The Art Of The Bail - Anticipation

Dec 13, 2011 at 0:09
Dec 13, 2011
by Johnny Smoke  
 
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Fly and be free...

You know the feeling. It’s that anticipation, but with a slightly sick sensation low down in the stomach. Like the butterflies in your stomach all just threw up. You’ve been riding great, firing on all cylinders. You’re sighting all kinds of trick moves, and nailing lines like a pro. Suddenly, you get this cold feeling as you realize, “I haven’t hit the dirt in a long time.” It’s just a matter of time. Sooner or later, you know the odds will get stacked against you. Here’s a stumper for you: you throw a coin in the air nine times, and nine times it comes up tails. What are the odds that it’s going to come up tails on the tenth throw?

Well, of course the answer is 50/50, but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. The odds of it coming up tails ten times in a row start to get quite small. So yeah, individually it’s 50/50, but in the longterm it’s inevitable the other side of the coin will rear it’s ugly head. Hence that feeling of impending doom when you start to buck the industry standard of one serious crash every hundred rider days or so. So what do you do? Stop riding? Yeah... right. Hold back? Get angry? Well, it’s probably slightly different for everyone, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of my strategies and while we’re at it, some grody and gory stories too.

So gnar...
Odds are, you'll take a beating.

It was pretty entertaining developing this story. I talked with a ton of riding friends about it. Besides the fact that it’s like some morbid fascination we all have, it was awesome when you start setting up the premise of that deja vu feeling, and almost every time the sentence is finished for you. Half of them were picking loam out of their teeth as they were laughing about it. It’s a dirty not-so-secret truism of the sport. We fall down, all the time.

First of all, a few things to realize about "The Bail". The vast majority are non-issues. We miss a line and come off. Probably no injury to speak of, maybe a bruise or scratch. I call these "One Ride Events", as they happen almost every ride. "Ten Ride Events" are about one tenth as common or so. These are those “near-miss” situations, where you hit pretty hard but aren’t really hurt. Twisted ankle, tweaked shoulder, sore ribs, that sort of thing. You can feel these ones, but no real harm done. Then there are the Hundred Ride Events, where you get hurt. I mean, you need some kind of external medical assistance in the form of a visit to a licensed physician. Fractures, stitches, concussions and the like. That hundred ride number is just a name, it’s not going to be exactly a hundred rides. It varies according to laws of chance, and can be tweaked by many factors like personality, climate, geography, and the like. The rest of this month’s contribution is about how to try to tilt the odds against having that Hundred Ride Event in your favour.

Oh look a penny


Educate Thyself


First up, know what you’re getting into. Like I said, most crashes are really minor, and stupid. Almost every time, they’re your own damn fault. That’s some interesting info to delve into. See, almost no one loses the plot on the big stuff (a variable term, I know, but lets say ‘Big Stuff’ means outside of your own personal comfort zone). Typically, the big moves with the big consequences are at a level where padding and armour are of negligible value, a crash is likely to be catastrophic, and we’re paying a LOT of attention to what we’re doing. We’re focused and well prepared for the task.

In contrast, when we’re riding within our limits on terrain we know, we tend to lose focus. This happens to just about everyone sooner or later. You are at the start or finish of one of your regular rides, and you eat a massive dirt sandwich on a flat and level bit of trail. You were thinking about something stupid like losing your job because you spend too much time on your bike or something, an just through stupid inattention went totally OTB. Ironically, this is typical of a ride where we’d opt out of more padding and protection.

So not only are we open to more chances of a mistake leading to a crash, but we’re less prepared for it as well. I refer to this as the “Eyes Wide Shut” syndrome. Yes, there’s an orgy scene, but it’s a scrawny Nicole Kidman being directed by Stanley Kubrick, so it’s not hot and the rest of the movie is even worse. Stop thinking about stupid crap and pay attention, you’re riding your bike.

Caw Caw

Oh look, a pretty bird, doh!

On the subject of armour... Yes, wear it. Especially if you’re a new rider. But please, be realistic about what it’s doing for you. They’re very thin and skimpy bits of plastic and foam. Excellent for avoiding scrapes and cuts, but useless for anything more serious. Full face helmets protect your teeth and jaw, but increase the risk of neck and spinal cord injury. Leatt braces are not 100% proven to do anything (it's a bit unethical to test broken necks), but are suspected in aggravating certain types of thoracic spinal injuries. Kidney belts are actually a fairly good way to reduce the severity of an internal injury, and yet almost nobody uses them. The built-in belts on Dainese suits are quite good, but you don’t see many of those suits and jackets any more. Bottom line is that armour choices are as much driven by fashion trends as actual safety issues.

Personally, I wear more armour when it’s cold and less when it’s hot. Hot weather increases body temperature, which in turn reduces the ability to make good decisions. Poor decision making is the number one cause of crashes in the first place. I prefer avoidance to mitigation when I’m creating my own crash strategy. In plainer terms, I’d rather not have the crash in the first place instead of trying to manage the effects. So for me it's more a last line of defence with the pads. Besides, if you let your body temp go up a degree or two too far, you’re on a short trip to the ER. Heat stroke and hyperthermia suck, I'd rather get stitches, thanks.

Did ya get the pic
Somethings wrong with your visor, dude.

A ton of what I’m talking about here isn’t so much things like weather and equipment, but rather the way that we as people perceive this factors. In the field of risk management, these intra personal factors are referred to as subjective risks. Almost all risks in mountain biking are subjective, in that we are the ones making the decisions to go or not.. Ego, personality, Kodak courage, these are all factors that are internally affecting decisions. Yes, certain things like temperature and substances can affect our decision making processes, but we have the opportunity to manage those factors well ahead of time by thinking critically. Basically, we hurt ourselves because we’re kind of stupid. Just being aware that you are your own worst enemy puts you well on your way to making better choices.

OK, so the brain is turned on now, right? That’s the first part, the edumacationary section. Critical thinking as part of a harm reduction policy if you’re stealing my opinions for your thesis.


Knowing When to Hold ‘Em, and When to Fold ‘Em


Yeah, I already mentioned it. Call it foreshadowing. Basically, if you don’t want to have a big bail, don’t ride your bike. Simple. Except that if you’re on Pinkbike, you’ve mortgaged your soul to ride bikes, and you’re also probably really motivated to progress in the sport. Progression and crash avoidance are two diametrically opposed activities. It’s very hard to progress when you’re not crashing, as we tend to learn from our mistakes. However, awareness of certain factors can limit your crashes while you progress.

Lateral Deviant
Lateral Deviation, the curse of our people.

First off, as mentioned we are our own worst enemies. We work hard so we can go out and play in our time off. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in making such a large investment of our limited leisure time that we’ll forget that it’s better to whimper and run away at times than to push the envelope. This is also known as the “risk vs. reward” argument. Basically, is it really going to be that fun to drop that sketchy old POS drop to flat just because it happens to be there, or can you skip it and session some better stuff further down the trail? You look forward to riding all week, why blow it on something dumb?

Our second worst enemies are those people we also sometimes call friends. Tis is the effect of peer pressure. Nowadays, with everyone having camera’s on their phone, DSLR equivalents in their hip pocket, and HD video capture on the helmet, Kodak courage is a serious pitfall. It’s always been like that, as evidenced by the many pics in this story showing crashes in action. Yes, they’re all from my own archives, and there’s plenty more where they came from. Try to not get sucked in. Although a good crash picture is always going to get some views. ust like the line from Natural Born Killers... “We’ll make you famous.”

Never seen snow in his life...
If all of your friends rode off the top of a snow covered mountain, would you?

In a similar vein, never underestimate your riding buddies. Just because you schooled ‘em last time out, don’t think you can just fly on autopilot this time. We’re a competitive bunch. My last set of stitches was from exactly that. I’d gotten used to Skinny trashing me on the way up, and I would return the favour on the way down. It’s fun. So I should have been more aware when he made that quick little shoulder check to see if I was following him in on this rock chute. I realized on entering that I’d gone a bit too far left on approach but what the hell... Skinny rode it. I then proceeded to lose the front end halfway in, and 5 stitches later landed in the hospital. At least in BC you’re almost assured of running into other riders in the waiting room where you can compare wounds. It’s the little things in life.

You can also get angry when things are starting to go sideways. I’ve never seen this work out, but it’s massively entertaining to other people around. You start hucking your gear around, being a bit of an ass, it’s going to lead to a certain kind of satisfaction in those around you when you get smacked with the karma stick. Deep breaths, settle down, focus on the basics. Anger just doesn’t work. Emotion, like many other factors, can cloud judgment and lead to poor decisions.

Wrong line choice...
Decision Making Skills 101 - stay left.

On the other hand, you can’t just wimp out on everything. One line I used to use a lot is “Crashes and me don’t get along, so we’ve agreed to leave each other alone.” Funny, yes. Cowardly, yes. Sure, I wasn’t getting hurt much, but I was also not really progressing much. But there are ways to attain progression without taking stupid chances. Again, lots of factors can come into play here. Mountain biking is one of those sports that combines the need for high functioning critical thinking with high performance athletic ability. You need your sleep, and furthermore you need good nutrition and hydration to go along with that. Rest is paramount. You need your sleep to perform at a high level. You need lots of gas in the tank in the form of good food, and of course you need some water to process that energy and to help keep your body running cool. Take away any of those things and you’re back to making dumb decisions.

Poor pre-ride preparation....
I hate myself, and I want to die...

So, maybe rethink how many pitchers you’re downing at Garfinkles the night before a big day on the trails. Obviously, getting hammered before hitting the park is a surefire way to meet the fine folks at the ER. But a hangover is nearly as debilitating. There’s also lots of other medications and substances, both over the counter and illicit, that can destroy your critical thinking. Anything that also damages your reflexes and balance (like cough syrup, opiates, and alcohol) is an obvious substance to avoid before riding.

It sort of captions itself...

You need to be aware of fatigue from other factors too. Get rest before the big ride, but watch yourself throughout the day. We as a species are not equipped to deal with high levels of stimulation for extended periods of time. We can go at ultra-high intensity for about 30 seconds, high intensity for about 2 minutes or so, and then we’re basically wired for long term output up to several hours. This is why World Cup DH, with intervals of around 4 minutes at ultra-high intensity, is such a brutal event. Many of the trails I’m doing now involve high speed riding for up to an hour with little or no stopping. It’s difficult to hold your focus for this length of time. If you feel yourself tiring, don’t hold back. Instead, ride at full intensity but take short breaks to recover every 5-10 minutes. This is a much better recipe for success, and it will also train you up so you can rider longer without stopping.

Any patroller at a bike park will tell you about “Last Run”. Yes, of course it’s your last run when you can’t ride anymore...ha ha. But there’s a huge increase in crashes at the end of the day. Why? Simple. You’re tired, and when you're tired not only do your reaction times start to dramatically slow, but you also make poor decisions. One of my worst crashes was at Whistler (of course), when at the end of a ridiculous day of top to bottom Garbo runs totalling something like 35k vertical feet, I went for a final run to sweep A-Line. What happened was i got the high speed shale section and thought to myself, “you know, I’ve had a huge day and I’m getting tired. Maybe I should ease up a bit here...” Chattered on some washout, lost my hand off the bars and --- BOOM! Chest first into the tulies on the right. Luckily the liver heals itself well. What I learned here was: “Do, or do not...there is no try.

Wishing I was someplace else...
Wishing I was anywhere but here right now.

Thank you, Yoda. Pretty straightforward advice. Know what you are doing before you start. Too many riders just jump on and bull into it. Rarely does this succeed. The North Shore is a great place to see what I mean. Just about the entire trail network is so technical and tight that you are always “on”, in that you don’t get much of a run-in to anything. As most people need at least 30’ to get their balance and center in line, you can see where this is going. It’s very common to see people all twitchy, fumbling for their pedal, as they’re trying to get going, and now they’re also trying to deal with a rooty drop onto a slippery log. Seriously, did you think that through? Nope. To “Do” properly, think about how you’re going to make this work for you. Stop, look, visualize, and then go back up the trail a good 30-50’ and get it together. Don’t be such a slacker. It’s just a few feet of pushing your bike.

Put another way (and much punchier to hear on the internal soundtrack than a mumbling puppet), is the Beastie Boys, “Be true to yourself and you will never fall.” Now that you’ve decided to Do and not Try, just stick with your original plan. Even a poorly conceived plan has a better chance of success in the the long run than trying to change things at the crux. It might not be pretty, but you’ll probably roll out if you just stick to your original plan. You can always go back for another look if you come up with a better, modified plan. This concept of going back and trying again is so crucial to success. I recently read a study that said that the difference between someone considered a “Master” in their field and someone who is just average is measured in the amount of time they spend practicing their art, not by some nebulous measure of in born talent. The old adage “Practice Makes Perfect” is a surefire recipe for success.

There’s all kinds of things that you can do to practice, but in essence what you are doing is eliminating variable factors. Do repeated run ins to sections that give you trouble. By doing so, you are eliminating the guesswork of the first half of the line. What I usually do is roll up to the edge a few times with no intention of actually going. I have a plan to roll in, stop, and put my foot down. What I’ve done is made a plan that is easy to succeed at. I’ve also got the speed and line for the run in dialled. By the second or third time in, I know already if I can make the move or not. The actual doing is now way more achievable than if I ran in without a plan and hit the brakes last minute. I made a plan and systematically broke down the move into achievable goals.

It still hurt.
It still hurt.

For jumping, things like foam pits and water jumps are excellent. You can try things out that you would never think about on real jumps, because you know that you can land on your head and not get hurt. Most people are able to do a good back flip into water or foam within 3 - 5 attempts. Contrast with a single head first landing on dirt, where you’re unlikely to make another attempt within several weeks if at all.


bigquotesA man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain


Of course, sooner or later, you’re still gonna eat it. This isn’t necessarily all bad. We really do learn from our mistakes, and those lessons tend to stick with us. I don’t care what the social scientists say, negative reinforcement is a powerful learning tool. If you want to progress really quickly, be willing to hit the dirt hard, and hit often.

Just be sure you can afford it. First off, you’ll break more parts this way, and you’ll also have crashes related to mechanical failures more often. You really need to make sure that your bike is running well. Dropping a chain right at the edge of an acid drop is one of the worst mechanisms for a crash that I can think of, which is probably why I hate wheelie drop moves. The current vogue of carbon parts is another trend of which I’m a bit wary. Carbon is strong and light, but still prone to catastrophic failure if it’s scratched. So when you drop the bike and your brake lever spins on the bar, don’t be surprised if the bar fails at the score mark. This is still a subjective risk, in that you can choose your parts ahead of time and you are responsible for maintaining your gear.

That s gonna be expensive...
That's gonna cost ya.

Also, can you afford to lose time at work? That time off can really add up. In Canada, it’s not too bad as we can go the hospital without worrying about the bill. I can’t imagine the costs of a collapsed lung (yes, I’ve done that too) in the US, but I’m sure it’s not cheap to spend a week in cardiac care.

One of the things I credit my long term resilience to is Judo. I took it for a couple of years when I was in my tweens. The very first thing we were taught in Judo was how to fall down. We practiced falling on our backs every session, to the point where I was able to vault over another person’s shoulders and land flat on my back with nothing more than a stinging hand. What you do is slap the ground with an open hand with your arm at roughly 30 degrees from the body. The theory is that you are absorbing a lot of force with that slap. I’ve actually split my fingertips doing this. Lots of riders that I know that I would classify as “bouncy”, or able to crash and get up without too much damage, have also spent lots of time in martial arts, gymnastics, and other sports that train you to absorb impact.

Bike parkour, it's the next big thing.

When you get the feeling of impending doom, you can also try to intentionally provoke a crash. This actually works, and one of the best places to do this is on that stupid skinny crap. Watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. Skinny stuff is purposely built to be difficult to ride. You’ll probably fall off of it, and you’ll probably be going about 3km/h when you do, so it’s unlikely you will get hurt. Chances are you will get it out of your system and at the same time you will have been honing your balance skills. Besides, skinny stuff is making a comeback, and if you can ride it well it only makes the trails that feature that sort of thing more fun.

There ya go. Hopefully that can help you cut down on the incidence and severity of crashes in your immediate riding future. But you know what? Sooner or later, you’re still gonna get a good one. Then what? Well, you’ll just have to wait for Part 2 of the series, and you’ll know what to do when the music stops. But first, enjoy this little collection of clips from the past ten years or so...

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137 Comments

  • + 75
 Awesome post! My two bail-related rules are to go with your gut and whenever anyone mutters 'just one more run', be it on snow or dirt, I'm heading to the patio for a beer. Too many injuries and lost or damaged gear has happened on 'one more run' that it's just not worth it when you're not mentally or physical all there at the end of a long day.
  • + 46
 so true! That`s why we always say "Two more and we`ll skip the last one" Smile
  • + 4
 Some of those bails in that vid where painfullEek ,great vid though.
  • + 4
 Thats why you say, "i'll have 5 more runs, wink wink nudge nudge"
  • + 21
 when i saw the last one i actually said holy fuck so loud
  • + 11
 "Just one more run" is the reason I ended up with 18 stitches going from my lip towards my cheek.

At least chicks dig scars
  • + 4
 my code phrase is 'see you at the bottom'
  • + 3
 The paragraph above the guys bike going off the cliff reminds me of my cousin, by the end of the season he was riding with no chain guide, derailur, chain, shifter and quite afew broken spokes xD so having money for broken parts is a very good thing haha
  • + 2
 Really excellent story! Having suffered multiple serious bike-related back injuries before turning 21, I had to come to many of these conclusions myself. It's nice to have a guide out there now so riders can make some better decisions and hopefully stay off the ground a little more.
  • + 1
 All my worst crashes are on my 1st runs Razz Used to have stupid habit of just flying into my 1st runs and going OTB at the 1st mildly challenging corner Razz
  • + 1
 lol warming up in garbanzo with captain safety really screwed me up once and the last run on a-line or schleyer is definetly where the crashes happen. never understood warming up you cant do it on the shore so why warm up on whistler?
  • + 0
 1st run of an uplift day, went to dodge a puddle on a berm, front wheel went over the berm and i faceplanted the berm. had to sit a run out as my head and brain reconfigured which way was forward Frown
Last day of Morzine, mate cased a jump, 5 months later and he is now allowed to go out the house without a neck brace on :/
  • + 24
 I hate that very moment when you know you're about to crash, there's no going back, and you're mentally preparing for the pain to flow...
  • + 6
 Just try to go limp........picture Kathy Bates naked ! that always does it for me, at least it used too!!!
  • + 4
 It's also amazing how well you can get away from disaster in the split second of loosing it and coming off the bike , even in that tiny time frame you can assess the situation and do some damage limitation.
Watched some documentary on the human brain and they explained how your brain can seem to slow down time in moments of extreme pressure , like life/death situations and crashes.
  • + 4
 How about the moment when you are convinced you are about to crash, freeze up and brace yourself, and then somehow the bike just keeps rolling. Bitter relief because it still shakes your confidence.
  • + 1
 Everytime I get home and have to tell the wife I was "touched in a bad place" by my bike I die a little inside, and cry myself to sleep......SO how bout the BC Lions Grey Cup Champs 2011 woohoo YEAH!!!
  • + 1
 I'm really thankful for that moment SwintOrSlude! Think of the pain when you don't see something coming: like bumping your head on something, hitting your toe or accidentaly cutting yourself with a super sharp knife (so sharp you initially dont feel you'r cutting yourself).
  • + 9
 note to self, 1, dont start riding a skinny mid skinny, no speed equals lots of balance corrections. 2, hardtails should not be launched off of booters to flat, results in epic front flippin. 3, when you are falling, it is amazing how well you can hold onto something.
  • + 5
 sooooo many slow speed skinny fails! lol
  • + 5
 It's refreshing to see regular guys eating it, while attempting to ride regular stuff and not crazy rampage or DH pros for a change. Everyone eats it, that's the beauty and humbling aspect of mountain biking. If you're better than these guys it's because you've been these guys. Ride well my friends and pads never hurt anyone!
  • + 4
 such a great article, and it hit it right on the nail with tis one here

"In contrast, when we’re riding within our limits on terrain we know, we tend to lose focus. This happens to just about everyone sooner or later. You are at the start or finish of one of your regular rides, and you eat a massive dirt sandwich on a flat and level bit of trail. You were thinking about something stupid like losing your job because you spend too much time on your bike or something, an just through stupid inattention went totally OTB. Ironically, this is typical of a ride where we’d opt out of more padding and protection. "

mainly all my injuries are due to only this
  • + 1
 exactly. my most recent crash was just on pavement riding home from a ride. I just wasn't paying attention.
  • + 3
 "I refer to this as the “Eyes Wide Shut” syndrome. Yes, there’s an orgy scene, but it’s a scrawny Nicole Kidman being directed by Stanley Kubrick, so it’s not hot and the rest of the movie is even worse. Stop thinking about stupid crap and pay attention, you’re riding your bike" hahahaha LOL
  • + 2
 Sitting at home still recovering from a crash that cost me a broken collar bone and subsequently my job! In the two months I've been at home on the couch fantasizing about going back out on the bike again I've read a lot of anti crashing advice and this is the best of the bunch by a long shot.
  • + 1
 mee too! still in the bed and maybe without work for the new year. Anyway i had a trip with the helicopter and the possibility to read this useful post....good luck for your recovery
  • + 2
 # 1 bail rule..Recognize that sometimes there comes a point when you know your going to bail and you know its going to be bad and you look at your bike and say...sorry dude, your on your own...Realizing that your better off parting ways with your bike and taking your chances on your own can save you a lot of Nintendo 64 downtime...especially on the big stuff.
  • + 4
 You know, that video made me feel a bit better. Turns out a lot of us get to taste the loving pull of gravity. I am not the only one.
  • + 2
 Loved it Smoke. Like many here, I can totally relate to this one. What experienced rider hasn't had a stupid and costly crash (or several)? Really funny video too because I could see myself doing a lot of that. I guess we really like to ride our bikes, huh? Be prepared and maybe you'll be able to work on Monday morning.
  • + 2
 Extra emphasis on being mentally and physically prepared to ride. Don't ride while impaired, you're just setting yourself up for an accident. I haven't ridden a bike in over 3 months, after drunkenly deciding it would be cool to do a little manual, looping out, and tearing both my ACL and MCL. It wasn't worth it at all, and now I've got to spend at least 6 months off the bike while I heal.

And the ski season? over before it even started. If you're feeling off or aren't paying attention, don't force it. You'll only regret it later.
  • + 1
 I will never utter the "just one more run" phrase again. Tore both my ACL's and R meniscus, sprained R LCL, bruised sternum and ribs and of course a concussion. It's been 14 months and the knees still aren't right and probably never will be, so I feel your pain. Funny thing is that I regret baiting.
  • + 2
 Interesting article, I do like how in the majority of those pictures they are riding shore. That stuff is hard enough to ride, so fair play on the crashes. In relation to a snow topped mountain, wouldn't you crash and slide? I know i would, some how sliding on my ass to the bottom just seems a little bit more appealing Smile Cool article though.
  • + 1
 "slinging on my ass to the bottom"
technical term for that is "Glissading"
  • + 1
 You get more shots of people crashing on stunts because you tend to stop to take pics at those places. The bad ones, at places you're not expecting it so much, you never get shots of those. Snow is fine so long as you don't care so much about what direction you want to go in. You really are just along for the ride. One time I rode about 600' with both wheels locked up on snow. Had to lay it down at the end though, or I would've ended up in a lake.
  • + 2
 I hate it when i hold back just because I'm nervous. if I don't push it I'll never grow. But I do all my growing in the first 10 minutes of every ride and then usually decide to back off.
  • + 1
 I LOVE THE WAY YOU EXPLAIN ARMOR. THANK YOU.
Great article! I have frequently thought about trying a martial arts course to see if i can improve my bailing skills. I've got step 1 covered (which is usually to distance myself from the bike) but not step 2 (everything else).

ps- I have a one of those Dainese shuttle suits for sale if anyone's looking.....
  • + 1
 yep. worked in a business that built and tested helmets of all kinds as well as third party research litigation study on them : helmets for firemen / bikes / motorcycles etc; and it was proven that most helmets and armor worn in hot weather increase the chance of an accident due to fatigue and loss of peripheral vision - in the case of high speed [ ie : mtr cyles ] they are almost useless except to facilitate neck and spinal injury - that is not to say wearing helmets or armor on a rip is unsafe, but it is a good idea to wear a well ventilated lid in summer and lighter body armor...like Shock Dr. Tech Shirts [ bought mine @ Dunbar Cycles [ shameless plug :-) ] and absolutely love it ! especially when wearing my neck brace. ]
i believe no matter what opinions we all have about lids and armor, it is wise to do the best we can to protect ourselves by wearing whatever we can ; i also believe the very things sold to us for that purpose can actually cause injuries [ IE: neck braces and soft tissue shoulder and clavical injuries etc ] but feel that the odds are more fav if we wear stuff than not...bottom line, who knows? i have endoed off a small drop at a crawl on a skinny and the result was serious sternum slam, yet missed a 90degree switchback on a DH line and did another endo at high speed over a 7 foot drop to a flat directly on my noggin [ and every other part of my old bod ] and got up dusted myself off, and with NOT ONE scratch continued on my merry way.
So, conscious bail or not, this is not a sport anyone can determine safety by learning the 'art of the bail' or what we wear or don't wear, but it is something that has and will make my life far more safe than a big fat heart attack because i lived it in fear of injuries, while stuffing my face and changing channels...
  • + 4
 "If all of your friends rode off the top of a snow covered mountain, would you?" - Hell YES!!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 That's it..........atta boy!!!
  • + 1
 and just last week i ran into an enormous rock that made me endo while i miraculously hopped off my bike at about 90 degrees and landed on my feet avoiding a trip to the ER but mashing my front rim into abstract art in the process haha
  • + 3
 The author needs to read up on the gambler's fallacy! The odds of a tails on that coin are a half, regardless of the previous tosses!
  • + 1
 Hahahahahah! You said phallus....
  • + 1
 Lol this is weird I crashed on a road gap last week fractured my jaw broke my coller bone 2 days in hospital now I'm layin at home feeling sorry for myself Frown I could of done with this post last week mite of helped me out. Worst part of the hole thing was as I was getting loaded into the back of the ambulance I noticed my bike (cove foreplay) looking burst at the side of the road. I asked I guy I some times ride with. But don't know that well to take it home for me... yeah well I ain't seen him or my bike since. I'm so gutted Frown . Well guys all I can say about bailin off your bike if you think it's got even a 5% chance of going wrong don't hit it.

Thanks guys and try stay in one pice lol. Brooks
  • + 1
 2 YEARS SHORT OF BEING A HALF CENTURY AND STILL HUCKING, IT SUCKS TO TAKE TIME TO HEAL LONGER THAN THE GUYS I RIDE WITH 20YEARS YOUNGER. THEY REALIZE IT SOON ENOUGH THOUGH THEMSLEVES. AM I ADDICTED TO DH AND FREE RIDING STILL, YES YES YES. another old school in San Diego
  • + 2
 why are you yelling? is the hearing starting to go?
  • + 3
 Broken collar bone, broken arm, broken nose, fractured finger, countless bruises and cuts. Yeah, Bail and I know each other well
  • + 3
 Doesn't sound like it according to that list, haha!
  • + 22
 Well you got me, I don't bail after all. Like a good captain, I go down with my ship Razz
  • + 2
 Big memo for everyone out there, beware wet wood. It ended my summer pretty darn quick. Basically shattered my foot. Screws and pins. Bad times but I must say, not as bad as some of the gore I've seen in the broken riders photo section
  • + 1
 yes sir, I am more machine now than man with all the metal work and pins inside me haha
  • + 1
 I've found with BMX at least you're generally better off ditching the bike as fast as possible - the other week I messed up a hop in (goodness knows how many hundreds I've done perfectly, but not this one) and was on my way to landing on my face from 10ft up. Thankfully I had the reflex to launch the bike away and I landed on my feet without a scratch. Still scary though.

Whereas on trails/XC I have the best luck with staying with the bike during crashes - since most of mine have been messing up line choices and running off the track and into a shrub, it's better to let the bike take the pain rather than myself. My most memorable bail recently was when my front tire locked solid into a rocky hole and the whole bike pivoted forward around the front wheel. Now this took place barely above walking speed, and I can tell you that there is something worse than an instant wipeout. And that is a crash which happens so slowly that you can fully predict exactly which bits of your body are going to hit each rock ahead. Still managed to bail early enough to avoid a full faceplant, but I don't think I've ever been more scared on a bike when watching the ground come so very slowly towards me, and being absolutely powerless to stop it. We've all been there.
  • + 1
 I rode in a skatepark, and was a similar thing. I threw the bike away (mate wasnt too pleased since it was his haha) and would have landed on my feet at the bottom, but the bike bounced funny and i ended up landing on top of it and slicing my shin on a bolt. Then had to sit through a school exam with the blood running down my leg and sticking to my jeans :/
  • + 2
 This is one of the best MTB articles I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Well done, Johnny Smoke!

To coin a phrase; 'If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough'
  • + 1
 None of this helps with the dreaded pedal strike. I hardly ever crash. My worst crashes have all been from out of the blue pedal strikes. Nothing like going from thirty mph to the ground in a split a second.
  • + 1
 That video takes me back to when I got my first proper downhill bike... thanks! And those shots of Gary going OTB are priceless classics to Ottawa area riders from the early 2000s.
  • + 1
 That pick of the guy with the O2 mask is all too familiar from this summer, haha Just for the record, straight O2 is freaking weird...
  • + 2
 Nicely done, Mr. Smoke. Your article make me pause to think, "Wow. I've been eating sh!t for years."
  • + 2
 Good advice, sitting at home now with a broken Pelvis, annoyingly it was the ride out of the woods where I did it.
  • + 1
 Ouch! In the shot where I'm sucking on the O2, I have a cracked pubic bone, so I know what you're going through. Heal up fast, eh? I have another story coming about how to get back on the bike, hopefully it helps.
  • + 1
 Great article and awesome video! I remember the flying squirrel like it was yesterday though I'd forgotten about my F-up on In Deep. Good times...
  • + 1
 I don't know about the 100 day rule. That will mean sometime next season, I am gonna eat sh!t in a big way. Oh well, gotta earn your chops, I suppose :-)
  • + 1
 Good point about medical bills I broke my wrist in September and it was almost $9000 just for the surgery. Thank god for insurance.
  • + 1
 Classic, Smoke! Hilarious stuff!

PS - the opening keys in that first track are from the song "What'd I Say" by the incredible Ray Charles!

youtu.be/CIqWwiC1BFI
  • + 2
 nice write!! it's soo true especially about the "feeling" / de ja vu before you crash Smile )
  • + 1
 Well written and engaging piece. I was and still am going to go ride this morning, but this video has defo brought in the fear factor.
  • + 1
 You were thinking about something stupid like losing your job because you spend too much time on your bike or something AHAHAHAHAHAHHA SO TRUE!!!
  • + 2
 "Hyperthermia" haha that's a new one! Great article though, fun read. Caught myself laughing and relating quite a bit!!
  • + 10
 hyperthermia is actually a condition...it's not some invented word. Opposite of hypothermia...
  • + 1
 I stand corrected...
  • + 5
 by the way...its 1 in 1024 chances you get ten tails or heads in a row Smile
  • + 5
 next post you should put in a note discouraging chopping trees down with your face
  • + 1
 Hyperthermia SUCKS. Avoid it.
  • + 1
 One more run was how i hit the dirt face first, blacked out, then woke up driving car down the freeway not knowing my name, or how i got there.
  • + 1
 Totally agree on the temp / padding variable, as well as with the impact lack of fuel has on decision making. Fantastic article, thanks!
  • + 1
 fuck it buddy, just go for it, we all did it, come on you pussy, what's the worst that can happen. Johnny, what a pleasant and entertaining article man.
  • + 1
 don't stick your leg out, or arm, or hands. Just don't crash and you won't have to worry about injury to you and your bike. Sounds easy right
  • + 2
 Best advice ever makes me think
  • + 12
 Is that really you?
  • + 16
 cant be, Chuck Norris only gives advice.
  • + 1
 You purposely posted this article on the same day as the iXS pads sale... clever
  • + 1
 Nice one Smoke, cool edit Smile Nice too see the x-ray of my humerus made it in there!
  • + 1
 Just sorry to not have video of it in action.
  • + 1
 Great vid, full of ooo's and ouches.. Even spotted a few of my riding buds. Great read as always smoke.
  • + 1
 Great write up! I've crashed as a result of every one of those causes (fatigue to friends).
  • + 1
 And here is how not to bail featuring chris hahahah
www.pinkbike.com/video/230228
  • + 2
 Good to know im not the only one crashing!
  • + 1
 Nice write up Smoke. I've been owned by a few of those features at Powers myself.
  • + 2
 All i can say about that video is that you have to walk before you sprint
  • + 1
 another one to the mix...my friend doing his job..

www.pinkbike.com/video/193474
  • + 1
 i feel bad for the guy on ladies only, hes going into a deep puddle... more like a pond
  • + 2
 good read, excellent distraction from getting any revision done
  • + 2
 666 factor

6 seconds of thrills..
66 days off the bike...

(if you crash)
  • + 2
 Ask Wyper, he is dialled at crashing!
  • + 1
 love how the Ladies Only pic came up. That stunt is defs a bail point that i'll always remember.
  • + 1
 I like how most of those bails would be a lot harder on modern bikes with slacker head angles
  • + 6
 my bike is quite slack and I can fall off with almost no effort ............
  • + 1
 That last song was dreadful haha and that last crash was gnarly haha
  • + 1
 That last one was brutal!
  • + 1
 the one more run got me Frown
  • + 2
 Fuck skinnies
  • + 1
 Very well said
  • + 1
 did anyone else just look at the pictures? Razz haha
  • + 1
 Arggghhh ... the flesh....
  • + 1
 Really good read Smile Vid was good to Smile
  • - 2
 worse song in history!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...and to do most of stuff in this video is to go fast,speed is the key... and stop using pics from pinkbike its boring seen all of the pics b4
  • + 1
 More speed? On woodwork and teeter totters? Perhaps that works in flat as a pancake Bristol
  • + 1
 disc brakes killer tracks ^^ but 6 :40... what theee...
  • + 1
 brilliant fun and so true to life!
  • + 1
 "getting back on" is why I ride Smile
  • + 1
 Sure as hell don't feel like riding after watching that video.
  • + 1
 cool article, i enjoyed the read
  • + 1
 THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!!! Thanks for the wise words......Wink
  • + 1
 notice in the video how all the falls are adults...on ladder bridges??
  • + 1
 I bailed once. Leg bent backwards and tore my ACL. Not a good day...
  • + 1
 there's some sketchy builds in that bail vid for sure..!
  • + 0
 god i already hated skinnys, but now i really really hate them.
  • + 1
 bender would go.
  • + 1
 Skinnies are out !!
  • + 1
 YESSS!!!...that was rad
  • + 1
 Gotta love bikers!!
  • + 1
 what are the songs?
  • + 1
 First one is some random mashup by a DJ called NickNice. 2nd song is the classic "Two Feet Off The Ground" by the legendary Dead Milkmen.
  • + 1
 thank you
  • + 1
 Where did my ultra-rad original comment go?

Super awesome edit Smoke! Recognized a few of those riders and I really do appreciate how you save most of the best stuff for last.

PS - the keys and part of the first tune are from the song "What'd I Say" by the amazing Ray Charles - check it here: youtu.be/CIqWwiC1BFI
  • + 1
 Ahh, so the mashup is Ray Charles and the Soggy Bottom Boys' "Man of Constant Sorrow".
  • + 1
 GRAAAAOOOUUNNNNNDDDD
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