Avoid the crash:
It’s springtime, the ramp-up to riding season and excitement is in the air. It’s also the most dangerous time for injury as the trails have changed and the body and mind are not quite in peak-season form to avoid the dangerous ‘unplanned get-offs’ on the mountain bike.
So the first bit of advice we’ll give is to take it easy. Study the terrain and how it’s changed. Understand where there’s ruts, debris, water and other dangerous elements on the trail. And get that body loose and reactive to all that the trail has to offer. If on a new bike, take a few rides to dial in that bike and get comfortable.
Neil from GMBN suffered a very dangerous crash in the early season endurance race in Chile, the Andes Pacifico. It seemed mild at the time but should have been taken much more seriously.
How to recover from a bike injury
If you do it long enough, crashing on a bike is inevitable. The only variable is how big and how and when you get back on the bike. When the big crash happens, here are a few steps that will get you back on the bike.
1) Respect the crash – evaluate the injury and don’t just ride off and sleep it off. Really understand the scope of your injury and get help. Get an x-ray, ct scan, MRI and really understand the full scope of your injury. In the video above from GMBN, the crash was not taken seriously enough. Neil rode down and had dinner and drinks that evening. Little did he know that that there was internal bleeding in his leg and things could have gone very wrong.
2) Get the best care possible – Don’t just walk into Urgent Care and walk out with some pills. Control your destiny and find the care that will heal you to full mountain biking capacity as soon as possible. Finding the best doctor or surgeon can often mean the difference between regaining full strength and mobility in the future.
3) Be a good patient – The key day of an injury is the one where every day will get better from then on. It may be the most pain-filled day, but it is always a landmark since you know that you’re on top of the hill and each day will get better from then on. At this point, it is your job to become the best patient possible. Eat well and sleep well with that end goal in mind. If you have to do PT and light exercise, do it to perfection. And do not overexert and jump back on the horse too early.
4) Understand what happened – The key to recovering from injury and getting back on your horse is understanding exactly why you crashed. Don’t brush it off to fate as that will doubt and uncertainty, leading to a lack of confidence in your part. Was it the trail? The bike, or your skills? Often, there is something you can do about it to help rebuild your confidence. Wear knee pads, get a better front tire. Or take bike handling lessons.
5) Protect yourself – Rider protection has come a long, long way in the last decade. Relegated to downhill riding in the past with bulky, hot, and stiff protective gear, space-age materials have been used to make them more pedal friendly. Ventilation, articulation and light are now words you’ll hear describing products that pass testing to actually protect you.
And if you haven’t updated your mountain bike in the last decade, a new bike is worth a look. Not only are they more capable, they are much safer too with dropper posts, short stems and tires that keep you upright.
Mtbr has an Injury and Recovery forum where such matters are discussed daily. What’s your best advice for recovering physically and mentally from a crash? Let us know at Rider Down Forum.
Tell us about your biggest crash and how you recovered from it.