If it’s your first time going mountain biking, you could be wondering how dangerous the activity is. For an average person, riding a mountain bike might be considered a little extreme and just a tad bit riskier than running, hiking, or jogging. Then again, these activities aren’t really on the adrenaline level of mountain biking, either.
So, how does mountain biking fair danger-wise compared to sports similar to it? You’d be surprised to know that it’s actually a lot less dangerous than most other sports out there. In fact, there’s a higher risk of getting injured from a football or baseball game than a mountain biking ride.
The Potential Risks of Mountain Biking
The various forms of cycling have different rates of injury. For instance, a road biker is almost twice as likely to get injured than a mountain biker. That’s because where road biking takes place usually has other vehicles. When cars hit bike riders, the injuries sustained by the biker are usually pretty serious.
The location where you go mountain biking also factors into the equation. For example, biking downhill is considerably riskier than biking cross-country or biking on the road. The country is among the safest places to go biking since its off-road trails are pretty mild, and most of its roads are usually lesser travelled.
Nevertheless, when it comes to mountain biking injuries, most incidents are usually due to human error. Here are some of the common injuries you can get from a mountain biking accident:
- Fractured collar bone
- Fractured shoulder
- Concussion or head trauma
- Broken wrist or hand
- Broken forearm
- Facial fractures
These may seem like a lot, but a broken forearm, hand, and shoulder are actually the most common. You could experience any of these three injuries when you go over the handlebars of your bike after an abrupt stop. It also happens when your bike doesn’t quite make it over something on the road, like a log, and falls backward or to the side.
When a rider flies over the handlebars, they usually put their hands forward to break their fall. This results in the shoulder, hands, and forearm getting the brunt of the impact from the ground. A head injury can also occur in certain instances, depending on how the head is positioned a split-second from impact.
This is why wearing protective headgear is extremely important in sports such as mountain biking. Wearing a good-quality helmet can reduce the risks of injuries to the face and head significantly, which is vital since these are typically where serious injuries occur.
How To Avoid Controlled Risks
Again, a good percentage of mountain bike injuries result from human error. That means a significant portion of the total injury risk from mountain biking is within our control. How about the rest? Well, nature pretty much has the remaining risk percentage in a chokehold, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Thus, it is best to focus on the things we can control and manage.
Here is what you can do to reduce the risk of getting injured while on your mountain bike:
Riding can be brutal on the body. Each bump, crevice, rock, and log is going to be some form of punishment on an unfit body. Hence, you want to get in peak physical condition to expertly deal with the challenges of mountain biking.
Do Some Stretching
Improving flexibility helps your body cope with the rigorousness of mountain biking. Bumps, rocks, and crevices won’t hurt as much when your body is equipped to deal with them. Try participating in yoga and Pilates classes, as stretching holds a major part in these programs.
Plan Ahead of Time
Planning ahead can save you from a whole lot of stress and trouble. This means you will know what a trail has in store, and you can prepare for any challenges appropriately. It also lets other people know when to expect you back.
Do Proper Equipment Maintenance
Injuries are very rarely the fault of the bike. Usually, it is the rider who is to blame for the lack of maintenance on the brakes and other parts of their ride. Yes, mountain biking can be thrilling and exciting, but you also want to check if all the bolts are secure and the frame is as solid and pristine as ever before taking off. Failure to inspect these parts regularly could end up with you falling into a ditch one of these days.
Risk Mitigation Is the Best Solution
No sport is ever without any risk, especially considering that nature will always try to wrestle any form of control away from you. However, risks can also be mitigated by focusing on whatever is within your control.
Before going on a ride, it would help to know the potential risks of mountain biking and the ways to ride safely on your bike. That way, you’ll know how best to avoid risks that are within your control and give yourself a safer mountain biking experience. When you plan and prepare properly and wear the appropriate safety gear, you can reduce the risk of danger in your chosen sport.