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Recovering from a Crash

by Ryan Koontz, RKMX Training

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Picking up your bike by the bars is okay in certain situations like this when the bike is on a flat surface. Unfortunately, most of us race outdoors where the bike is seldom on a flat surface.

Recovering from A Crash
Mistakes. Crashes. Falls. These words sometimes prevent us from that perfect race or perfect finish. Let’s face it; our sport is one that requires us to raise the bar each time we throw our leg over the bike. From my experience I have noticed that many riders struggle with recovering after a fall. The hardest thing to regain after falling is a rider’s momentum. Often times when a rider falls it can take several laps before they get back into their groove. Other times, they may never regain their composure or get settled back into their grove until the race is at its end. I thought long and hard about this article, as it may raise a little bit of controversy. So how can a rider recover from a fall and how can they prepare themselves for a quick recovery?

Depending on the type of fall, recovering can be difficult. Growing up I attended many motocross trainings, but one thing I was never taught was how to properly recover from a fall. Learning to recover from a fall/crash could be considered one of the most important aspects for on the bike training. When I started my trainings, I made sure to instruct my riders on how to recover from a fall. Below are a few steps that will help ensure a quick recovery after you go down. They may seem obvious and intuitive but are worth repeating.

Step 1 – Know your bike
To ensure you have the quickest remount and recovery after a fall, it is important that you know your bike well. Knowing if your bike will start in gear is critical when returning to your bike after a crash. How often and how consistent your bike starts in gear can contribute to the least amount of loss time after a fall. Also, knowing where the "grab" points are on your bike is important. You should know without looking  the best place to place your fingers to lift your bike.

Step 2 – Remounting
The most important action when recovering from a crash is to remount and take off as quickly as possible. Once you have made the decision to move towards your bike and remount, quickly make the decision to either put your bike in neutral to start or try to get the bike to fire while it is in gear. This decision should be quick. If you know your bike will not start in gear, don’t waste the time. Place the bike in neutral and start it. This decision helps ensure a quick recovery and the least amount of wasted energy. Bump starting is a technique everyone should be an expert at. It takes much less energy to bump start a bike if you know how (see technique below).

Step 3 – The Recovery
Once the bike fires, immediately take off. When you are back on the track and regrouping, take small amounts of time to fix your controls, visor or anything else that has shifted from the crash. Fix these things as you are racing. If possible, it is usually best to adjust your levers and visor in the air or in a smooth straight, but do not take too much time to get it perfect. Adjusting your controls when first returning to your bike is wasting valuable time. These steps can be done once you have remounted and taken off.

Most of use are faced with situations like this; on a hill, bike facing down. Trying to pick the bike up like this rider will burn a lot of energy.

As quickly as possible, feel the bike out. If the bars are bent, try to adjust your riding position to accommodate the change. Quickly evaluate which direction the bars are bent and remember this as you continue on with the next few obstacles. If the bars are not severely bent, you should adjust quickly.

How to Practice Your Recovery?
No one likes to crash, but it is critical to be able to adjust once your momentum has been thrown off. There are several ways that I train my riders when it comes to recovering quickly after a fall. Usually, I work with my riders while they are in a training moto. I will travel around the track and abruptly stop them at certain points. Often times, I will use a cone to indicate a point where the rider has to stop.

Once the rider has stopped at the cone, I will hit the kill switch, shutting the motor off. While I am holding the bike, I will have the rider dismount. As silly as it may sound, I will often times have the rider run around for a few seconds and sometimes even get on the ground and roll around or do jumping jacks and push ups. The reason I have the rider do this is to throw them a curve ball. The rider was settled in before the “crash” and by mixing things up I have thrown the rider off their momentum. While the rider is running around, or sometimes just standing next to me, I will move their controls into positions that replicate a crash. Often times I will move their clutch and brake levers up or down. I will also make it a point to ensure the bike is in gear. Next, I indicate to the rider to remount. If the rider was running around, or on the ground, they often times do not realize their controls have been moved, just as they wouldn’t know in a crash. When the rider returns to their bike they are faced with recovering in the fastest way possible.

As with any training moto, I always keep track of the lap times. Once the moto is complete, the rider and I will study the lap times to see how well they have recovered after their fall.

Example:

Lap 1: 2:21
Lap 2: 2:19
Lap 3: 2:59 (Crash)
Lap 4: 2:30
Lap 5: 2:26
Lap 6: 2:23

Working Alone
If you do not have someone who can work with you on this, try stopping in certain locations on a track and hit the kill switch. Sit there for a moment and then take back off and try to reestablish your groove. You can even lay your bike down and kill the engine. Run around or do something to elevate your heart rate (similating a crash) and then quickly pick your bike up, get it started, and continue your moto.

Another thing you can do to simulate a crash is to take off your goggles, gloves and maybe even unsnap your chest protector. This will guarantee your focus is on something other than the moto as you readjust your gear. You need to momentarily take your mind completely off of the race and focus on recovering from the crash; just as would happen in an actual crash.

As with most things, we tell mini riders (and kids in general) how to do smething the right way and then go and do something completely different for ourselves. Use your iegs to lift a downed bike and you will conserve a ton of energy!

Photo: Gary Bailey

There are also tricks to picking up your bike. If you are a smaller person or even a little fatigued, I'm sure you are aware at how heavy a 450 or even a 250 can be. Picking up your bike may seem like trivial task but too many times I see a guy struggle by trying to lift the bike by grabbing the handlebars or by facing the bike and lifting with their back. This is a time to learn from the mini riders: stand next to the downed bike with your back to the bike. Bend at the knees, grasp the seat (know your grasp points!), and use your legs to lift the bike. So when the bike is upright, your back will be facing the bike. This is an extremely important technique to learn especially when the bike is in a position facing down a hill. Once you master this technique you'll never pick up a bike any other way.

Another very important technique to master is the bump start. You should be able to bump start a bike in a very short distance. This technique comes from Gary Bailey and is easy to master with some practice. First, do not attempt to bump start a four stroke in second gear. Use first! Roll the bike a few feet in neutral and then shift into first gear. Do NOT bounce on the seat like you see so many riders do. 9 times out of 10 you will not time the bounce correctly and the rear wheel will lock. In sand or loose traction, try a second gear start. And most importantly, do NOT give a four stroke gas until the engine fires. Practice this and you can be like Gary who can bump start a bike in less than 4 feet!

The main objective of this type of training is to create a real life situation. It seems silly to practice this, but in the long run, it will be one of the most important things you will ever practice. Being able to recover from a crash is a necessary component to being a great rider.

Training for the unexpected will allow you to be prepared. The athlete who is ready for the unplanned, unexpected and unpredicted will reign and be recognized.

About the Author:
Ryan Koontz Motocross Training (RKMX) is based out of the Mid-West and provides motocross riders with opportunities to enhance their riding abilities through both on the bike and off the bike training. Ryan Koontz is a former privateer professional motocross rider with over 15 years of motocross experience along with over 5 years of training motocross techniques. Using his experience and knowledge within motocross, RKMX Training offers several types of training for athletes who want to advance in the sport. Off-the-bike training is very important to having a well rounded training program, this is why RKMX has an off-the-bike training program that is led by a certified personal trainer who has a background in motocross and holds certifications in many aspects of athlete training. While a website is currently under construction for RKMX, you can find more information on their Facebook page or by contacting Ryan Koontz at RKMXtraining@aol.com. (www.facebook.com/RKMXtraining)

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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Discussion

  1. Gravatar
    rapid rod August 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Ryan, great article. this is something most people don't think about. You didn't mention grabbing the clutch before you stand the bike up just in case it is still running. this is the greatest time saver of all I believe.

  2. Gravatar
    Ryan Koontz August 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Thanks, Rod. I absolutely agree with you on the clutch. This would be first priority for me and a true time saver given the average amateur bike rarely starts on the first few kicks after laying on the ground for a few seconds. Thanks for mentioning this and sorry I forgot to touch on it!

  3. Gravatar
    jairtime August 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I can time a bump start by bouncing on the seat, it enables the rear tire to get traction and force the engine to turn over. Without bouncing on the seat, the rear tire can just skid to a stop with insufficient traction.

    Here's a very easy way to pick up a bike after a crash. If you crash and the bike is lying on its left side, it's really easy to pick the bike up if the bars are turned to the right and you lift the bike up by the left grip. You have great leverage that way and can do it with one hand. If you have the bars turned to the left you'll have a hard time lifting the bike by the bars.

    Conversely, if the bike is lying on its right side, you want the bars turned to the left and then lift the bike up by the throttle. Again, you can do it with one hand this way.

    Take it or leave it! Try it yourself!

  4. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer August 26, 2011 at 9:15 am

    The point about not bouncing on the seat to bump start is that its not needed if you do the technique right. Gary is putting together a video to demonstrate the technique. Its really quite amazing to watch how easy it is. Its all about energy conservation so if bouncing helps you conserve energy by all means go for it.

  5. Gravatar
    JWMotoX November 01, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for the great post, Ryan Koontz. You are so generous to share your wealth of knowledge with the motoX community. However, I'm struggling to regain upper body strength after my previous crash. What exercises and/or supplements do you recommend I do/take?

  6. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer November 05, 2012 at 11:12 am

    JWMotoX - Please post your question on the forum. The comments on this site do not have automatic notifications so Ryan may not see your post. But on the forum he will. Email me your desired username and password and I'll register you. tim@racerxonline.com

  7. Gravatar
    JWMotoX November 06, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks, Tim. I'm stoked about that; contemplating getting jacked up on a few Mountain Dew MDX's just thinking about it, brother!

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