Improving the speed, limiting the risk

Crashes do happen, unfortunately, when you ride in a group, in a race, or just anywhere at any time. Very annoying, especially when recovery takes a long time.

Bad luck, or someone else’s fault? Of course there are situations you can not do anything about yourself. But it’s good to see what you can do in order to reduce the chance of a crash. Under room to move, blind curves, cornering technique, downhill runs, you will find points of interest.
Below you will find some crashes, with analysis what the rider could have done better.
Of course, bad luck or fault by some other often plays a role. But focussing on those external things prevents you from learning what you can do yourself to minimize the risks.
As ‘though cyclists’ we often say as someone falls that he is a real cyclist now, with his skin rubbed off. All understandable types of responses, but they do not help to prevent as much as possible the chance of falling. You need to learn from those situations.
See also learning

Crash Kruiswijk (Giro 2016, May 27)

Besides all the emotions and the fact that an accident or a mistake is in a small corner there is of course the question: what could de rider do better?
– Quick switch of attention. If you’re on your limit and happy to be up front and need to eat, on a coll where the descent starts quickly, you can have a high speed before you notice it.
-On the TV images, it seems the curveline of the rider is not correct. Too little outside and too little inside. See: Taking sharp turns. As if doesn’t pay enough attention to the curve. If the turn turns more than you can see beforehand, you have a problem.
– Perhaps the most interesting is the position on the bike. Man and bicycle are vertically in one line (the classical position), with the center of gravity  opf man and bicycle short within the contact line of tires and road. This produces a very slight radius of the curve. Too little to get the right amount of turning.
Possibly, the ‘skiing technique’ could provide better correction posibilities.
It’s a bit more dynamic than the classic technique. You can correct more if your cornering is not perfect. You can push your saddle more a bit more to the inside. The upper body goes out with a lot of pressure on the front wheel, partly inward facing. The center of gravity of body and bike will be slightly lower. The result is a sharper turn. Especially at the end of a curve you can “emphasize” more and thus remain in the curve.
Managing that technique some do automatically, from their talent or from mountain biking experience. If you are not such a lucky bird you will have to train this technique. You have to make hours before it becomes an automatic reflex. It is a technique that is difficult under stress. If you’re upset, you keep your breath, bringing up your position. The center of gravity of body and bike will be higher and closer to the contact line. As a result, you are curving less. The natural reflex if you are started is not the functional reflex. In skating and skiing you have the same phenomenon. Therefore, you need to train the ski technique under (simulated) stress.
Also, knee insertion can provide faster corrections than the classic technique.
However, the center of gravity of the body and the bike must be sufficiently within the contact line. It will however deliver less weight removal and thus correction. Descending can be improved by exercising it a lot. That doen’t come by itself. Because you spend a lot more time riding uphill, Not every curve in the mountains is easy to enter. There is always one that goes wrong. Much more than, for example, in a criterion where you encounter the same turn agaain and again and unconsciously learns how to do it. In the mountains it is important to have a well-trained automatic reflex for the situation when it goes wrong. The skiing technique provides more opportunity for correction than the classic technique.
See also: cornering
See also:

Crash Rojas (Vuelta 2016, stage 20)

A fall apparently out of nowhere.
The fact that others go through the same curve without difficulty indicates that the cause is problably himself.
Possibly braking too much the front wheel? Then the slip and fall away.
Perhaps the upper body a little too much hanging to the inside of the curve? Because of this, there is too little pressure down and especially inward on the front wheel.
See: ski tours

At the rear wheel you get more signals before it’s possible to slip away, not at the front wheel. Additionally, a rear-wheel slip is usually corrected, a front-wheel slip is almost always a fall.
It seems that there is a critical area where the pressure on the front wheel becomes too small with only a little difference in position of the upper body. This risk is bigger with the classical turn technique than with the skiing technique.
If you look at Louis Leon Sanchez in the same stage, you’ll see he has a little V-bend.
It looks like we can not easily feel how close we are to this pressure loss. As for example in aquaplaning when driving a car.
If you can repeat the same curve in a parking space or someplace like that, you can try it out. From classical turning technique to skiing turning technique. The difference in pressure is to feel. Especially when you make it extreme: the classic technique with the shoulders focused inwards and the skiing technique with a V and extreme hanging outwards of the upper body and so more pressure on the outside of the front wheel. You can even feel the difference in pressure when laying your hands on the brake levers or down in the handlebars. But be careful to build up that exercise. 🙂

Crash van Vleuten (Olympic Road Race, Rio August 8, 2016)

Incredibly what a shit. The best in the course, on the way to the gold. And then the fall.
Why? Slippery road? To thee side falling bend? Too much risk? Who will say it?
There is a steering error to be seen on the TV. It was a turn to the right. Before the turn, she ride at the right of the road, in stead of the left site. As a result, she made the curve much harder than if she before the turn had been riding at the left side. Then the turn woud have been much broader. You make an outside-inside-outside line to make the curve as wide as possible. Then you can turn that turn faster, with less chance of getting lost.
Incredible: technical a simple mistake. Too simple for such a good driver? Why? Attention distracted? The cause behind the cause, no idea.

It’s all right that she makes a simple steering error, but this fall is very special. She has to deal with what is called in the (motor) road racing a ‘high-sider’. The rear wheel loses grip and slides to recover grip after about a second. That gives a a hard swerve. You see on the images on her rear wheel sliding, she corrects with steering, then suddenly you do not see the rear wheel sliding, Van Vleuten dives over the wheel and pulls the bike with her. She is already flying over the bicycle before the wall, after the swerve.
You see how useful knowledge is from another discipline to recognize it.

Crash of Piere Rouland (Tour de France 2016, stage 19)
The main reason seems to be that Rouland starts peddeling again too early. His inner pedal hits the ground. This causes the rear wheel to go up (see picture) and therefore loses grip.

Crash of Darwin Atapuma (Vuelta 2016, stage 12)
Http://  At the beginning of the video.
A fall that also seems to come from nothing. Others have no problems at the same place with the same curve. It happens more often, such a fall out of nowhere. You can then look at all kinds of circumstances, pebbles and the like that may be the cause. Perhaps it’s more interesting to look at what you can do to reduce the risk of slipping. I think that another position on the bike in the bend might help.
Darwin Atapuma seems to have got his center of gravity a little too much inside, which makes it easier for the front wheel to slip away from injuries.
Perhaps we are not aware of how fast you don’t have enough pressure on the front wheel. A few centimeters of your upper body more inward and the pressure on the front wheel (to the inside) is already a lot less. With a little disturbance of a pebble or so, it has happens before you know it.
With the skiturn technique – the hip pushing the saddle more inward and upper body slightly more outside – there is more pressure is on the front wheel, also sideways in the direction of the inside of the curve. Therefore, the chance of sliding the front wheel is smaller and you have more opportunity to correct.
(By the way, for the rear wheel it is different. And if the rear wheel is going wrong, you usually have a lot more chance to fix it.)
Crash of Richie Port (Tour de France 2017, stage 9)

What did the rider not do well? Concentration loss? Derivation? Fatigue? Wrong line chosen, far too far left, too tight on the inside bend? Rear wheel in slip pulled inward? Trying to rescue by putting out his, where the center of gravity remained on the wrong side? No ‘unfolding’ the V to make the curve more widespread? More an error of fear than an applied correction reflex.
What a crashes in the descent! Especially the Col du Chat. Was this road not suitable for descending at high speed at the cutting edge for the professional?
For cycling tourists it’s a road where you can not go downhill fast. Steep. New asphalt, which is sometimes more slippery than old asphalt. A little damp here and there. Bumpy asphalt which makes correcting more difficult. Very often, no good view of what can be in the way. If the road is narrow then it becomes tricky. The pros can assume that they can use the whole way. Cycling tourists can not. We have to take into account that we may have to walk after the corner or even go to the side. If you can not see through a bend on such a narrow road, you need to brake well in advance. Very different from a 2 cars or more wide road, where you can count that your road half is available. There you can look much more wide through the bend.
Such a Col du Chat is very suitable for going up a mountain. Downhill, your throw away teh height meters that you gaind with hard work.
See further: ‘Reading the road’
Near Fall of FUGLSANG, Liège – Bastogne – Liège, 2019
Jacob Fuglsang almost crashed while he was well ahead. What went wrong? And why did it still work out?
In addition to all the emotion of the shock, it is good to ask those questions more rationally. You can learn from that, so that in the same kind of situations the chance that you can manage is greater. Usually there is not much attention for that. Calling that it is bad luck that he is slipping and that it is lucky that he will not really fall down will deprive you of that learning opportunity. Fuglsang comes in a rear wheel slip. Ten to one he brakes a little too hard with his rear wheel for the surface on that stretch of road. The wheel does not turn for a moment, the lateral force causes the wheel to break out. His reaction, I guess, is to release the rear brake immediately. The rear wheel starts turning again and gets a grip again. If he continued to hold the rear brake, that would not happen and the rear wheel slid further away. You can practice that release mentally and factually so that it becomes a reflex. Maybe it is only 10% of influence (and the rest is bad luck or lucky), but you can control that 10% yourself and you can practice.
Wet timetrial (Tour de France 2017, stage 1)
This time trial was with wet road and lots of crashes. Timetrial bikes are made for straight riding, not for bends. The fastest tires have slightly less grip (and leakage protection). Even those cyclists who train a lot on the time trial bicycles train much less on that bike than on the regular road bike.
Those who go for the day win must ride at the cutting edge. Those who go for the general ranking may take a lesser risk. The others are allowed to ride on safe. Even they did not succeed fully.
After a long period of dry weather, asphalt can be much more slippery when wet by the gathered junk than when it is often raining.
See the endless sliding of Dylon Groenewegen. https: //  At 1′.30.
How do we drive as a recreation on wet road?
Keep your brakes dry. By regularly braking a little bit. Wet rim brakes need some time to get a grip.
The difference between riding straights and turning is much bigger on wet roads than then on dry the roads. On straight pieces you can ride on wet road almost as fast as when it is dry. It’s scary to some, but it is possible. For the turn you need to calculate a much longer brake path. In a descent this is even more the case.
The bends you ride much slower than in dry weather. You keep your outer leg longer down, start peddeling again later and get out of the saddle later.
You will usually ride a curve not in one nice round line, but divide teh curve into pieces that go more or less straight (where it’s wet
) and rounder (where it’s drier). Look at the white lines on the roads, especialy where it’s that stuffed stuff, pillow covers, train rails and the like. Cross there as far as possible at angle of 90 degrees of and do not brake there.
Especially: Take a greater safety margin than you take in dry conditions. On a wet road you can dapt yourself much less than on a dry road.
In dry conditions, one asphalt is more or less the same as the other. With a lot of hours riding and slowly looking for the boundary of posibilities, you can learn to get close to the maximum possible turning speed. Under wet conditions, gliding risk can vary greatly. Certainly if it’s a little bit wet here, and dry there. If you ride the same course more often as in a criterion then you can adjust to the corners better. If you get a turn only once, that will not work. That’s the case with competitions like the Tour de France almost always. In wet conditions, you have to ride further under the maximum possible than under dry conditions.

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