my best advice is right befor a collision it's always best to slide the back out and lay the bike down. i've done that a numbre of times an it prevents any single hard impact. just laying onto the ground at speed will scratch you up but not break bones.
Did this in a patch of sand 6/29/5, just about 8 wks ago. Fractured my acetabular and superior and inferior pubic rami (see pelvis not hip). It was a non-disjointed fracture so no 3 wks traction or plate & screw work.
It was a slow speed fall and I rode home 1.8 mi, on improved dirt roads ... went schooner sailing 3 weeks later and began riding agin this past week. Still breaking in my Brooks so I can't tell if the slight twinges are the Brooks or the Butt.
I took a good shot on my right elbow/forearm and the impact drove the ball on the femur into the pelvic bones.
A little like driving the car into the garage's back wall @ 56 yo. something's likely to give. I was standing flat footed in the shower 48 hrs, after impact so I figure I got away lucky.
I pulled the clipless pedals and put the flat inserts back in my bike shoes. I guess with all the miles and purposeful 'hockey stop' skids we did as kids, I'm more comfortable having my feet 'at the ready'.
My riding is for enjoyment/excersise and preparation for extended sel-supported touring. I will get in some weekend camping trips on my bike this fall and all-things-willing a C2C westbound next Summer.
Summary ... be prepared with helmet and gloves and a first aid kit.
I just proved out some of the concepts I talked about above. I was on my way to work today in a rain storm, the first in several weeks, and was doing a gentle turn on my Stratus recumbant in a parking lot (which connects to a bike path), when the rear wheel skidded out on me. I went down on my left side, and skidded about 10-15 feet (traveling 10-15 mph initially). I kept my hands on the handlebars (above-seat steering, or ASS in recumbant language), and tucked my left elbow as I went down. Result: one small abrasion on my left upper forearm, another on my left calf, a slight scrape on my upper thigh, and that was it, injury-wise. It was about like sliding into second base when I was a kid. I was feet-first, on my left side. I left a trail of what appeared to be soap suds where I skidded; the asphalt had recently been refurbished, and was very slick. My chin was tucked, but my head did not come close to contact with the asphalt.
I am glad I was not on my upright bicycle for this event, as the injuries would have been significantly worse. This is how I broke a rib about ten or so years ago on an upright bicycle.
I agree with everything that Steve said above. I had the training, and have used it effectively. But if you learn nothing else from this thread, take away two body-saving ideas:
1. If you start to go down, tuck your chin to your chest.
2. Relax, and maintain whatever you are currently doing.
If you are going over the handlebars, tucking will initiate the roll. If you are going sideways, tucking will protect your head, and relaxing will allow the soft parts to hit the ground. There is a reason why drunks don't get hurt much in falls (usually). They are completely relaxed and unafraid. Don't get drunk, but be relaxed and you'll come out better for it. Tuck and relax.
Great advice. I've fallen twice on descents on my road bike and both times while I have not had much time I've had enough time to take some measures. The last time I crashed was this past Saturday.
The first time I tucked my chin while going over the handlebars-I landed on my head and rolled up. I tore my helmet and had some fractured ribs but nothing that did not heal fairly quickly. Saturday I went down with the bike sideways (avoiding another cyclists that went down in front of me). I stayed with the bike to the ground (no hands or feet off the bike) and most of the hit was to my butt/hip and shoulder. I did have time to pick to go down on the shoulder and NOT on the asphalt.
However, I did not tuck my chin this time and my head slammed sideways on the ground on impact. My helmet once again came to the rescue but my neck is pretty sore from the "whiplash". I suspect that if I'd tucked my chin that could have spared some of the brunt of the hit to the head.
Interestingly my neighbor is a NASCAR driver and a few years back tumbled his car end over end about 5 times at Daytona (or it could have been Talledega). When we talked with him about what he was thinking while he was crashing he said his training from his early childhood days in driving go carts, sprints, etc, kicked in and it was to tuck your chin and make a ball and ride it out. He escaped with only a black eye and is still out there riding around the tracks today close to age 50!!!
I ride a Sun EZ Sport (LWB recumbent) When I went down recently, I planted my left foot, let the bike go, swung the right foot around & planted it. My hands never touched the ground. Wise up, recumbents are the way to go for 50+'rs.