Bike Handling: Emergency Moves

When you’re riding quickly and something gets in your way, slamming on the brakes might not be the best reaction. Here are a few emergency moves that you can practice in a quiet parking lot. Start slowly then work your speed up. Practice so when you need to use one of these emergency moves, you make it automatically.

The Quick Slow-Down
When you stop fast, your weight shifts from your back wheel to the front. Even if you use both your front and back brakes your back tire can skid and start to lift. To slow down quickly:

  • Push yourself as far back on the bike as you can. This keeps weight on the back tire.
  • Put your head and torso as low as you can so you don’t flip.
  • Squeeze both brakes evenly. If the rear tire lifts off the ground, ease up on the front brake. If the rear tire starts to skid or slide, ease up on the rear brake.

The Instant Turn
Use the Instant Turn when a car turns in front of you and you can’t brake in time. To make a very sudden right turn, you steer sharply left toward the car which makes you lean right. Then you turn right hard, steering into the lean and away from the car.

The Rock Dodge
The Rock Dodge is just a quick turn of the front wheel to miss a rock or hole right in front of you. At the last second, turn the front wheel sharply left and back right again. Both your wheels should miss the hazard.

How to Fall
Most serious bicycle injuries involve brain damage, so the best way to protect yourself in a fall is by wearing a helmet.

It’s not easy to prepare for a fall. But if you have time to think:

  • When you’re about to hit a car, don’t try to wipe out first; instead, stay upright as long as you can. If you get low you risk going under the wheels or hitting the sharpest parts of the car.
  • If you go flying, tuck your head, arms, and legs into a tight ball and try to roll when you hit the ground. If you stick your arms out you’re likely to break them, or your collarbone, or both.

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