Friday, March 9, 2007

What to Do if You Witness a Bike Crash

As the saying goes, there are two types of cyclists: Those who have crashed and those who will. So chances are, at some point in your triathlon career, you will witness the one thing cyclists fear most: the crash. Whether it be with a car, in a pace line, or from hitting something in the road, the crash is a scary scary thing. Here's what to do:


If it's YOU:

  • Assuming you're still conscious (yes, that's pessimistic, but let's hope you are!), GET OFF THE ROAD. You know how in Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons, after something really bad already happens to the coyote, an anvil falls on his head? You don't want a car running you over because you were lying in the road after you've already broken your collar bone .

  • If you were riding with a buddy, let them handle the rest. Your adrenaline is pumping and you're probably not in your right mind to handle the situation with much finesse.

  • If it was a car-cyclist accident, your buddy should make sure to get all the driver's information. Do not admit to anything.

  • In the case of possible head trauma, DON'T MOVE (that is, once you're off the road, if you could get off). That's why the paramedics strap you to a hard board and immobilize your head. They don't want anything to possibly shift and do damage to your head and neck.

  • Get a Road ID. (Clearly, do it now before you crash.)

If it's your BUDDY:


  • Try not to freak out. Really really hard. Seeing you freak out will only freak your buddy out and then he/she'll probably start fidgeting when he/she shouldn't move. (Yes, even if there is lots of blood. Heads bleed a lot--even if they're not cut too deep, so don't immediately assume your buddy's brain is contemplating leaping out of his/her head.)

  • Call 911. If there are any injuries more than a scraped knee, your friend needs to be checked out. Especially if it was an accident involving a driver, even if your friend seems fine, it's good to have that documentation for later.ALWAYS CARRY A CELL PHONE on your rides.

  • DON'T FREAK OUT! If you're a serious cyclist, chances are if your friend goes down, it will be at a pretty high speed. Think descending at 28+ mph, not falling over in a driveway. The results can be quite unpleasant. You will be no help to your buddy if they are still conscious and ask you "How bad is it?", which they probably will. Your answer? "You'll be fine, it's not too bad." NOT: HOLY Sh!#! Your head is gushing blood! Oh my God! Oh my God!

Remember: It's fine to freak out when everything is said and done. Maybe you won't feel it right away, but it is very taxing to witness a friend in such a state of pain. Your body is stressed enough mentally and emotionally. And don't worry about making up your missed workout. Return to your rides only when you're up to it! (Same goes for you if you were the victim. Don't push getting back on your bike!)

This article was a bit gruesome, but the crash is a fact of trilife. If you're prepared, you have a good chance of helping the outcome positively, and not making it worse.

Happy safe & alert training!

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