With all physical activities comes some degree of inherent danger. There aren’t too many things that we can go about doing in life without putting our body at some sort of risk. Even basic exercising, without proper preparation in stretching and safety equipment checks, can land you at least a pulled muscle. With sports, the potential for injury just goes up from there. American football has its famous litany against concussions, basketball features all manner of twisted ankles, and hockey players with missing teeth are practically a cliché.
But there are other sports out there. Sports that don’t necessarily involve contact with other potentially muscular individuals. Outdoor sports that you might generally want to go and enjoy on your own as a way of just getting out and getting a good bit of exercise amid the chaos of day-to-day life. Sports like mountain biking.
At first glance, some might mistake this sport for just taking a scenic route through the wilderness on two wheels rather than riding along a sidewalk like many casual cyclists do. The truth is a bit more extreme than that. Mountain biking is almost literally what it sounds like: biking on a mountain. The sport has become so popularized in recent years that ski resorts are starting to generate income during the summer months by letting mountain bikers take the ultimate risk and shred through rock, stone and debris where skiers would normally shred through powder. But, it’s obviously not what your average joe would would put him or herself through. Especially considering the risks often associated with it. The sport of mountain biking is almost exclusively reserved for the ultimate thrill seeker.
First of all, there’s the terrain. Universally unkind to anyone who wants to ride on it, bumpy trails and loose gravel is usually as good as it gets for mountain biking. More often the case are steep slopes, tight curves and swift, intimidating heights. At this point, even making good judgment with your safety equipment (like a helmet) is almost a moot point. Suffering injury in conditions like this is bound to get you severely injured regardless. In fact, while commenting to Reuters on the subject of mountain biking injuries, Dr. Marcel Dvorak once said, “Helmets will not protect you from these injuries, nor will wearing Ninja Turtle-like body armor.”
Joking aside, however, Dr. Dvorak brings up a serious point. Mountain biking is not a sport where you typically come out the other side worrying about scrapes and cuts on your knees or elbows. The risk of injury to the body, and most notably spinal injury, is so great that wearing a helmet is almost practically useless. Impacts suffered by falling from a trail would still cause you to suffer trauma along your spine and neck – trauma that can often result in paralysis. What makes the entire situation worse is that mountain biking is often done in rough, isolated terrain. Getting assistance after such an injury could be difficult, and then what may have started as a thrilling ride along a mountain trail may very well be a fight for survival.
But, this is also why experts associate mountain biking with only the boldest of those looking for a rush of adrenaline. The inherent risks of injury along with the intimidating terrain are usually more than enough to keep others at bay. This is why experts often cite experience along with that thrill seeking propensity.