Mounting biking accidents are a completely separate entity from road bike crashes. The uneven terrain and varied route obstructions require a different style of riding to avoid any accidents. Negotiating the semantics of a trail, at the same time as controlling the bike proficiently is a serious task and the risk of accident is significant. So how do mountain bikers avoid accidents?
Interpret the trail
Negotiating a mountain biking trail is about concentrating on what is happening in real time. The speed of travel and variables of the course mean it is impossible to prepare for what might be coming. If a cyclist concentrates too much on the possibilities of what may lie ahead, it is impossible to read the ground underneath you. At the same time, if you focus only on the ground beneath you, you will be wholly unprepared for next challenge of the trail. The ideal balance is to be able to scan between the two states.
A good state of physical fitness cannot be underestimated when mountain biking; staying strong and flexible will give you much better control of your bike, and ultimately decrease the risk of accidents. Athleticism is a huge factor in reducing injury during an accident. Stretch regularly, exercise regularly, stick to a healthy diet and get a good amount of sleep and the difference on the track will be evident.
Maintaining the proper body position and staying centralised is key here. Both front and rear suspension needs to be evenly distributed; this will make for a much more comfortable ride, which in turn makes the trail more enjoyable. For downhill aspects of a trail, the ideal position is to stand up with your weight on your feet, arms and legs flexed and resist the temptation to lean away from the slope.
Know your strengths and maintain them, especially when riding an electric mountain bike. Don’t presume to be proficient at a manoeuvre and fail to practise to maintain that level of ability. In equal measures, it is important to work at aspects of the track and manoeuvres you might not be so good at. This will increase your chance of success on a bigger scale, and ensure a good management of your craft.
Know how to crash
Nobody wants to crash. But it is an inevitable possibility when mountain biking. Although the nature of a crash is unpredictable and difficult to prepare for, knowing how to crash in the best way possible will make your life easier in the long run. In low speed crashes, avoid separating from your bike. When your bike becomes independent of you, it is free to cause you more injury. In a higher speed crash it is best to let go of the bars and use your arms to absorb impact, tucking your head in; aiming for a forward roll landing.
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy your sport. Mountain biking is exhilarating, demanding, thrilling and adrenaline fuelled. Relax on your bike, enjoy the rush, and largely observe your instincts on the course. Remind yourself why you love your sport.
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Sarah Mcarthy is a writer for Carry on Cycling. You can find her on Google Plus here.