Opinion: Should You Take More Risks?

Jan 14, 2016
by Mike Kazimer  
Spinning Circles Mike Kazimer

I've always been a fan of the risk takers, the humans that choose to push the boundaries of what's thought to be possible. Climbing thousands of feet in the air without a rope, BASE jumping from skyscrapers in the middle of the night, spinning off of massive cliffs on a mountain bike; those feats capture my attention in a way that professional team sports, where heavily padded and overpaid athletes parade around a field, never have. Instead, I find myself enthralled by the sheer guts and mental strength it takes to focus and accept the risks that accompany plunging into the unknown.

For many of us, risk is something that's relatively devoid from our daily lives, unless we actively seek it out. The talking heads on TV may try to convince you otherwise, but the world we live in is safer than ever. Sure, there are weird diseases, shark attacks, crazy people with guns and nuclear weapons, and plenty of other dangers out there, but worrying about them isn't going to accomplish anything, except maybe give you high blood pressure and an ulcer. Shelter and warmth are relatively easy to come by, and hunting and gathering only requires a trip to the grocery store – there's no need to battle a wooly mammoth in order to make it through the winter. So why take risks when they're so easy to avoid?

It's a good question, and there are certainly plenty of people who go to great lengths to avoid stepping out of their comfort zones. As mountain bikers, though, we're a different breed, willing participants in an inherently dangerous sport. We all know that the equation of speed + trees (or rocks, or dirt) isn't one that will always equal blissful good times. But would mountain biking be as addictive and enjoyable if the risk were removed? I don't think so – it's the satisfaction of overcoming that little nagging voice in your head, of pushing the doubts and fears away in order to conquer the section of trail that's been keeping you up at night that makes it all worthwhile.

Remi Mettailer had the no-hander over the canyon gap dialled.
For many of us, this counts as being too risky to attempt. For others, it's just another day at the office.

Of course, the level of risk we're willing to take on does vary from rider to rider, and someone like Cam Zink's level of acceptable risk isn't going to be the same as the middle-aged weekend warrior who'd rather not show up to work in a body cast. Personally, I know that as I've gotten older, and the list of bones I've broken has increased, I'm a little less likely to huck myself into oblivion without at least considering the potential consequences. But that doesn't mean I'm swaddling myself in bubble wrap and only riding perfectly flat gravel paths – there's something about stomping the landing on a new drop, or flying through a rutted mess of dirt and roots that's just too much fun to ever give up.

We're only a few weeks into 2016, which means it's still not too late to make a mountain biking related New Year's resolution. Now, it's easy to be unrealistic when it comes to these things, which is why most people give up on eating fewer cheeseburgers or going to the gym every single day after less than a month of halfheartedly trying, so I'd suggest keeping it simple. How about resolving to take more risks?

It probably goes against the advice your parents gave you as a child, and I'm not saying you should don a blindfold and run out in traffic, or try to find out what happens if you stick a paperclip into an electrical outlet, but I do think that regularly challenging yourself to take on new experiences, to do something that has an uncertain outcome can be tremendously beneficial.

You can keep this resolution related to mountain biking by giving that steep rock roll you've been avoiding a try, or dropping into the big line at the local dirt jumps, but it can also be extended to your daily life. Make it a goal to color outside of the lines, do things that you're afraid of, and break rules that deserve to be broken. After all, as Frank Zappa once said, "Progress is not possible without deviation." Good luck, and here's to a new year full of risks and all of the rewards that come with taking them.

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163 Comments

  • 189 4
 For me, having a buddy of mine paralyze himself and then have Bas (who is from my hometown) get injured at rampage were huge eye openers. Seeing the impact it had not only on them but on their families was really humbling. I constantly feel the need to go bigger and bigger, but sometimes I think it's necessary to step back and evaluate the effects that a serious injury would have on you and the people who love you. I'd rather be riding a little below my redline than in a wheelchair.
  • 14 1
 "I'd rather be riding a little below my redline than in a wheelchair." Well said.
We don't get to see or internalize the downside of risk. Like Missy Giove. Yes, she's an inspiration in her resolve and recovery, but crashes big and small can have very serious consequences. For working joes too, who need to work and support a family. It's not an easy threshold to surf - enough thrill without too much risk. And the riskiest thing is to think about risk instead of pure focus on the trail in front of you.
  • 17 0
 I don't think the Rampage canyon gap is a "day in the office" for anyone. Only a handful of guys do it, and I doubt any of them approach it the same way I approach working on a car on the hoist or someone with a tie using a paper shredder.
  • 6 1
 Well said. I ride my mtn bike at the same level as I do on my motorbike. Sure, there is a redline and the thrill to push to that line makes your heart pump BUT you have to mitigate the risk of knowing that serious injury can come from pushing yourself to that limit. I've been on rides where my friends have chosen to go big and sometimes I chose to witness, not partake, knowing my abilities and therefore mitigating risk. Sometimes they clear it, sometimes they have to stay home over the next few weeks/months to nurse their injuries because of it, while I happily snapchat all the fun times on the trail knowing how much it makes them rage. So yeah, I like to go big, but I never push over that redline, but by all means, doesn't mean you can't smash it every once in a while.. hell, I've seen a girl break an ankle because the heel on her shoe snapped off from a crack in the road... I'm sure she didn't evaluate the evenness of the road before she started to walk... if you catch my drift.... sh!t happens, no matter what.
  • 25 0
 When you are the sole earner in your family you have to turn it down a bit. It would be a different story if I were single without children. Horses for courses... It relates to the stage in your life you are in.
  • 4 2
 Taking a risk doesn't have to mean life and death. For some yeah it may well do and people have of course died doing their grocery shop but for most of us our new risk taker lifestyle isn't going to kill us or even seriously injure us. We already assume a level of risk dropping every trail but I still avoid certain features and lines that look a bit gnarly for me even though I know in the back of my mind I'd probably be fine. @topherdagopher makes a very good point and I agree. But taking new risks doesn't necessarily mean hanging a looey and launching off that cliff.
PS give blood! That way when we all end up in hospital there's plenty to go around.
  • 3 0
 Thom, I kinda disagree. I've had a few friends come into the sport and leave quickly because of substantial injury. Like Mike says, we wouldn't be so drawn if there wasn't an inherent risk. I'm always compelled to progress, but I have to hold back because of age/life circumstance. Like everyone above stated, it's different when you have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay, it really affects the way you approach the trail, "and the riskiest thing is to think about risk instead of pure focus on the trail in front of you."
That got me into good trouble years ago as I tried a "certain feature that looked a bit gnarly for me even though I knew in the back of my mind I'd probably be fine."
I couldn't resist! Made a dumb move, wasnt fully focused, and avoided serious injury by what I'd call luck. Since then, I've always tried to avoid hitting redline.
Anyways, good piece Mike, like always, wish I was younger! This speaks to the oldies around here
  • 4 1
 "I'd rather be riding a little below my redline than in a wheelchair."

100% this! I'll occasionally push myself to try one bigger jump or drop than usual when out with friends who can pick up the pieces but as a whole I'm happy to do what I know I can do better than last time. Didn't used to be like that, was fearless when I was younger but having stuff like bills to pay and a boss that frowns upon you turning up at work badly broken (done it twice) keeps the brain focussed.
  • 6 0
 I spent 6 months in an orthopedic ward (spinal) when I was 16 - take my word for it, it's NO FUN.
The other thing is that you carry the major injuries with you for LIFE.
  • 5 0
 My head wants to go bigger...
After spending 4months in a wheelchair and the time it takes too walk again, needing people to Help you with basic stuff... Its shit. Still not walking Good.

But it does makes a personal limit.

Some times Its better to take a step back and go smaller. Having fun, and be able to do it the next day again with a smile! Beer
  • 5 4
 More Fun = More Danger
  • 4 3
 I agree with the man! Nothing like a little danger to get that tingling feeling in your balls
  • 10 0
 Totally agree. I had a fall and broke my C6 at an enduro race, over the bars and head hit on a tree stump, not steep or that fast just wrong place wrong time or...lack of skill. If I was wearing a neck brace I would have been fine, but sure its an enduro its safer than DH you don't need one...Yeah right. I now have a plate and fused C6/C7. I had a wake up call and luckily I'm fine, any worse and I would have been in a wheelchair. There are more near misses in mtb than we like to think.Treading that line between risk and injury is precarious and difficult, knowing where the redline is, thats the problem!
  • 6 0
 yup, thats my another ''cheers from my wheelchair'' post.

sometimes it's just not worth, if you don't feel 100% confident, f*ck it, go home, smoke a joint, tell your girlftiend you love her.

just don't take risks on serious features.

i did, and i regret it.
  • 52 2
 I am planning to hit my very first back flip this weekend. It will be on dirt too, since I don't have access to a foam pit Wish me luck!!!
  • 8 1
 good luck!
  • 7 1
 Good luck Hank!
  • 38 0
 Landed my first to dirt 2 years ago at 36 Wink

m.pinkbike.com/photo/10976823

They key is to fully commit and huck that sucker!

Best of luck!
  • 2 0
 Hell yeah! Nice work rnov8tr!
  • 7 10
 I wish you a good recovery. I don't recommend learning flips on dirt. If you don't have access to a foam pit, wait till summer and build a lake jump.
  • 9 1
 Duuuuuuude, you're killin his vibe
  • 6 0
 Don't go full retard (as I did) and pull too hard, as you'll spin very low und quite uncontrolled. It's okay to be afraid that you eventually not do the full rotation, but pulling not so hard and instead focussing in getting much airtime will lead to a much more controlled rotation + you can escape better in midair if you think you don't make it.
  • 5 0
 Totally correct. Full retard is never a good idea If you don't have access to a foam pit a mulch landing or loose sand landing is also a good alternative.
  • 4 0
 Let's just say I'm happy I tried it in a foam pit first, because my first two tries I landed up-side-down on my head
  • 4 0
 Yeah go for it! Not trying to discourage you, but thiis was my first try Big Grin www.pinkbike.com/video/434238
  • 1 0
 learning on dirt aint so bad. thats where i learned. before there was such a thing as foam pits. just remeber, everything follows the head. just look up and track the landing with your head. when you stop looking up, you will stop rotating, unless you went full retard off the lip as said above.
  • 1 0
 @keystonebikes @Highclimber thanks, this is all good advice.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like I would rather over rotate and land on my back, rather than under rotate, and go OTB.

Since it's my first time doing this my rotation is probably giong to be weak, so I plan on trying to go as big as I can. Or is this a bad plan?
  • 1 0
 Just make sure your 100% focus is on spotting the landing. That will minimize over/underrotations
  • 1 0
 i was gonna say that. over rotating is preferred, but it is also very easy to end up doing one and a half flips and landing on your head. if you go full throttle and over rotate too far, just let the bike go so you dont get caught up in it when you hit the ground. oh and make sure your bike is super stout as anyone who has let go of their bike in mid flip can attest, it will be the farthest that bike has ever flown without a rider. the best advice is without a doubt track the landing with your eyes. you will hit it. and make sure you are hitting a jump you have done a million times. something you are so comfortable hitting you could do it with your eyes closed 'cuz essentially you'll be blind to the landing half the time anyway.
  • 1 0
 @keystonebikes @Mattin the jump is a tabletop type of stepup. Would it make sense for me so soften the landing a little with a pickaxe? Last night I got a lot of rain, so the jumps aren't rideable for now.
  • 1 0
 how big of a table are we talkin'? can you 360 it? if youre going for a flip then im assuming you can already 3 it. if you can 3 it then you can flip it. i wouldnt mess with the landing. the ideal jump for flips would be one you dont have to try real hard to clear since all your effort will be in getting all the way around. if u have to suck up to clear your step-up, then i would cut some of that step-up off.
  • 2 0
 Hank - I applaud your courage, but my thought is, if you are even asking some of these questions you probably aren't as well prepared for this as you should/could be. Not saying you can't do it or don't have the balls, to, just that you'd probably increase your chances 10X if you had more favorable conditions to try it. Good luck!!
  • 1 0
 Learn how to do a proper back flip on a trampoline with a proper coach. Throwing your head back is unsafe as it exposes your neck and you cannot control the speed of your rotation. Also, pulling back on the bars on the lip steepens your trajectory, which is why many flip attempts come up short. Get on to YouTube and watch competitive trampolinists and aerial skiers. They never throw their head back. I took adult gymnastics classes to improve my dirt jumping and it was the best thing I ever did for jumping.
  • 1 0
 Planning to hit mine before turning 30 this week. To a foam pit first. Wink
  • 41 4
 My mind says YES, my body says NO. Had so many injuries and a bad one that will always be a weak spot. Because if this I do everything to prevent my body to limit me, such as yoga to become looser and minimize the risk of injuries, strength exercises to keep my body and mainly my core strong so I can handle more and bigger impact, plus I switched to riding a fully since it is easier on the body and will probably increase the ammount of years I will still be able to ride mountainbikes. I just really want to do as much of that YES that my mind is wanting me to do. You'll lead a boring life if you don't take risks. Sure things can go wrong if you take risks, but most of the time it will only make you stronger and your life will become so much better, that it is totally worth taking a fall for every now and then. Not just cycling-wise, but also generally in life.
  • 45 1
 If people didn't take risks, what would Youtube be good for?
  • 31 1
 Cat videos Dirtowrks, cat videos.
  • 3 13
flag loopie (Jan 14, 2016 at 15:41) (Below Threshold)
 #1 youtubez ^ draw = Kittens. The real question is...where would we be without risky pRon?
  • 27 0
 More practice = less risk
  • 49 0
 my 2 cents... I'm family guy. I build trails and push myself within range that is still progressive and fun, but not life threatening. Perspective and priority are huge. Reality, this is not my career, so no need to push myself too the limit. I hit decent size gaps and drops, and blaze at a good amount of speed, but within my ability, yet still stretching myself and that satisfies me plenty. I have nothing to prove in validating a serious repercussion, which in turn selfishly affecting my wife and family and friends. She is my priority obligation, riding is simply a passion, but it doesn't trump relationships and quality of life. In the end, I'm always stoked to be with my friends and just having a big smile on our faces while railing through the trails.. If I were young again, and I chose riding as my career, I would have a different perspective and approach, but most of us are not career riders and have other obligations, and just love riding for what it is and what it does.
  • 11 0
 This is actually something I've thought about a bit. Wondering why I, and many other people, are attracted to the extremes in certain sports. I believe humans, as a species, thrive on challenge.
It makes sense. We've developed over thousands and thousands of years only because we met challenges with inherent risks and overcame them. Our lives would feel less fulfilled if we didn't have a way to supplement risk.
We as first world citizens live such a comfortable lifestyle that we aren't challenged enough in a meaningful way. If you think of challenge, there is always an element of risk associated with it.
If you travel and meet people in developing countries, getting by is sufficient challenge for them that they likely wouldn't see much value in riding bikes on gnarly trails or rock climbing or mountaineering. The risk of injury when taking part in those activities and the potential for resulting loss of livelihood is simply too great. Not to mention when you struggle to find clean drinking water, shelter, or enough food why would you care about landing that sick drop? It's all relative.
I believe we take part in extreme sports, and push our limits of skill and endurance in order to fill the void of challenge (read risk) in our daily lives. If we didn't mountain bike, or do whatever other extreme sports we do, where would that leave us? Rotting on the couch. For me, and I assume you, the risk of being one of these people is what gets us out onto the trail.
  • 4 1
 If I ain't being paid to ride, I ain't going to ride like I am. But going fast is fuuun!
  • 7 1
 people died in xc races too.
  • 14 0
 I once ate a pizza Pocket...
  • 7 0
 Enduro probably saved my life, haha. Modern DH sleds can go FAR beyond the safe zone.
  • 7 0
 as a 19 y.o. and a student, this often runs through my head. I want to make it onto a factory enduro team and i put loads of time and money into riding. sometimes you have to step back and think about real life though
  • 1 0
 Well said.
  • 14 0
 the older I get the better I was
  • 5 0
 hahaha @wmv7766 dislikes his life choices i feel
  • 18 0
 Good article that spawned some good comments. I must say I take issue with commenters who assume if you aren't taking big risks, or pushing limits then you aren't having fun and shouldn't be riding. Ive always biked, and mostly ride alone and have always found the biking community to be great - mostly devoid off ass hats pushing you to "send it" or you're a pussy. I'm 44, a father of 2 and have a career and people who count on me to show up. I still ride, I still crash but I avoid taking the big lines and guess what - every ride is still awesome and I have a ton of fun.
  • 6 0
 I know this is Pinkbike, but there's more to riding than close calls, pushing the envelope. Risk taking is just one aspect of mountain biking to me.
  • 3 0
 I agree. I'm also 44, and I'm completely ok with passing on a stunt or a line that in the past I would sack up and do even if I didn't really want to. I'm into getting out, having a good time, and getting back home in one piece after a beer and a high five.
  • 7 0
 38, married father of 3 here. Responsible job that takes a lot of my time. I got back into the sport late after a lot of time out... I'd love to take some big lines etc now, but don't have the experience, nor the desire to take the injuries to get the experience!

I ride daily (mainly trails and xc), not missed a bike commute in years... But after 2 broken wrists in recent years riding above my skill ceiling , have given up real DH trails.

I take limited risks, have a ton of fun, but I leave the more risky stuff to the younger guys. I have just as much fun riding out into the forests and trails on my own enjoying the scenery, and pushing my limits in my own comfort zone.

Taking some skills courses this year, will hit a bike park later in the summer, but nothing too crazy... But I know I'll still enjoy my riding!
  • 6 0
 What is this, the geriatric ward of the comments section? I am 41 and no longer willing to take on big risks. I just let gut feeling dictate where the limit is. Overcoming a bit of uneasiness is cool, but if I have to really fight myself to give something a go, then it is no go. I am fine with others going bigger than I, at least one upside of getting old is that I no longer succumb to peer pressure!
  • 8 0
 Ahhhh, here it is, the old man thread. Been looking for you guys, nice to see you.
What's the latest on prostate exams? My time is coming, is it less intrusive yet?
  • 5 0
 @Mieszko42 I got a prostate exam last May, still as "full of love" as they have always been...ejnoy!
  • 7 0
 Old guy check in... I'm 47, kids, job etc. but I still feel like I'm improving, last year I hit the biggest drop I've ever hit... maybe I've just been lucky and the wake-up call is just around the corner... but I hope not. I dread the day when I feel like I have to dial it back.
  • 2 0
 It is not like I do not push myself. I also feel that my riding is improving (as are my bouldering, XC skiing and snowboarding), but now I focus on steep, twisty, technical terrain instead on higher speeds and larger drops (and I stay away from highballs when bouldering). I crash relatively often, but the worst that has happened were some bruised ribs. In contrast, in the "good old days" I would descend way too fast on my road bike (I would hit 90km/h regularly and +100km/h occasionally), but I lost count of the times that I ended up in hospital. I should have had a loyalty card!
  • 17 2
 If feel like this could more easily be answered in a flow chart that starts with "Do you have a significant other?" and goes on from there. Obviously if your answer is "no" to the first question your answer would be a good ol' fashioned "GIVE 'ER!".
  • 15 1
 ^Good one. But The Wifes can deal with it when we break ourselves(well, mine gets mad at me for the risky behaviour..but ultimately, has to and does, accept it). The real question is....Do I give a shit about being at work on Monday? Big Grin
  • 4 0
 Haha, if I had a family to support, absolutely. Otherwise it just comes down to the simple risk vs. reward with a smidge of risk management tossed in.
  • 4 1
 HA! My wife is the exact same. Always telling me to be careful. I just scoff and say "yes mom"... Then send it anyway. Can't have fun with out being dangerous!!!
  • 5 0
 Yes and no.. you can get hurt on anything.. catch a pedal a decent speed and stuff happens. I tend to crash more on stuff I ride all the time because I am not as focused.
  • 2 0
 No jump or trail should he taken for granted. I recently went otb on a five foot jump where I am normally and comfortably hitting at least 20ft. Injured and missed the first race of the season. Sometimes shit just happens
  • 3 0
 Do you have (minor) DEPENDENTS? If so, do you have ENOUGH INSURANCE if you stuff yourself?
  • 13 1
 Man, its tricky for sure, where to draw the line.

Personally, I will be 47 this year and didn't start Dhing until about 38/39.. Last year was a good one, finally able to complete a big line that I had been looking at for year on Grin and Holler and I think thats enough for me. I have kid and a job and a wife and responsibilities to attend to... however, now I just got excited to go hit it again... haha
  • 1 22
flag bman33 (Jan 14, 2016 at 16:23) (Below Threshold)
 I believe you are lying. You sure you have been to the the PNW?
  • 12 0
 Hey kids... heads up: concussions are accumulative. Avoid, then respect, head injuries. You will actually need your brain in the future. Bike jumping skills...probably not so much.
  • 2 0
 Same with spinal injuries. Don't care much about scars, breaking bones and other temporary pain, but chronical injuries are very nasty as they will hunt you for the rest of your life. Always wear a helmet and never go full retard. Take risks, but keep it calculated and reasonable.
  • 9 0
 I assume your "heavily padded and overpaid" comment was referring to football players. If so you should do some research on the many catastrophic injuries that football players have suffered. Ask a guy like Eric LeGrande (look him up if you have never heard of him) about the risks involved with playing football. That's not to mention the long term health effects that are starting to emerge now. I love biking but also grew up playing many mainstream sports so I have a great appreciation for both. And it ticks me off to know end when mountain bikers talk shit about other athletes because they think thier sport it tougher or somehow requires more hard work or dedication. Let's put it this way, A running back in a football game likely takes about a dozen hits a game that are as hard as most of your crashes.
  • 3 0
 exactly. the skill, speed and stength of a pro football player is the product of as much training and experience as any of the top DH guys. there's no need to talk shit about other athletes when their accomplishments may well of as much worth as your own, just to feel like part of a 'extreme sport'
  • 7 0
 Taking risks is part of mountain biking, it's just a matter of how much risk you want to take. Unfortunately the consequences can be anything from being off the bike for a short period of time to life changing incidents. So I have a line in the sand I don't cross. I try and sneak up as close as I can, but some risks I'm just not willing to take.
  • 6 0
 It depens. You should know your limits, then you can take acceptable risk to push them slowly and patiently. You always should feel the right time to push your self, if you don't feel it at the moment, don't do it. Sometimes it just comes to you and everything seems easier.
  • 1 0
 Totally agree
  • 6 0
 At 45 years old, father of 3, an executive assisting in running a company where 100 employees plus their families count on me...the risk question can be tough. I started racing BMX at 14 and the competitive juices have never stopped. Fast forward to downhill and enduro. Really enjoy them both but sure don't want to get injured. That said, I just bought a used Yeti DJ so I could practice and learn to jump better as some of those jumps at Winter Park, Keystone, Angel Fire, etc are HUGE.
  • 1 0
 Funny how age and responsibility changes things, huh?! Makes you wish you could communicate the effects of 20 and 30 year old injuries (and new ones) and how they are different from when you are a teenager. Also, being able to translate the monumental shift that happens when you learn it's not all about you, and instead you have to become more selfless and put your family first. Ahhhh - age... LOL. Cheers!
  • 6 0
 I'm playing it safe. This season's been the first one in three years in which I didn't break a bone, probably because I started being a bigger pussy about hitting jumps I didn't feel comfortable with. But I still improved, I just rode a lot and at the end of the season easily hit some of the things I didn't even consider as doable in the spring. That for me is the best feeling, not when I hit something I don't really like and am not sure if I can land, nervously and against my better judgment, but when I come up to something I didn't want to hit before, think to myself "this totally looks doable, I got this" and just sending it without a problem. And not being out with an injury for a few weeks is nice too.
  • 6 1
 Firstly- risking life or limb has no comparison to professional sport careers, two completely opposite polars. Admiration for a person's dedication is where it all belongs. Jumping off a cliff on whim with some friends is just fun, scary and gets filed under 'kodak courage'. Do I choose this risk? No- it chooses me. "Today we test ourselves!" (name that ski film kiddies)
  • 2 1
 ^ Gotta agree. While I admire the skill & ability to concentrate on death defying feats, a person also has to admire (openly or begrudgingly) the athleticism, dedication & skill that pro athletes have. Yep, they are mostly over paid & have egos as big as all outdoors but they also do things that us mere mortals only dream of. Add to that skill set is an athletic ability to be very good at most sports they attempt. Had a good laugh at Mattins post, yep, all I see is a hospital bed on some of the sketchier lines I ... well, I attempt. Kudos to those who do push the envelope.
  • 1 0
 Ok I give up. What film is it
  • 1 0
 Maltese Flamingo by Greg Stump a classic. If you find it on YouTube- link me.
  • 10 2
 Redbull rampage is not taking a risk..thats looking straight at the grim reapers eyes!!
  • 3 1
 Redbull riders are what world class athletes look like.
  • 7 1
 Being 71 years old, I'm just happy to wake up on the right side of the grass in the morning. That being said, every now and then you just have to say, " What the F and go for it
  • 4 0
 It is the best feeling in the world to push your own limits. It dosn't matter if you are a beginner mastering your first knee-high drop, if you'r lunching a big gap kicking your back wheel out a little bit more or shooting into a steep root section realizing that you are way to fast but managing to rail the berm at the bottom... It is that feeling that keeps all of us going! It is that feeling that puts a big smile on our face every time we shift our own boundary a little further. It is not about beeing good. The fun part is to get better! Get stoked pushing limits and keep the rubber side down!
  • 4 0
 Something your article doesn't touch on is the down time and physical inability when you get hurt. I have mountain biked and skied my whole life but outside of my hobbies my professional career requires me to be healthy. I work on a forestry crew and as a wild land fire fighter so if I get injured it means I don't get paid! I still push the limits, but not as much as I used to.
  • 1 0
 I was on a similar career path when I crashed, tearing the ligaments in my knee to shreds. 4 months on crutches is not conducive to forestry... so I went back to school and got myself a desk job. I've found my risks are much more calculated now and I'm taking fewer hard crashes, even with greater security. I don't currently hit some of the things I used to, but I also had my best racing results ever last year. All with less stress. Risks are part of the fun, just take them smartly.
  • 4 0
 Risks are relative to the level you are riding at...expanding you're skill cap involves getting out of your comfort zone but it doesn't mean putting your life at risk. As a trials rider myself I realize that I am bucking myself off so stuff people wouldn't walk down and what most people would get seriously injured on trying to get down. However, I don't try things if I see there is an uncontrollable risk...people that expand their boundaries by taking excessive risk end up with a quick strong but short mountain biking career. It's about controlling the risk to a level where you can mess up and not get seriously injured.
  • 8 0
 Well said. I know most of my peers view my own riding as highly risky, if not reckless. Maybe at one time it was, but I've come to realize that most things, from elevated skinnies, to jumps, to any number of skills- can be learned and practiced without accepting undue risk. A couple years ago, I was not a competent jumper. But today, several thousand jumps later, I'm at home on the DJ lines, with zero injuries incurred, and only a handful of close calls. It just takes repetition and commitment. You can safely ride an unshaven log, suspended six feet in the air, by mastering a wheelie drop and/or controlled dismount. Inherent risk in mountain biking is largely a lie. We choose the risks we take. We can also still advance our riding through incremental and logical progression of skills. Progression need not include time off the bike. In fact, it's counterproductive.
  • 3 0
 Great great article! I have been thinking about this myself in the last couple weeks. I'm travelling around NZ, mountainbiking, and have taken more risk in the past months than I ever thought I would. I have seriously pushed bounderies. As a consequence I have crashed a bit more often, tough never with serious injuries as a result (*touches wood*), but I have also learned heaps and most importantly, I have never enjoyed mountainbiking more than I do now!!
  • 3 0
 It all depends on your personal goals. Reward to risk factor.

if you want to accomplish something bad enough then you'll take risks no matter what sport or hobby.

Should I take more risks? No, I do take risks every now and then but nothing so beyond my limits. I have a full time job that pays the bills (Like most of us do) I've already missed 4 1/2 months due to a really bad crash in which i had to undergo 2 surgeries. Luckily I had short term disability but it doesn't pay me 100% of my salary and I used up all of my sick leave and vacation time in the process.

I can't afford to do that again. Also, I'm no pro athlete that makes money off the sport.

So I live vicariously through other people on youtube and other mtb websites Smile
  • 2 0
 I crashed a fifty footer and punctured my lungs, and now have some serious issues where my lungs have shut off twice before. Even though this sport is punishing, it sure is amazing, that feeling of shredding some crazy hard line!
  • 3 1
 I have racked up the hospital bills over the years from riding & snowboarding but my 2 injuries that will plague me the rest of my life happened while at work. Herniated L4/L5, and herniated C5/C6 which I just had ACDF surgery for 9 weeks ago. That being said, let er rip!! I'd rather take myself out then be taken out working for a thankless corporation.
  • 2 0
 Of course you have to take risks. Calculated risks. Without pushing your own limits there is no way to get better. I feel like it is a razor thin line between being a badass, and stupid though. Time off the bike because is the worst thing that can happen to you and this is why If there is a New feature At a trail I always choose to follow someone more experienced into it.
  • 2 0
 I got knocked out skating a pool a few years back. After my head injury cleared and I was back among the conscious, I got to thinking: this lifestyle has consequences for more than just me. My family would have to look after me if I crash and end up crippled.
It changed my perspective, but only slightly my enthusiasm.
I still skate and ride bikes and snowboards. All fun cause there is an edge that I shouldn't cross. I get close to it a lot, and that's what I love about my "sports", danger.speed, flow, powder and vert
  • 2 0
 I have great insurance, no wife or kids, and perfect job security. If I get injured I can recuperate at home without losing my job. Yet I still don't push it that much. At 40 I've had enough injuries to weigh the tradeoffs. I've fractured vertebra and had other minor injuries such as small wrist fractures. Younger risk takers are progressing quickly but also suffer frequent injury. I even drove one to the ER this year. That's OK though. They'll heal, mostly. I hope they don't suffer nerve damage or permanent joint or connective tissue damage.
  • 2 0
 Almost every injury I've ever sustained has been on pedal bikes. I'm 18 years into the sport and am finally putting back to back summers together that DON'T require time off spent healing / rehabbing back to health. I am definitely still getting faster, and luckily more consistent. The falls are less often but of higher force. My 'all mountain' riding turns out to be just as dangerous as park laps especially with less protective gear on. Injuries and consequences cross my mind more often and soreness lingers longer. However, there is something to be said about that sensation of riding something for the first time, or that giggle you can't help but blurt out as you merely avoid certain pain.

Part of my thrill seeking now is riding trails blind (for the first time) at speed, and then seeing how much I can carry once I learn the trail. Bike handling as apposed to pure balls. Not by choice, but by attraction. Also I wear elbow pads now at the bike parks. Safety third is still a priority.
  • 2 0
 The line was always to push. Motorcross always made ragging your dh bike bike feel like nothing. Bought my new m9 and got 5 months use. Then crossed the line. I have now not ridden for 2 years due to injury. I should've toed the line. I would give anything to be able to ride that bike again. I can sit on it in the garage though.
  • 3 0
 Shit, that's depressing. I hope you have a hot girlfriend. Or at least a really nice garage.
  • 2 0
 Yeah the mrs is shit hot. The garage is pretty good too. But doesn't give you the same buzz as the dh track. ????
  • 3 1
 This year I'm gonna take more risks. My main goal is to see another girl, tell it to my girlfriend, and survive. Next step will be to have her agree with this, and ultimately, a tricycle. High hopes and risks, that's what life should be
  • 2 0
 I notice the older I get, the less risks I take. I know my limits now, and I do push them, but not to the extreme. I look at some jumps and think "I could probably do that on my perfect day, but for now, it's not worth the risk just to be able to say I did it." I have a wife and kid. If i get jacked, the last thing I want is to become a burden for them because I made a dumb decision and let my ego get the best of me.
  • 2 0
 well im 40 now, used to race and ride aggressively than i broke my neck on a bad landing (6 years ago), it took me a damn 2 years to recover, and 2 more to be fully recovered, haven't stop riding even when the Dr said NO, now still riding recklessly i cant stop i just love it Smile Smile
  • 2 0
 Take it from a 37 year old who stared dh a year and a half ago.
there is a big difference between taking risks and riding beyond your skill level i had to learn that the hard way.
i take risks on trails that i've ridden hundreds of times by going faster or taking different lines or by following riders near my skill level.
but i have also ridden beyond my limits when i'm following somebody mutch better then me into trails i hardly go on, having a great day hitting everything and get a little too cocky THEN crash and get a reality check.
what i have learn this past year is that:
the more time you spend on a bike the less tired you get.
the more times you go on a trail the faster and comfortable you get.
the more times you fall the better you get at risk management.
  • 2 1
 I think many people underestimate how tough the human body is.

That being said, I've had three friends severely injure themselves biking, two with broken collar bones (it's become a reoccurring problem with one because it keeps breaking), and one with brain damage that he was given an extra year of high school for. Personally I've only ever injured my ribs, which kept me from breathing deep for a couple of months, but in the grand scheme of things, I think biking is pretty safe.
  • 1 0
 After a serious motocross accident that put in me ICU on a respirator for 10 days, I am pretty happy to be walking and made it back to playing tennis and something on two wheels again. The flowing blues with an occasional black (non-jump) run sprinkled in there suffices for me.
  • 1 0
 Professional athletes (professional being the key word here) don't just leap to oblivion with reckless abandon. They push the boundaries one step at a time and take calculated risks. Safety is #1 priority. They make sure their equipment is in excellent condition, they double and triple check everything and bring back ups. Most important, thay make sure their body is perfect condition.

Dropping in at Jaws is a huge risk, but people who do that don't go there without training, decades of experience and a safety crew. There are huge risks involved, but they do everything they can to minimise them. Big wave surfers can hold their breath for 3-7 minutes. They train for that in order to survive taking a few 40ft waves to the head.
  • 5 0
 I feel I'm taking a risk eveytime I write a comment on Pinkbike..
  • 1 0
 Increments. Those guys (pros) don't do that overnight. When you watch most fail videos (not racers or pros) most guys are doing stuff they have not properly mastered on a similar smaller feature - then boom - peer pressure, follow the leader, accidents happen. Then you get to a point of comfort and speed, you haven't crashed in a long time, but it's coming. And because now you're better, faster, going bigger, you know it's going to cost. And when it does and nothing seriously happens, that that's when you have to reevaluate the price of improving or staying content and then toning it down - which is where I'm at.
  • 1 0
 Ive been riding and racing DH since 1994, I'm 41 now, and have had a few shitty injuries like scepticima (blood poisoning from gah in elbow) and a retro lunite dislocation of my wrist (surgeon said I snapped my hand off arm) and a also had slight memory loss a few crushed vertebrae and my ears have been ringing constantly for almost three years now!

I still and race, mostly as fast as I can, but I've hopefully learnt the fine line between trying to hard and not trying hard enough..

I think the bikes themselves play a huge part in our safety.. They are so good to ride and are designed way beyond most normal riders limits, thanks to the WC/Rampage pros thst push tech and kit to the limit..

The flip side to that is that normal riders can ride/race at (or within) thier limits on modern MTBs and have a ton of fun in the process..

My personal limits are still a blur though, and I'm dam lucky to still have that luxury.
  • 1 0
 Having one of my worst crashes this summer in august left me fogged out in my head for at least 3 months and my internal body still feeling off and rearranged has made me open the reality check of what i do,, and where i place my limits.. This year has had horrible tragedies with the Enduro rider passing away from a crash out in Colorado paying the ultimate price, to Paul and many others recovering in hospitals. Always look before you leap !! Riding separates us from our other world its the passion ed escape ,,,so keep your limit in check or you'll spend more time in the other world more than here ...........
  • 1 0
 As an old guy who is a fairly conservative rider to take a jump ive bypassed for years just to overcome my fear felt pretty damn good. A little risk is needed to progress but riders need to be patient to develop their skills before pushing it too far
  • 1 0
 people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Hunter S. Thompson
  • 1 0
 More likely to get seriously injured on the drive to to the trail than once you've pulled the bike out of the van and hit the trail. Whizzing along at 70mph in your metal box with others all around you doing the same, relying on everyone else to be awake and not texting. At least risk taking on your bike your skill decides the outcome.
  • 6 3
 The risk you take equates or is in relation to the amount of people who depend on you.
  • 1 0
 not for me, as a father of 4. i think single sport persons are the most risk averse out there... that' s seen in the hordes of teams sports peeps that all give up after uni college and what the populace of this site do every chance they get. Admittedly that is a brief synopsis.. but I'm sure you get my drift....
  • 3 1
 Everyone has physical limitations. You will never learn your limitations if you never take a risk. Now go whip that monster gap.
  • 3 1
 just another day at the office? that shit is hard for anyone and you taking the wind out of what their doing does not help them (athletes) or us (spectators).
  • 3 3
 I had the privilege to have a burrito & few beers with Mike a few years ago at Whistler. Really cool, down-to-earth guy. That being said, this year (at 42 years old) I am going to make it thru the Crabapple Hits. I have gotten to the stepdown and bailed out twice. Sending it this year with no regrets. That is my taking the risk for myself.

Get the rubber side down Pinkbikers!
  • 3 4
 liar.. Mike hardly drinks..
  • 2 2
 Ummm, well several friends from here in Colorado had burritos and a beer or two, maybe he drank a soda, but pretty sure it happened. So do you usually blindly acuse people who you don't know anything about of lying on a public forum to make yourself feel better? I see you are from Golden. Care to meet in Denver, have some beers and discuss it?
  • 5 1
 I was just joking, no harm intended.
  • 1 1
 Ok, cool then! I don't know him on personal level. But several of my friends from Junction know him. I am friends also with one of the guys from Transition Bikes up in Bellingham who sorta introduced the crew to him.
  • 1 1
 We get to ride with Mike almost yearly when we head up to the PNW. Great guy to show you around the bike park and other places.. on a side note, we met.. I bought some wheels from you..
  • 1 1
 Really? Ha!
  • 5 5
 You must to ask yourself "what is a risk" and " Why do you want to take more risks".
Because it is fun? Is it going to be more fun than what you have done lately?
What would be the price of this specific "fun"?
Is your life so boring and pathetic and are you so stupid that the only way to have pleasure is pushing limits when it isn't necessary just to have some extra fun?
Maybe because it is going to give you a feeling of bigger achievement.
Are you such a loser in real life that the only way to have some achievement is going to the woods and putting yourself in risk just to prove a point and tell everyone you can do it?
This is just vanity.

Yes taking risks is part of the sport and it is really good to be able to always overcome yourself, the trail, the weather and improve your skills.
But taking risks just for the hell of it?

Seriously, this article makes me remember that there are some people who does Mountain Bike for reasons like : legit fun, having a healthy activity outdoors, friendship, forgetting daily stress, bigger and better contact with nature, exploring, traveling......
Others do Mountain Bike because they are natural stupid losers full of vanity and pride with money to spend.
It is a safer world after all... wait... not so much for some of us.
  • 6 1
 I think some people just enjoy exploring true human potential. Getting outside you comfort zone through doing something risky is fun for some people and helps you build as a person. I would never consider anyone who wants to try something they haven't done before or push limits "natural stupid losers". Maybe you should try living a little more my friend
  • 1 0
 My goal for pushing it this year is to link the step up to road gap on the salad tosser at blackrock this year as well as progress my riding this year. Only riding 3 times last year is depressing.
  • 1 0
 nice goal, fun line, but haven't made the step down yet..
  • 2 0
 I've washed out on that corner every time but the first time I hit it. I was so amped to hit the step up though.
  • 1 1
 I know riding with 70%, 90% and 100% focus and effort. I'm usually riding between 70-90% - 100% is reserved for sections where I need to step up from my comfort zone or those days when I'm really in the groove. 70% days can still involve progression and getting more creative (rather than a max speed) with new lines on a trail you already know - bike handling and body english skills - then ramp it up for new risks at 100% here and there. I'm 43 and I'm still putting in a good amount of those 100% moments in my rides, which over time allow me to do those same sections of terrain competently (and fast) at 70% effort. This is my goal - I want to progress more and more as I expect at some point I'll be too old(risk averse) to do more than 70% - 90% effort and want my 70% effort competency level to be as high as possible. Does that make sense? That said - this article makes me want to try some of those medium sized doubles that scare and temp me, but I'll still brake hard on crazy exposure (not enough reward).
  • 2 0
 " The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."

Hunter S. Thompson
  • 1 0
 I knew a guy that died on xc bike climbing at couple miles an hour when his chain Skipped and whent over the bars. My worst injuries came not trying my biggest stunt .wear protection, ride hard
  • 4 0
 I miss Frank Zappa!
  • 2 0
 "There's a fine line between courage and stupidity, I wish it was a fence."
  • 1 0
 To be perfectly honest, I think I take risks in baby steps. I'm not the type to jump into things out of my comfort zone on a dime - but I don't like staying in it for long.
  • 3 1
 Good one! Take more risks!
  • 2 1
 Just as I was toggling with the idea to slow down...read this, now gotta speed right back up!
  • 1 0
 One name comes to my brain here: Rasouli (absolute fan of this man though).
  • 2 0
 you should have fun on a bike
  • 3 0
 No you should not!
  • 1 0
 Only if i feel that the time is right, if im feel like pushin my limit, an if looks good an that i think i can do it, haha
  • 1 0
 Since the first comment mentions paralyzation, I won't read any further as it will greatly impact my risk taking.
  • 1 0
 I dont gamble with risks that could result in serious injury, but Im ok with risking minor injuries.
  • 2 0
 Now I have to go do the Chief. Damn you Mike Kazimer.
  • 2 0
 Oh boy...
  • 1 0
 For an article about risk, spinning circles played it safe.
  • 3 1
 YES.
  • 1 0
 My drive and desire wants to write checks my body can't cash .. Frown
  • 2 0
 I'm scared Frown
  • 1 0
 Attaboy, Spocko
  • 2 3
 I really enjoyed this article, well done.
  • 2 3
 If you know what you doing the you should take all the risks you can.
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