Wrecking safely

Hi Lee- I’m a CSU, Chico student. I’m TRYING to write a lesson plan for fourth graders about bicycle safety. My subject is how to wreck with the least amount of injuries.

My inspiration was my son. He had his helment on, got squirrely and dove off of the bike face first into the asphalt, busted three of his permanent teeth and his lip. He now wears a BMX helmet with the face guard! I don’t want to give the same old “wear your helmet” speech in my lesson plan because obviously you can still get injured.

So, I thought I could teach them the best way to land when they are wrecking. I have not had much luck finding any official websites or videos with this information. Do you know of any? I’d really appreciate any information you have.

Thanks so much,

Hi Shauna,

Crazy timing: I just turned in the manuscript for Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, 2nd Edition — and there’s an entire chapter on injury avoidance.

The biggest thing, especially for kids, is learning to tumble off the bike. This is straight out of gymnastics and martial arts. Basically:

– Land on your feet.
– Bend your knees to absorb the main impact.
– Cover your face and hold your arms in.
– Roll onto your shoulder (or shoulders).
– Let your body roll over. Don’t fight this. Let yourself roll as many times as it takes.
– Finish on your feet. Find your bike. Rip it!

I think the kids would have fun with tumbling drills. Start very mellow and work your way up. Look into gymnastics instruction progressions.

Also, check out this action from our friend James Wilson, mountain bike trainer to the stars:


If that’s how you “crashed,” imagine how confident you’d be!

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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10 replies
  1. Jake D. says:

    “I just turned in the manuscript for Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, 2nd Edition”

    WOOT!!! Can’t wait!!! =D

  2. Shauna says:

    Lee-Thanks so much for the information. I seriously couldn’t find it anywhere else. Thanks again and good luck on the book. We’ll look for it.

  3. François. says:

    Wow, impressive tumbling.

    I am getting older ( 40 in mai) and I feel that my head will go strait down like a spike in grass if I try that. My back feels stiff and will not make this nice rolling action. Is it possible to learn that as an adult?

    Lee can you do it too?

  4. leelikesbikes says:

    >> Is it possible to learn that as an adult?

    I think so, if you take it one step at a time.

    >> Lee can you do it too?

    Ha! I’d have to work up to it.

    But it seems like an important skill — whether you’re young or old. Young because you crash a lot. Old because you get hurt a lot! 🙂

  5. Tony says:

    Being able to roll out of a stack is a good thing. I’ve had a couple of good off-road OTBs in the last few months, and have rolled out of both of them with almost zero skin off, and no long term damage beyond a sore back for a few days. I’m not up there with Jame’s tumbling skills, but it’s good stuff.

    Doesn’t work for front wheel washouts when you get tangled up with the bike though 🙁

  6. Ian says:

    WOW, let me add to this for some others. I have been known for my crashing. I was once nicknamed “Ian-Knievel” for all my spectacular crashes. After racing DS last month in the Mob ‘n Mojave race in Bootleg, I can say I crashed alot during practice. Not that I am bragging but rather experienced at avoiding at not getting hurt too bad. My history includes BMX, DS, DH and some bi/tri-athalons all back in the early 90’s to some recent BMX and back into DS and 4X.

    Lee you hit the nail on the head “roll with your crash”, tuck and roll baby. But lets get something straight, you cant just blast past your abilities and expect to get out unscathed. Baby-steps. Find your ability level and easily work on your progression skills from there. If you are at a level 6 and push yourself to a level 9, your chances of getting hurt are magnified.

    By the way Lee, I just picked up the first book and can’t wait for the next one (always looking to learn something new). When are you coming to Vegas to do a clinic?

  7. John says:

    Hey François,

    I’m going to be 45 on the 30th and I’m not sure if I can pull off that dive roll, but I do know that regular Pilates and stretching is keeping me as flexible as some of the late 20 somethings I ride wide and that has staved a few injuries so far

  8. Josh130 says:

    I would make one slight change to the form. Instead of traveling straight into the roll (and risking driving your head into the ground like a lawn dart) you should place your hands off to one side a bit and tuck your head into your shoulder. This allows you to spread the impact across your hands, elbow, shoulder, back, hip, and leg. I used to do this all the way across a room in martial arts.

    It is easy to learn if you break it down.

    1) get on all fours, and pick up one hand (I use my left). You can then drop onto your left shoulder to roll out.

    2) now try it kneeling or squating (on a mat or grass)

    3) try it standing

    4) try it with a little speed, and make sure to stick your hands out to aim

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