I started cycling seriously when I got my road bike back in 2014 after I completed my first triathlon. Since then I’ve participated in many races and I’ve done over 15,000 km on the bike (both road bike and MTB) while also having only few accidents. Luckily, most were minor, but there were two that stood out and taught me valuable lessons - one that happened back in 2014 and the other last Saturday. Here’s what I learned from them:
My first major accident in 2014 - too much speed!
As pictured above, the accident doesn’t seem very dangerous as I’m standing on my own and the bike looks OK. However, I was heavily bruised and half of my body was scratched and the bike’s tires were bent.
How it went down: I was cycling behind my friend downhill and we were going very fast. It was my first year on the road bike so I was pretty inexperienced and in love with the speed! I was too close to my friend and didn’t notice when we approached a very sharp curve and slowed down. When I realized I was going too fast, I didn’t have enough time to slow down myself and chose to fall to the side in order to break before hitting the fence on the other side of the road. Luckily there was no car coming uphill.
- Speed is dangerous - especially if you’re inexperienced and you’re starting out - you should know where and when you can go fast. Speed is thrilling, but it’s also very risky!
- Speed is unnecessary - yeah, I like going fast, but there’s no need to go on the edge of speed limits, especially when you’re a father of 3 and a husband and a CEO. There are people depending on you, it’s stupid to risk your life for a thrill.
- Keep the distance from others! - I was too close to my friend so I didn’t have too much time to react.
- Fall down on the side when you cannot stop! - this is what I learned when skiing - if you’re losing control, fall to the side yourself so that you can at least control your fall and you will not accelerate. This acquired behavior helped me here and saved me from much more serious injuries.
My second major accident last Saturday - always wear a helmet 🪖
At the end of a bike trip, I was just riding along slowly between 15-20 km/h with a friend and chatting, when I didn’t realize that our bikes were too close. She made a slight turn I didn’t have time to react, my bike touched her bike and stopped suddenly and I flew off and hit the tarmac directly with my head.
It all happened too fast! One moment I realize we are on a collision course and the next thing I know I’m hitting my head against the road!
Luckily my head is intact and I didn’t suffer a concussion, but my helmet broke:
Two things I learned this time:
- Keep the distance!! - yes, seems I haven’t learned enough from my previous accident. We were riding too close to each other and as we were chatting, we didn’t realize our bikes were about to clash!
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bike ⛑ - at all times! Even when you’re taking a “normal” bike to get groceries. Always wear a helmet. I see many people bragging about not needing to wear helmets but that’s not smart! My accident happened at a very low speed and yet when the bike stopped I had no time to react and hit the road with my head instantly!
Bikes and physics - why you can hit hard even at low speeds!
Generally riding a bike is pretty safe and it’s very rare that accidents happen. However when you hit something with a bike, it can stop instantly. And when it does, the physics are against you. The bike is put to a sudden halt and the speed you were at combined with the weight of your body catapults you away from the bike and you have no control how you’re gonna fall. And it’s very easy to hit something with your head.
Learn from me:
Always wear a helmet when cycling!
And watch out, don’t exaggerate with speed and keep distance from others.
Here’s to next 15,000km and beyond being completely uneventful! 🤞 Let’s not have accidents anymore!