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Risks

Risks

cyclingEthiopiaRisk of injury is an inherent factor in the sport of mountain biking, especially in the more extreme disciplines such as downhill biking. Injuries range from relatively minor wounds, such as cuts and abrasions from falls on gravel to serious injuries such as striking the head or spine on a boulder or tree.

Protective equipment can protect against minor injuries, and reduce the extent or seriousness of major impacts, but it cannot protect a rider against the most serious impacts or accidents. To truly reduce the risk of injury, a rider needs to take steps to make injuries less likely, such as picking trails that they can handle given their experience level, ensuring that they are fit enough to deal with the trail they have chosen, and keeping their bike in top mechanical shape. If a mountain biker wishes to explore more dangerous trails or disciplines, such as downhill riding, they will need to learn new skills, such as jumping and avoiding obstacles.

Where a rider lacks the fitness required to ride a particular class of trail, they may become fatigued, putting themselves at a higher risk of having an accident.

Lastly, maintenance of the rider’s bike needs to be carried out more frequently for mountain biking than for casual commuter biking. Mountain biking places higher demands on every part of the bike. Jumps and impacts can crack the frame or damage components or the tire rims, and steep, fast descents can quickly wear out brake pads. Thus, whereas a casual rider may only check over and maintain their bike every few months, a mountain biker should check and properly maintain the bike before every ride.

Mountain bikers have faced land access issues from the beginnings of the sport. Areas where the first mountain bikers have ridden have faced serious restrictions or elimination of riding.

Opposition to the sport has led to the development of local, regional, and international mountain bike groups. The different groups that formed generally work to create new trails, maintain existing trails, and help existing trails that may have issues. Groups work with private and public entities from the individual landowner to city parks departments, on up through the state level at the DNR, and into the federal level. Different groups will work individually or together to achieve results.

Advocacy organizations work through a variety of means including education, trail work days, and trail patrols. Examples of the education an advocacy group can provide include: Educate local bicycle riders, property managers, and other user groups on the proper development of trails, and on the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s rules of the Trail. Examples of trail work days can include: Flagging, cutting, and signing a new trail, or removing downed trees after a storm. A trail patrol is a bike rider who has had some training to help assist other (including non cyclists) trail users.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), is a non-profit advocacy group whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide. IMBA serves as an umbrella organization for mountain biking advocacy worldwide, and represents more than 700 affiliated mountain biking groups. In 1988, five California mountain bike clubs linked to form IMBA. The founding clubs were: Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association, Bicycle Trails Council East Bay, Bicycle Trails Council Marin, Sacramento Rough Riders, and Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers.