If your bike goes into a slide, how should an older person with age-related limited mobility, respond?

slowguy

Member
Sooner or later I know I will run over something in the leaves on the rail-trail, and start a slide! If I am doing 5 mph, I might deal with it. I still have very fast reflexes, but no clue how to more than pray if I was to be doing 10-12 mph and the bike initiated a slide. Some suggestions to practice, think about would be appreciated. Many of our trails have steep embankments within 4-5 ft. of the trail edge as an added incentive! Thanks
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
If the front slides, straightening up without front brake is best, unless you're going to hit something very soon. Rear brake is okay. That is steer in the direction of the slide.
If the rear only slides, you can steer in the direction it is sliding and not brake at all. If you're going to hit a tree or pole, lay the bike down away from the obstruction and let the bike hit it instead of your body.
All these maneuvers are rather theoretical. I've had the front wheel snap out of my hands four times in the last 5 years, whip full sideways, and with knobby tires, cause a major deceleration. In that case all I've been able to do is arrange my body as I go over the handlebars so I don't break anything. Head up is the desired position. Keeping my hands off the pavement and taking the hit on polyester covered arms and legs was also my goal. Each time I hit my chin. The last time it was at ~25 mph, the bike slid on gravel after dark, and I did break my chin. Now I wear a helmet with a chin guard, a Fox Rampage, which I highly recommend. I did tear off a rotator cuff tendon in that accident, and the emergency room physician didn't check it. So when I noticed I couldn't lift 5 lb as I had been able to do previously, the surgeon when he opened it up 8 weeks later said the tendon had atrophied such that he couldn't reattach it.
Biking is not as safe as riding in a car, but my heart "has nothing wrong" the cardiologist said before the surgery. Waste of $5000 of medicare funds, checking my heart with an endocardiogram, but no cardiologist, no surgery. Due to the endomorphine effect of regular biking, my accidents didn't hurt much. See Dr. Ken Cooper book Aerobics.
My Dad ruined his retirement with an easy chair; he had a stroke after 2 years that ruined his reading ability, so I'll take the risks of biking. Swimming is safer for the heart, but biking is better for the environment. I only drove on my 2000 mile vacation last year.
All those accident bring up the question of why electricity. In September I rode home my normal 30 miles, into a 15 mph wind, at an average 5.5 mph. Five hours 40 minutes of pulse >132. That is too much exercise, and I can't control the wind. On those days now, I'll ride 10 mph as usual with no wind. I also can now ride 50 miles in a day at 12 mph whereas before 30 miles pretty much wore me out. There are a couple of festivals I'd like to attend next year, pity I didn't get the bike converted until late October. No 25 mph for me, not on a bike anymore.
 
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mrgold35

Well-Known Member
Things use to happen in slow motion in my younger days and I could either adjust my body or just bounce back after a fall. No slow motion these days. It feels like I'm riding one second and kissing pavement/trail next if I'm not paying closer attention.

I'm +52 years old and had a few low/med speed wipe-outs that either left me bloody, sore, and/or with a damaged ebike. I started using G-Form knee/elbow pads after a low speed wipe-out on pavement that left me with a deep road rash mess on my knee that ran down to my shoe and took months to heal. I wear padded gloves always and I switched to MTB shoes because of the hard soles and better support when riding compared to using just running shoes. Never ride without my Fox Flux helmet and eye protection. I had a trail wipe-out and hit my head on the ground with my Fox helmet with zero injury. That fall would have resulted in a concussion at best and being knocked out at worse without the helmet (long ways down for my head being 6'3" and about 6'10" in the saddle).

I've also got into habit when trail riding to use my rear brake only if I need to make a tight turn and bleed off speed before or during a turn. I can still maintain my steering with the front tire and keep my balance in the turn. I also like to ride like I drive and (almost) never brake on a curve; ESPECIALLY, emergency braking because of poor planning. Brake, turn, and then power out is what I try to do when work commuting or trail riding. Taping the rear brake can get you back under control sometimes a little better.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
You might think you have good reflexes, and you may. But when the situation presents itself, the brain has a hell of a time reacting. You are going to go down. I've done it on single tracks, I've done it on rail trails. I did a 180 barrel role at 2mph on my recumbent tad pole trike on a side slope. Never been on top my head before, had to be quite the site while still clipped in with the trike in the air. It happens, and it happens FAST! I'm 66 and I figure my bouncing days are numbered. Our son took a spill on a paved trail this fall riding with me. He broke a rib by landing on the handlebar. That could happen at 1mph. There is no way to practice unless you have professional stunt men working with you.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
I find looking well ahead and anticipating the terrain and pitfalls, like a wet leaved corner, and making adjustments in speed and line choice is the best way to stay upright.

Riding bikes for enjoyment is not a race so speed should not be the main objective. Getting to know your bike and how it handles comes with riding at a pace that allows for error.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
I had my first fall in over 60 years (that I recall) earlier this Spring. Hit some mud and slid out. Bike went down, but I was wearing jeans and I slid with it. No injuries.

My poor wife must take a fall every other year. Fell on gravel this year. A couple of years ago, she couldn't get started on a hill and fell over. Road burn every time. Now she only rides step thrus.
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I find looking well ahead and anticipating the terrain and pitfalls, like a wet leaved corner, and making adjustments in speed and line choice is the best way to stay upright.

Riding bikes for enjoyment is not a race so speed should not be the main objective. Getting to know your bike and how it handles comes with riding at a pace that allows for error.

Couldn't agree more on both points.

I've also learned to not put my hand out to break a fall. Planting a foot can be just as nasty, potentially creating stress on your knee or groin muscle that is incredibly painful if anything gets too far sideways on you!

I guess my hope is if something like that does happen, it does so quickly so I don't have time to react... :^)
 
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MisterM

Active Member
Sooner or later I know I will run over something in the leaves on the rail-trail, and start a slide! If I am doing 5 mph, I might deal with it. I still have very fast reflexes, but no clue how to more than pray if I was to be doing 10-12 mph and the bike initiated a slide. Some suggestions to practice, think about would be appreciated. Many of our trails have steep embankments within 4-5 ft. of the trail edge as an added incentive! Thanks
I doubt you can practice anything, other than be vigilant to avoid situations where you might fall. Avoid off-camber turns, limited visibility turns, avoid surfaces with mud, leaves, sand, debris. Essentially, be a defensive driver, er, rider.
 

DDBB

Well-Known Member
I was climbing a short steep two track with my Haibike trekking yesterday and the rear tire started spinning and the bike started going sideways. Fortunately speed was low and I didn't crash but it was close. I agree w/ MisterM. There's nothing to practice and if you have to think about what you're doing during an out of control situation, it's already too late. (guess I should have bought the mtn.bike instead of the trekking bike)
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
8 weeks on from breaking my leg sliding my rear wheel on a slippery wooden boardwalk, I had no time to steer into it, the surface was so bad I was slipping just walking on it, thanks National Park Service for an aesthetically pretty but functionally awful trail design.
 

DaveMatthews

Well-Known Member
Keep your upper body strong. Lift minor weights to keep your arms in tune.
Riding should keep your legs in tune.
What kind of bike?
Dual sus? Hardtail?
Practice, tires, tuned suspension will all play a part.
 

Trihonda

Member
Couple of points. It's almost impossible to answer this question without more info. A slide? What kind of slide? Front or rear wheel? Sideways or forward slide?

I believe it is hard to say "if this, then turn into or out of the turn", as all crashes are dynamic and involve too many variables for a canned response.

Also, to say it's impossible to practice is not entirely correct. I think that it's possible to develop crash avoidance skills, but it comes with experience riding and balancing on your bike. The biggest way to improve balance is practicing slow speed drills. In my MTB courses I have students perform specific drills around cones, but the same can be accomplished by using your environment as obstacles. I tell my students that you won't always have cones to practice with, so find parking bollards, parking meters, trees, outdoor seating, etc.. to ride around in slow tight circles, switching directions frequently (figure 8's). The more you practice riding slow, the more you'll develop good balance on the bike. Pro tip for riding slow on an ebike (turn off the assist), use the rear brakes lightly and pedal (while applying light rear brakes). Super pro-tip for riding extremely slow, brake as above and concentrate on keeping the body/hands/shoulders relaxed. Similar to any active sport (like DH skiing), if you are tense, you tend to crash.

The other primary crash avoidance skill (as already noted) is awareness. Noticing a hazard in advance allows you time and ability to take evasive actions. So look up, look around, and look behind (often). :)
 

slowguy

Member
Couple of points. It's almost impossible to answer this question without more info. A slide? What kind of slide? Front or rear wheel? Sideways or forward slide?

I believe it is hard to say "if this, then turn into or out of the turn", as all crashes are dynamic and involve too many variables for a canned response.

Also, to say it's impossible to practice is not entirely correct. I think that it's possible to develop crash avoidance skills, but it comes with experience riding and balancing on your bike. The biggest way to improve balance is practicing slow speed drills. In my MTB courses I have students perform specific drills around cones, but the same can be accomplished by using your environment as obstacles. I tell my students that you won't always have cones to practice with, so find parking bollards, parking meters, trees, outdoor seating, etc.. to ride around in slow tight circles, switching directions frequently (figure 8's). The more you practice riding slow, the more you'll develop good balance on the bike. Pro tip for riding slow on an ebike (turn off the assist), use the rear brakes lightly and pedal (while applying light rear brakes). Super pro-tip for riding extremely slow, brake as above and concentrate on keeping the body/hands/shoulders relaxed. Similar to any active sport (like DH skiing), if you are tense, you tend to crash.

The other primary crash avoidance skill (as already noted) is awareness. Noticing a hazard in advance allows you time and ability to take evasive actions. So look up, look around, and look behind (often). :)

Trihonda, thanks so very much for the ideas. I will start doing slow turn, balance practice. I read recently a lot of older people just fall over stopping even so it seems a good idea. Lot's of help from the members of this site. I really appreciate you taking the time.
 

Trihonda

Member
Trihonda, thanks so very much for the ideas. I will start doing slow turn, balance practice. I read recently a lot of older people just fall over stopping even so it seems a good idea. Lot's of help from the members of this site. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Slow speed ability and balance will equate to better handling at higher speeds.
 

DDBB

Well-Known Member
I think this practice advice is outstanding but it's really improving balance and handling skills to AVOID a crash, not actually a tutorial on what to do DURING a crash which I still think would be hard to "practice". Odds of crashing would certainly go way down after taking one of trihonda's classes though.
 

AlanDB

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Iowa
One dangerous incident is if you accidentally get off on the shoulder of a paved trail and try to steer back on to the pavement. My wife has had two falls doing that (minor scrapes on both her and her bike). In this case I think it is best to come to a complete stop, then walk your bike back on the paved surface.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
Most of the good advice is hard to follow.

I'd argue strongly if you are concerned about falling that you should avoid clipless pedals and consider a step-through bike. Yes, falling and hitting the ground will hurt. But if you are tangled up with your bike in a high-speed fall you can really get messed up.

Always wear a helmet and gloves, and consider eye protection as well. If you do fall relax and go limp and try to tuck your forearms over your chest and have your hands protect your face.

Speed kills. If you are unsure of your surface or tired go slow. Most falls at 25kph will cause only minor injuries, while a fall at the same place at 50kph will likely involve a visit to the emergency room.

Obligatory crash video (start viewing at around 2:00 to get the good stuff):

 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
I would probably respond with a diaper change. I restored, raced, and rode motorcycles most of my life.........ditto with bikes, I competed in the early days of mountain biking but I have difficulty even getting on a bike now. After several strokes and a couple bouts with cancer plus all the usual vision and hearing issues I get confused finding my way around a Walmart but I still run and ride one of my bikes every day and love it. It will happen to you....oh, I'm 80.