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Mountain biking is one of the most versatile sports you can do. There are various disciplines that you could choose from and numerous bikes.
In essence, certain mountain biking disciplines are considered extreme and dangerous, but many are wondering if mountain biking is dangerous in general.
So, is mountain biking dangerous? To rate how dangerous the sport is, we should take into account how many injuries mountain bikers often face. According to the National Library Of Medicine, the overall injury rate for mountain bikers is around 0.6% per year, per rider. This translates to about 1 injury for every 1000 hours of mountain biking.
Various aspects affect the possibility of injuries for mountain bikers, and we aim to look closer at some of these risk factors.
This article aims to do a deep dive into mountain biking risks and injuries. This would give you an idea of whether mountain biking is a dangerous sport and how you could remain safe.
You might also be interested in reading this article: What to Look For When Buying a Used Mountain Bike?
Risk Factors That Affect Mountain Bikers
There are a few risk factors you need to account for when cycling. This will not only translate to mountain biking but can also affect other aspects of the sport.
We have adjudged a few risk factors that commonly affect mountain bikers. Many of these risk factors are the biggest factors often causing these injuries:
Around 14% of all mountain bike injuries and crashes are a result of collisions with some part of the bike (Source: The Institute For Arthroscopy And Sports Medicine). This could be due to a pedal hitting a rock or the handlebars caught up on certain track parts.
Fortunately, collisions with other riders are fairly uncommon amongst cyclists, mostly due to these minor collisions.
For example, one of the main causes of these injuries is when a rider takes a risk and misjudged a corner. The handlebars might get snagged on some of the courses, which will veer the rider off course. It can often be seen with confident riders, who might have one slight miscalculation when it comes to riding lines.
2- Bad Conditions
While this might seem self-explanatory, many people misjudge the conditions of a track or route. Another major cause of injuries on the mountain bike comes down to riding in bad conditions. While it is possible to resist some of these bad conditions with some basic riding skills, you would need the right equipment.
You can find that more experienced riders would slow down and perhaps even adjust their style when they encounter bad conditions. If the course is too muddy and the rain turns into a thunderstorm, many professional competitions might delay the race start.
3- Poor Judgment
Poor judgment might be another important factor you should consider when cycling. We improve our judgment of a course with experience; the more experience you have, the safer you will be.
One of the major causes of injuries is when inexperienced riders try to ride at the maximum level or their absolute limit on bad courses.
This is also true for new courses. Riders who enjoy downhill cycling will often need to scout the course and see where they might need to break and when severe obstacles are coming up.
Being prepared for the elements and conditions is often one of the best ways to make sure you stay out of the way of serious injury.
4- Using Subpar Equipment
We have all seen how expensive mountain bikes can be, and the most expensive of the lot is often reserved for elite racers.
While your skill influences your performance, you want to ensure that you have the right gear to overcome certain situations on the mountain bike course.
One example that is seen is the use of the hardtail bike on downhill slopes. Most professional downhill riders would stick to the dual-suspension mountain bike to improve shock absorption.
However, many beginners could choose to use a hardtail option. Unfortunately, the hardtail bike is more prone to losing control and grip.
4- Lack Of Training
Cycling seems simple. You get on your bike, and you are ready to go. However, certain tracks are not as straightforward to navigate.
If you are riding in urban environments or tracks you are familiar with, you can hop onto the bike, and you should be fine. However, mountain bike trails are often racked by difficulty.
The most elite mountain bike riders are trained to overcome some of these obstacles, and they can make the right decision on the fly.
However, training is what sets them apart from the rest of the competition. You must consider the right training. You should also know your limits and try to ride to them as much as possible.
See also: Trail Bike And Mountain Bike: Which One Should You Choose?
How Dangerous Is Mountain Biking In Comparison To Other Sports?
The best way to give you an idea of how dangerous mountain biking is will be to compare it to some other sports regarded as dangerous worldwide.
While mountain biking might not be as popular as football or baseball, we can look at the rate of injuries per 1000 hours of play. Here is a basic comparison table to show you.
The table below compares mountain biking to other sports in terms of injuries.
|Sport Type||Injuries Per 1000-Hours|
|All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)||2.62|
As you can see from the list of the most popular sports people do each year, mountain biking is only number 9 on the list of injuries per 1000 hours.
However, you should keep in mind that various factors would influence this, including the number of competitors. For example, far more people are playing football in the US than cycling.
Even with this variable in mind, the drop from soccer to road cycling is significant, and this can be explained by the fact that it is commonly an individual sport, even though the Tour de France and other Grand Tours do make it a team sport.
Other extreme sport, which is even more dangerous, like bull riding (32.2) and ice hockey (119), are some of the worst sports for injuries and make mountain biking look very safe.
See also: How Far Can You Cycle On a Mountain Bike (Here’s what I find out!)
Injury Severity Of Mountain Biking
While the above table will show that you are more than 100 times more likely to get injured from ice hockey rather than mountain biking, you will also need to keep the severity of injuries in mind.
Unfortunately, I could not find direct data that shows how much more severe injuries can be depending on various sports.
Using my personal experience of playing various sports, the severity of mountain bike injuries can exceed some of the other sports like soccer and football.
The chances of getting a concussion when playing football are high. However, you won’t break a bone as quickly because you are trained for the sport and have some protection.
The severity can take to another level when it comes to mountain biking. Mountain bikers don’t often wear heavily protective gear aside from their helmets. The idea is to reduce the weight you are carrying, which helps when it comes to performance and energy management. The more weight you carry, the slower you tend to be.
With such a lack of safety equipment, chances are that a mountain bike injury might be severe for some riders. You could break your bones and even sustain puncture wounds from the environment. Fortunately, most of the injuries reported are often just basic burn wounds and some skin coming off.
See also: 6 Best Electric Mountain Bikes Under $3000.
How To Avoid Injuries When Mountain Biking
Now that you have some idea of what could cause some of these injuries when you are mountain biking, you should consider avoiding them whenever possible.
Here are a few pointers that could help you avoid some of these injuries:
- Training: Training is one of the most important factors to consider. The better you are trained, the more you will understand how to overcome certain obstacles. You must ensure optimal training.
- Track Scouting: It is often important to make sure that you scout the track, which should indicate all the various obstacles you could be encountering. Track scouting is one of the most important parts of making sure you stay safe.
- Experience: Unfortunately, you can force the final one, and experience is one of those elements that you would need to work on over time. The more experienced a rider, the better they would be when it comes to adjudging obstacles and riding lines.
These are only three of the main elements you could rely on when it comes to cycling. There are numerous more, but this will significantly increase your chances of survival and success when you are riding your bike.
Mountain biking is one of the most fun sports you could do. Yes, there are a few elements of risk associated with it. However, the right experience and training could reduce these risks significantly.
Let us know in the comment section if you have encountered some of the injuries often associated with mountain biking.
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