In this blog post, Author Joe Lyndsay of Bicyling
Mangazine offers some tips from professional racers on how to crash on
If you were watching Stage 12 of the Tour, you saw Team Sky racer
Geraint Thomas go down while descending on a wet, oily mountain road in the Pyrenees. But he
crashed about as smoothly and softly as was possible in that case, winding up
rolling in the grass instead of post-holing the pavement. Here's a
breakdown of what he did, and what you can learn from it.
1. Assume the Right Position
Thomas had his elbows bent and head up, looking through the corner. The
inside knee was pointed into the turn and he pressed down on the inside
of the handlebar and put his weight on the outside pedal, which he kept
down. The bike leaned underneath him, but his body remained straight.
It's a common misconception that you lean with the bike, but in fact
it's important to keep your weight over the tires, so that if they
start to slide, they're still underneath you--the bike doesn't
skip away and leave you cantilevered over nothing.
2. Correct a Slide
Under braking, the rear tire slipped on the slick road. Because of his
body position, Thomas had some time to react because the bike was still
underneath him as it slid. There are two side forces on the tire: the
actual force of the turn, and the force of braking, which makes the bike
want to push to the outside and also will, as soon as braking force exceeds
grip, stop the wheel from turning and make it slide. So as soon as the
wheel started sliding, Thomas removed one of those forces by letting off
the brakes. The sliding wheel could then resume turning and regain grip,
which brought the bike underneath him again. He also countersteered, pointing
the front wheel to the outside of the turn. That helped the bike straighten
out and right itself faster.
3. Find the Exit
Riding in a straight line helped him stay upright because it limits all
the forces on the bike. You can brake harder in a straight line than on
a turn. But because of that line, even with his quick reaction, Thomas
could no longer make the switchback. The easiest thing to do was make
a controlled exit from the road. As the bike stood up underneath him,
Thomas pointed it straight and aimed at a gap between cars and onto the
grassy surface along the side of the road.
4. Pick a Soft Landing
At this point, he had scrubbed a lot of speed. But he didn't have
the benefit of a long runout; the hillside dropped away dramatically after
he shot the gap between two cars. So the safest thing to do was to dump
the bike in as controlled a fashion as possible.
5. Drop and Roll
He had already clipped out on the right pedal, so he put his leg out and
his arms. (You might put only your arms out.) As he landed, his arms bent
at the elbows to absorb the first part of the impact, and then he immediately
rolled to his left shoulder and hip.