The more a person gets into mountain biking, the more challenging the courses become. It can seem intimidating at first to hop off the bike and go off road at different elevations, and there is always some risk involved whenever a person straps on a helmet and goes on a ride.
The question is, just how dangerous is mountain biking? While there is some danger that comes with the sport, it is not as dangerous as many people think. In fact, many outdoor alternatives have higher injury rates, and that can steer people away from giving those sports a try. By following a few tips, riders can stay even safer.
Comparing Mountain Biking to Other Activities
Every single physical activity that a person takes part in can lead to some type of injury. While there are certainly instances of some pretty bad injuries from mountain biking, the injury rate is pretty low overall.
It is significantly lower than outdoor options like snowboarding, skiing, and even hiking. It is hard to find data that will fully put into perspective the odds of an injury, but a great estimated guess is roughly one out of every 800 instances. (Source) These injuries can be pretty minor in most cases as well, such as some cuts or bruises from a fall.
Things such as a rider’s ability, how challenging the course is, and more all play an important role as well. Common injuries beyond cuts and bruises include fractures to the forearm, shoulders, or hands.
Most people will fall off their bikes and try to brace their fall with their arms, which can lead to a break.
As for positives, mountain biking is very easy on the body from an impact perspective. Riders can continue moving in a very natural motion, which helps out significantly.
If a person has a bike that is fit for them perfectly, they have a very low risk of hurting themselves just from naturally biking.
How Important Is a Helmet For Mountain Biking?
If there is one piece of equipment every rider should invest in, regardless of the bike they own, it is a helmet (Best Pick Helmet From Amazon). For one reason or another, there is a stigma around wearing a helmet and not being properly protected at all times. Even on the most casual of rides, a helmet can save a person’s life if something bad happens.
Riding on trails with a mountain bike certainly requires a helmet, and one made specifically for that type of riding. Riders want to stay as protective as possible so that if a crash happens, they can avoid any serious injuries that could be debilitating.
Studies show that helmets can reduce any type of head injury by roughly 50%. Serious injuries are reduced by around 60%, and death rates are reduced by 33%.
Wearing a helmet is not a guarantee that a person stays safe, but it only increases the odds. Considering all the things that can go wrong on a trail, a helmet is a necessity.
Other Gear To Help Keep Mountain Bikers Safe On Trails?
There are a ton of different gear options for those who want to stay as safe as possible. Depending on how much protection a rider wants, they can significantly reduce the chances of any injury whatsoever.
As mentioned above, helmets are always a necessity. This is a look at all the other pieces of equipment that are a bit more optional.
Great mountain bike gloves not only provide quality coverage and enhanced grip, but significant padding. This helps to fight against fatigue when riding normally and to brace for a fall.
Hands can get pretty tired when riding for hours and hours on a mountain bike. A good pair of gloves will be able to hold up under any weather conditions, which is always nice so that a person never feels like they are overwhelmed.
Elbow and Knee Pads
Elbow and knee pads (Amazon) will also help if there is ever a fall when mountain biking. They do add a decent amount of bulk to the body, but there are some lightweight options for people who just want a little bit of protection.
Some might look at this as a bit overkill, but it just takes one fall to see the importance of having elbow and knee pads. They are usually the most vulnerable areas of the body when somebody falls, and reducing the chances of a fracture is never a bad thing.
Bike Short with Padding
Cyclists usually opt for padding when they go on long rides, and mountain bikers can benefit as well. Even though mountain bikers are a little more upright in the riding position, a little bit of padding will make for a more comfortable experience overall.
There is nothing worse than having to deal with a feeling on a bike that is very painful. People are always looking for ways to stay comfortable during a long ride, and simply sitting down seems so basic, but so important.
10 Tips On Staying Safe On The Trails
Whether a person is just starting out or a seasoned veteran, there are certain things to keep in mind when trying to stay as safe as possible when mountain biking. Accidents will happen on occasion, but keeping these in mind will definitely reduce the risk.
Stay In a Specific Skill Level
It can be very tempting to try to push things early on as a mountain biker. Maybe somebody else is a little more advanced, and it is natural for someone to feel like they must keep up.
While it is nice to have confidence, people should stay within their skill level to reduce any major issues.
When moving up in skill level and taking on more challenging trails, do so slowly. Remember that it takes time to become a really good mountain biker, just as it does for any other sport.
There is no scarier feeling than someone going down a descent and have the feeling of losing control.
Practice Landing and Falling
Mountain bikers should work on landing at a smaller scale before going on trails for real. This is going to help keep a rider level-headed when they are forced into a difficult situation.
Without any practice, it can be a huge stress to try to figure everything out on the fly.
Some people even go as far as working on falling off their bike so that they do so as gracefully as possible.
Knowing how to dismount off the bike and not land awkwardly can be the difference between a few bumps and bruises, and something much more significant.
Take Blind Corners Slowly
Blind corners can be one of the most dangerous parts of mountain biking. No one knows what is coming around the corner, and going at a high speed can put a rider in a very tough situation.
To put things in perspective, plenty of people have suffered serious injuries or even death simply because they never saw something coming from the other side of the corner.
Everyone likes to ride and keep a certain pace, but it is just not worth speeding through a blind corner. Slow down, take it easy, and pick up speed again once it is easier to see everything that is coming.
Do a Light Ride Through a Trail First
Although not always possible, it is recommended to go on a trail and see what is out there before trying to go as fast as possible on a real ride. It allows for people to be much smarter about what they try to do, and that will cut down on injury significantly.
A lot of people who are racing mountain bikes will do this so that they can have some type of edge. At the very least, try to look at a map to see the general layout before riding. It is always better to be prepared.
Think About Mountain Bike Insurance
A person can purchase insurance for just about anything, and that includes mountain biking if they take it seriously enough.
While some people might buy some basic insurance to cover their bike in case something happens, a person might want to spend a little bit more on adding mountain bike insurance to their personal health insurance plan.
Usually, it is pretty affordable, and it will just be another way to feel protected. The goal is never to actually use the insurance, but it being there will allow people to feel a little more comfortable.
A lot of professional riders must get mountain bike insurance to keep themselves protected.
Why Safety First Matters In Mountain Biking
Plenty of mountain bike riders are drawn to the thrill and the risk of going on different trails and seeing what is out there.
While that is all part of the fun, it is important to stay safe in the long run. Anyone who is injured can no longer go mountain bike riding the way they like, and most injuries can be significantly reduced by following just a few tips.
Most riders will find a balance between staying safe, and pushing the limits little by little. No activity is 100% safe, but mountain biking becomes a lot safer as long as people go about it the right, and smart, way.