I'm 45, been riding since my late teens.
I'm not only a daily commuter (all-weather in Pa. and that means snow and ice) I also log lots of long distance rides whenever my crummy retail job allows it. (around 10-14,000 miles per year)
I've also been down on the road several times and will say this, the things that have put me down; will never put me down again. (I learned from the experiences)
I guess the main difference I see between the two of us, is that (based on the comment I highlighted) I don't ride carelessly into the unknown, beyond what I know my abilities to be.
If I want to ride like a bat out of hell, down a logging road or other area, I'll do a pre-ride first. There's no reason to find yourself in the situation you describe unless, as the expression goes "fools rush in"...
I.M.H.O. there is no such thing as an unknown/surprise hazard the way I ride.
I'm sure what I describe might not sound like fun to all you adrenaline junkies out there but, if you are aware of there being hazards first (like what you describe) you can turn it into a fun event by taking it on with skill and not being surprised by it. (and shattering your tibisa)
I've eaten my share of shit (while going through a long learning curve) but, now ride with enough care to avoid as much shit eating as possible. I still ride spiritedly but, only on roads or areas I know well. To do otherwise invites seconds of eating shit. (that's the difference between skill and recklessness)
Why eat shit twice when you didn't like it the first time?
My definition of "skill" is knowing what you can and can't handle.
If you can't handle the type of surprise you mention and still ride so fast that you can't handle that type of situational surprise = you're riding beyond your skill level and deserve to eat shit. (just like I deserved to eat shit when I fucked up in my past)
Skill = the difference between delusional and applicable.