Lets face it , injuries suck. The reality is that everyone who rides mountain bikes (especially the gravity variety) will, at some point , get injured. It’s the nature of the sport, we’re travelling at speeds and at heights that go beyond what our bodies can handle when it goes wrong.Thats why we love the sport , that adrenaline release from the risks we take combined with the progressive mastery of skills is what makes it the best thing around. But at some point , we will stack it and it’ll hurt.
So what do we do about it? I think the first thing to do is to accept it. Accept the fact that you will get injured , no one likes it but it will happen at some point. Some crash more than others , as some take less risks and play it safe. As our skill level increases , our amount of crashes should decrease but having said that , read any interview with a World Cup DH rider and the word “injuries” will more than likely come up.
Prepare for it. Respect the sport you do by wearing the right equipment and riding within your skill level. Sometimes crashes come when we are pushing it too hard,were riding tired or just trying things beyond our capabilities. More often than not ,it’s just a freak accident that you would never have predicted. Everyone has heard the story that goes, ” I spent all summer hitting massive jumps and I just fell off riding that bit of single track at low speed and….”.That’s it , out for a few months. It happens. It happens when you don’t expect it. So wear the protective gear that’s appropriate for your skill level and the riding your doing . Should people who are more skilled wear less protection? Well that seems to be way things are going. You don’t see many Pro’s looking like American Footballers/Robocop when they rock up to the start line these days . However,the risks they are taking are much greater than most of us are taking and as we have all found out,it happens when you least expect it, we’re not always in control.
So if your going to leave the armour in the van because its too sweaty this summer, remember all the times its saved you from being bruised to bits in the past! Body armour has vastly improved in the last 10 years, now you can get protection that is light, moulds to you , protects you well and you hardly notice it. The new 3do,sas-tec style stuff is definitely a worthwhile investment. Not to mention a quality helmet.
Having said all that, no amount of armour can protect you from every possible injury on a bike. Crashes will still happen and bones still can be broken.
So what do you do then? When you do get injured?
This is the difficult part. The level of difficulty depends on the severity of your injury but also your attitude, how you deal with what has happened.
Most of the time being injured does not mean you have to stop all physical activity. It may stop you riding your bike but it might not stop you running,swimming,lifting weights(perhaps upper body if its a knee injury/lower body if you have done your wrist/collarbone in) and a variety of other things. It can be a time to revaluate your riding, why you do it, what you enjoy the most, even think about why you crashed and what you need to work on . Even catch up with people who you never see as your riding all the time. If an injury is taken in the right way you might end up a fitter, stronger (both physically and mentally) and a better rider by the time you are ready to get back on the bike again.
It ‘s hard , that’s for sure. Being sat there knowing all your riding mates are out shredding in the sun while you can’t is painful. Sometimes taking a break from watching the latest Whistler edits on Pinkbike for a while and doing something else can help the situation. Focus on an alternative until you are closer to being back on the bike to take that riding-jealously away a little bit . Or perhaps go the other way and plan a trip, get training hard for the fitness you can improve on , or build up a new steed/or just polish you current one. Whatever works , do it.
As you can probably guess , I’m sat here with an injury (broken wrist along with two other guys on the Descend Team ) with a week or two left until I can get back riding DH properly….but I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t!
Most of all , don’t worry about injuries. Ride within your limits but when your pushing it , make sure the risk is always a calculated one. Get your protective gear set to where you feel comfortable and just ride – enjoy it.
p.s Also, if you ride a lot, get some personal accident insurance ! Nothing softens the blow of a broken limb like some money in the account. Even more important if your job depends on you being physically able/self employed.