Six common causes of crashes – and some tips on how to avoid them. And if you do happen to buy some tar, we offer a few tips how to fall without doing too much damage.
How it happens:
Your front wheel passes the rear wheel of the rider in front of you, shrinking the amount of space and time you have to respond to whatever he does – and increasing the odds of bumping into him.
Watch the pack so that you know when riders up front are slowing. Overlaps often happen on corners, when riders scrub speed; anticipate by coasting a bit into the corner. Leave enough room so that if the rider in front of you stands – which pushes his bike back underneath him about 15 centimetres – he won’t overlap your front wheel.
Feather the rear brake. Coast a pedal stroke or two. Don’t swerve; the rider behind you is depending on your line. A bump won’t necessarily knock you over. Practise absorbing contact in a park on your mountain bike, using flat pedals. Ride next to a friend and have him lightly bump you on your hip, advises Roger Young, a multi-time Olympian who teaches track racing at the Home Depot Centre Velodrome in Los Angeles. Focus on holding your line with your hips, not your handlebar. If you try to correct course using the bar, you’ll veer off in the direction of the bump. But correct at the hips and the bike will follow.