In my last couple of races I have heard a number of people cursing and yelling at each other because someone bumped their wheels, they touched handlebars or some other form of contact occurred. The nature of bike racing however is that contact will occur, the key is to be properly prepared for it. In a number of camps for juniors and u23 cyclists, people participate in bumping drills. Unfortunately these types of drill’s don’t occur in older age groups and as such many racers don’t know how to handle themselves in these situations. There are a number of ways which you can become more comfortable on the bike and in such situations.
The easiest way is to grab a friend ride over to a grassy field and bump wheels purposefully, lean on each other, stabilize yourself with a hand on your fellow riders back. Eventually reactions in these situations will become second nature, and instead of freaking out and therefore causing a wreck you will stay calm and collected easily avoiding a painful crash.
I am also a big believer in mountain biking as a way to improve bike handling on the road. In order to make your way around on the MTB you need to be able to control your bike far better than you ever do in a road race. Learning how to ride on a trail as narrow as 6 inches, not knowing what is around the next corner requires both quick reactions and being able to move the bike quickly and efficiently. In a road race this can mean being able to avoid all sorts of disasters occurring just in front of you. In addition, you tend to crash a lot when learning to MTB, and learn how to fall quite well. When you do crash on the road (which will happen), you will be able to crash with the soffest landing possible.
The most important thing to remember though is to not freak out, people who freak out on the bike tend to over react, over correct and thus crash, when if they had stayed calm they would have been able to easily avoid a painful situation. Freaking out also causes muscles to tense which leads to more damaging crashes.