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Anonymous's picture

When one has an ‘over-the-handlebars’ kind of accident, how does one most typically end up in terms of body position, particularly with regard to one’s hands?

I need to know this, as I was last week in a bicycle accident where I lost consciousness, and due to ‘retro-amnesia,’ I do not recall what happened. Some people speculate that I lost consciousness before I lost control of the bike, because when I was found, my hands were not in front of me, and the backs of the hands were mainly scraped by contact with the pavement. The obvious alternative scenario to expect is that I clamped too hard on the front brakes and went over the handlebars, but still held on. However, I do not recall the accident at all (I am missing about two hours of recollection due to a concussion), so I'm hoping for some insights from those who have either better recollection of their mishaps or better witnesses!

I shall very much appreciate any information based on your experience or knowledge, or if you can refer me to any good source for such information. I am healing well, and will soon be back on a bicycle, but it is important to know if I am more need in riding lessons or need to be aware of a potentially dangerous physical condition.


Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)
Forward roll

When I had my over the handlebar accident I basically did a forward roll. Although I have some gymnastics in my background, so that may have helped.

But I did scratch my helmet and the backs of my hands in the process of doing a forward roll at 20mph.

What did I do wrong? First day on a fixed gear. A kid ran right out in front of me on the bike path and I stopped pedaling as well as hitting the front brake. I did a nice front wheelie for a bit, but eventually went over.

Anonymous's picture
Bob Shay (not verified)
No one good answer for this

I've gone over the handlebars on my mountain bike and when racing motocross. How I landed really depended on my speed and what caused me to flip. If I can get out of my pedals, my natural tendency is to try to run out the fall. Most times I can't run that fast and end up scraping my knees and palms.

If I can't get out of my pedals, I tend to take the fall on my palms and then side.

I have never scraped the back of my hand when going over the handlebars. An injury to the back of the hand on this type of fall sounds very unusual unless you blacked out before the fall or (more likely) you had a death grip on the handlebars and that caused you to land on your head, black out, and scrape the back of your hand.

The following are not funny - http://www.dataflo.net/~mpurintun/funny_videos.htm

Watch (1)the bike face plant video, and (2) the motorcycle accident - where the last guy goes over handlebars

Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)

Why would a scape to the back of the hand be so odd?

During the CRCA mens beginner clinic, they told us if we fall, to not let go of the handlebars. This would prevent you from trying to stop your fall with your hands, which will usually either break your collar bone or your wrist. If you never let go of the bars, the backs of your hands would be scraped.

So if the crash happened very quickly and you never reacted to anything, the back of your hands would hit the ground.

Also, if you have ever been trained to fall, (stunt work, aikido, qymnastics) you would probably scratch the back of your hands not the front. It is never a good idea to use your hands to break your fall.

Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)


Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
they teach you in the army airborne...


Anonymous's picture
rbj (not verified)
not using your hands

So, it's better to fly head-first towards the pavement? I think not. I've been over the bars many, many times, on road and mtn. bikes, and never (luckily) broken a collar bone. You use your hands to protect your head, break the fall (not with locked elbows), and then roll.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)

"I, too, am skeptical of the ""not using your hands"" dogma.

I had my share of falls, mostly off-road. I do use my hand, though not so much to ""break the fall"" but to facilitate the ""roll"". Hanging on to the handlebar has a different meaning there. You can leverage the handlebar to help the ""roll"" so you have a better chance of landing on the more ""cushy"" (and hopefully less breakable) part of the body. Not to mention seperating the hard and many sharp-edge bike from our soft body.

Why do cats have such long tail? To help them ""roll"" in mid-air. We human don't have tails. Our arms and legs are all we got to try a limited imitation of a poorly evolved cat! (though cats don't roll, they simply manage to land on their feet!)

Scrape in the back of hand is possible when the fall is sudden, though."

Anonymous's picture
Maggie Clarke (not verified)
accident forensics

"Part of it depends on how you And the bike were found on the ground as well as the specific damage to the bike and helmet. Your thought of completely flipping over to scrape the back of your hands while still holding onto the bike is a little far-fetched, but would have found you lying on your back in the street with your feet in the direction of where you were going, and the bike probably on top of you. I remember once going over my handlebars when my front wheel fell into a wide bridge grate (it went in up to the ""hubcap"". In that case I did a 3-point landing - straight forward - 2 elbows and a knee or vice versa... don't remember.

About flipping over, I was leading a ride once where a rider, who typically rode out of line in the middle of the road got caught in a gap in the pavement that went down the middle of the road - he was going downhill at a great rate at the time. He fell and broke his shoulder blade. People saw that he flipped over and actually came down upside down onto his handlebars, which meant that the bike and he were continuing to move at the same rate of speed after he left the bike.

Another example of reconstruction of an accident happened on the descent on East Clinton a few years ago. There were big piles of leaves on the right and a lot of traffic on the left leaving little room. The rider in front of me fell and lost consciousness. Her bike was found with the front wheel turned 180 degrees to the right. This clued us into the likelihood that one of the cars had freaked her out and she overreacted turning the wheel to the right. At that speed it would have whipped the wheel around throwing her forward and right (mainly forward since she was probably going at least 20 or 30 mph at that point). She was found on her back. Not surprising. The cracks in the helmet supported this theory. (I must tell you that controlling MY bike upon seeing her on the ground, hurtling at her at 35mph, and with even less maneuvering room than she had, tested my control skills to the max... (I missed her foot by inches) It's an argument for the Club to write letters to nearby jurisdictions (or at least Tenafly) to ask them to keep East Clinton clear of leaves in fall!"

Anonymous's picture
Steve Weiss (not verified)
My Experience - Serious Endo

Check out this link to a posting I made last year after doing a downhill, 46mph endo.


I can't find the HTML tag button, so just cut and paste.

Anonymous's picture
fendergal (not verified)

What I take away from your report of your accident is that you were probably not in the drops, but on the hoods. You were very lucky in that your injuries were not worse. Hope you're back on the bike, and descending in the drops now!

cycling trips