Today, a friend and I went for a long ride that included a couple of climbs. The weather was a little unpredictable with random bursts of rain littering our route.
As we approached the first climb, the skies opened up and drenched us and the roads, however, in the distance, the clouds had parted and we were hopeful of a dry descent down the other side.
The roads down the mountain were not wet, but they were not dry either. My friend went into a hairpin corner a little too hot and his rear wheel slid out after touching a white line and he went flying over the handlebars as his bike highsided.
It was at this point that I got to witness the 5 Stages of a (not so catastrophic) bike crash....
Stage 1: Denial.
The adrenaline is high and the dignity is usually low, so the rider wants to just get back on and keep going. There is no looking the bike over or checking for broken bones, just get back on and get out of there as if nothing ever happened. 'Yeah, I'm fine,' is the usual statement.
Stage 2: Loss of confidence.
Nothing rattles the nerves and shatters your confidence like crashing. My friend crashed coming down a hill so when he got back on and kept riding, he did it a lot more cautiously. Before the crash, I was straining to keep up with him. After the crash, I had to slow down and wait.
Stage 3: The 'come down'.
Once the adrenaline has worn off and the body has relaxed and cooled down, the aches and pains begin to set in and the road rash stings as it comes into contact with sweat. It's at this point that the person that crashed realises that everything may not be 'fine'. They realise that they could have an injury, or even worse, that their bike could have an injury.
Stage 4: Acceptance.
The person finally accepts that they crashed and any damage and/or injuries need to be assessed. For my friend, this meant a stop at a supermarket for some band aids and a quick check of the bike and gear.
Stage 5: 'What if?'
Once it was established that the person is going to live, they run the crash through their minds over and over, analysing what could have caused it or what they could have done to avoid it. In this situation and pretty much every other crash, the answer is blatantly obvious but rarely acknowledged... just slow down.
There is one more Stage to crashing a bike which people must go through alone, at home... Stage 6: Stinging in the shower. There are few things more painful than the sting of fresh road rash coming into contact with warm water. It's enough to make you cry.