Opinion: The Opposite of Learning to Fly

Jun 29, 2022
by Matt Wragg  
Header for Matt s Op Ed pieces.


Words: Matt Wragg

I don’t think I made a mistake. Clearing the little double, I came in hot. Grabbing the brakes, I tried to get the speed under control to load the fork and lift the front, swing it out left to open the corner.

It was an innocent-looking lump of rock, but a piece of rock that had no place on the trail. I should have been paying more attention. As I pushed into the front, the rock skittered out of the way, taking me along with it. The bars turned, the front tucked, and I think I rolled forwards onto the loose rock below.

It was one of those confusing, brutal crashes. I didn’t see it coming, finding myself on the floor trying to figure out what happened and how much of my body still worked.

Stripping down after riding, I counted big impacts on my hand and hip, smaller ones on both knees, my forearm, shoulder, ribs, and back. That evening on the drive home, as the muscles seized and hardened, I had to limp to the pizzeria, the hematoma on my leg somehow pulling my kneecap out of line. The weirdest part of all this? I felt great.

DT Swiss F535 One. Valberg France. Photo by Matt Wragg
The offending corner, several years ago.

As all of us must face up to our aging bodies, there is an inevitable question that follows: How long can I keep doing this?

This year I face one of the milestones: I turn 40.

Where I grew up, you were pretty old at 40. The British lifestyle of hard drinking, poor eating, and long hours on the job take their toll. Especially the factory and manual jobs that the people I grew up with worked. Sport was not a thing - one of my friend’s parents had the audacity to run regularly, and he was considered pretty weird by most people in the village. Somewhere in their 30s, people tipped into middle-age, before passing into old age at around 50.

Today, being 40 is not the same thing, and it feels good to reach one of these milestones in life and realize that you’re not over the hill yet. Staying active, eating well, and looking after your body can make a huge difference to how old you feel. Maybe more important for continuing to ride is something that we rarely talk about: learning to crash.

It is not something I have ever heard discussed amongst riders, maybe because none of us want to tempt fate. After all, there’s no redder rag to the bullish universe than loudly proclaiming that you know how to crash without getting too hurt. And it’s not that, I still hurt this morning, but the grazes across my body prove that somehow, in the midst of all that chaos, I managed to tuck and roll.

Maybe the reticence is because it is hard to define. I could not exactly tell you how, or even if, I learned to crash well, it just seems self-evident to me. I know that when I am in that moment mid-crash, I don’t freeze or panic, I can let my body do what it needs to do.

When I start thinking about this topic, I remember Lewis Hamilton explaining to Top Gear how to crash in a Formula One car. He explained that once the traction is gone, you let go of the steering wheel, try to relax your muscles, and fold your arms across your chest. In an impact, it’s the tension that can make it way worse. For example, if your arm is out to put your hand on the steering wheel, then if the steering wheel is driven back by the impact, your whole arm and shoulder are pushed back with it while your body remains static in the seat.

More than anything, you have to overcome the fear of crashing. Which is no small thing in our world. Back when I used to work in an office, I would proudly parade my injuries around on a Monday morning as it used to freak people out. Thinking about things, I realized for many of them, the idea of being hurt like that was completely alien.

Modern life divorces many of us from any situation where we could possibly be hurt like that, saving a major trauma. Between the sofa and the office, the supermarket and the pub, there is nowhere in most people's lives where they could imagine a minor broken bone, some road rash, or a good hematoma. An injury like that is a wild, uncontrollable thing for them, while experienced cyclists know that a crash is a series of decisions.

If you can start to recognize those sequences of events that lead toward a crash, you can even break the cycle sometimes. For example, these days I am very mindful of when I start making small mistakes in my riding, which are precursors to a bigger mistake, so I put my ego in check and call time. That setting aside of the ego is underappreciated. Because, if you are honest with yourself, how many of your big crashes were when you were pushing on when maybe you should have stepped away? I know most of mine were because of that.

Not something you would see in every sport. Today s winner Emmeline Ragot who holds a physical therapy degree taping up her rival Tracey Hannah s separated shoulder just after the podium presentation.

If you are not used to crashing, you will have no idea how wonderfully resilient the human body is. You can absorb way bigger impacts than you think you can, brutal-looking crashes don’t usually hurt as much as you fear and you can learn a lot about yourself through the healing process. It is only through repetition that you can learn to crash better.

Maybe it's some sick recall association for me. One of the happiest times of my life was when I lived out in Queenstown. I was riding with guys who were way faster than me, and I was pushing hard to try and get on their pace. That meant I was crashing a lot, and I was perpetually carrying some small niggle or other. I can’t help but wonder if walking around with that everyday pain takes me back to that part of my life.

This is not to say you should go out and try to crash. Or that by learning some secret kung fu you can magically dodge injury. I ride alone in the high mountains often, and up there it would not take much to lose my life. That is a price I accept each time I head out. But I also believe that by being able to ride without tensing, with a good understanding of my own abilities, and a willingness to put my ego aside, I have a better chance of coming home again.

As I age, I know that at some point this calculus must change. That the risk/reward axis for riding fast will evolve, and I don’t know if or when that may be. Here’s hoping that I can just wheel this op-ed back out and change the numbers in 20 years…


339 Comments

  • 353 2
 Great post.

I’m 49. Without going to far into the story, my 20s and early 30s I was highly competitive in an adjacent sport (MTB was a hobby, but definitely never a competitive one for me). Then those injuries - too many to count - caught up, and I was nearly unable to walk. After a few years of mild / increasing exercise, a shirt-ton of physical therapy, injections, muscle rehab, etc, I was able to take up riding again - at that point, well into my 40s.

Riding again has brought me back to a lot of the joy of why I do (insert sport here) in the first place. And I’m old (wise?) enough to understand that I have limitations, and by listening to them, I can still have a ton of fun without major negative consequences.

Do I yearn for the big drops and high speed near-misses? Totally. The adrenaline-based grins that come from those are hard to replicate. But, I can still get 90% of the joy without 90% of the pain.

There’s a guy I occasionally bump into on the mountain who rides 3x a week, at least 1500’ vertical, takes the same lines and drops I do, but just a bit slower and more thoughtfully. He’s 74. We’ve had almost exactly the same conversation - and I’m trying to learn from his earned wisdom. I want to be That Guy when I’m 74. Still riding, still smiling, and (hopefully) rarely crashing.
  • 37 0
 I'm 32 and this is inspiring to read! Thank you for your report!
  • 73 1
 I'm 62 and while obviously my riding has changed - whats really changed is my speed that I ride so that the speed at which I crash is less lol
  • 59 2
 Go pickup one of those 80lb sacks of concrete at Home Depot and drop it on to the other one below it from about 18” high…
That’s what “tucking and rolling” at 53 is likeSmile
  • 51 1
 At 55 I love the look I get when I pull up at the bottom of a DH run and pull off the helmet revealing the grey hair to all the young un's. My ability to fall from gymnastics and judo as a kid it what keeps me relatively unscathed, and while the jumps and drops are smaller, the speed still makes me giggle! You just can't get that speed thrill in a car, legally anyways.
  • 45 1
 A bunch of it comes down to genetics. How long will your cartilage hold out before your knees or hips or shoulders(or if you're really unlucky, back) are shot is the big thing. That's different for everyone and the best you can hope for is that your OEM parts hold out as long as possible.
  • 20 2
 I know riders between 58 and 62 who are as fast or faster than ever and still race, hit jumps and progress.
  • 20 1
 48, eh closer to 49 now, so I've been crashing for nearly 30 years. I had some hard lessons on crashing and recovery over this past calendar year, and a really close call. You'll find me riding the ups, walking some of the technical descent portions, passing on the sequential doubles, and quitting before I'm totally gassed. Have probably bought my last bike park lift ticket...

...except now there's kids too, and the desire to get them out, to share the stoke with them, and teach them a bit about riding well and riding safely not being mutually exclusive goals. You can only be a good example if you can still ride. This last crash I realized in the hospital "ok that's enough - other people depend on me".
  • 4 0
 @Bomadics: I took up Autocross racing. Top speed is only 75ish mph, but to do well you need to be on the limits for the entire run. With race tires my car can pull about 1.4g. It's fun and allows you to get that thrill without the risk. At 47 and after a string of shoulder injuries I'm more focused on riding smooth than fast on my mtb, but still progressing in many ways.
  • 15 0
 @orphan: same here, years ago I'd jump up have a look then continue riding. Now if I crash I just lie there and cry quietly.
  • 3 0
 @davec113: I would do that in a heartbeat, I did some F2000 open wheel racing back in the early 90's . I did a bit of DH racing 20 years ago, but I just go as fast as I safely can now. That is the beauty of speed, when you go as fast as you can, it is just as exciting for you as it is for a world cup racer, just the actual kph is way different!

I have heard the best bang for your buck in racing is shifter karts, I talked to a guy that raced 24 hrs of Lemans and he still, at 60 years, old raced shifter karts, he said they were the most fun thing he had ever driven!
  • 49 1
 What do guys that are 40 and 49 know about aging?
Try 61.
A couple years ago I stopped racing enduro after my third concussion in two years. A crash off a jump last year left me with a badly torn rotator cuff and a grade 5 AC separation. I had surgery for the rotator (leaving the AC as is) this past March and just started easy (no fall) riding last week.
Taking this much time off has me reconsidering my riding style a bit. Big technical downhill at speed is my passion. Always will be. However, perhaps it's time to back off that last 5%. You know, the 5% that puts things on the ragged edge.
As one of my riding buds says, "Riding at 95% is pretty fun too. Bonus is you get to ride tomorrow."
  • 10 3
 @orphan: hyped to see a 62 year old use “lol”
  • 5 0
 @Bomadics: they’re not thinking what you think they are.
  • 3 0
 I'm much younger than you, but I always claim I'm 74. Wink
  • 4 1
 I've always been on the cautious end of riding, and thus far haven't had any serious crashes. But at this point in my riding life (>50yrs), my strategy is that a bit less on the adrenaline and speed might prevent crashes that ultimately prevent me from riding another 20yrs. Riding is always a bit of a gamble, and injuries are always a possibility - but the goal is to mitigate the risk.

But it's a roll of the die - genetics can determine how long our joints will last, or how long we're able to keep riding due to other health issues.
  • 17 0
 @roxtar: I like the quote: "Riding at 95% is pretty fun too. Bonus is you get to ride tomorrow."

The challenge is to hover around that and resist the adrenal-fueled temptation to go a bit faster.
  • 5 2
 Dude, I'm 17 and this still hits hard!
  • 14 1
 Just did a couple days at Whistler with my 71 Y/O father in law!
  • 3 0
 @roxtar: I hope you’re right. I’m 57 and mostly ride bike parks. Recovering (slowly) right now from a crash from ice on a jump. Wondering if I can keep going. Wondering if riding at 95% is actually fun. Always seemed like the point of bike park riding was to push up to the edge and beyond…
  • 43 0
 @roxtar: 61years old, hah! You're but a spring chicken. I'm 186 years old and been mountain biking since the mid 19th century when queen Victoria blessed all the parks with linden trees. And back then surgery was done by the local barber...I'm still fighting an infection I got in 1903.
  • 2 0
 @Explodo: My OEM is doing fine, but I'm a little worried about the ti and ceramic "upgrades" I spent way too much money on.
  • 5 0
 My strategy is to always ride under my limit and try to ride stuff that I`m good at and dismount or take the chicken way when I`m unsure if I make the section without a crash. I also avoid big jumps and drops or switchback technique which is a weakness. Because of this I drastically reduced the number of crashes and injuries and riding is still fun and I get better.

Oh and what`s also important: riding with other people, especially if they are way better than you, on a difficult track is usually way more dangerous than riding alone.
  • 6 0
 @njcbps: I'm 57 and very aware I don't heal as well as I used to. This is the mindset I've adopted too. I always drop in reminding myself I do want to ride next week, next month, next year, next decade. 95% is still loads of fun. 0% isn't!
  • 7 0
 @davec113: yup. I’m 53 and have a full Mustang GT track car. That time on the track definitely helps the adrenaline fix and makes the cost of mountain biking seem like a knitting hobby by comparison haha. It’s hard to say which one I enjoy more so I’ll say I enjoy both equally. I will say though that 130-140mph in the car I still feel less exposed than when I ride my bike. The car has a 6 point bar, race seats, 6 point harnesses and I wear a HANS. But riding a bike you know you are hitting the floor and it’s going to do damage no matter what. My bud just left the track at 110 the other day and hit the wall around 70 and got out of the car like nothing happened. Car - not so much. On the trail it’s usually the other way around. Either way with age has come more ego check combined with caution. On the track I’m calculated to protect my car. On the hill I’m calculated to protect my body.
  • 4 0
 Just turned 50 and this story ticks all of the right boxes. Either I or one of my friends typically get injured biking and our boss has a fit because suddenly 15% of his group is down.

My best injury story is probably my first date with my (now) wife. She was a national downhill (ski) champion and I thought I was a shit-hot snowboarder. Had a blast riding together in CO, but I had a really nasty crash towards the end of the day while trying desperately to not fall too far behind. Stopped at a bar on the way back to Denver to get some grub and I nearly passed out from the pain in my leg/groin when getting out of the car. Eventually dropped her off at home, but had to make up a quick excuse for leaving early when I discovered that my nutsack was swollen like a little blood filled water balloon and my whole left thigh was turning crazy colors.
  • 2 0
 @Bomadics:
I’ve got a friend that was really good a karting. When he talks about how much he used to have to dump into his karts (just for maintenance and tires) I never imagined that “best bang for your buck” and kart would ever be used in the same sentence.
  • 3 0
 @roxtar:
Concussions are what freaks me out more than anything. I’ve had enough and each one feels like a barely dodged bullet. Nothing has given me a worse feeling than getting my noggin rocked and then realizing I can’t read the speedo or any of the road signs because the very center of my vision was just a scrambled mess of static.
  • 2 0
 @VelkePivo: I'm ~10 years behind you and not convinced it's still fun without being near the edge and progressing. I've been riding a lot of dirt & street and it's mostly hard surfaces and right angles, but funny enough the most pain comes from long rides on the gravel bike or recovery after big days.
I gave up basketball when my body couldn't play as fast as my mind, and biking might be the same. Luckily we're still a ways from having to make a decision.
  • 2 0
 @jamesdad: So true. I am 50 and broke my arm last year. My wrist still hasn't completely healed (if it ever will). Made me realise as well that 95% is still full but at a lot less risk. It is however frustrating sometimes to be outridden by my 13 year old son Frown . But I still learn every day Smile
  • 2 0
 At 57 I'm still getting Faster !!!!!!!!!!! CAW !!!!!!!!! www.instagram.com/crosleykilltrail
  • 3 0
 @Explodo: most readers here don't get this or believe this. 'i'll never need to ride an eeb', etc. most guys in their 20's and 30's think they are tough and ageless. i got news for you kid, it ain't up to you. some of you will be shocked when you've done everything right, but one of your joints starts to go south well before your time. shit happens.
  • 3 0
 @VelkePivo: That's always been my style. We'll see if 95% works for me.
Losing 6 months makes you think in terms of, "How many more seasons do I have left? Don't want to miss any more."
  • 1 0
 @st-lupo: Exactly. Broken bones are one thing but when you start talking about possible life-altering injuries...
  • 2 0
 @jamesbrant: It's still odd to me when I see someone else on the trail and they call me "sir." It's like, why are my peers calling me that? I'm not old! No way! Also, why are they walking their bikes? Are they new riders? Good for them!
  • 1 0
 @roxtar: Good luck. And if you can do XC/Trail riding, that's certainly enjoyable without much risk of injury.
  • 2 0
 @st-lupo: I never said it's cheap, but your dollar to fun ration seems highest in karting. Mountain biking however is the absolute leader for dollar to fun ratio, I have yet to find better!
  • 2 0
 @swellhunter: Nice, I have a Camaro SS 1LE setup for CAM-C. Racing cars does make mtb seem cheap, and autox is as cheap as it gets. I get 2 hours of seat time out of my 200tw tires at around $1600/set, lol. All together maybe $20/minute all-in. I like autox because there's less chance of crashing, so you need to be right on the limit and you see much higher slip angles, but it's also great to just go really fast sometimes too.
  • 3 0
 I'll be 50 very soon, and I definitely want to continue to bike for the long haul. I'm more of an XC guy, but I do some (easy) DH. Though riding lift-served blacks and double-blacks intrigues me, I just don't see myself ever progressing to that level, as I feel the cost of injuries is just too high at my age. Though I'm still in decent shape, I just don't recover and heal as fast as I used to, and I have just accepted that as part of life. And I rather spend the rest of my finite time in this life doing what I love than sitting out with injuries because I was pushing the envelope too far and trying to prove to be something that I am not. I still have a ton of fun within my limits, and that's what's most important to me.

Having said that, when I look at winning Masters times, I've noticed that those over 60 are substantially slower than those around 50, so it'll be an interesting to see how well I hold up over the next decade.
  • 3 0
 I crashed yesterday, and I'm only 21. Injuries happen, but at my age, they seem to not matter as much. Your story has really inspired me, and although I don't plan on slowing down, I do plan on riding well into the future. Thank you for sharing and giving me some perspective.
  • 2 0
 @Bomadics:
Honestly learning how to fall from wrestling and combative and sky diving is how I chalk up surviving some of my falls where onlookers are calling EMS by the time I can talk again. Knowing how to roll out of a crash and mitigate the brunt force on your body is so important and should be a staple of mtb training. Even basic how to fall combative training would help most. You see so many people reaching for the ground and good bye shoulder and or arm or leg. Tho, trees and rocks don’t give you a shot in hell at rolling through something.
  • 2 0
 What I've found out is that I typically get hurt on the stuff I'm overly confident on (even if rightly so) after having finished the part that required my focus. So if I've been session a section or practicing a skill, I'm focused. Once I'm finished with sessioning/practicing and I'm just riding the final sections, that's where I might get hurt. So nowadays it isn't so much that I avoid challenging stuff, it is just that once I've done that and the pressure is off, I need to consciously force myself to keep it easy and stay focused.
  • 1 1
 Ya, ya. But the cool kids don’t wear any armor nowadays, no gloves, maybe a knee pad, zero neck brace because damn short tee and full face with goggles just looks too damn cool. I’ll keep my stormtrooping OG gear on till the last lap comes.

Fools, I say…..
  • 8 1
 @jamesbrant: I'm 63 and I just underwent my 43rd orthopedic surgery. 14 knee procedures, 6 shoulders, 9 foot or ankles, the rest on my hands and wrists. I've also had a fair number of broken bones along the way.

I know about age related joint degeneration better than most and I just don't get this whole, "I'm busted up, now I have to have a motor on my bike.".

I can tell you the way back from any bad injury is hard work, not a motor. All these rubes spewing this nonsense about, " I work just as hard on my moped." Sorry bro, I'm guessing you weren't working very hard in the first place.

I'm realistic about my abilities, I can't ride like I used to, up or down, and I'm certainly more careful (read: giant sissy, lol!) but I still have a great time.

I've found different kinds of adventure. Now I mostly go on solo night rides. I stay out all night riding single-track in the mountains and I usually won't see anyone at all, just wildlife.

I go fast when it suits me, but I no longer measure myself against others. I've spent a lifetime doing so, and it's lost its appeal. I'm still going on big adventures, I just don't care to measure them against other peoples.

It doesn't matter how fast you go, what matters is how much fun you have. No motor doing the work for you is going to keep you going when things get bad for your body. It's the motor inside you that matters.
  • 1 0
 @DirtyHal: Who would downvote that?!
  • 2 0
 i'm 47 today and love going out by myself, so my main focus is not crashing and getting back home safely :-) if i can't face a downhill on one morning then i can try it again the next day! body armour depends on the trails - trying a new trail blind i always wear full face, neck brace, shoulder, arm and knee pads. risk management pure and simple!! mtb only has to be as dangerous as we want it to be
  • 1 0
 Thanks for this.
  • 107 2
 This and the last Matt Wragg article are the best articles I've seen on Pinkbike in a long time. A friend and I were talking yesterday about how riders today don't seem to be willing to ride rough, rocky, and scary trails, and the trails are changing because of it. I understand that crashing and hurting yourself isn't something that should necessarily be prescribed, but when I was a teenager it was part of the process of becoming a better rider. We would session rocky climbs and descent until we didn't crash and they became doable, and we would jump off picnic tables until we could land in a controlled way. Maybe a parent of two with a job that requires you to have arms that aren't tbroken can't go about learning to ride this way, but it makes me think that our sport is suffering a bit. At a certain point, one has to accept that our sport is genuinely dangerous.
  • 21 0
 Agree, his last two articles are great, really great. I'm wondering if he had them written and cued up for beta before the plug was pulled on beta, so he/pb decided to put them here.
  • 48 4
 Probably worth mentioning that in the US, healthcare is increasingly expensive, and for many people, insurance seems to cost more and more while actually covering less and less. Obviously we're the only developed country with this dumb-ass system, but at least for the many riders who live here, that's a changing part of the calculus too. The financial implications of a crash now are probably significantly worse than they were 20 years ago.
  • 73 1
 It's crazy because rough trails are safer than smooth flow trails imo. Yeah you might crash or dab more but your speed is a lot lower and you end up with scrapes and bruises not broken bones and concussions. I've definitely grown to appreciate the slow jank more as I get older.
  • 12 8
 Crashing is part of the game, but society is becoming increasingly risk-averse. And thus things become "less dangerous".
We all should come to the realization that there is *some* acceptable risk. My grandparents used to play with duds from WWII behind the local pool. Children today aren't even allowed to play unaccompanied in their family's yard. At some point we have forgotten to accept risk.
  • 15 0
 @WestwardHo: Very much this. Bikepark staff told me once that when they need a helicopter, it's mostly for crashes on smooth jumplines. Not so much for the tech trails.
  • 4 0
 @Ttimer: That could also be that many less experiences riders are sticking to the smoother flow trails. And if you are talking about legit bigger jump lines then that kind of speaks for itself that they might produce more serious crashes.
  • 4 0
 “When I was a teenager” is the key point. A lot of people coming to the sport for the first time are middle aged, and naturally have a different risk calculus. When I was a teenager I took all sorts of risks I wouldn’t take now. I started riding mountain bikes at 40 so I just accept that I have a lower ceiling than my kid starting at 9. I still crash because it’s a natural side effect of getting better, but I don’t crash as much as higher risk tolerance 15-year old self would have.
  • 1 0
 @WestwardHo: You put into words what I've been thinking a lot recently. I'm recovering from a shattered wrist and concussion from a small flow trail table top. I've been riding black grade tech for years and they have always been injury free...
  • 3 0
 Your last sentence about the sport being genuinely dangerous is spot on. This is something that rock climbing has been realizing over the past couple of decades and the sport is better for it. More professionals are wearing helmets in media, helmets are a common sight even at overhanging sport crags, people are using safer belay devices, more thought is being given to learning how to fall in a controlled way so you can spend more time progressing and getting stronger. Learning for to crash and sessioning difficult or scary lines in mountain biking should be no different. I really have appreciated these last 2 articles by Matt as they speak more to the average rider rather than wannabe world cup riders.
  • 1 0
 @WestwardHo: nice point
  • 37 2
 @olrustybones I don't like the idea of MTB as a dangerous sport, as I don't think it is. Sure, the chances of getting mildly hurt are pretty high, but the chance of being taken out by a distracted driver trying to see the latest TikTok bullshit are close to zero, and for me that is a far more pressing concern. At the end of the day, the risks in MTB are the risks we choose, so if you don't want MTB to be a dangerous sport, it doesn't have to be and I worry that people are put off from our sport as they are worried about crashing, which I think they shouldn't (too much).

@kcy4130: Nope, I've always been PB first and foremost, and I prefer writing for the audience here on PB. You may not believe this, but writing for Beta, I really missed the comments section. I think through my career it has made me a better writer, because if what I write is not tight then I will have to answer for it...
  • 1 0
 @Chafingdish: u hit the nail on the head
  • 3 0
 @charliewentoutside: Healthcare costs in the US are definitely a factor for me. I have insurance through work but as becoming more common, it's a high deductible plan, so my out of pocket is a few grand. I separated my shoulder back in the Fall of 2020 and one of the first things I thought about was, "Yep... this is going to cost a couple of grand..." and I was just about right. Never mind how the bills will drag on for months. It took the hospital over 6 months to finally bill me for the ER visit. The PT bills were still coming in over a year later.

The "tech vs. flow" comments are interesting to me. I am in the "flow is safer" camp. Once you learn how to ride a well built (usually by Gravity Logic) jump trail, the "fun:risk" ratio seems a lot lower than on typical tech trails at a bike park. Granted, I'm generally riding to clear the jump and not trying to do any sort of trick other than maybe a barely perceptible whip or table.
  • 3 0
 @mattwragg: I completely agree about the driving part. I make it clear to my students pretty often that driving to school/the ski hill/the trails is way more dangerous statistically than the activity they're about to participate in. But the fact that they are then going to participate in said dangerous activity certainly ups the risk vs sitting in a desk at school. You're not going to get hit by a car/struck by lightning/attached by a grizzly bear in your living room, but as soon as you go for a drive/climb a mountain during a storm/go hunting in the Rockies your risk goes up. And I think that to fly through trees either on dirt or snow at over 30km an hour comes with some risks whether they're statistically lower than auto collisions or not.
But I like to ride to my trails, not drive haha.

Keep up the great writing though, you always make me think.
  • 7 1
 @Ttimer: This is because of the jumps though, not the flow vs. tech aspect. It's really hard to keep people off of jump trails they shouldn't be on, while tech is a natural filter.
  • 3 0
 @olrustybones: That is one of the best compliments I have ever received, thank you.
  • 3 0
 @plyawn: Not sure about that. It could simply be the speed. When calculating the energy released in a crash, speed enters with the second power. Small increases in speed lead to large increases in the severity of impact.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: wait, they pulled the plug on Beta?!
  • 3 0
 @mattwragg: I'm not so sure. I do think MTBing is an inherently dangerous sport--and I say this as a father of 2 kids who both broke bones while MTBing and not swimming or skiing or hiking or rock climbing or doing the myriad of other sports that they do. BUT I think the danger in MTBing can be mitigated a lot with a relatively small amount of skill, as long as you aren't riding crazy stuff.

I would consider road biking inherently dangerous as well--I personally know more people who suffered serious injuries road biking than MTBing. The issue with road biking is that skill can't really mitigate much of its danger. (As an example, look at how many super accomplished road riders have been killed by cars.) You're just at the mercy of how much the drivers around you are paying attention, which is really scary to think about and which is why I keep my road riding to a minimum.
  • 1 0
 @bikedrd: I've been a bit away from Pinkbike lately but from what I understand from Cranked which I'm subscribed to, Beta is no longer in print: www.cranked.cc/beta-blocked. Was there no mention on Pinkbike? Seems to me that if there still is Beta, it is just the paid section of Pinkbike.
  • 43 0
 52 here, and with a son just turned 16 who I ride out with, He’s now badgering me to do daft stuff, that he’s now getting the confidence to do. I can’t take that risk, work/recovery rates make me anxious. I try to explain why I can’t do the things he’s challenging me to do, and he tells me that when we are riding, I’m not his dad, that we are riding buddies. I like that. But I’m still not breaking my neck for it.
  • 9 0
 stand firm dad!
  • 15 0
 I am 47, my 12 year old is almost faster than me DH now and he is 100 times better a jumping than me. The past few years have been amazingly fun to compare our rates of progression. I continue to ride better every year, but the speed he picks new skills up is mind blowing. There was a moment where he hit a feature before me and I was like "F that noise I am hitting that." rode it fine, but recognize that some day soon there will be a feature he will ride and I will not.

I already do not like him giving me shit for casing jumps, when his technical skills pass mine it is going to hurt mentally, hopefully not physically.
  • 8 0
 I am 43 and got my son into MTB when he was 4. He is 10 now and has always been my main riding partner but I know the days of he and I being athletic peers are definitely numbered. But at the same time, he pushes me very hard as an athlete and I love it.

He gives me major shit because I won't hit 20ft table tops at the bike park with him on my first and last runs, because I don't hit significant features/lines before I'm warmed up or when I'm fatigued. I try to explain this, and it just reinforces my underlying feeling that he will be surpassing me very very soon. It is inspiring how hard kids are charging these days.
  • 7 1
 Im 15, and my dad is 53. I try to take him out mtbing because it’s a fun bonding experience and healthy for him. I would consider myself a pretty advanced rider, and my dad is a total beginner. I see where you’re coming from with the “I’m not breaking my neck for it” but for my dad, it seems like he’s unwilling to step out of his comfort zone and try something new. I find this somewhat frustrating because I know that he can do it, but he just doesn’t have the confidence. Basically I just wish he’d give some things a try before immediately shutting down and being like nope not doing that. I imagine your sons might feel a similar way.
  • 4 0
 @ZanderShredsMtb: For me it's the reverse, I'm 45, my daughter 9 and she would be a must better and safer rider if she would step out of her comfort zone more Smile
  • 3 1
 @Rigidjunkie: you are still ahead of him financially! Sell both bikes, get a top-of-the line new one for you and tell him to buy one of his own money. See if he can still challenge you on a 500$, 26" bike from 2011
Smile
  • 9 0
 @Germanmike: you're setting him up for disaster when the kid will, in fact, beat him on a 26 from 2011
  • 5 0
 @ZanderShredsMtb: in the event this forum is still live in 38 years time, you might look back on your comment and think to yourself, “yep, those old fogies were right”!

Great to hear you are getting out with your dad though, if he gets as much pride and bonding as I do with my son, then you are in a good place.
  • 2 0
 @Rigidjunkie: Seems like a great opportunity to take a jumping clinic or hire a coach for the two of you.
  • 3 0
 @TheHill: This is a really common scenario, especially when trying to learn how to jump steeper/bigger lips or drops and rolls. Your body wants to get back away from the danger, but you need to be agressively forward & balanced, with bigger inputs. It's counter-intuitive and hard to force yourself when learning.
  • 1 0
 57 years young here, apparently bone density is a thing, My Chiropractor mentioned this and how some of the uber fit athletes he treats that have no regular impact their bones are relatively fragile, hips especially.
While I do crash occasionally, its not enough impacting to make a difference ;-) so I've started running once or twice most weeks.
  • 3 0
 @skiwenric: 48 year old chiropractor in Whistler here. I understand what they are saying but lifting weights, even 1 or 2x a week will do more for your bone density than running will.
  • 3 0
 I'm about to turn 46, my kid is about to turn 15. He can for sure outride me... he can wheelie for miles, do super long manuals, clear the big jumps. He also has made biking his full time job for the past few summers (though starting actual job sort of stuff this year), and the progression is astounding. Riding things I never rode when I was his age (on my fully rigid bike).

Seeing what he is doing, and going where he wants to go (DH bike parks, for example) has really pushed me beyond where I was as well. I was always a pretty decent trail rider, but in the last 2 years I've progressed more than in the previous 30+.

Rode a new drop yesterday with a kinda sketchy/loose landing... minor wreck on when I landed, but for sure today everything hurts. I fell coaching hockey a few years back and tore miniscus/busted cartilege in my knee that I had taken out 18 months ago, and the damn thing *still* hurts. I try to have fun, and I try to push it, but I try to make sure I do it progressively and not all at once, and wear knee pads all the time.

I think a big thing I've noticed at the bike park is that he is often clearing bigger flowline features that I'm not always clearing... so he lands on the transition and I land on the table, and those impacts add up *fast* at my age. A couple runs on a trail like that will just about do me in. So I guess I'll try to keep progressing so I can ride with him and clear all that stuff, do it more, and have more fun.

(Also, I still go down the hill faster than him. Hooray for mass?)
  • 1 0
 @DrRiptide: thanks, doing some resistance programs as well, hoping to hold off that syndrome known as O.L.D.
  • 44 2
 58 year old woman here..I'm still progressing and doing things I'd never have dreamed I'd do 10 years ago.Good sized jumps and gaps and all sorts of steep nonsense.What I have learned is to listen to my body and ignore peer pressure.I ride with men who are younger and stronger so I accept they will be faster and stupider!!!.When they get carried away with themselves and start to push things beyond where I feel comfortable I'll go off and do my own thing.My awareness that I wont be able to ride the way I do forever is acute and to an extent this drives me to make the most of every day and every ride.....When I was 40 then 60 seemed like forever away and now it's nearly here....enough now...I'm off to the bike park I can see from my living room window!
  • 43 2
 54. I've done sport where you eat shit my whole life, grew up in a culture with many pro "alt sport" athletes. I've never been that skilled at MTB, snowboard, skate. Solid-level surf with "charging" being best attribute. Too many bad slams of various kinds to recall.

There's a lot of identity tied up in being a charger. Lot of self-concept of manhood, bravery etc. You heal slow and break worse as you get older. Your physical ability slows down and near misses become slams. I recently watched a YouTube video of a guy my age learning to ride Crabapple hits. He was so proud. Comments on fire with props. Last comment is him, ate a Crabapple landing and went to the hospital for months. Riding will never be the same. Could cite many other like stories. It catches you eventually.

Watch the new Tony Hawk doc Till the Wheels Fall Off. Same syndrome around identity.

Frankly, it's f*cking bullshit. There's not honor in it. I decided recently that I'm not going that road. I don't hit big jumps on anything any more. Last time Sunset Beach was triple overhead I surfed Kammieland half the size. Who gives a f--- if other people don't "see" me anymore, I have fun styling around, still get barreled and throw up roosters. It doesn't mean you can't ride or skate or surf anymore if you aren't fully charging and taking risks. I'll walk around anything any time on a MTB and don't feel the slightest bad about it. The only people who can't see that you are still good at the sport don't know shit about the sport.

So screw the whole charge until the end or life ain't nothin' nonsense. It's a hollow, insecure narrative that you don't have to do. It doesn't mean you were never legit and aren't still if you dial it back plenty and cruise through the golden years.
  • 8 13
flag VelkePivo (Jun 29, 2022 at 20:26) (Below Threshold)
 You talk as though you speak for everyone. Some people just enjoy pushing their limits. Don’t preach
  • 20 0
 @VelkePivo: you misunderstand me friend. I'm not saying it's bad to push your limits. I'm saying that in a sports industry and culture that tells you in so many ways that you should push your limits, it's okay to not push your limits.
  • 3 0
 Nothing wrong with dialing back into your older years, admittedly the syndrome of identity about being the hard-charging guy can be detrimental due to never being able to give yourself a break. I ride with someone who is known as exactly that, he can pull-off 3's and backflips all day long, and he eats it pretty often too. Luckily god built him like a brick shithouse and he just keeps huckin' it, proudly so. What gets me is he takes 80% of his shit-eatings on days where he's already had a few slams, everyone is just begging him to give it a break for the day, and pull into the slow lane. He's just that guy who's so overcome with being unafraid, ballsy, "sendy".

That said, I of course admire his toughness and steel testes, and it's this admiration that feeds people alike him to go do the boundary-pushing tricks, sends, and speed in our sport. It will always be a part of the culture, and there are things to be commended about it too. Like Matt mentioned, I think we mountain bikers like walking into the office looking like we spent the weekend at war, there's something about being someone who still confronts physical challenges, who embraces f*cking ourselves up and leaving with a fat grin on our mug.
  • 3 0
 Thank you for your perspective. I've screenshotted this and will read it often to remind myself it's OK to take it easy. Keep ripping
  • 2 1
 @hankj: I can certainly agree with that, although I'm glad many people do and always have regardless of whether there was an industry or not.
  • 2 0
 'it's a hollow, insecure narrative'. bang on.
  • 2 0
 Agreed...most of the guys I rode with in my 20's and 30's that had the charge or nothing attitude aren't riding anymore since their ego took the fun out of it for them when they had to slow down with age and injury
  • 1 0
 @Stinkywiz: That's an interesting perspective. Definitely took soome introspection to get over it and be okay with mellower fun
  • 1 0
 i couldn't agree more with your comments. i live near flatter trails but most are littered with nearby trees to crash into and on one of the few downhill sections we have i had spent the last couple of years trying to get into the top tens on strava. I eventually managed it in upon tuning 40 and was feeling great then i tried to go even quicker one autumn evening ride and caught some wet tree roots and lawn darted a tree whilst going as fast as i could. 90kg of me striking a tree at that speed whilst horizontal and airborne meant that i hit the tree so hard i winded myself from hitting my shoulder. I was in such pain it took me a few seconds before i could pick myself and my bike of the floor to clear the trail should someone else ride over me. I had to use my coat as makeshift sling. Luckily i live close by so managed to coast home but the pain was terrible.Every breath felt like i was being stabbed. I was covered in mud and couldn't even take my socks off to shower. Upon eventually getting cleaned and my partner arriving home from work and helping me get sorted and taking me to the hospital to have an x-ray the next day i somehow had not broken anything in my shoulder but had torn ligaments and such that although dont hurt anymore dont feel as they did some 3 years later. When i was getting ready for my next ride some 2 months later i noticed that i had knocked out my right cycling glasses lense and in the pain never even noticed that one was missing when still weraing them home after the crash....Your comments resinate with me 100% and i wish more people would think how you do. Im still in the top 30s on strava but honestly whats the point in trying to get crazy good strava times when so many people cheat. Ive seen motocross riders rip round my local trails to get KOMs its crazy and illegal. Now i ride for my enjoyment and to better myself and if i do well against others great but its no longer my main concern.
  • 1 0
 @jamesbrant: 100%

And I'd add the requisite "at least he/she died doing what they loved"

whatever, they're dead, it sucks. pretty sure they'd rather be alive and live to see another few decades.
  • 29 0
 Worst part about crashing is time off the bike. I try not to crash for this reason alone
  • 22 0
 Matt,

I see a lot of patient's who struggle with anxiety over their future, the older they get, the more they worry.

This ^ seems kinda contrary to what should be happening ... so what happened to easing into our older years?

Here's the advice I give my patients:

Don't worry about it.
There are no rules
There are no redos
There is no way to know the future
Live your life one day at a time

Worry never changed anything except how you feel.

Do what you do.
  • 1 0
 Love this
  • 2 0
 You have lucky patients @nurseben
  • 2 0
 But I think there's also the contrary : People who don't worry but who should.
My dad who's in his early 70's and quite neuroatypical (probably both ASD and ADD) seems to think he exercises, while he just does a hike or e-bike loop from time to time.
It's like his brain takes an individual and not so frequent event and makes a life-rule out of it. So "with a clear head" he kind of brags about it ("yeah it's important to exercise, the other day we blablablah-20km-ebike-loop") but then when it's actually time to exercise the dopamine lock in his brain kicks in and just says "ah f*ck that, I just want to build train scale models".
Still trying to get him to understand this cuz' he may age badly.
  • 24 0
 I just love these opinion articles, I hope to see more of them. Very well written!
  • 17 0
 The Kung Fu-comment actuallt isn't as bad as you thought. I grew up doing quite a bit of martial arts (most relevant for this is a few years of jiu jitsu) and the movement of the forward shoulder roll is still ingrained into my muscle memory. Over the 15 or so years I've been riding I've crashed quite a lot at times, and almost always when I go over the bars I end up with bruises from my right elbow and shoulder diagonally across my back.

So my tip to anyone not used to tucking and rolling is that even if you don't take up martial arts, look into the grappling sports falling techniques on how to dissipate energy and how to fall without slamming into the ground and start practicing on a lawn (or on the trampoline if you have kids in the suburbs. Great fun!)
  • 9 0
 I rode a trail blind a few weeks ago with a friend trailing me. All of the boulders thus far could be dropped or rolled- except one. As I went over and saw my fork was going to dive, I instinctively pushed the bars and somehow my feet cleared the bars and I tucked and rolled. Not a scratch. 49 years old and lots of experience wrestling, TKD, and skateboarding. Skateboarding probably helped the most since a pebble can launch you forward and the T&R must be learned. Basically, stretching, and cross-training with other sports seems to help me in my aging years and I’m just getting started going bigger and faster. However, I admit I should pre-ride, re-ride, and then free ride. Keep these coming, Matt!
  • 1 1
 I think you're spot on.
Nasty, surprising crashes in mtb often happen very quickly and out of nowhere.(well..to me at least) A weird kicking jump, sliding front wheel, tech failure etc. That means you are in zero expectation of something bad is going to happen, when the impact already happens and does the damage.
All (if anything) your body has in petto in such a split second is your reflexes and muscle memory, which might have been trained for similar "hello surprise" impact moments to the body.
  • 3 0
 @Staktup: I always envy the guys with skateboard, surf or bmx background. I think those kinda body control sports are a good starting point for mtb. Both for learning to ride better and crashing with less harm.

Started mtb in my mid 25s and my background as kid and teen sports were football and basketball, which I always regarded as pretty useless for mtb in terms of skills, balance, crash damage limitation
  • 2 0
 Yeah, learning to roll is a great skill. I did Judo as a kid and in my time have had some big spills where I popped back to my feet feeling fine when I should have been walking away with a broken bone. (It also gives a great sense of balance which is also underappreciated)
There is a reason in other sports like rugby why they focus on not just learning to tackle someone but learning to be tackled, it reduces injury.
I think as a kid learning martial art or gymnastics should be right up there with learning to swim as a life skill.
  • 2 0
 All very true about martial training and falling safely. Aikido, although not as aggressive as other disciplines, makes you fall backwards, roll forwards, teaching how to crash. After 1000’s of repetitions, it transforms the entire crashing process. When I’m about to crash, the world slows down enough that I see the rock or log or whatever is in my flight path. Does it always protect me? Definitely not always, but most of the time it does. I also acknowledge the learning from a rough and tumble childhood I had in rural Vermont, when good fun assumed a bit of risk. It’s the locus of the stoke I seek still at 58 years young. And seeking this stoke is at the core of the dissonance we need to keep living fully!
  • 2 0
 Yeah, skateboarding, bmx and surfing have all contributed to be able to crash out without too much damage. That said, my worst bike crash and injury came when I was least expecting it on a feature I should not have crashed out on. It was my Malcom Gladwell moment of doing ten things wrong.
  • 2 0
 I was a soccer (football) goalkeeper for like 16 years, played through college. I have had so many bad crashes that I walked away from with just scratches that I have to attribute to the muscle memory from learning to dive. Learning to hit the ground without injury, whether from martial arts, extreme sports or gymnastics, is key to not getting hurt biking.
  • 2 0
 @polarflux: yeah ninja falling skills or not it will get you at weird times, and there is nothing you can do
  • 2 0
 I would add Snowboarding to the list of activities that teach you how to tuck and roll. When you have 168cm flat board strapped to your feet that it is Absolutely, Positively, NOT coming off in a crash...you quickly learn how to contort your body to absorb impacts.
  • 3 0
 I had a conversation with a rugby playing colleague about most adults generally not falling over as a matter of course. To most people it's a bit of a shock! If you grow up and persist at falling over I think you learn to take it better - to a point!

I have done 'falling over sports' all my life - skiing, skating, bmx, moto (OK, really don't want to fall on that one) and MTB including DH racing so I'm not bad at falling over now. I've had a couple of OTBs where I've tucked and rolled on instinct.. Saying that, I'm currently nursing two injuries from heavy slams and at 49 I'm aware I'm stiffer and heal slower. I'm still out chasing personal bests on DH trails though!
  • 11 0
 The scariest crashes are the ones that happen so fast that the body has no time to react and tuck away. That's when the head often takes a big hit. And the long term injuries to the brain from repeated concussions are probably the ones I fear the most apart from paralysis
  • 3 0
 These put the fear in me, 100%
  • 2 0
 TBH this is where I find cross training other sports helps a lot. I recently have been playing a bit of squash, which is not the sort of sport I would normally enjoy. I’ve now got a noticeable improvement in my reaction times and bonus cardio gains too. A good proportion of crashes on my mtb and dirt bike that would have been over before I realised they started, have instead been crashes that I can get my body into position to take the fall with minimal damage. Some normal crashes have been avoided entirely.

Of course YMMV but it’s something I’ve found has helped me.
  • 11 2
 I dove in head first to the sport about a year ago and got a big reality check two months ago. Riding a jump line I did not belong on, juiced up on confidence from riding it the day before with locals to follow, I found myself upside down on the ground without a clear memory of how the crash even happened. My shoulder is still messed up and I might have problems with it for a long time. Being off the bike for the last 8 weeks after being obsessed and riding almost daily has been incredibly difficult. Dealing with the broken American health system has been a terrible stress of its own. Just hoping I can recover soon and will ride wiser in the future.
  • 3 1
 Heal up! I'm 27, I try to ride like I'm 67. While it's fun to push myself, I'd rather ride at 70% effort for the next 50 years than go 100% for a few more.
  • 2 3
 @Chondog94: Boo - no fun. Ride fast - take chances. Nothing is guaranteed in life - it ain't the MTB that'll kill ya. It's the hynas, skonkas and tortas.
  • 4 1
 @suspended-flesh: you do you! As long as im happy im happy, pretty sure
  • 2 0
 @suspended-flesh: don't worry I'm going airborne again as soon as I'm back to full strength lol. but I'm going to take it slower and get some lessons.
  • 2 1
 Right on! DH tires and slow down the rebound a bit and let her run! Within reason
  • 1 0
 @Chondog94: Can't argue with that! Enjoy the ride!
  • 9 0
 These last two articles by Matt have been excellent…great to read something a little different on Pinkbike…more of the same please. Recovering from a decent off myself at the minute, will be back in a few more weeks I hope, mountain biking is way more than a sport for me, hope to keep riding for a long time to come. Nice job PB and Matt W.
  • 9 2
 I've always exercised, never drank or smoked, always tried to eat healthy. I do both cardio and resistance training. Anyways, last fall on the road bike I got hit by a car and crushed two of my vertebra (and a bunch of other stuff) and so sometimes habits don't matter haha.
  • 8 0
 Good habits can't always prevent injuries, but it's highly likely you had a much better recovery (even if still difficult) because of your good habits Smile
  • 12 0
 Brutal. That’s why I won’t road bike. Seems way more dangerous than MTB to me. Higher speed, less protection, and people looking at their phones.
  • 11 0
 I feel like road biking is way way more dangerous than MTB. Cars are no joke and I feel like I have way more control over my mountain bike than other people's driving.
  • 3 0
 @MT36: I was talking to a doctor recently who was telling me he thinks road riding is safer, whilst also admitting he knew several people who'd lost their lives doing it. Go figure.
  • 4 0
 @hamncheez Sorry to hear that - that is part of the reason I wanted to get into this as I do not like the idea of MTB as a dangerous sport, I think riding on the road is way riskier. I had an old road cyclist berating me while I tried to eat a few months ago, she couldn't get her head around the idea that in MTB the risks we take are (usually) the risks we choose, while, as you found, on the road things can be taken out of your hands way too often.
  • 1 0
 @commental: I think technically he is right, the movements, speed and technicality of MTB makes it more hazardous but in reality, drivers and road traffic makes road cycling risks much higher and thus less safe.
  • 3 0
 @commental: For real. I work in healthcare also... it is just anecdotal, but I see a lot more catastrophic/serious road bike injuries than mountain bike injuries.
  • 1 0
 It still matters in more ways than a rando accident, easily. You could also eat a bucket of fried chicken and processed everything every day your whole life and still have that accident happen but prob be way less healthy & way worse brain function.

I am personally terrified of road biking compared to anything wild on a mountain. My uncle was a road rider in the 70s and was constantly in the hospital from people literally driving him off the road, throwing cans of beer at him, threats etc. so I’ve always viewed it is scary. I don’t like vehicles potentially getting that close to me compared to a rock or tree & also don’t like the lycra kit / shoes or even the hint of it - truly no offense to the road riders, just not my jam.

Come to think of it: takes a certain level of balls to wear all that AND ride on a road… have at it road people!
  • 2 0
 So, to defend good lifestyle habits, I wrestled in high school and college. When the EMT were loading me up, they assumed I had neck injuries, as 99% of these types of things do. At the ER they did a full body CAT scan, and when they found 0 neck injuries, they did just my neck again because they couldn't believe it was injury-free. I also only crushed my L1 & T12 vertabre, and had no other broken bones, despite being hit from behind by an SUV going 50mph. My brain MRI also came back normal. I suspect my thick wrestler neck saved my neck and brain from serious injury.
  • 1 0
 Also, my brain trauma specialist Dr, who works for the NFL, said my MIPs helmet probably helped a lot too (he also said things like MIPs do jack squat for football)
  • 1 0
 @mattwragg: all of my significant cycling injuries are on the mtb, while I’ve only ever had road rash riding on the road. Given, I’ve had to use mtb skills a few times to get out of a potentially very dangerous situation in the road (and I haven’t been on my road bike in years, so perhaps it is worse now).
  • 7 0
 52 and racing. With more focus, coaching and training I am faster than I was at 25. Also pretty rare that I crash after riding all these years. When I do crash though... it is usually more energetic and random than it used to be. It sort of feels like a bad one is inevitable. I'd rather play it fast than safe I guess, for now .
  • 7 0
 Aptly timed post for me. 33 here, in my 3rd season of riding and had progressed rather quickly after the MTB bug bit me hard and was riding almost daily. Was getting faster and decided to take on enduro racing this season. First race went pretty well, second one not so much...

Practice day came and was doing a second top to bottom lap on one of the stages. Not a section that was super hard by any means, but there was a quick compression in the trail then a small jump leading into a right hand turn, so you had to be turning off the lip. I messed something up in the compression, can't figure out how/why/what happened, but ended up heading straight off the lip so I knew I was in trouble immediately. Had enough time to get my head out of the way, but that was it and I smacked a tree at a pretty good clip.

While my bike is perfectly fine, I ended up with a acetabular fracture (Pelvis). I was out of state for the race, so I spent a couple nights in a hospital and made my way back home. After coming back I met with doctors and ended up having surgery a couple weeks ago. Now I'm onto recovery, but have at least another month before I'm able to be weight bearing on my left leg and not sure how soon I'll be able to ride again.

Can't wait to get on my bike after recovering, but this does serve as a reminder of how quick things can go wrong. I've had a number of crashes over the last three seasons that I've avoided any real injury, but my luck ran out this time. I'm expecting to be a bit hesitant when I get back on the bike, but I plan to ride just as much (or more) and hope to get back to racing again next season.
  • 1 1
 Damn dude, bummed for you over this - I shoulda had this break and worse on my last crash but yours is for real. Def' hoping for a speedy recovery for you. Guessing you'll probably have some slow-mo trail time getting back up to speed but at your age, recovery is gonna be waaaay faster than in later years. You're gonna be just fine...being unable to ride, for me anyway, juices me up to ride more later. Have a fast recovery -
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: appreciate it! Doing pretty well all things considered, but definitely missing riding my bike big time. I'll be back out there soon enough, just need to keep myself busy/distracted for a while.
  • 1 0
 @Cpodkowka: Word. Are ya able to even pedal at all or is it just zilch til ya get the OK. Hang in there ~
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Nothing right now, just on crutches with putting little to no weight on it for the time being. Very basic PT only for probably another month before I can really start walking/doing anything else. Ways to go, but already feeling a lot better.
  • 1 0
 @Cpodkowka: Well...yr still alive. That's good. Videos, old mags, reading a rehab...yr gonna come right back.
  • 7 0
 At 64 I find one really hard ride a week needs a week of recovery rides. And crashes are more significant as my healing powers are not what they used to be. I also ride better than I ever have partly due to better equipment and skills have adapted too. I’ve been riding mountain bikes since 83. Bikes and techniques have changed so much in that time. But yeah, I don’t take what I perceive to be big risks any more. I look at some of the trails near my house with really big drops that I won’t ride because of the exposure. They can be rolled and the drops are straight but two or three stories high is more than my brain will allow.
  • 6 0
 Man reading is a chore, could you do a tiktok video please to save me the trouble?

If I am not crashing the odd time out I don't feel like I am trying hard enough. But as I get older and the recovery from said crashes get longer and harder I do find myself doing hike-a-bike over or B line the stuff I would give a go to 10 years ago.

Plus it is all Chris' fault!
  • 6 0
 Lovin' all the tales of mayhem in comments above - maybe better than the article.

I'm starting bike year #31 at age 51 and somehow after 100s of busts and gallons of blood, I never had any breaks until last month (a metacarpel & cracked rib) but finally back up to speed in a few weeks. Should've had a concussion, broken collarbone, pelvis, humerus, and arm but somehow didn't. Blessings, counted.

Dunno how but I'm riding more miles, more total elevation, faster times and bigger hits per year than ever (Strava stats impetus) and even smoking most whippersnappers, at least in my ride-area (and on the video game that is Strava) but utlimately it's just fun to see you can keep getting faster times w/ age with PR's and the occasional T-10 and KOM.

Problem is - when I go down eventually, its prob going to be catastrophic. No delusions of pro or even high-level here, but I'm having more fun than ever, am more obsessed than ever in 30 yrs, and simply cannot think straight w/o riding at least every other day & daily if possible. Knowing my days are numbered, for me, is a drive I never had when younger.

My point is not to boast or compare but just to say it's possible to still keep going faster & farther and keep ramping it up even as years go by. The day I can't ride will eventually get here but for now, I just pretend I'm 21 again and f*cking loving it...and I'm gonna ride until I am literally getting covered in dirt.
  • 2 0
 props man, hope you keep it going and going.
  • 6 0
 57 here. Recovering from my latest crash. Forearm oozed for a few days. Likely fractured my thumb when it hit the dropper post lever. I've broken my collarbone 3x- Motorcycle on the race track, road bike pileup on the PCH, MTB crash doing a 25 mph downhill wheelie over a speed bump. Wounds take longer to heal, but I still push the speed like I'm a teenager. My last collarbone break really hurt and required two surgeries. wtf is wrong w me??
  • 2 2
 According to hankj the preacher above, you have a macho identity problem
  • 3 0
 Not a damn thing. Carry on.
  • 1 0
 dropper levers are no joke, my last crash the plastic dropper lever broke off on my knee and the remaining plastic clamped to the bar gashed right up my thigh. 14 stitches.. bought a loam lever after that for peace of mind
  • 6 0
 here I am at 65 years old and still riding my bike.....I ride and yeah I crash. and injuries take longer to heal for me, I have busted numerous ribs and knuckles over the years.... heading up to ride Fort William downhill track this weekend....I may not be the fastest biker on the mountain...but I'm a damn sight faster than the one sitting on the couch at home....:-) , life is for living one day at a time.... so get on yer bike and ride..... :-)
  • 4 0
 What a relief, finally a guy older than me on this website ;-)
I'm 64 & still shredding, just hurts longer in case of a big one.
My Chiro is my god.
Was DH master world champ at 50 in 2008, there was a guy there in his 70, riding the track all day long.
Quite impressive.

Cheers youngsters
  • 5 0
 Great article! At 46 I ask myself this often, especially with a growing list of injuries from skateboarding and mountain biking. I regularly ride with a guy who is 69, a real inspiration IMO. My hope is that when I'm his age I am still out there pedaling up and down the trails too.
  • 5 0
 I have MS. I'm 51. Riding with 14 year olds. Still progressing in some aspects but always injured and riding slower now. Still obsessed. Unsure where it will go. Looking good for at least another 10 years, hopefully 30. Keep Going.
  • 2 0
 Hats off to you, sir.
  • 4 0
 Agree... I am 65 and have taken two hard falls in the past 10 days, waiting for the third. CT scan showed no breaks...I get to keep my spleen. Hadn't fallen for previous two seasons.

Hardest part is the recovery; generalized stiffness and soreness that takes some time (weeks?) to resolve. It really does rattle you.

The best advice my 82 year old buddy gives me is " Just make sure you don't fall".

Easier said than done.
  • 4 0
 A month ago I had the worst crash of my life. I am 46, broken ribs dislocated shoulder, wrist, knocked out for about 10 minutes, concussion. Luckily I had a full face on.

I was riding a DH trail I have done a million times and zigged when I should have zagged I guess, I can't remember what happened though so I don't really know what made me crash. Maybe I hit a deer lol.

Rode last weekend for the first time in a month at the local bike park and I will be racing (more participating than racing realistically) with my kids in the Dunbar series in 2 weeks.

Stuff happens, is it worth it, HELL YA!!!!
  • 4 0
 I'm in my 50's and I don't ride the scary "no fall zone" stuff anymore. Not sure if I miss it or not. It wasn't that I really *wanted* to risk it before, but I was disappointed in myself if I wussed out and didn't ride it, and that disappointment is what I think I was actually avoiding. The little thrill/relief of not dying was short lived, but a ride where I didn't take the big drop felt hollow for a lot longer.

Now, I have the excuse of "I'm getting too old for that kind of crap", and I don't feel that disappointment anymore if I take the more sensible line. Maybe that's just the wisdom that comes from age. Either way, I'm still having plenty of fun riding, and it's keeping this half-century old body fit and healthy.
  • 2 0
 @pixelguru
Yep. I can relate to this! I used to try to tick something off my scary list on every ride. If I didn't do the big drop, gap, step up, super steep line etc. I'd beat myself up and stew about it for a long time. I'm in my late 40's now, self employed and happy just having a great day on the trails...and not breaking anything (both me and my bike)
  • 4 0
 At 60 risk/reward is pretty simply, the bigger the drop or gap the longer the recovery time.
Nobody cares if I do 2 foot drop/gap or 20 foot drop/gap different is healing time If I don't make the it, could be 2 day recovery or 2 month recoveryFrown
So I never do anything that will take me out for more then a week, I figure I will be able to ride until I am 70 maybe moreSmile
  • 5 2
 When I first got into riding DH the single best thing I did to improve my riding was wearing full upper body armour. I crashed as often as anyone progressing does, but that armour meant I was right back at it and gave me confidence to push myself. Seeing where the plastic was stressed and the huge gashes tells me it's saved me from multiple broken bones and stiches. I don't hit the deck as often these days, but I still wear low profile full upper armour when riding the big bike. The positive mental impact of being physically protected is huge.
  • 2 4
 upper body armour & pads in general protect against scuffs & bangs. they wong prevent broken bones or pulled ligaments or concussions. dont be fooled into thinking armour makes you invinceable. I prefer less armour - then I'm 10X more focused.
  • 7 1
 @a-d-e: I never mentioned ligaments or concussions. I know I'm not invincible and have had numerous injuries. I do know that my hard plastic armour has prevented direct impact broken bones and deep lacerations. Not wearing armour means I'm less focused as my subconscious knows there's greater consequences to a crash. You do you, but I'm a fan of armour and recommend it. Even just to prevent scuffs and bangs.
  • 3 0
 52 here - been riding since '92, & finally fractured a bone for the first time last May. always considered myself a finesse rider by picking the cleanest lines & choosing the path of least resistance. that said, i crashed hard, went in for a closed wrist reduction the next day & was sidelined all summer in a fiberglass cast.

so $35k & 2.5 months later, i got back on the bike again & now ride even more conservatively than before. if you mountain bike regularly, injury will occur. it's pure statistics - eventually, your number comes up.

my attitude is, always take the safe route & live to ride another day.
  • 2 0
 Hope you heal well.

How much will insurance cover of the $35K?
  • 2 0
 35 f***ing K, that's just not right
  • 2 0
 $35k for a closed reduction and long arm cast is robbery. I work in orthopedic surgery and even for self pay patients with no insurance it should not have cost near that. Additionally, the standard of care for an adult distal radius fracture is generally open reduction, internal fixation; i.e. plate and screws. A non-insured patient could probably strike a deal to have that done for roughly $4-5k.

I am well-insured and always ask about a self pay rate when getting any kind of medical treatment. The discount is usually significant and may be less than your deductible. Save the insurance for the catastrophic injuries.
  • 1 0
 @njcbps: thx - i was lucky enough to qualify for charity care through the hospital. application process took about 2 weeks, then a 3-month wait to receive an award letter. nerve wracking to say the least...
  • 3 0
 My body is 40 and my brain has never knew more about riding than it does today. Never say die, send it always and skid into the grave barely held together. Its not a waste, I'm using it up, every last drop. At least that's my plan.
  • 3 0
 This sport is full of middle-aged hard-chargers. Lots of my friends over 50+ are riding really hard, just a tad lower than your domestic pros
Sure, crashes might have more impact and recovery might take longer while older. I'm mid 40 and I have a more calculated approach, I work my way when tackling new features, I don't take chances and I won't commit until I have enough confidence that I can hit anything safer. I offset luck with experience.
I still ride as hard as your younger adults.
If you look at any Enduro or DH race results. you'll see the 40+ and 50+ (cat1, masters, etc) are stacked and are often as fast or faster than the 19-29 or 29-39... Actually, the 19-39 are actually slower because they were faster, they would actually race pro..!
  • 3 0
 All I ever did was hucks. I never had many hard spills. Somehow I only broke my hand once. That's it. But at only 33 my knees and back feel 80. I definitely didn't ride for the fitness aspect of cycling. Now it flat out hurts to ride. Therefore I've gotten incredibly out of shape. I'm so out of shape it's no longer enjoyable to try to ride to get back into shape. It's a vicious cycle.
  • 3 0
 The thing that blows my mind, is how much MTBers in general don't protect their shoulders. even a lot of the core protectors don't even touch your shoulders.

And yet, here i am at 41 being told I need a shoulder replacement, and learning the hard facts that we can't fix shoulders well: they can replace them, but the replacements aren't durable, and you can basically never crash again, or you risk not being able to raise your arm for the rest of your life.

Protect your shoulders folks. you can ride with fake hips, fake knees, almost everything else, but you kinda only get one set of shoulders.
  • 1 0
 I've separate my left should 4 times, fully snapped that ligament 3 of them. Just recently did it way on the inside. That healed in a year, not completely but mostly okay. In retrospect I'm glad I never really did it good, last time was an eye opener about how vulnerable you are if you jack up the insides of the shoulder
  • 1 0
 I noticed that during a recent trip to Whistler bike park: Many folks had chest and back protector (which is still useful), but the larger impacts seem to happen most on head and shoulders.

What are you using now as shoulder protection?
  • 2 1
 @njcbps: nothing, TBH. I can't really ride currently due to the state of my shoulder, and when they replace it, I won't be able ride anything more technical than flat XC trails for the rest of my life.

You're not wrong however, there's a real gap in options for people to protect their shoulders. Basically the only guards with real shoulder protection are the full on, hard shell, full upper body guards.
  • 3 0
 Being strong is a good shoulder protector... ongoing shoulder issues from crashing/being dumb have nagged for a while but PT helps and I would have been less injured in the first place had I been stronger
  • 2 0
 You are way too young to be in the total shoulder replacement conversation, unless you have REALLY fucked up that joint. I work with a world-class shoulder guy and we do some amazing work, it is very rare that we are replacing a shoulder joint on someone under 50. Seek more opinions on that treatment plan.
  • 1 0
 @rocketrepresents: I think you meant to reply to @groghunter, fully agree with you though
  • 1 0
 @rocketrepresents: i have REALLY f*cked up that joint. As in, the entire glenoid and humeral knob are at zero percent cartilage. literally bone on bone. the shoulder replacement will end up being forced when i go for a check up with the ortho and it becomes concerning if i have enough bone left for the replacement joint to anchor to.

And without a glenoid socket, i have basically no shoulder stability, so i can't control a bike in technical terrain.
  • 1 0
 @groghunter: Sounds like your shoulder is in pretty bad shape. If your rotator cuff is intact and functional then a total shoulder is your best option. If the cuff is badly torn or atrophic then a reverse shoulder replacement would need to be done for stability reasons. Neither of those treatment plans should keep you off the bike, just may have to change the way you ride, as stated. Good luck, no matter how its fixed!
  • 1 0
 @rocketrepresents: yep, which is part of the reason we're not rushing it. keep working with the PT on the rotator cuff and shoulder overall so we've got the best possible situation pre-op. the replacement will be my 4th surgery in 3 years, and i've had pretty limited movement post-op after each of the first 3, so we're trying to restore as much range and get rid of as much muscle disfunction as possible before we put me under the knife.

To be clear: my case is 100% an outlier. @rocketrepresents is absolutely right that shoulder replacements aren't common for people in their 40s, and honestly, not even very common for people in their 50s. but that's part of the problem: replacement shoulders are not designed for active, middle aged folks. they're designed to restore function for people in their 60s who can't raise their arm enough to wash their hair, or move it enough to wipe their butt.

The problem is that, in addition to my "apocalypse level" shoulder injury, there plenty of other shoulder injuries that don't require (or can't be helped) by a replacement, but can significantly limit your ability to continue riding, and that it's hard to find anything to protect your shoulders well, from any brand.
  • 2 0
 @car-ramrod: Been thinking about this comment for a bit, wanted to address it.

You're 100% correct, and MTBers in general need to do more strength training, especially as we get older.

but it isn't a pancea. neither of my most recent injuries would have been helped by stronger shoulders, rolling out of the crash, etc. sometimes you just get bit, and it can be life changing.
  • 3 0
 Unpopular opinion here but I'm 54 and still charging hard and do not plan on slowing down. I've broken numerous bones and many other semi-serious injuries but that isn't going to stop me from getting after it on the trails. Riding at my peak speed is the most fun thing in my life. I may have to change that philosophy at some point but not at 54! Ride hard or die!
  • 1 0
 Drifter: you say broken bones. Did you also tear ligaments in your history? I fell like bones heal up well but ligament jobs never end up as well as the original.
Twisted thumbs and knee (twice) on myself sure slowed me down and had permanent impact on my life. Incl. Back pain derived from compensation posture because of the damaged knee.
  • 3 0
 I’m 59 and just back from 3 weeks in Whistler. Still riding the park trails I’ve been riding for last 18 years and don’t feel any slower. That’s probably an achievement as those trails have certainly got more blown out over the years
  • 2 0
 @WelshClemo
Not just blown out. Some of those trails aren't even the same anymore. Maybe I'm the only one who misses the old version of Dirt Merchant, with the greasy little ramp at the beginning. Or the original GLC drop. But then there's lots of good new stuff too I suppose.
  • 2 0
 @srh2: certainly miss the glc drops, the wooden joyride drops and the old HOD when you didn’t relax until you’d passed the orange crash net
  • 1 0
 @WelshClemo: Yes!!
Sometimes I wish things would just stay the same.
  • 3 0
 "Use it, or lose it", or put another way, "things in motion, have a tendency to stay in motion"... My own experience here is that people who remain active and engaged in their outdoor sport of preference as they age have a tendency to act and feel years younger than their actual "number"...
  • 2 0
 Oh man I can relate. A few winters ago, at age almost 40, I OTB’d on my commute home from work. Never saw what hit me in the dark, turned at out at later inspection to be a fist-sized-rock that threw my front wheel off course, resulting in a scraped hip, shoulder, knee, and palm (thank you ski gloves). Swollen knee and crack in the wrist had me limping for a long time and rehab even longer, but as I walked away from the crash, bars all bent, I remember feeling a sense of relief knowing that I could take such a beating and still walk it off, or almost.
Also, as far as I know I was the only parent at my daughter’s Christmas recital 10 minutes post-crash whose jeans had a ripped knee smeared in blood. Good thing it was a dimly lit affair.
  • 2 0
 I'm 35, and have been riding for 3.5 years.

I am trying to progress as fast as I safely can, so that I can build up the skills needed to ride safely into my sunset years (like the 74yr old guy mentioned above).

The "day to day" types of crashes I'm not particularly worried about, as with pads, those are typically just a scrape, a bruise, something like that. Inconvenient, but the actual crash I'm not super worried about. I do find those useful as a check for "maybe I need to work on this technique, or adjust my riding to be safer" or stuff like that.

Its the bigger life changing things I worry about. And not just the permanent life changing ones either (although obviously those are the most worrying). But even a short term "I can't do these things that I normally do" causes complications with work and family. And preventing those... seems to be part luck, but also part preparation (wearing appropriate gear), and part mentality (choosing when is a go/no go situation, how not to get in over your head, etc).

Good luck out there everyone Big Grin .
  • 2 0
 If you are physically in shape and your head is in the right place then age should be no barrier to continued progression in any extreme sport. As you get older and hopefully wiser the risk you take should be more calculated. The difficulty comes more with responsibility and whether you are able to justify an injury that could affect work or family life. On the flip side, life is for living and if riding bikes or another extreme sport is your thing then the positives for your physical and mental health can be worth it. I live for doing jumps and progressing my riding and at 46 I am still improving. I am also self employed and do a significant amount of childcare so serious injury would be an issue. Compared to when I was younger I stretch more and I am more calculated in my risk taking.
  • 3 0
 Age will eventually come into play. Whilst exercise and mental attitude can slow things down physical deterioration is inevitable and will catch up with you eventually. I'm 55 and still fighting fit, but I know it's going to happen at some point.
  • 2 0
 I had a horrible BMX racing accident in my late 30's, tore all 4 ligaments, meniscus, and dislocated kneecap. My wife had to nurse me through 2 surgeries and months of PT. I'm still not the same. I do ride MTB from time-to-time but I take it way easier, I can't put my family through that again.
  • 2 0
 How long can I keep doing this? If that is the question, the answer is, "for a long time more". In my 50s and I sure as hell have no intention of slowing down or trying to limit my push. In my opinion, slowing down is akin throwing in the towel so keep learning, keep pushing, just use your year's of wisdom to know where the line between progression and probable harm lies.
  • 3 1
 43 here and no intention of getting a "dad bike" anytime soon. I have been skiing, surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding and mountain biking for most of my life. 30+ years in MTB. I have never had an injury aside from a laceration here and a bruise there. I have always been very methodical, even as a teenager, about risk and making good decisions. I have even skied 150+ day seasons without a single fall. A lot of friends would say I have a hard charging style too, but that's not my point

I feel that there is a balance between risk and safety in these sports, but in my experience, being methodical and listening to my body/mind has allowed me to push hard until today. I've always been progressing, but at a slow, incremental rate. I have never biked as well as I do now, or taken as much risk on a bike as I do now, because I have the experience, judgement and skillset (and I don't consider myself really that good by modern standards.... there are so many people charging these days).

I am not trying to sound cool or anything, but I think it is worth saying that based on my experience, you can progress in these sports well into middle adulthood or later if you make good decisions and take care of yourself. Of course, I could hit a jump wrong tomorrow and end up in the ER, but I did want to relate my experience and say that injuries are by no means part and parcel of mountainbiking. They are hard to avoid but not impossible.
  • 2 0
 I was smashing huge epics, stacking pages of uphill KOM's well into my mid 40's. Then I got Covid..and 14 months later I'm riding like I'm 85. Oh well, its getting better, slowly. Ride now folks, as much and as hard as you can. You never know when it'll be taken away.
  • 2 0
 Damn. Take it easy and slow. Get better
  • 2 0
 For decades skiing was my primary sport. If I wasn't skiing, I was daydreaming about skiing. MTB is battling for that spot with me now, but something I learned in skiing has translated well into my riding: don't stiffen up when I crash. I learned in skiing that if I'm not rigid for that initial impact, it hurts a lot less and I seemed to get injured less often. In MTB, I've gone over the bars onto "baby heads" as we call them in my circle. Basketball sized round rocks half exposed in the trail. Other than some bruises, I got up unhurt. And I'm well over 50. I know I won't always be so lucky, but so far, so good.

Also, I like seeing so many other riders in the 50+ age group commenting here and not being attacked for their age. I've seen a lot of that on this platform by certain individuals. I've never understood those people. Do they hate their parents and grandparents that much? Even in my teens & 20's I always saw people older than me as more experienced and someone I can learn from. Most of my skiing skills were learned from guys much older than me. And I miss my grandparents who I learned a ton of things from. I hope someday that someone will say they learned something valuable from me as well.
  • 9 8
 46 checking in here. I hit 40 and thought it was nothing, kept riding, kept progressing. I came in a little too slow on a five foot platform drop at 43, split my DH rated full face into six pieces and sprained my neck so badly I still can't sleep with a pillow. That didn't slow me down either. What slowed me down was, six months later on the same drop someone did the same thing and died on the spot. Yes, they took the feature out (90' corners on the run-in can lead to weird brake checks) but it got me thinking.
There's a point in your life where you live for your family, and you take risk on behalf of your family. It's a heavy thing to weigh. How do you explain these sorts of outcomes to your kids?

As I approach 50 I finally see myself starting to step away from things I've always ridden confidently. Two weeks ago a riding buddy went off a feature he rides confidently and consistently. He could not have seen the downed tree in the landing zone, it just wasn't visible before takeoff. We continue to get good news from his hospital stay, but like me he's a dad. It wakes you up.

My biggest takeaway has been: don't wear armor until you've exhausted what weight lifting can do for you. A weight training program is the best protective in the world. I can't stand turtle suits on people with no weight training, and I used to be an offender.

Over 40, weight training is like an oil change. Do the maintenance if you want to go the miles.
  • 21 0
 'don't wear armor until you've exhausted what weight lifting can do for you. A weight training program is the best protective in the world.' this could be the worst advice I've ever heard.
  • 2 0
 @mel22b: what weight training program would you recommend to help with injuries that come from a 1999 Lexus RX300 going 50mph
  • 3 0
 > I can't stand turtle suits on people with no weight training, and I used to be an offender.

Wow that must be really hard for you.
  • 1 2
 @mel22b: Seriously, words to live by there. I've needed to get serious about lifting for a while, and this might just give me the motivation to finally do it.
  • 2 0
 @Mtmw
Female in my late 40's here.
Re: "I can't stand turtle suits on people with no weight training"
I've been mountain biking for almost 30 years. When I ride the bike park, or my dirt bike I wear the turtle suit. I don't care if it looks dumb. Yes, weight training is important, but I've had enough crashes over the years to know that it won't always save me. I've lost count of how many times I've eaten sh1t, got back up, dusted myself off and am good to carry on, thanks to my upper body armour. Lots of deep gouges in the plastic shoulder, elbow pads and spine plates, where not wearing the "turtle suit" would have meant the end of my day and a trip to the hospital. Everyone should do what is right for them. Don't want to wear the armour? Then don't.

As I approach 50, I am reminded of all the snowboarding, mountain biking, dirt biking and other dumb things I've done to injure myself over the years. Lots of aches and pains. Currently waiting for surgery to repair an old injury in my wrist. I'll keep riding until I can't.
  • 1 0
 @mel22b: FWIW I got that advice from my physical therapist who is also a DH rider, but perhaps it's not good advice! I know this is pinkbike, but I'm open to your counterargument.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: curls and calf raises
  • 3 0
 @Mtmw: Im not bubble wrapped but I am with every and all new tech protection for the body. if Its neckbrace too tailbone I have it covered. Why not.. Play it safe...Shirtless cool dude with goldie locks hair at out local DH MT is just playing Russian Roulette. Sooner or later you will crash an burn. At least Ill still have skin in the game.
  • 8 1
 As this thread fills with defenses of body armor- I know I cannot stop this freight train, but I feel the need to point out I didn't say "don't wear body armor". I said "weight train if you're going to wear body armor". The reason, as it was explained to me, is that you need a solid hip hinge and correct core posture to be able to ride heads-up (avoid crashes), you need strength training to absorb impacts and lower fatigue during aggressive riding (avoid crashes), that connective tissue strengthening mitigates FWOOSH injuries, and that once you've done these things you can put on body armor and start to progress towards bigger moves. The idea is that you need the physical capacity to hit big stuff before you armor up to hit big stuff. I did not say "don't wear armor". I suggested that people with zero physical capacity to absorb drops armoring up and crashing on drops is the wrong way to move forward.

This argument could be terrible advice. I took it and it's worked for me. I wear armor - and I deadlift and work my hip hinge intentionally. These things feel like a paired solution, I bought the argument.

Is progression hitting big features without the necessary physical capacity and crashing twenty times a week?
Or is progression getting your training right before you send it?

I am now ready to hear more defenses of body armor in response to an argument I never made :-)
  • 2 0
 @Mtmw I didn't get into armour in the piece as I think it's personal choice for folks - I certainly don't want to be the guy telling people to ditch their body armour, but suffice to say my personal choices are not so far from yours.
  • 2 0
 @mattwragg: Well clearly given the comments your instincts on this are spot on, and again thank you for this, a thought provoking read.
  • 1 0
 I used to love ride bmx for 10+ years and as part of the process of learning complex ricks you need to learn to crash - for example watch the Danny mac outtakes and he has literally hundreds of crashes for a single clip. Mtb is totally different and trails are a lot more unpredictable but knowing how to eject is a great skill to have. Pushing 40 and still going hard.
  • 1 0
 I'm 51 and cannot imagine a life without riding all sorts of 2-wheeled devices. My last MTB crash (about two years ago,) broke my collarbone. It didn't even make me consider stopping.
Someday will I stop? Hmmm, maybe, but I tend to think I'll just slow it down as the years go by.
  • 1 0
 I always forget that I don't bounce quite like I did when I was young. I'm 56 now and recently ruptured my rotator cuff on National Trail in South Mountain. I'm healing now, but know I'll be back at it when the confidence and strength come back.
  • 4 0
 “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life” - Muhammad Ali
  • 1 0
 young people have zero clue what is possible later in life. zero. I too had zero clue. I took up mtb at 39. I may not be from a BMX background but I did skateboard until 38 - had a knee injury snowboarding so hopped on a mtb.. I'm outrunning shredders in their mid 30s but I have worked relentlessly on my bike skills. I have had 2 shoulder injuries one of which cost me £20,000 in lost earnings - but I do now have titanium body parts!! 49 this year.
  • 1 0
 2 great articles in a row from Matt Wragg! After riding for decades, a bike park opened near my house and I taught myself to dirt jump at age 50. Much blood was spilled and much was learned. The real lesson came a few years later in a "just riding along" crash. instant front washout on familiar mellow terrain slammed me face-first into the dirt, hard. Harder than I've ever hit the ground. I could immediately tell it was bad, reinforced by gasps from people passing by on the trail. Broken jaw, torn ligaments in the hand and a whole lot of stitches needed. Over the next year or so, upgraded to a full-face helmet, more stable bike, and a whole new perspective on crashing and aging! Still shredding!
  • 1 0
 I can never tell if it is better to have a fast WTF happened crash or a slow mo ohhhhhhhh ssssshhhhhhiiiiiiittttttt where you see the ground approaching. One thing I will say is helmets have improved over the past 20 years, I crashed in college and remember nothing except waking up to water getting squirted in my face. A couple yeas ago I fell in a much more dangerous spot and the helmet absorbed the impact.
  • 1 0
 I've been racing XC for 32+ years and am in my mid 50's. I am faster now on the downhills than I was in my 20's but that is mainly because bikes are just so much better. I enjoy technical back country trails and longer climbs. I don't do any jumps and that is fine with me. I challenge myself but have no problem walking a hill where the risk level is too high. I want to ride, not spend time in the hospital. A few years ago I rode with a younger guy for a long weekend. He got big air all the time. He also crashed every day we rode together for 3 days in a row. He was a little faster than I was going downhill but the big difference was that he had a much higher risk tolerance than me. He jumped all the time and would try to do anything. If I crashed like he did, I would not be riding for a week after that first day which is why at my age I am much more risk adverse.
  • 1 0
 50 here - shout out to all the old guys commenting on this one! This post is very well written and is spot on. Sometimes feels like I’m either recovering, just injured, or about to be injured at all times. So far, not when I’m hitting anything big or crazy fast, but dang if I don’t find myself on the ground here and there. If we’re not crashing, we’re not really trying, right? But, yeah, learning to crash correctly is a skill I’m still honing…along with the usual stuff we all work on.
  • 3 2
 At 58, and for the first time in my life, I've hit a fitness wall that I just can't seem to work past. No amount of riding, eating well, and drinking water helps. It's frustrating, but I've come to terms that the way I ride has changed... and it's very likely that an eBike is in my near future.
  • 5 3
 The e bike will help with the fitness. I lost 15lbs in 2 months after buying one. You can ride every day and not be shagged. I do 2.5 hrs a day and have never had so much fun.
  • 2 1
 Screw fitness its all about fun. Every moment of every ride on an ebike is fun.
  • 3 0
 Man, I feel ya.. So many people bad on the ebike, but anyone that knows anything about the heart knows that your max heart rate is now probably 170-175?? compared to 200-210 when you were 20? I live in Colorado and at 53 I am feeling the same thing, riding 5 days a week up hills here and keeping my heart rate at 90% of its max is actually a detriment. I got an bike this year and riding that 2x per week and the regular bike 2-3 times a week has been a BIG help.. need those easier days on the heart, but I don't road bike and don't want to... and its fun as hell..
  • 1 0
 I'm 46. There is a downhill trail by my house that I have ridden at least 60 times. Last June I had a serious crash and damaged my leg and had a massive hemotoma that is still visible a year later. The weekend before last I was doing a "slow ride" with a buddy of mine and hit a rock with my pedal and landed face first in a pile of rocks. It wrecked my TLD Stage, and because I was doing a casual ride, I didn't wear my elbow or knee pads and I trashed both. It's taken me almost 2 weeks to be able to bend my knee properly without insane pain. I am done riding anything DH related without full pads. I don't care if I'm going easy or hard, nor do I care what anyone thinks about it. There seem to be a lot of people out there who think that wearing protective gear is somehow uncool. They will eventually learn the hard way that no protective gear and half shells helmets won't cut it forever. You will mess up. The only question is how bad.
  • 1 0
 Volunteering at enduro stage races has reminded me of the tortoise and the hare. There is an older rider who started every morning of multiple Trans BC events on his yoga mat. I’m not sure how he placed, but I do know that he was usually celebrating at the end with no significant injuries.
  • 1 0
 Im almost 51 and what ive learned is that dialing back my speed by 20% reduces risk of crashing by 90%.
I dont ride the gnar I used to and tend to keep the wheels on the ground, but i still have a lot of fun and ride stuff worthy of my 6" bike and expect to still ride for many years, perhaps with more adjustments in the future. Probaably will be able to ride longer than Ill be able to run. i think riding keeps me young and is good for my nervous system and reflexes.
  • 1 0
 A shout out to all the OG rippers out there! This board is a testament about how fun our sport is, and how appealing it is across all ages. This a special thing.

And thanks to pinkbike for publishing these good articles. F$%^& Beta.
  • 1 0
 Great post. I'm recovering from surgery as a result of a MTB accident too. I'm getting up there in age but trying to re-live a youth that I didn't have on bikes. I actually have a DH bike on order and contemplating canceling for a tamer bike. I don't want to get hurt again trying to live up to a DH rig.
  • 1 0
 47 years old. I don't bounce like I used to and crashes certainly hurt. I'm totally cool with people less than half my age doing crazy stuff I wont try anymore, A key lesson of life is that reward is rarely without risk. But also your mindset impacts how much reward you recieve from your risk. Its great satisfaction clearing a challenging obstacle. You just get comfortable with the obstacles being less crazy than they used to be. I think one of the biggest learnings with age, is identifying and controlling risk. At an academic level, risk is calculated as probability x impact. For risk controls, I pick my lines and obstacles more carefully. Also, I'm cool wearing lightweight knee and elbow pads these days everyday standard trail riding. I don't even notice them but they make a difference when you crash.
  • 1 0
 Still going at 60 even though my bikes have tried to kill me multiple times, at 55 I crashed on Crabapple at Whistler and spent 25 days in the Hospital, those are the only jumps I have not hit in the bike park since that happened but I came very close to trying aging last summer. At the moment just riding the gnarly lines here in Squamish, no I cant ride them all, but most of them!
  • 1 0
 Mid-40s, broke my hand in 2020. Tumbled correctly, but a rock was in the way.

A plate, some screws and a few months and I was (mostly) okay again. That's a slow heal.....If you make a living at being fast and/or rad, taking big chances might be worth the inevitable price. .Otherwise, a little humility and self-awareness goes a long way.

But.....on a good day hitting a big line juuuuuust right is still pretty sweet.
  • 1 0
 So many crashes ,but still riding ,you will never know what’s next ,I feel for the ones that really can’t heal their ones for a life ,and some that just aren’t here ,but it’s life ,playing it’s part ,be safe ,but if you can just ride your bike even if you don’t feel like ,cause in the end you will be happy that you did ,I always regret the days that I say don’t feel like riding today ,not anymore ,even if it is just a cruise
  • 2 0
 63, in order: broken clavicle, ribs, wrist, pelvis, pelvis again, scapula, fibula, wrist and rotator cuff with separated bicep tendon. Riding is still fun, getting up in the morning is a bit slower.
  • 1 0
 Suffer from a tendonitis at my upper forearm a year now. Usually i ride my bike a few times the week, take part in races and in addition i work out for strenght and stability too. Since then i´m unable to do anything where my arm is needed. It´s absolutely worst case. Nothing really works out. Keep the arm still for a couple of weeks helps but it comes back immediately for no reason.
I´m 36 now. I had a couple of injuries the last years but my body was able to heal them really good. But this shit is different.
I´m sure a couple of years ago i wouldn´t have this struggle this long or it wouldn´t have happened anyway.
  • 1 0
 53, riding since I was 16, had the front quick release come off at speed at 18--concussed and face was torn up. Then nothing serious till 49--collar bone, then 50--wrist--same trail getting air. The more fragile I get, the more gratitude I have that I'm still able to enjoy this activity, the danger sharpens the Zen meditative quality for me. I mostly ride sketchy trails with lots of tech--gonna leave the bigger air to those that heal quickly--I still need to pedal to stay fit.
  • 1 0
 Strangely my worst injury happend when i was riding at 60%...
And so with all the others from goofing around.

I'ts when you don't focus when you get wrecked.

There is also one more rule to remember... never on a ride say one more time!
  • 1 0
 62, and going after the title of Senior Sender. No huge hucks, just want to flow, get some air smoothly, and land it with no hospital required. So far so good. Trail riding and XC racing on and off when not 100% surfing obsessed (50+ years of that so far), for thirty years or so. Now I host eBike trail rides for tourists at a Ski Resort/Bike Park and have lift access for the first time. 170mm travel Enduro on order. God help me. I'm reminded of the Yeti team motto from decades back: "Faster and Faster, Until the Thrill of Speed Overcomes the Fear of Death". Thanks everyone for weighing in on this. North Shore Betty is my Hero. We're all gonna die of something; OTB isn't the worst way to go, for sure. I think if I make it to 90, I'll have someone tow me into an 80 foot closeout at Jaws. Bye for now...Cheers...
  • 1 0
 At the age of 28, i just got my STP(commencal clash), it’s hardtrail before. Most of friends around me was given up the hobby because of work, family, and so on. Me too, of course. We have to live first. But i still take time to ride my bike when I was free. Now I got my new one, very exciting.
Keep your body healthy and be happy. MTB and other sports makes me feel younger, makes feel that i can still play. In body and in mind. I love this feeling.
Back to the point, we need to know the condition of our body, have some little crash makes exciting and keep safe can help me play longer. Daily exercise is important.
Always play, healthy for happy, happy for healthy.
  • 1 0
 There's a definite change in attitude in whether 40 is old. I'm not even sure 60 is old now - so many 60 year olds are doing cool stuff these days. I'm 42, and have been wondering what I can expect out of myself since I turned 40.. like can you continue to progress/push yourself, should you, is it too risky, etc etc.

I've been riding 30 years and up until doing a skid in some leaves two years ago, had never broken a bone, despite racing DH at the highest level. So the evidence suggests that for me it's not too risky.. especially as a more mature person/rider, you understand better where your limits are, whether what you're eyeing up is realistic or not.

It's a super interesting subject, and on the whole, I don't think age is necessarily the limiting factor anymore. It's how you look after your body. What you eat, how much sleep you get, and whether you do a little training to help slow down that natural degenerative process.
  • 1 0
 Yep, all of this and how much you hurt yourself being younger.

Was an MXer/funboarder for 20 years before turning DHer...
  • 1 0
 It's all relative to what you ride, I think. Been riding since I was 19. I'm now almost 53. And I certainly ride more challenging terrain now than I did when I started. But that's mainly because I live relatively near half-decent riding these days. I've crashed and broken ribs, toes and a metacarpal whilst riding in the last 10 years. Probably because I still have 0% talent.
  • 1 0
 About to turn 40 also and def agree learning to fall is important (I think judo when I was a kid helped me there) but I also think just sucking it up and wearing more body armour should be more of a thing too. I wear TLD UPS 7850 it's lightweight armour that protects the shoulders. I can crash roll and bounce out of it like I used to as a kid. Yes it's f*cking hot, yes you get looks off the kids but if it means you can still push the speed and the risk then it's worth it.
  • 1 0
 I also think weight training is super important as you get older, stay strong as long as possible and you keep your youth.
  • 1 0
 I’m two years ahead of Matt. This article resonates with me like so many others in the comments. I firmly believe that learning to crash is the true right of passage in our sport and a prerequisite to riding into old age. It is a clear dividing line between those who will forever be tourists and eventually hang up the bike and those who will persist.
  • 1 0
 I admire those riding still at 40 - Whilst I say RIDE or DIE. The body says different even at 27, so many crashes and head knocks in my younger racing years as a grom went un checked, Regretting it now. I'm going to ride till the wheels fall off.
  • 2 0
 Some of us have an impeller. Driven to lurch there has almost always been a bicycle. At 71 , I still ride more than you and have no plans to stop. The best treatment for joint pain and such is activity so don’t stop.
  • 1 0
 Way to go!
  • 1 0
 Hey
at 50 I came (again) to that Barrier. Doc told me that I need a new shoulder, a artificial one.
After 32 years of biking - it vanished.
Got that new shoulder now. Unfortunatly this works well... and as any good drug addict - I want to live with my drug. So I can now ride, but not the Park/Enduro Stuff (sometimes just a little in my comfort zone), but it seems to be enough to keep me happy. Don´t fool yourself, if youre addicted, you ride until your ass falls off the saddle.
  • 1 0
 Hi @mattwragg - long time no see! I'm now 57 and just had a bad one at Rich's place in Tuscany. Broken humerus, torn up shoulder, ripped bicep. Sore. Hitting what I thought was a jump and wasn't... Already looking at Ash's SKR holiday next year. Hope to be riding again in the autumn. Maybe see you for a beer sometime in Sospel...

Don't hit blind jumps while riding trails for the first time kids...
  • 2 0
 Ha, my number one rule on a bike is never hit anything blind - me and a buddy showed up in Morzine to stay with Alan Milway (when he ran chalets more than he trained athletes) and he told us about a guest the week before going blind of a small drop... the fella never walked again. It's safe to say we rode carefully that week, and that lesson has never left.
  • 1 0
 I agree and disagree with the comment that our sport is dangerous. Ive just been through this debate myself recently. Finding my son unconscious and not breathing on a trail and having to deal with the fallout of multiple complex injuries changes perspectives a bit. While he has no memory and at the age of 14 just wants to get back on his bike with no fear, I found the trauma of the experience left me questioning at 47 if the sport was too dangerous for myself or even for him. I think I came round to the view that there are far more spinal and head injuries in football, rugby, horse riding and car accidents but it will take time for my view of the risk to adjust back. I guess Im saying that our sport can be dangerous and can have high consequence, that this is often forgotten, and the responsibility of having a child injured brings that clean into focus...but at the same time there are many things that come with risk and we shouldn't stop doing what we love...or stop others, because thats a life not worth living. And I remember the days when I was younger where I was made of rubber, now when I hit the ground its more like dropping a fine china tea set on the floor.
  • 1 0
 I turned 53 this year and have ridden and raced bikes since my 20's. I don't race anymore but still try and ride at least 2 to 3 times a week. But after breaking both wrists and the same ankle 6 times, a broken and separated shoulder and my tibial plateau and of course I am now healing from 3 broken ribs and a partial collapsed lung. I just started riding again after 3 1/2 weeks off the bike. I have seen myself riding slower each years that I ride and also don't ride bike parks no where near as much. I wake up every morning now in so much pain from injuries and have to take pain killers just to make it through each day and still try and keep up riding. I have been wondering just how much longer I can keep this pace up. Also doesn't help that I work in a basically a manual labor job. All I can say is take care of yourself as accidents will happen when MTB'ing
  • 1 0
 Tucking/rolling is an awesome skill to have, and it'll get you out of a ton of jams. Anyone with a BMX background knows how to fall off a bike!

But some crashes don't go down like that, and your bike will toss you however it wants. It's a real false sense of security you get when you ninja dismount a few bike wrecks in a row.

I'm 38 and six weeks out from broken ribs and a seperated shoulder. The only thing I remember other than the crack when it hit the ground was flying through the air head first, with my hands somewhere down near my waist line.

I can ride at 90% and basically never crash. As soon as I push it to my limits (thanks Strava!) I risk wrecking.

Great article, stuff I've spent a lot of time reflecting on lately.
  • 1 0
 I turned 69 this year. Each year I'm a little slower on the uphill (maybe down too) but I enjoy riding and passing MTB riding on to others so I keep at it. When I was 67 I raced the VT 50 and this year I am signed up for the Slate Valley Epic. I fall, even crack a rib now and again, but I plan to keep riding until I physically can't!
  • 1 0
 I am just a baby compared to some writing on here. 47 years old, 29 broken bones and still like to shred hard. The problem is... when the knee pads go on and the full face, the youth I missed as this sport was not what it is today comes out. The countless hours in the gym and on the spin bike count for everything and its flat out. I dont want to be the miserable guy in the office, I want to be the 47 year old getting stoked on sending it on every ride. Calculated of course, but sending it to the best of my ability.
  • 1 0
 Most of the guys who scoffed at me over the years for talking about kettlebells, Olympic lifting, flexibility, yoga, Pilates, being diligent about minding injuries/physio, etc are no longer riding. So beware.
Just riding is not enough to maintain proper crash survivability as you get older. Plus all that extra credit work makes you look and function much better.
  • 1 0
 I have not been scoffed since yesterday for talking about kettlebells, spin, circuits, bootcamp.
I know its all "girls" exercises, so say all the guys scared to turn up and get smoked by girls when their little 10 rep triceps cant keep up with 4 sets of Tabata triceps.
  • 1 0
 Broke my elbow in half from an OTB back in 2015 at age 30. 7 years on and I can ride fine but any unexpected sudden movement (slipping off a root, for example) and I get stung with a really sharp pain in my forearm. That, combined with the crash itself, has significantly slowed me down on the trails.

It's kind of a wake up to the effect participating in a 'dangerous' sport has on the people around you as well.
  • 1 0
 So I'm 57 and had a rotten crash last year the day before Father's Day: distal 4-piece collarbone break (2 surgeries, 1 to put the JJ-hook in, 1 to take it out -proudly displayed on garage fridge...), 2 broken ribs and "mildly" separated shoulder. Probably one of the worst crashes I've had, came in too hot on a steep jump and went OTB. I received a crap--load of crap from my family and friends (not my wife or 19yo son though) but I worked hard at my rehab and when you fall off the "horse", you don't get back on you get a new "horse", lol, so i bought a new Pivot in January and started training for the Fall ride in Zion Utah. Finally getting my confidence and fitness back, so much so that after attending a professional meeting in Vancouver I went up to Whistler and rented bikes. The first day I rode an enduro bike on the local trail system and had a blast although I had to push through some mental fear to ride some of the wooden features (Pinnochio's Furniture) and then spent two days riding the downhill courses. Although I stayed on the greens and blues only (loved the technical stuff more than the flow stuff) I had an exhilaratingly great time! Of course those techy greens seemed closer to black trails I ride in North Georgia it was still big fun. Have I slowed down a bit, yeah, sorta, and ZI know when I'm not "feeling it" and have learned to back off and, as others have said, not push it to ride another day.. I love riding so much that I can' foresee giving it up and if that means that I have to back off some, then I hope I have the wisdom to do just that. This article was a great and timely read, as are many of the comments.
  • 1 0
 53 here and still shredding. I didn't start riding lifts and shuttling DH trails until around 37 and since have been to Canada/Whistler every year since 2009 minus a couple covid years. Have been riding mtn bikes since I was 20 and I actually think I am better today than ever. I can judge speed better, know my limits, when to push, when to be reserved. Don't do a lot of lift served or dedicated DH anymore as it seems to be less popular, but focus on steep tech, which in my opinion is a little safer as the speeds are slower.

I don't plan on stopping anytime soon, but it does suck to get hurt, body definitely takes longer to heal..
  • 1 0
 Amazing article. @mikelevy this article and the amount of engagement it is bringing reminds me of the video questions you had on the podcast. This is long-form content. As a digital marketer myself, I'm tired of hearing that long-form, written content is dead. It's not for everyone, nor is it for every situation. But, quality writing and story telling will always have a home, and the comments in this section prove it.

I got into riding at 38 and I've been feeling like wow, I just found a sport i love and I have to quit soon. Then I see North Shore Betty and people in these comments, let alone spandex-clad senior citizens with shaved legs flying past me on the climb trails and I realize I have a lot of time left in this sport...whether I shave my legs or not.
  • 1 0
 54 years on this carcass. And, I've wiped out, fallen, OTB, Flying W, high sided, low sided, endo'd, looped out, tucked the front, etc.... sooo very many times that I literally cannot begin to estimate the hundreds of times I've biffed over the decades of riding motorcycles and bikes. My riding buddies regularly caution new riders who tag along 'not to follow my lines' as they're often not-lines, but I digress. The main thing I've learned over the years is that you eventually get to the point where all this talk of 'progression' is bullshit, and just keeping the skills you've amassed over the years is 'progression'. Younger riders most certainly won't get this perception at all, but us older people will hopefully agree.
  • 1 0
 My advice: try to ride with or around people MUCH better than you in some aspect. You will get better but don't have a chance of matching them, so there is very little pressure to do so, but enough to keep you progressing. I'm in my late 40's and ride dirt/street where a lot of teenagers (and pre-teens) are so much better, but one of the best parts of getting older is you're confident enough to not care about absolute skill and focus on your day-to-day relative improvement.

I'll keep pushing until there's no more improvement, then decide what to do next.
  • 1 0
 67 years old here. Recently gave up mountain unicycling having lost the combination of strength and quickness to ride the black trails. There's a difference between age related loss of abilities on a mUni (where you usually just step off) and a mountain bike where you crash. I'm part of the eMTB crowd now and while I'm still building new skills I'm at an age where I'm loosing abilities. It is, in some ways, a frustrating stage of life. Having said that, there's a joy in a good flow trail that's truly special. Living isn't simply being alive, enjoying life is what's important.
  • 1 0
 AGE: 49
RACING AGE (would be): 50

If you're under 40, you probably don't get what it REALLY means to be "getting old". I know I said it all the time when I was riding at 35, 36, 37..., but once you go past your low 40s, ALOT changes. Healing time, especially, but fatigue, vision (HUGE ISSUE FOR MOST-rarely discussed), response time on the bike, etc. etc.

I hate to say it, but for me, the main issue was retiring from competition at about 46. Concussions, torn biceps, a broken foot that took for ever to heal--stuff that took over a year to heal--all of it added-up fast. I took out competition (really, racing downhill at all), and it's much more manageable.
  • 2 0
 I don't have the feeling that my vision (though it is getting worse) has a big impact. Response time seems like a huge issue, though. I'm not sure if it's a matter of the subconscious taking a long time to decide what to do of it's just that the body is slow to respond. Either way, getting old ain't for weenies!
  • 1 0
 I’m 57, got into mountain biking pretty late and it became a real passion after visiting my first trail centre, some 14 years ago.
Biking took over from skiing as my adrenaline fix, as my knees could no longer take hitting the slopes, years of playing sport taking their toll.
Crashing and injuring yourself go with the territory, although fortunately most crashes result in being laughed at and dented pride. I wouldn’t say that I have ever been particularly keen on going beyond my capabilities, I know where my limits are and although it’s good to push yourself, my thought process always follows the line of not having to prove anything to anyone. If I don’t fancy hitting something, I won’t.
I think we all reach a level where crashes happen less often, although the last one I had, a pretty innocuous one, left me with a haematoma on the hip which has taken a few months to finally disappear.
I try to keep myself pretty fit, but there’s no doubt that the recovery time does take longer as you get older.
  • 1 0
 Alright, here’s the obligatory introduction, I’m 51. I have been riding MTB since 1988. I ride, trails, skate park, dirt jumps, and love lift served bike parks, Angle Fire is my local. Last week I was lapping Crabapple Hits, Scheleyar/ Joyride to Dwayne Johnson to Polp Fiction, and Dirt Merchant with my 17 year old son. At Kamloops I loved upper Fist Full of Dollars to Wrangler but didn’t ride lower Fist Full of Dollars. My son deserves some credit for keeping my stoke high and towing me into Crabapple for the first time. I have not found that many 50+ riders hitting 50+ foot jumps, any actually. I don’t think being an older rider means you can’t progress. But I am not a hucker by any means. I think it’s very important in this sport to be honest about your limitations, and the environment. When the wind picked up I didn’t hit Crabapple. I wasn’t running Scheleyar at the end of the day after 9 Fitzsimmons laps. Some days just don’t feel “on” and I hang back a bit on those days. I did crash in Trestle on Banana Peel last fall and broke a few ribs. This defiantly shook my confidence. However after a few weekends at Angel Fire in May and some A-line party laps my confidence returned. The point being is that I had to put in the time on smaller jumps and have them feel totally locked in before I progress. I think the reality of how much time the elite level athletes that we all love watching put into their craft is not acknowledged. Just look at Friday Fails. Many people out there are throwing themselves off things they have no idea how to land. If you want to ride fast and go big when your 50 don’t be in a hurry to hit things you are not ready for. What’s the rush? You have a whole life of riding ahead of you.
  • 1 0
 This article is a little ironic for me at the moment. I'm 54 and was riding my local bike park last Friday and had a BIG one! The injury that no two wheel enthusiast ever wants. Broke my neck and had to get my C6/C7 fused together. I'm setting here currently with some weird aches, pains and numbness in my fingers on my right hand with a lot of time ahead of me to think about all the things I'm reading everyone talk about. While I understand, and somewhat admire, the send-it til the end mentality, I think to myself, I guess it's easy to say until the reality of how close I came to never riding again happens. I've always been into MX and MTB, fact is I love it!! Live for it! Never in all my years would I have thought that I'd be setting here in a neck brace wondering "How did this happen" and "What does the future of MTB'ing look like for me?" I'm certainly going to ride after I recover and get cleared, but I'm having a lot of thoughts about whether or not I'll just be happy to be trail riding guy or continue going to my local bike park and riding my DH bike? Tough thoughts when you're where you'd thought you'd never be!
  • 1 0
 At 38 I'm just learning to jump, big jumps. It scares the hell out of me but I primarily ride with my son and his group of 13-15 year olds who absolutely send it. I'm crashing a lot, but realizing that I do crash well, even the kids are impressed with some of my idiotic moves that I emerge from the dust plume smiling. Last night was bad. All within the first 100ft I came up short on a step up and thought I stove my frame in, panicked mid corner and stabbed the front brake to end up chest planting the berm; completely forgot how to ride my bike. When we got back to the van after the first run I offered to shuttle the boys and they looked at me in awe, usually I'm the one pushing for another climb! I said "this ain't working tonight, I gotta quit while I'm ahead". Thank you Matt for putting so eloquently into words what I've been struggling with and reassuring me that I'm still doing it right! It's a good hurt and I'll be back in the saddle tomorrow riding beyond my skill level with a big stupid grin.
  • 1 0
 58 & still like a try & get better at riding!
But best to chose when to push the limits, of your ability
But try my best to not crash to often, but did go head first into load of nettles last week, but nothing wrong with a little pain that you can laugh about & know you still can crash without real injury?
  • 1 0
 Retired from DH racing at age 35. Now 52, I teach at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. Yes, I still clear all the jumps. But I ride with a lot less aggression than I had in my 20's and 30's. When I raced, I always thought about my limit in terms of 100%. When I rode on weekends with other racers, I was typically at ~90%, crashing occasionally. Race practice at 95%. Race run at 110%. Now I ride at 80-85% casual, stylish and hardly ever crashing.
  • 1 0
 I would say that most mountain bikers aren't pushing the limits like we see on YouTube or on Pinkbike. We're just chilling, going out for a casual ride with our friends, our local group, or solo. Not really doing any jumps, not really descending like banshees. Pretty careful riding.
  • 1 0
 Can tell you haven't turned 40 yet as PB have published this article. As soon as you do, they will stop! Ageism in our sport is real. It doesn't matter how fast or good you are, though all demographics from podcasts to sales point at this generation as being the most important! Irony.
  • 1 0
 I don't get this. I know at PB that Mike, Mike and Brian are all about the same age as me, so if we fall off the map at 40, expect a much quieter site...

However, I would also ask whether it's worth thinking about the age of the sport before crying foul? As a relatively new sport, the older generation of riders today are often the first generation of older riders our sport has seen. And the response to this story suggests to me that in the future it's going to become a more and more important demographic - after all, from a brand's POV a 40+ year old mountain biker with disposable income is way more valuable than a 21 year old living out their Tacoma...
  • 1 2
 @mattwragg: Ive been racing for 28 years, every category, up to elite and world cups, and now EWS. When you get to Vets or Masters cat, you don't get a look in on PB. I have been masters world champ, 2 ews podiums in masters. and yet no mention in PB, world masters reporting is an absolute joke and same goes for EWS. Shame on PB.
  • 1 0
 49 years old checking in.....got my first legit mountain bike in 1991 ( Bridgestone MB2 w / BMX background ) took my first BJJ class in 1988, broken 20+ bones, 2x back surgeries, 2x ankle surgeries, reconstruction hand surgeries, countless concussions...competed at high levels blah blah blah....here's a tip, when you hit 40, stop drinking booze, replace with water, sleep a little more and get into a gym if you aren't already. It's really that simple, just don't be lazy - your body can take way more than you realize but once you fall into the mindset of the old guys above you're basically screwed but people love making excuses for their physical downfall, and its all the same....I USED to do all this cool stuff when I was young - enter excuses.
  • 1 0
 Coming up on 49 and hitting bigger jumps and gaps than ever. Handy that I have people 15 years my junior towing me into them and I'm crashing less than I ever did. I must be lucky when it comes to recovery. I have a squashed disk in my back from a car accident that never flares up after a bike crash and, save for occasional stiffness from tearing tendons in my pelvis, not even my broken collarbone hurts.
  • 1 0
 I am 50 and ride better than ever. A few years ago I choose to slow down and focus on skills and technique. I also became a certified coach and that really forces you to be your best and also puts your ego in check. Doing a stoppie in front of a bunch kids really boost your old man cred
  • 1 0
 Well written.....at 44 I don't crash as much as I used to but have always actually kind of enjoyed it. It's a dance to the rhythm of physics, with gravity leading. We will all get intimate with mother earth eventually. PARENTS, get your children in gymnastics when they are young Smile
  • 1 0
 I’m 57. Have had serious injuries. Took up the sport late in life at 47. Am one of the owners of a youth DH and Enduro team. We ride with the kids and race with the kids. Obviously not in the same categories. There’s a 68 yo who always shows up at the races in the 50+ category. Guy absolutely shreds. I’m 57 I’ll ride till I can no longer stand and then see if someone can help me get on my bike!!
  • 4 0
 More of these op-eds please!
  • 4 0
 A Man's Got to Know His Limitations....
  • 1 0
 ... So come on and chickity-check yo' self before you wreck yo' self.
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 Yet, there's really only one way to find them. I'm 53, healing takes forever, and the worst part is not riding while healing happens - but in those moments, I for one tend to forget I'm more fragile than I was. Those moments are also why I ride. We all make choices...
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 @krka73: My 3 year-old daughter was quoting this to other kids in the playground. Other dads approved.
  • 2 2
 56 years young . Got a nice hematoma on my leg right near the family Jewel s. Clipped a tree after pumping out of a berm. All I can think. Glad I didn't hit the jewels. For the most part I still bounce . Helps being muscular , strong ish. Work hard play hard . Ride till I die.
  • 4 0
 62 & this aging shit sucks my body completely betrayed me!
  • 4 0
 Well put. This is a good read. Only 36 over here but I hear ya!
  • 1 0
 Shoot.. I remember when you were just a grom at Crankworx Smile
  • 1 0
 Just turned 46..and I'm still fast as fuk..4 broken collarbones.. shattered tib and fib..cracked kneecap ..broken fingers.ect ect..still feel like I'm 25..no excuses we're all guna die soon..
  • 2 0
 I’m 57 riding mostly bike park and I’m only asking myself this question now after a nasty crash. 40 is a bit young to be thinking like this
  • 1 0
 Didn't start racing MTB until I was 40. After 14 years of XC and ultra endurance XC I bought my first bike with more then 120mm travel, hit some bike parks and signed up for my first enduro.
  • 1 0
 I picked up enduro racing at 55 in the 50-59 age class. It was (and still is) not easy. I guess it does not get any easier, you just get better. I have nagging tweaks now from two epic wipe-outs whose post-injury situations I manage now. I spend time in the gym daily splitting my workout over days to compress time commitment so that I can get at least get 2 medium level rides and a hard ride weekly with recovery in between. If you are older (or old-ish its all so relative unless your consumed by MTB marketing) you definitely relying on wisdom to make up for a lack of control and timing – but you are also taking massage, soaks, yoga, mental game, body armoring, and nutrition as serious as competing. As a teen it was a blip to spend a day hucking it off coal banks and abandoned stripping pit slag piles in a t-shirt and shorts. BMX and later MTB was full of shortcuts – a 32 ounce 7up and two hot dogs was enough to get you to the next day. At 56, there is no shortcuts anymore and you have to make all the small things better with less. Less VO2, less HR reserve, less muscle mass, less time, less heat tolerance, less people your age, etc etc.

I do not know if other “50-weight” racers have this particular challenge in the regional race format – each race is a drive and a huge time commitment – literally a 2-day outing if you're pre-riding because you get one race on that mountain per year. The areas are well know to the locals, but hard to replicate to the visitors – definitely a home-mountain advantage. Where I am is flow-dominant, and where I race is the opposite (big rock gardens, drops, peanut butter mud (this year) as much as a 3 to 5 hours drive away with 12 to 20 min runs and 4800 ft of vert. (7+ if it’s a MASS or ESE race which is way too far for my interest level) Crashing sucks as I and other “50-weights” can attest, but the travel time suck is something that makes racing un-fun and a bit of a silent sport especially if you not into the tent/van bro culture. At 56 you are invisible to younger riders but they will always help you out in jam. My kids got me gas cards which helps but sleeping and eating right become a much bigger deal than a night of drinking or seeing others sharing a toke between stages. It is funny though when your at a stage gate entry and other “50-weights” are around. Some are just super chatty and others just kinda silently hover nearby like an old shark which makes me chuckle. Competitive nature does not change with age that is for sure. My family seems to think I can keep it up – or at least switch to XC. I personally don’t know how long Enduro racing will last myself. Luckily I can pick enduro number plates that match my age so that is kind of an additional form of stupid fun.
  • 1 1
 When Covid started off-road biking was a no-no so I rediscovered road riding. Last few years I find myself doing more road riding than mountain biking, its fun in a different way. No driving to trails, safe to ride alone and don’t mind riding in the rain. Also safer because I stick to bike paths and bike routes and ride defensively in traffic. Mind you I still almost got hit by a car a few times so the point is ….
  • 1 0
 like my dad always said: i like to ride my (dirt) bike every weekend.
so, why taking too many risks? it´s much better to ride every weekend, we all know how it feels to be unable to ride...
  • 1 0
 56...waiting for a new hip now; had to hang up the bike until my lucky number comes up. But I (we) will be back! Until then I will live vicariously thru mtb videos or be the shuttle driver. Shred safe everyone!
  • 1 0
 I’m always the oldest rider at my DH park. 62 and just applied for my Social Security. I’m always striving to break my Stava record of being the fastest rider in my age group on the runs at my local bike park.
  • 2 2
 You best not be using a picture of Tracey Hannah for this, Don't do my girl dirty like that I wanted to forget that she retired, and I had I always wanted total success for her
  • 2 0
 2nd place in Innsbruck a couple weeks ago, time for a comeback maybe Trace?
  • 1 0
 the Lewis Hamilton anecdote is funny because Nico Rossberg often recalls that Lewis deathgrips the steering wheel when he crashes. He was on top gear way further back though.
  • 3 1
 So me almost 51, off to morzine for 2 weeks of 'feck it send it' next friday, can't have the 17 year old out doing me now..
  • 1 0
 Dude, I'm just crackin' up at your screen name! That's great!
  • 2 0
 great article! and yes, after a certain age mountain biking becomes all about risk management...
  • 3 0
 It should ALWAYS be about risk management. When I coach kids, I strive to teach them to approach big features in a methodical way. Riders like Brandon Semenuk and Greg Minaar have had (relatively) few injuries over long careers because of how they approach the risk of riding fast and pushing limits.
  • 2 0
 @wyorider: Also, Brett Tippie said in an interview he has never had major injuries (broken bones, etc.) beyond big cuts and bruises. There is an art to risk management; it's part of the skillset all mountain bikers can use.
  • 1 0
 A lot of injuries happen on easier trails when our guard is down. I think taking the attitude that you must be at full attention anytime you're on 2 wheels is a good idea.
  • 3 0
 Wow - the OG's like to WRITE as much as they like to ride!
  • 3 0
 Pick an age and be a dick about it...
  • 2 0
 Outside very pleased with the number of old farts here…maybe enough to pay for subscriptions???
  • 2 0
 50 years old, I just got more padding. Just started wearing a helmet 3 years ago. Wooops!
  • 2 2
 A whole thread from loadsa sad old c***s sayin "take it easy man"...... f*ck that, live for the shred, the first hits, age is just a number and what you don't tell her she doesn't know Smile
  • 3 0
 Plenty of D30 and tuck an roll, armadillos do it all the time
  • 1 0
 Knowing how to crash works, until It doesn't. There's absolutely no magic about that. It gets the best of us, and it's inevitable
  • 1 0
 Yep, I learnt pushing at 100% means you might not be riding tomorrow. I've definitely downgraded to 90 or 85% shred level, these days... It pays dividends in the Smile dept!
  • 1 0
 Great story!
Everyone should practice "Wragg Doll" maneuvers to learn how to fly & ride again. How else will you know where the line is and what you are capable of.
  • 2 0
 Learning to fall with style?
  • 2 0
 Matt Wragg is dope, loving this new series. Keep it up!
  • 2 2
 See 73 yo North Shore Betty- and don’t F-in worry about it! The only limit is the imaginary one in your mind!
— 60, and still shredding
  • 1 2
 Shredding? Sure. On the gas and hitting gaps like a rider in their mid-20's, nope.

Lifetime exercise slows aging, it doesn't stop it. If you don't recognize that you're likely to stop riding in an unfortunate way.
  • 2 0
 Be like North Shore Betty! Shred till yer dead!
  • 2 0
 Great article, Matt. I've got to say I really enjoy your writing.
  • 1 0
 Loving the content from PB these last few days!! Definitely the right direction, @brianpark!
  • 1 0
 Indeed - Betty would like to have a word with you: www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9iuSVnfisI
  • 1 0
 Just keep riding and don’t make age an excuse……. 58yrs old and still luv mtb’g

youtu.be/Z4yVUyoewQk
  • 1 0
 Getting old, you just get used to a longer recovery after crashes, which gives you more chance to tweak your fleet of bikes.
  • 1 0
 Excellent start, now who is going to make a video series about how to tuck and roll? Ben Cathro? I nominate Bernard Kerr.
  • 1 0
 Jordie Lunn knew how to crash, very well. A life changing injury could happen to anyone at any time on any feature.
  • 1 0
 Lewis Hamilton front tire washout, arms crossed over chest, suicide no hander into the trees FTW. So sick
  • 1 0
 Race Crash Rehab Recovery, rinse repeat
  • 1 0
 Old git. I don't turn 40 til January 2023.
  • 1 0
 "oww my bones are so brittle... but I always drink plenty of... MALK!?!?"
  • 1 0
 If 40 is old, I may as well just put my head in the oven now.
  • 1 0
 40 years.Im IN
  • 1 4
 Wow, at 40 you certainly have the experience to recommend people just go huck it at no age limit. Not. Check back when you hit 60+. Another useless PinkBike article.





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