Why crashing is important

Crashing is all part of the process, it’s almost inevitable, but it’ll always make you a better rider

Image: Red Bull

A large number of us mountain bikers have accepted from early on that crashing is inevitable, and it’s this revelation that makes us a much better rider.

Now, I’m not saying we should all hop on the bike this weekend and stove it into a tree, because unless you tour with Nitro Circus that’s not going to get you anywhere. The reason accepting a crash makes us a better rider is all about progression.

The best example I can give from personal experience (and the reason this post exists) stems from the previous weekend’s riding which has left me with what seems to be cracked/broken ribs and a looming cloud of gloom about having to rest up for a while. I took a friend out riding to Cannock Chase at the weekend and found that I wasn’t pushing myself as hard or as far as when I ride solo, which left me with an abundance of energy and a need to do something out of my comfort zone. Enter black features

Follow the Dog at Cannock Chase is a Red graded trail with some black features along the way, most of which are not too trying. The one feature I’ve always dodged comes towards the end of the trail when a sketchy 90 degree turn boardwalk follows on to a steep rock garden. The 90 degree left on the skinny boardwalk always put me off, but I’ve been practicing my track stands and I was full of energy which meant I felt brave enough to take a stab at it. Up the rocks no problem, quick squeeze of the front brake to swing the rear round and the turn was complete! All that was left to do was to wheelie the drop off and into the sunset, easy right? Nope. I stopped for that fraction of a second too long, with no width left to take a dab, I toppled off the side onto the downslope crashing down onto my rib cage.

The thing that surprised me the most about this event is how calmly I accepted my fate. Having said to my friend only 20 minutes earlier how I wasn’t looking forward to the next broken bones heading my way, I then proceeded to do just that without an ounce of panic

So why does this make me a better rider? To start with, if I was really as terrified of hurting myself as I thought I was, I never would’ve attempted the boardwalk and achieved what I did. And secondly, missing out on riding this weekend has made me more determined than ever to hit that feature again and clean it this time. If there’s one thing I can guarantee about my first ride back, it’s that I certainly won’t be making the same mistake again.

I recently spoke to some other riders with some super gnarly injuries, all of which are way better riders than I am, and still are undeterred. In my eyes this is one of the most beautiful things about MTB, the determination of these riders, in the face of almost certain pain speaks volumes about the immense pleasure we find on two wheel. Or maybe we’re all just mental and slightly masochistic.

Crashing is all part of the process, it’s almost inevitable, but it’ll always make you a better rider. Learn from your mistakes, analyse your riding and take it to the next level. Soon enough the things that once terrified you will become second nature.

Get involved in the comments, tell about your worst crashes, how they helped you to improve your riding and what motivated you to get back out there and hit it again

Happy Trails guys

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