Mountain biking is a dangerous sport. Things can, and will go wrong if you decide to push your limits.
And while we do accept this is part of the risk of riding bikes, we also haver a responsibility to ourselves and our families to look after our body and not do anything extremely silly.
This blog will look into head injuries, and the things you can do to prevent "silly" mistakes that can lead to serious injury on the trail.
But first: A little back story:
"On Friday I had a crash at BPW. A simple front wheel wash out that spat me into a tree, off the bike and straight to the floor. The first thing to hit the floor was my head. Since then I have struggled to put sentences together, had sinus issues, a loss of taste (I know) and trouble with my mood swings. I have been checked out and am all okay, however I need some time to recover. As an example, writing this blog is extremely taxing and I'll probably feel like having a nap afterwards. While I am okay, and will happily ride again soon (I'm allowed to on Friday) it did serve as a harsh reminder that things can go wrong, and people have come off worse than I did too. Hence the inspiration for this blog"
When it comes to head injury. It is only recently that these things have only really started to be looked into with more serious eyes. It was very common in sports like rugby for players to get up and crack on, look at boxing, MMA and mountain biking too (I have linked some reports/articles below).
I would 100% say, read these articles and do not be afraid to get checked out if you have an accident and don't feel right afterwards. With that being said, let's look at the ways you can reduce the risk of crashing.
1: Know when to stop:
One of the contributing factors towards crashing, I believe was switching off. I was starting to lose interest a little bit, combined with fatigue. At places like BPW people will always want to get as many runs done as possible. However it is important to know when to take 5.
If you do start to lose interest, or you do feel like you are getting fatigued then have a breather. Sit a run out or go back to the car.
Both fatigue and boredom can lead to a loss of concentration, which will lead you to make mistakes like outbreaking yourself, not reading the terrain as quickly as usual etc etc.
Understand that it is fine to say no, and that sitting a run out is something that should be done if you do start to show signs of the above.
As well as being fitter, and less prone to fatigue. Keeping fit, and staying fit can also keep your mindset more focused on the trail. The less fatigued you are the less likely your brain is to start switching off and start making the mistakes that come with fatigue.
So pay attention to your fitness levels, and remember: Getting fitter may initially seem boring, but it can lead to being on your bike more. Which isn't boring.
3: Ride easy:
Another way to limit the amount of mistakes is to throw an easier trail in now and then, especially if you are riding blind trails. Throwing easier trails in can make you more relaxed, and also will require less physical energy as you won't be pumping, dropping or jumping as much.
For example, there is a trail at BPW called Roots Manouvere, it's fantastic and is a full run of tech, non stop.
At the bottom your body has taken a beating, and you do feel the fatigue. Throwing a blue in your ride after this would be a good way to ride, but also recover at the same time.
It is important to mention here: You have to respect the trail equally as much regardless of difficulty grading. However a blue run should be less physically demanding, and allow the body a chance to still ride without taking a beating.
Pick the trails with a bit of sense, so you can manage your energy levels through the course of a ride.
I have chosen to include fuel as what you put in your body can have a huge effect on your concentration levels, amount of fatigue and recovery.
Make sure that your body receives adequate amounts of food, and water before, during and after your riding (especially if you are riding the following day).
caffeine, carbohydrates, proteins, nutrients from fruit and vegetables and of course, water are all key for managing fatigue!
When it comes to a sport like mountain biking. We must accept the risk and accept that things can go wrong. However, we can also influence the topics in this blog to reduce the risk of accidents and injury. I hope this blog has been helpful to you and informative.
For more information on head injuries feel free to check out the links below (Taken from the EWS website) and for more information on coaching, click the buttons below:
Have a great day.