How to Fall

Falling from a bicycle is inevitable. No matter how carefully or skillfully a cyclist may be, fate or circumstance will eventually find all cyclists touching terra firma. This discussion gives safety tips on how to fall during that millisecond before you hit the pavement.

Athletics in contact sports are told, while falling, to “tuck-and-roll” by folding their arm over their head as a protective cushion.

In instances where cyclists are thrown forward “over the handlebars,” the tuck and roll position is the best way to absorb the shock of the fall. The rider turns into a “ball” and rolls over several times to reduce forward speed and dissipate body impact from hitting the ground.

If a cyclist has a side collision a different tactic is used. Instead of becoming a ball, the rider becomes a cheerleader. As the cyclist is falling, he/she should stay in the protective area of the handlebars all during the fall. Pro racers say, “Stay with the bike.” Sacrifice the bike’s handlebars and pedals to protect the rider’s body. Then just as the cyclist senses impact, he/she does two things.

First, spread your arms out and make a letter, “Y.”

Most cyclists falling to the side instinctively reach out to break the fall. This breaks the fall, and breaks a collarbone, shoulder or an arm or wrist. Sometimes you get a combo. By spreading out the arms and distributing the impact along the entire body surface, changes are good no bones will be broken.

Second, lift your head just before hitting the road.

The human head weighs 11 pounds and something this heavy has a tendency to strike hard at time of impact. Lift the chin just as you see the ground swiftly coming up to meet you, and minimize trauma to any portion of the head or neck.

Post Author: Phil Coleman

Phil has been active with the Davis Bike Club in various roles since his move to Davis in 1996. Prior to that, Phil served in similar capacities with the Valley Spokesmen Bike Club, based in Dublin, California.