Crashing sucks but it is a part of our sport. Sometimes it just hurts, sometimes there is blood and sometimes surgery is needed, but most of us keep getting back on the horse. So today we’ll talk about a few things I’ve learned from crashing and from being with friends who’ve crashed. And as much as I can wrap this one in some anecdotes and make you laugh, this is one to share. I should add that I am not a doctor or a paramedic or a clergy member. So, be sure to fact check anything I say.
1) Don’t panic. The last thing anyone needs is someone freaking out. No matter how bad your friend is hurt (or is not) you are implanting a memory that they’ll carry for the rest of their life. No one wants to be part of the story that starts with “One time I crashed and my dumba$$ friend started crying and screaming…” Even with scrapes and a little blood, everyone appreciates the person who can stay calm, assess the situation and make a plan.
2) Water. I can’t stress this one enough. I’ve been asked by strangers if I had extra water. If someone gets hurt in the backcountry and actually needs to be transported out, you”ll probably be sharing your water.
3) Walk. I’ve learned the hard way to not let friends get right back on their bike. A friend at Valmont got right back on her bike after crashing and promptly could not remember why we were there or the President’s name. Have them walk for a bit to make sure they’re not too shaky to ride.
4) Ask. Always stop to offer service. Even if you’re shredding the gnar gnar. We stopped and asked last summer in Fraser. We ended up helping and carrying her out on a stretcher. Don’t assume they have all the help they need. Sometimes just asking and offering an electrolyte chew can make all the difference. You can shred your gnar gnar another time.
5) Food. Always have extra for a friend. Whether someone is bonking or hurt, a snack can make a big difference.
6) First-Aid. Although I didn’t have it a few weeks ago when Dana crashed, you should always have a small kit in your pack. It’s the beginning of the season. You may want to clean out your pack and repack it.
One time, in Fruita, I was on Steve’s Loop when I fell (crashed would indicate a level of epic that was not present). Everyone around me knew that the “pop!” I had heard meant my ACL would be staying behind on the trail but everyone knew to not pop my denial bubble. During the intense part, Gina got behind me on the ground and supported me until the waves of pain that can only be compared to labor pain, passed. We made some video, we laughed and I lead the group out. Except the big uphill parts. They had to carry my bike for me. I got back to the car, drank four beers and watched the knee swell. My friends made a crappy and painful situation into the best case scenario. And everyone survived.
Have fun. Be safe and be kind!