If you are lucky enough to avoid the mash up, you'll circle back to the carnage of blood and road rash at the least. But the damage could be more severe: broken bones, concussions, and beyond.
So the question of the day -- is it worth it? Should you stay off the bike and never enjoy another group ride? Should you hang up your trusty steed and call it quits for good?
While the nerves are shaking the adrenaline is pumping the easy answer is NO, it's not worth it. There are too many risks and too many dangers in this sport. Almost everyone who rides knows someone who's gone down. And when cycling is a large part of your life, chances are it might someday be you who needs that 911 call.
But when you've had time to breathe, and time to think, it's pretty hard to say goodbye to cycling. You've got to get back on the bike with a clear head and realize your priorities, which could just be making it home safely everyday. Forget about the speedsters, the uber talented climbers. Forget about comparing yourself to someone else. When you figure out the beauty of this sport is the ability to feel the breeze on your face as you smoothly whir through gorgeous canyons and trails, your perspective will change. When you can ride on vacant city streets in the wee hours of the morning and feel the sunrise over your back shoulder - you'll say YES, get me on my bike.
While a crash is a terrible thing to witness, it's also a reminder to make sure your skills are solid, to proceed with caution, and be aware that cycling is not about finishing first. There will always be someone faster than you out there -- even if you're Lance Armstrong.
So for today, and everyday, be safe, be confident, and practice your skills. Keep the rubber side down. And for heaven's sake, keep on riding.