Crash on a Hill!

RockyRoads

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#1
One of the critical factors for me in deciding what new bike to get recently was whether the bike was “user friendly” (by my definition: easy to start, my feet can touch the ground, and easy to maneuver at varying speeds). I am starting to ride a lot by myself, and one of my worst fears was the thought of crashing on a hill and not being able to pick my bike up or get it started again. Well, the “hill crash” happened last week when I was out riding by myself--I did manage to finally get back down the hill. I thought I’d share my experience with others who might have had similar fears:

The crash happened at Carnegie as I was making my way up a fairly steep grade that was rutted and rocky, with an up-hill, left-hand hairpin at the end; the months of no rain had caused the piles of loose dirt to feel like powdery silt. I’d ridden around that hairpin a dozen times before with no problems. As I was coming up to the corner, however, I downshifted from third gear into second, only to hit a false neutral. Oops! I tried to slow down by using both front and rear brakes, but I also pulled in the clutch and tried to kick the shifter down; my weight wasn’t over the front of the bike enough, and the bike lost momentum and flipped over backwards. When the dust settled, I was on the ground on my left side, with the bike on top, and the front wheel pointing at an angle downhill. I was a bit stunned, but got out from under the bike quickly. Then I noticed that gas was trickling out of the tank drain tube due to the downhill angle of the front end (I had a full tank). I wanted to turn the bike around from facing downhill so that I could stop the gas leak; so I grabbed the rear tire to pull it downward along the ground. I was a bit flustered from the crash and almost burned myself on the hot pipe--Yeow! I managed to pull the rear tire around so that the bike was now lying on its left side facing uphill, and the gas leak stopped.

Picking the bike up was fairly simple—I squatted, then grabbed the left handle with my left hand and the rear subframe with my right hand, and lifted the bike up using the power of my legs. My bike, a CRF230F, supposedly weighs 238 pounds dry, and I’m not sure how much when it’s fully loaded with liquids, as mine was that day--Honda did a good job with the balance of bike parts, because the weight was not unbearable.

So there I was, trying to maintain solid footing on the slippery surface, holding the bike upright, facing uphill, and thinking, “Okay, what do I do now?” The bike was still in gear, so at least it wasn’t rolling down the hill. Considering all of my options, I decided that the best thing would be to get the bike turned around and then go back down the hill. The trail wasn’t too narrow but had a steep drop-off on one side and a ditch against the hillside on the other. Using the clutch and brake, I inched the bike backwards (and heaved it forwards when necessary) until it was finally perpendicular to the trail, with me holding it up on the downward side. I thought about trying to get back on the bike at this point, but I was concerned about still having to turn the bike downhill with my left foot not being able to touch the ground on the sloped side. And I had to move quickly because I was blocking the trail and concerned about being T-boned by someone coming downhill around the corner (there weren’t very many riders out that day, but I kept listening for other bikes). So I continued to use the clutch and brake to inch the bike forwards (and heave it backwards) and turn the front wheel down the hill. Finally, I had the bike so that I was facing downhill. I thought I would easily be able to get on the bike, but trying to balance the bike on the slippery ground and throw my leg over the seat didn’t work—the rear of the bike was uphill, and I couldn’t swing my leg high enough to get it over the tail section (believe me, I tried and tried). I even tried putting the kickstand down to try to get some leverage, but the slope of the hill caused the stand to immediately slip backward and the bike to roll forward (not a good thing).

At this point, I was hot and sweaty. I looked downhill and was discouraged at the long stretch of ruts and loose soil. I used the clutch and front brake to slowly inch my way down the hill, slipping and sliding along the way. About 2/3 of the way down, I came across a slight whoop, where I was able to get the front end level so that I could finally swing my leg over the seat. Woo hoo! With a push of the electric start button (thank you, Honda), I was off down the hill!

I’d like to say that I turned around and tried that hill and corner again that day, but I didn’t. However, the crash really bugged me, as I had done that corner so many times previously. So, I did go back the next day. As I was shifting down to go into that same corner, I hate to admit it but I absolutely froze. My mind convinced me that I had shifted into a false neutral again. So I stopped the bike dead with both brakes, this time weighting the front of the bike so as to not flip over. So there I was—upright this time, sitting on my bike, but staring at that *@#! corner, thinking, “Okay, now what do I do?” I decided that since I was almost at the corner, I could start my bike and give it enough throttle to continue up the hill. Ha! First, I had to get the bike in neutral to start it; and every time I tried pulling in the clutch (so that I could try to shift into neutral), the bike started sliding down the hill on top of the loose soil (like skiing), no matter how tightly I squeezed the front brake. I was persistent. I finally managed to get the bike in neutral and was trying to push the electric starter, with a death grip on the front brake, but the bike slid backwards down the hill about fifteen feet before I finally went down. Boom—right on the same hip with the three baseball size bruises from the day before. It was so absurd that I had to laugh! At least I kindof knew what to do at this point. I picked the bike up, used the brake and clutch to inch the bike backwards until it was straight across the trail, but this time I had turned the bike so that I was on the uphill side of the bike (unlike the day before when I was on the downside)—that really made a difference. I then balanced the bike and, struggling to maintain a grip with my left foot, swung my right leg over the bike. Yeah! I then started the bike and managed to maneuver the bike forwards and backwards until I finally had it pointed down the hill. And off I went. At least it only took about a quarter of the time the second day to get the bike down the hill, compared to the first day.

I am going to go back to that blasted corner this Friday. I know that I have to overcome the block in my mind and stay relaxed but focused. And, whatever happens, "It's all good!"

The whole process was such a learning experience for me on how to maneuver my bike while holding it up, using balance, the clutch and front brake, dealing with slippery terrain, and also trying to figure out which side of the bike to be on, when (and how) to try to climb back on, when to start the bike again, etc. Things would definitely have been a lot more complicated if I hadn’t had my electric start.

Thanks for listening!!!

Does anyone have any stories to share or advice to give in what they learned about getting their bike back down a hill after getting stuck or crashing?
 
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jboomer

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#2
Sounds like you worked it out pretty well! One piece of advice though (actually I've got a couple!), once you start up a steep hill, DO NOT stop for whatever reason! You hold that gas ON, hang onto those bars, and ride it out until you get to the top! If you slip and fall and you and that bike start tumbling -together- you are gonna be in BIG trouble! It's gonna squash you like a bug! Now, if you do fall and you and the bike are stuck on the side of a hill, always get uphill from the bike. This is for a couple of reasons: 1. If the bike falls, you aren't gonna be underneath it and 2. It will allow you to leverage the bike and get it pointed in the direction you want to go (allows you more control over the bike). If the hill is so steep that you can't throw your leg over the seat, allow the bike to start rolling forward down the hill, step on the peg (with the correct foot ---ie. left peg, left foot or right peg right foot) and throw your leg over AS you are rolling down the hill. If you do it this way, don't bother shifting to neutral, hold the clutch in and once you build a LITTLE speed, pop the clutch and you can 'bump start' the bike! Sounds like you did a great job, regardless, and if anything, this experience should have given you loads of confidence, considering you were in a VERY difficult situation and were able to negotiate your way out of it! Congrats!
 

Michelle

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#3
I've had one time I was stuck on a hill. I was lying with my body facing downhill, my boot wrapped up in one of the shrouds and petrol leaking. As usual I was riding by myself but the guys had some idea where I'd gone. I kept hearing them just around the corner & thought surely they'd turn up sooner or later, so I just lay there after a couple of half-hearted attempts to get back up. They found me, they laughed, I got unstuck ;) - lesson learnt - don't get the boot stuck on the radiator shroud lol

It's pretty amazing how, if you stop to think for a minute, it's pretty easy to sort yourself out. If I'm concerned about the bike leaking gas, I just turn the gas off - but do remember to turn the gas back on (this is supposing you can reach the switch) ;) If you've got a camelbak (if not, get one), take a moment to have a drink, too. It refreshes you plus gives you a second to think.

Bump starting bikes is easy (usually) & definitely the way to go at times.

Now, go back Friday & whoop that corner's arse - and let us know how it goes :) Try not to dwell on it and don't go off there first thing - wait till you're warmed up (but not exhausted). Look into the corner (ignore the front of the bike), look where you want to go and as far ahead as you can, not where you crashed hehehe
Good luck again & good on ya (thanks for sharing, too, it's always cool to read ride reports)
 

rickyd

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#4
Easy way too learn is too take a few spills :) Hopefully we'll get some rain up here, Hopefully Lots down in SoCal :(
 
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#5
Kathy:YOU GO GIRL!!!. seriously now-not really but here goes anyway. I alway's try to encourage people to try to put them selves into a position that's about half as bad as the one that you desribe and then practice,practice,practice. by this I mean learn to pivot/slide/bulldog your bike down a hill before you end up having to learn for the first time under extreme conditions. I live by the rule that I will not try to climb a hill that I don't have the guts to also ride back down. This is a great rule of self control. Practice the things that your not good at. It's like homework in school,you get better the more that you work at it.
 

E-Ticket

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#6
Two very important things to remember!

1) This happens to ALL of us..... Whether you are a beginner or an expert.
An expert just has it happen to them on scarier, steeper hills! But they're down and stuck just as bad as you were. :confused:

2) You went and tried again! This is hugely good and way-cool ... and you are to be congratulated! :yeehaw:

All of us have one hill, one turn, one jump ... that just has our name on it. And you just have to keep trying and eventually you will get it. Then as your skills/experience improve -- you'' do your nemesis again -- and it will be easy-peesy! Kinda' weird how that works - but it is definately all relative.

A couple of tips. The next time you want to try "RockyRoad's Hill of Death" do this. You know the spot that you usually crash or stop at? Don't look at it! As you start of the hill, make sure you look at a spot *past* it. In other words, look at where you "want to go" -- not where you "crash at." Looking at the bad spot will concentrate all your negative thinkings into that single spot! And, like a black hole, it will draw you right to it! <grin>

But seriously, focus on looking beyond .... at the next section. With enough speed/momentum -- you'll go right by it!

Another tip is to watch someone else do it successfully. Seeing someone else go calmly by the "spot from Hell" will help convince you that it is possible.

And when you do go by it/do the climb successfully? You calmly stop your bike at the top, get off, walk over to the edge, look down at the offending spot, and <....wait for it...>

Jump up and down, screaming at the top of lungs at the offending spot,

"I *OWN* YOU ... YOU SON OF A B***..!!!!!!!"

It's great fun and you will feel wonderful. :thumb:

Cheers! - E-Ticket
 
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#7
I think just about everyone has a story!

Theres a hill not too far from me that we ride often that has now been nicknamed "Caseys Hill". I absolutely hate it. It has erosion mounds on it just to make it interesting. One day we went out and was riding it pretty hard when for some reason I hit the erosion mound square on rather than jumping or riding over it like normal. I dont really know what happened, all I remember is riding, my chest slamming into the bars then waking up about a good 3 metres if not more away from the bike. The boys I was riding with thought I would have to be choppered out but luckily I was only very bruised although I still have the faint hint of a bruise on my leg from it and this happened months and months ago. Ive since been back to that hill and made sure that I nailed that particular lump! There is no better feeling than doing that. And now that crash sure makes a great bench racing story!

Its good to see people using them as learning experiences rather than shying away from a challenge! Crashes only make you a better ride IMO!
 

GETMETOCA

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#8
Rocky Roads - Great Job!!! You have guts to go by yourself! I'm still lame on hills (and everything else). Very inpsiring hill story!
 

Michelle

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#9
Originally posted by GETMETOCA
Rocky Roads - Great Job!!! You have guts to go by yourself! I'm still lame on hills (and everything else). Very inpsiring hill story!
Huh? I thought you were Natalie? You changed your nick? Who are you?
Kathy, don't listen to Nat (about being lame, the rest is true). At the ride school earlier this year, we lost one rider going up our practice hill. She decided to ignore the guys standing next to the trail where we were meant to stop & carry on as far as she could. She's the type of rider that makes me sick, ya know, the talented type ;)

I think the funniest "hill" story I have was not long after I started riding. I had this "hill" I sometimes got right, most time not. I was riding my YZ80 and just having great fun. Guys would go flying past me, it was a fun trail. Anyway, my husband & mate were also going round this trail (they just saw the straight-away & gave it a handful), and when I met up with them later, I asked them what the other trails were like. Huh? What other trails? They just hadn't seen the turn-off. Anyway, we all went on the other trails & had a great day, but this hill bugged me. I was determined to succeed at it eventually.

I've now ridden it so many times, I look back at my memory of it & laugh. I don't even consider it a hill, it's just a rise & huge fun. My mind had distorted it out of proportion. Heck, if you had a car there, you would only just need to do a hill start on it. It's like it's a different part of the forest, but I know it's not. When I finally explained to Henk where my "hill" is, he couldn't stop laughing at me.

Don't let it get you down (I don't think it is), it's only a stinkin' hill & you know you can do it. Don't psyche yourself out, as everyone has said, we've all been there & done that (and will do it again lol).
But do let us know when you've succeeded, so we can celebrate with you :)
 

altagirl

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#10
Good job! Occasionally, I've even thought that a crash in a tough spot has helped me overall - once you've picked your bike up from being nearly upside down on a hill or something the thought of crashing becomes more of an "oh that would be a pain" than an "OMG I'll never going to get this thing upright and moving again." Makes it easier to just relax and have fun!