behind somebody fast - remember if you need to brake when leaned over, the rear brake will make you turn in to the corner while the front will make you run wider. See you on Sunday.

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weiyun
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Postby weiyun » 11 Nov 2011, 12:59

Stuart wrote:But really, when it's wet bicycle tyres are all crap as they have no tread.

One thing to note here though. Bicycle tyres aren't affected by the phenomenon of aquaplaning until some ridiculous speed that's not generally achievable with our chicken legs. So for maximum contact patch size, slick actually works better. Late Sheldon Brown has a good write up on it and a table on his site.

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mikesbytes
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Postby mikesbytes » 11 Nov 2011, 13:27

Hi Stuart, its because bike tyres are so thin and high pressure, pushies don't get to aquaplane like motorised vehicles. Hence slick tyres actually provide more wet weather grip, which is contrary to what would seem logical.

http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ho-z.html#hydroplaning

I'm about to put my last gatorskin on the rear of my fixie and use it up over summer, but I'll be cautious in damp conditions.

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Stuart
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Postby Stuart » 11 Nov 2011, 14:04

So, how does the water under the contact patch get 'removed' to provide some grip? Is it just the tyre itself that does that? Certainly this does not work with motorbike tyres but, well, they're way wider. As you say, seems counter intuitive to me but I'll take the ghost of Sheldon Brown's word for it I guess.

Although I'm still perplexed as to how this works in practise. Maybe not hydroplaning, but it seems to me that the tiny contact patch of the bicycle tyre 'must' be worse than say a motorbike tyre? But hey, I failed physics in the HSC.

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Postby andrewb » 11 Nov 2011, 14:23

Stuart wrote:Maybe not hydroplaning, but it seems to me that the tiny contact patch of the bicycle tyre 'must' be worse than say a motorbike tyre? But hey, I failed physics in the HSC.

The much higher pressure between bike tyre and road forces the water out.
Best analogy I can come up with is that a if a car or motorbike tyre aquaplaning is like a person on water skis, a bicycle is the equivalent of a dog trying to surf on a stick.

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Michael
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Postby Michael » 11 Nov 2011, 14:40

Dougie, FWIW I was in a similar mind set a while ago after losing out to gravity 3 times within a couple of months, for me I grew to blame (and hate) my cleats and pedals, let face it, they are bloody stupid things, I threated to whip them John Cleese style then replace them by fitting flat non clip peddles.
I didn’t end up doing that (because I didn’t own a pedal wrench at the time, shhh) anyway we are still not friends, but have an understanding, the dread has passed and I’m enjoying riding better than ever, feeling more in command, perhaps because I’m keeping a closer eye on those little buggers, or perhaps I’m concentrating a little more in general.
Hope you feel good in the saddle again soon
Last edited by Michael on 11 Nov 2011, 14:52, edited 1 time in total.

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weiyun
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Postby weiyun » 11 Nov 2011, 14:50

Aquaplane occurs when the the weight carried by the contact patch can no longer squeeze all the water from underneath, while treads are there to facilitate their displacement. And with the tiny contact patch of a bike tyre, it carries approx 35-40kg of weight ie. High pressure. Compared with a car tyre, where each tyre contact patch may carry 250-400kg of weight. At the same time the size of a car contact patch is way over 10x of a bike tyre contact patch ie. Less pressure for the bigger area of distribution, so less able to squeeze the water out. Speed obviously also contributes as at higher speeds the resistance posed by water increases (think of diving from 2.5m vs 20m). So according to calculation, us narrow tyre road cyclists won't have to worry about aquaplaning until we've hit something like 120+km/h.

Apart from a few stationary clipless falls when I transitioned to the technology, I've been lucky for the last 32,000+km, although with a few spectacular close calls on the Waterfall bunch ride. Now I said it, I'm afraid to ride out again. :oops:

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mikesbytes
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Postby mikesbytes » 11 Nov 2011, 15:34

Comparing the contact patch of a bicycle to a motorbike is a different question.

However comparing two identical say 700*23c tyres, one with grooves and one without (slick). In real life situations, both tyres will squeeze the water away from the contact spot to outside of the tyre. The slick will grip better because it has more rubber contacting the road.

It seems to me that gatorskins have a too hard a compound for sports riders. Preventing flats with them seems to have put owners into two camps

Gatorskin: WORST TYRE EVAH!

Gatorskin....A VERY GOOD TYRE

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weiyun
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Postby weiyun » 11 Nov 2011, 16:01

mikesbytes wrote:Comparing the contact patch of a bicycle to a motorbike is a different question.

Why? Is the physics different?

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Postby mikesbytes » 11 Nov 2011, 17:09

Because they are completely different sizes, construction, pressure, materials etc. You can't compare the use of grooves on a motorbike tyre to the use of grooves on a bicycle tyre.

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weiyun
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Postby weiyun » 11 Nov 2011, 18:46

But contact patch is still contact patch, the force vectors and physics is no different. There'll be performance variations due to construction and suspension etc, but the fundamental force interactions are unchanged. Or is there something I am not aware of in motor bike tyres?

timyone
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Postby timyone » 11 Nov 2011, 20:58

man I know how you feel! I have been down four times this year, 3 of them were the rider right in front of me crashing! the fourth was me undertaking people down that pass in hornsby and sliding on a corner.. I cant ride on a wheel in a paceline any more :S it killed me in A grade! I don't trust any one! They were all experienced riders that went down :(

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T-Bone
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Postby T-Bone » 12 Nov 2011, 14:36

Slipping in the wet is about knowing the abilities of your tyres to grip the road and riding within them. It's not going to make any difference swapping to GP4000's from Gatorskins if you don't ride within the grip ability of the tyre, same in the dry, and the same issue is present when you drive. Whether the cause of loss of traction is aquaplaning or the limit of the rubber compound to grip is really irrelevant.

Not much can be done about puncturing on a corner.

For me, i find the best way to get over a crash and regain confidence is to ride more. I crashed going into RNP once and it took a while to descend at faster speeds again. I've pushed the limits of penny farthing cornering too far, and haven't quite regained my on the limit cornering ability(doesn't help only riding once a year). In the tour of Canberra this year, 3 people slid out on a corner in front of me, and while i stayed up, i didn't take the descents as fast as previous years (probably didn't help having crashed not long before on the track).

So really, i suggest just getting back on the bike and riding, and your confidence will slowly build up again with every ride, even though you may feel overly cautious early on.

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Toff
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Postby Toff » 14 Nov 2011, 16:37

Lots of technical talk on tyre grip here. Not too much info which might help Dougie.

Here's my $0.02.

The key to controlling a bike is to be relaxed. If you are relaxed, your back and arms act like shock absorbers, smoothing out the bumps, and potentially any traction loss evnts too in the unlikely event that they occur. Being relaxed means your arms and back are not loaded with any tension, so if they need to be called upon to suddenly swerve, or save you in an emergency situation, they can react much faster than arms that are tense.

If you are tense, you lose the ability to react, because your body needs to release the tension holding them in place before the muscles can be used to save the situation.

The irony is, that because of the crashes, Dougie is probably tense when he rides his bike. Only riding more will bring back the confidence that allows for relaxation, but until the confidence returns, any further unexpected events may be more dangerous for him than for a relaxed rider in the same circumstances.

So what can Dougie do to speed up the process of getting relaxed again on the bike? And what does riding relaxed actually mean?

I've read text books that say that the torso and arms should form a "bridge" shape over the bike, with the arms being one side, and the torso being the other side. This implies that the weight is distributed through both the arms and back equally, forming a stable position that can be maintained for hours. Whilst this is true, I don't like riding this way, as it puts too much weight through the arms, which, prevents the arms from being properly relaxed.

The way I suggest riding is where your back takes almost all the weight, and your arms are almost completely unweighted. Imagine you are sitting at a piano, and you are ready to start playing. That's how your arms should be. You can actually practice this while riding along: pretend to play a few piano notes on your handlebars. That's how relaxed your arms should be.

Being relaxed stops you wasting energy, so you go faster for longer. It also makes riding more enjoyable.

Reading this article sheds some further insight.


With respect to tyres, I'd suggest riding on racing quality tyres, instead of commuting quality tyres. They won't last as long, but they will grip much better. It's cheaper to replace your tyres a month or two sooner than to have to keep replacing busted frames and parts. Plus you know you've got the best chance possible in terms of grip if something goes wrong.

Richard
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Postby Richard » 14 Nov 2011, 18:25

Dougie

Been there and I sympathize with your state of mind and body, it aint fun. I went down a couple of times recently on the MTB and the only thing to do is to get back on the pony and ride it.

Each time getting back on the bike I found I was tense and I had to consciously remind myself not to overly grip the bars and just relax. I also started to stare at the ground in front of me rather than looking ahead. The bike tends to follow where you are looking. If you look at a pothole then somehow the bike ends up in it. Relax and look ahead and the bike will go where it should.

The confidence will return. The lost skin might take a little longer.

Richard

Richard
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Postby Richard » 14 Nov 2011, 18:29

And I agree with Stuart - get a set of Conti 4000S's. I use them even for commuting.

They do stick to the road like .........

weller
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Postby weller » 15 Nov 2011, 11:10

Vittoria Rubino Pro's - good grip and good price

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Michael
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Postby Michael » 16 Nov 2011, 11:46

So just to recap from the above posts:

Relax More
More caffeine
Concentrate more
Blame your equipment often
The rider in front of you cannot be trusted
Motor bike and cycle tires are not interchangeable
Don’t corner fast when riding a Penny farthing
Cycling is fun, scary, expensive, healthy, painful.
:D


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