Pros take risks during races to gain as much advantage as possible – and plenty of them leave a bit of themselves on the course. However, some pros are injured without turning their pedals in anger. Last month former SA marathon champ Max Knox had a ‘stupid crash’. He tells Bicycling about his unlucky break. – By Jonathan Ancer
What actually happened?
I was riding a kiddies track in White River (Mpumalanga). I was playing around and having fun and not paying too much attention. I don’t really know what happened I just crashed, and fell at a funny angle.
When did you realise it was serious – that you had done damage?
I knew straight away that it was serious. It was a bit of shock. I have had lots of crashes but I had gone 20 years without breaking a bone – it was a good run but when you are mountain biking it has to happen. I went for X-rays and they said my collarbone was broken. I had an operation to put a plate in. So now I’m just waiting for the bones to reconnect.
Tell us about the journey to recovery?
Normally I have a couple of rest weeks every year – and this year my rest period has come sooner than expected. I was disappointed because there were some races I was looking forward to but I had to reset my goals. Some people start training right away but I decided to opt for a more conservative approach and to recover properly before getting on a mountain bike. My aim is to get into shape for 2018.
What have you learnt from the crash?
Don’t crash – haha. Seriously, though, crashing is part of the sport.
What is the worst crash you’ve ever had?
I’ve had many crashes and lots of roasties, bruises and scrapes over the years, but this one is the worst. It was the smallest crash and not at high speed, but the worst result.
What is the reason that most riders crash?
Because people are nervous. They get tense and then make a mistake. People often neglect their technical training – improve your skills and incorporate that into your training.
What is the best skill to learn in order to avoid crashing?
Improve your position on the bike so that you are comfortable and confident and you will be more relaxed when you get to a technical section. Focussing on what you’re doing is also key. Other then that: have fun and push yourself to limits you are comfortable with.
What advice would you give to ordinary riders about regaining their confidence after a crash?
Don’t let it deter you. Face your fear head-on and rebuild your confidence gradually. Come to terms with the fact that you will crash. Part of mountain biking is the adrenaline of testing your limits – that’s what makes it fun. Roasties and broken bones make good war stories.
Read the full feature, The Undeniable Inevitability of the Crash, in the October issue of Bicycling, which is on sale now.