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How to fall down, crash or otherwise hit the ground

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I've been watching people racing Motorcycles for a long time now and it seems to me that they are getting hurt, seriously hurt, more now days than ever before.  Why is that?  The MX bikes of today are light years more capable than they were back when MX got started.  And the protective equipment available is high tech and confidence inspiring.  But if you watch some of the old films of the MX championships from the 70's you will notice that the best riders in the world would not go flying 100 feet off the big jump.  This wasn't for lack of courage but just good sense.  With fork legs that were maybe 25mm in diameter and 4-6 inches of travel, the first thing to break was the frame.  It you wanted to finish the race, you cooled it over the big jumps. Every good motorcycle shop had a hydraulic press set up for straightening bent fork legs.   But now, with 45mm forks and 12" of travel these bikes aren't even breathing hard over 100 foot jumps.  The problem is, anything can go wrong and if you get it just a hair off, or your bike freezes up for some reason, you are flying throiugh the air "rolling down the windows " from 40 feet up without a parachute.

 

The hard part is hitting the ground without hurting yourself.  When I was racing back in the 70's, I realized that being limber would help keep me from getting hurt if I fell off my bike.  Yoga was in vogue back then, along with other eastern practices during the hippie years and I took it up.  After many trips over the bars and only a couple trips to the hospital, I think I can say that yoga helped me quite a bit.  Another thing that helped was Judo.  The first thing they teach you in Judo is how to fall.  And I'm not talking about falling a couple feet.  They would have us jump over a five foot obstacle and come down head first into a roll. Very good training for falling off your bike.  Today they have Parkour.  Now, I haven't even tried it but from what I've seen, these guys are jumping down two to three stories and rolling it out without breaking any bones.  That seems to be a good skill to have if you are racing MX. 

 

If you look at Racer X's injury report, you will see that there are lots of broken wrist.  When you go over the bars the natural thing is to put your hands out to break your fall.  The problem is that your wrist can't handle the force of the fall and end up breaking.  If you train yourself to fold your hands under and roll in a head first fall you can limit your wrist, and maybe even neck injurys.  I'm no specialist or anything but it seems to me that everyone could limit their injuries if they just learn how to fall.  Do some yoga, it has other benefits too.  Take some judo courses and maybe Harkour.  It might just keep you riding longer.

 

 

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I agree, in Karate when I was a kid we had to jump over a pile of cement blocks stacked about 4 feet high head first and roll out of it.  We did this on cement and it was a requirement to get a purple belt.  I finally put that skill to use a couple years ago when I took an endo after landing short on a triple in 4th gear.  I rolled right out of it unharmed.  If you can find a way to roll out of a fall, 99% of the time you'll be better off.  Even if your rolling sideways its much better then the sudden stop you get from landing flat, just remember to keep your arms tucked in!  

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Tumbling and trampoline training is excellent for this.  What people without gymnastics / acobatic coaching are not aware of is the degree to which you can manipulate your body in the air to control how you land.  45 degrees of rotation can be the difference between a life altering injury, and just some bruises.  Just the process of learning how to do some basic flips will teach a lot about air awareness, and how to save yourself from a huge impact.  If I were a tream manager, I would contact the coaches at World Elite in South Orange County (http://wegymnastics.com/classes/open-gym/) to set up a twice a week training program for my riders.  It is a VERY good workout, so it could be integrated with normal training.  Plus...it is fun as hell.  World Elite is where most of the US Olympic level T&T gymnasts in the west train.  World Elite currently has open gym for 18 years and older Tuesdays 8:30-10:00 pm.   Trampoline competition/training is sort of looked upon as a joke to some, but at this level, it is legit, and these athletes deserve as much respect as any elite athlete.  The first time you get on an Olympic style tramp (EuroTramp Grand Master, Nissin, etc) and bounce, you will understand.

 

Jason Burnett crashing...watch how he spots to get his bearing, then manipulates his rotation to land how he wants.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlxCnAQ7QZE

 

Some other fun acrobatic vids...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De0mZWpDm6g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8hl-olkB1Q&list=UUjgcG2fzDMbUJTgPJFvcUXA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I__jLdWRO2U

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Does face plants count..?? 

Absolutely, a friend of mine did a face plant back in the day that I think defined the term.  This was before the modern full face helmets and he was wearing one of those Scott face guards popular in the 70's that covered your nose and mouth and attached to the goggles.  It was a semi-muddy day and we were breaking in a new track.  He hit something and did a flying W right in front of me and endo'ed.  Aftern making sure he was OK, I went back to check his impact zone to see what he hit.  There was a perfect impression of his face guard in the mud, you could read the "SCOTT" no problem.  I don't know how he came out of that without a neck injury. 

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Wow... that would have been an awesome youtube video. Glad your friend was not hurt. 

 

I have never seen a face plant where you could read a "logo" in the dirt/mud, but that's definitely one for the record books.. It's amazing he didn't break something; the track was certainly forgiving that day.  

 

Thanks for sharing.. great story.!

 

Cheers.

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Tumbling and trampoline training is excellent for this.  What people without gymnastics / acobatic coaching are not aware of is the degree to which you can manipulate your body in the air to control how you land.  45 degrees of rotation can be the difference between a life altering injury, and just some bruises.  Just the process of learning how to do some basic flips will teach a lot about air awareness, and how to save yourself from a huge impact.  If I were a tream manager, I would contact the coaches at World Elite in South Orange County (http://wegymnastics.com/classes/open-gym/) to set up a twice a week training program for my riders.  It is a VERY good workout, so it could be integrated with normal training.  Plus...it is fun as hell.  World Elite is where most of the US Olympic level T&T gymnasts in the west train.  World Elite currently has open gym for 18 years and older Tuesdays 8:30-10:00 pm.   Trampoline competition/training is sort of looked upon as a joke to some, but at this level, it is legit, and these athletes deserve as much respect as any elite athlete.  The first time you get on an Olympic style tramp (EuroTramp Grand Master, Nissin, etc) and bounce, you will understand.

 

Jason Burnett crashing...watch how he spots to get his bearing, then manipulates his rotation to land how he wants.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlxCnAQ7QZE

 

Some other fun acrobatic vids...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De0mZWpDm6g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8hl-olkB1Q&list=UUjgcG2fzDMbUJTgPJFvcUXA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I__jLdWRO2U

Makes sense to me.  What better way to get way up in the air and learn how to fall.  I understand they have jigs with ropes that attach to a belt so you can get all out of shape and not get hurt.

 

I agree, in Karate when I was a kid we had to jump over a pile of cement blocks stacked about 4 feet high head first and roll out of it.  We did this on cement and it was a requirement to get a purple belt.  I finally put that skill to use a couple years ago when I took an endo after landing short on a triple in 4th gear.  I rolled right out of it unharmed.  If you can find a way to roll out of a fall, 99% of the time you'll be better off.  Even if your rolling sideways its much better then the sudden stop you get from landing flat, just remember to keep your arms tucked in!  

That's exactly what I'm talking about.  In judo, they taught us to fall to one side or the other and slap the ground as you impacted.  On head first falls we were supposed to hold the forearm out to help roll, transferring the weight from the forearm to the sholder to the side and roll out.  I'm sure we have some judo experts out there who know some good techniques.

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Makes sense to me.  What better way to get way up in the air and learn how to fall.  I understand they have jigs with ropes that attach to a belt so you can get all out of shape and not get hurt.

 

That's exactly what I'm talking about.  In judo, they taught us to fall to one side or the other and slap the ground as you impacted.  On head first falls we were supposed to hold the forearm out to help roll, transferring the weight from the forearm to the sholder to the side and roll out.  I'm sure we have some judo experts out there who know some good techniques.

 

Part of the issue is when you are going to yard it off a jump...you are often out of shape, and you MUST have the skills to sort autocalibrate the timing between when you are going to hit, and how much adjustment you have to make.  Do you slow your rotation...or speed it up? This is a MUCH more involved skill than a simple tuck and roll.  In some cases...there is simply NO time to adjust...like Chad at SD.  No time at all.  He was along for the ride.  There are cases where you bail...and have a lot of hang time.  The two most recent examples were Zach Bell.... and the Chadapault at Spring Creek.  Both were examples where riders were lucky to have easy landings.  Zach to flat...and Chad do a steep down slope.  Those sorts of cases are where you may have a chance to use skills to influence how you land.

 

The best possible way to land to avoid injury is on your upper back after forward rotation.  This flexes your back in a way much less likely to injure you, and it redirects your direction and spreads the decceleration over a much longer period of time.  There is also a huge amount of muscle mass in your back.  Very strong area of the body (hence the fetal position reflex we all have)  The problem is, the ideal landing position is only about 45 degrees from the one that may kill or paralyze you.  Watch Weston Peicks crash at Phoenix. He was SO lucky.  His forward rotation just happened to be perfect, and he landed in a way, on his upper back, such that he rolled the impact, and the forces were spread out, slamming his legs.  Perfect.  The opposite case was Wil Hahn...he hit leg first...and slammed his upper body.  Is it possible for a rider in Wils situation to adjust?  Sure, but that would take a VERY high degree of skill and experience.  He did 1 flip with 1 twist.  If he speeds up to 1-1/2 rotations...he perhaps dies.  If he speeds it up to 1-3/4 rotations...he perhaps walks away...maybe a collarbone from the helmet to chest motion. Going from 1 to 1.75 rotations is a tall order.  Very aggressive and tight tuck required. 

 

When it comes to air time...The time of flight is determined solely by the initial velocity in the y direction and the acceleration due to gravity.  It does not matter how far you jump, which is depenent on horizontal velocity.  Put a clock on josh hill doing that huge quad in practice at the SX.  2.05s.  Put a clock on Burnett doing that quad flip on the tramp.  2.3s.  That is some serious air time.  You will find that the timing, rythm and physicality of jumping on an Olympic quality competition tramp is similar to SX jumping in many ways.   Give it a try some time.  Hit up World Elite in Rancho SM on Tuesdays.  When I am in LA on business, I always reserve my Tues eves to head there.  You will also get to see Olympic caliber gymnasts practicing and coaching spastic idiots like me.

 

Maybe it helps you some day.

Edited by Blutarsky
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