Kilian Bron and Danny MacAskill are professionals but raise the stakes with their ability to ride technical, exposed lines.
You may have noticed a massive spike in outdoor sports participation recently as new enthusiasts flocked towards beaches and trailheads in search of healthy fresh air. Access has never been easier. However, while technological advances offer improved safety equipment, the underlying risks still exist. I, for one, am excited to see new people out exploring the forests and seeking that epic view or adrenaline rush, but all the eagerness with less awareness is wearing our Search and Rescue resources thin. That got me thinking, where do all of the "extreme sports" line up in terms of risk?
On a recent ride, I asked a friend why he didn't surf, since the area was highly prolific for that sport. His one-word answer was enough, "Sharks!" - ocean-roaming dinosaurs with daggers between their jaws. An attack can happen to anyone at anytime in waters where they are known to prey, regardless of your athleticism or awareness. There is no way to protect yourself from sharks except by staying out of their waters.
That discussion further developed into how mountain biking was much safer than other outdoor sports where the environment is less controlled; no risk of getting hit any a car, drowning, avalanches, and definitely no sharks. Yes, wildlife can be present in remote regions on land as well, but encounters can be mitigated by announcing your presence. Getting buzzed by a car road is out of your control. All of these potentially fatal ends seem more extreme than riding a bike through the forest.
Plunging further into the dangerous activities, the inherent risk of drowning in any water activity is real, whether that may be caused by bumping your head on a reef or getting held under a rapid while kayaking. Similarly to avalanches on snow-capped mountains, there is little warning and only luck pulls a few out of these dire circumstances. These "no way out" scenarios have always sent chills up my spine. Snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding, in or out of bounds, throw in more dangers to the snow sports with hypothermia and tree wells. Preparation and discipline helps avoid these predicaments, but on the majority of rides, those risks don't exist when out mountain biking.
What about a safety net then - say a rope while rock climbing? Sure, that is a seemingly safe lifeline, however, equipment can fail. Falls from short routes can still be dangerous if equipment fails or communication with a your partner dissolves. I'm not saying that mountain biking isn't dangerous or that a bike component failure has never lead to serious injury, but the severity of the crashes are generally less than falling from those heights.
We might try to fly off of jumps and ride down rock slabs that some would require a rope for, but it's dirt that we desire. Generally, mountain bikers travel on established roads or trails, which is not dissimilar to off-road motorcycles. However, speed is the perpetrator when motors get involved and the stakes are raised higher. To put this into a mountain biker's perspective, I'd go out on a limb to say that more severe injuries occur in downhill rather than in enduro racing. Still, there are no dirt avalanches to set off (at least not due to riding bikes down a slope), although I do wish dirt would fall from the sky sometimes.
After our mid-ride discussion, soaking in all of the elements around us, mountain biking seemed to be one of the most controlled outdoor sports. For the majority of the time, we purpose build what we want to ride. As we pushed up to session a well-built jump line, it left me in a satisfied place; well balanced on the risk versus reward scale. Most veterans in their respective sports take risk seriously and do their best to negotiate self harm, so where do you see mountain biking ranking in the danger of outdoor sport?
By far, head and shoulders above the rest, the worst injury I've ever had was road biking. I was hit by a car from behind when I was riding on a country road on the shoulder.
Road biking is the most dangerous (except I guess the flying stuff, where its only a matter of time until you die) of any traditional outdoor sport.
Similarly, my worst cycling injury out of 25 years of mountain biking and 2013-2019 road cycling was having a person behind me cross wheels in a sprint. I was fortunate to not have any encounters with drivers or vehicles.
To that end, paragliding is extremely safe by comparison.
From a risk point of view I don't think there's much difference BASE vs proximity.
Both involve similar proximity and are 1 shot deals (neither carry reserves)
I agree that jiu-jitsu takes its toll on the old joints, lower back, hips, etc.
Since you are familiar with the state, somewhere like Nampa or Meridian is WAY more dangerous for cyclists than SE, N, and E Boise. If I didn't live where I lived in the city, I might not be super into riding on our roads, but I feel pretty comfortable plus the greenbelt is there.
What I am trying to get at is that an individual's statistical risk of an activity should be looked at in more detail than just the overall activity risk. Same goes for MTB. Whistler Bike Park black and double black trails obviously have more statistical risk than blue trails in the Boise Foothills, but they are lumped under the same risk category.
Boise is about to build over 100 miles of bike paths on canals (or at least that's the plan), which I am pretty excited about.
@barcolounger: try marriage: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weekend_
2019 alone saw 712 cyclists die because of an incident with a vehicle.
Many road riders (motorcycle or bicycle) spend long days riding, with no thought of hours spent on any day doing their dangerous activity.
Similar but with less time spent with whitewater kayaking or most other sports listed except for the sky sports.
How many minutes of BASE jumping equals one death?
Nowhere even close to the minutes of road riding per death, for that it would be years of riding per death.
It's all in how you calculate it. Do you count 6 hours of road riding to equal 6 seconds of fall time on a tall BASE jump?
Personally I don't, just like when discussing the safety of driving a car it's risk of accident per miles driven. That same metric needs to be applied or its all perception and not necessarily reality.
Now on perception; I've riden about 100,000 miles on motorcycles on the road and I've seen so much crazy it would be an hours long horror reel. But in actual fact I've had zero collisions while riding my motorcycle, and just in the last year of 10,000 miles worth of driving my car two collisions (Luckily neither my fault). In fact per mile I've been safer when riding my motorcycle. That might not feel correct, but my non-representative experience says it is.
This is cool but I’m confused about snowboarding vs skiing. It would seem from the numbers that snowboarding is safer (1 in 2.2 million vs 1 in 1.4 million for skiing). But then the likelihood looks like snowboarding is more dangerous. Maybe I’m missing the interpretation. Or maybe this infographic isn’t that great.
Regardless, jumping off things or planes expecting to fly or land safely is waaay more dangerous than anything else!
My major point is that this infographic from Teton (who I f*cking love for content in general) seems to be pretty loose on the facts/analysis
Bottom line, something doesn’t smell right with this infographic
As for BASE - yeah, no I'm not doing that... but then you can't just do that. You wouldn't just go to a BASE shop and get all the gear, then jump off a bridge because the danger is all too apparent.
With road cycling it is so accessible and so innocuous to pick up, then you can get in shit by accident. On thing for sure, it's certainly a lot more scary going down a hill at 50mph on a road bike than a mountain bike.
Until frequent, efficient, and reliable public transportation becomes part of NA cities, the car is a necessity to get anywhere.
Cycling: Odds of dying: 1 in 92,325
Skydiving: Odds of dying: 1 in 101,083
I guess the stat we'd like to see is deaths per participant
Roadies would no doubt be in far fewer collisions if they didn’t insist on taking up so much space and getting in the way literally all the time. I know “we’re entitled to”. Just because you are legally allowed to do something doesn’t mean common sense should go out of the window. No other group is so entitled, in my opinion.
I just hope that in time they stop being so selfish. Accept that they could also try to accommodate drivers, rather than it being drivers doing all the accommodating despite outnumbering cyclists 1000-1 and literally paying through the nose to use the roads.
And yet, that is exactly what roadies do.
It's no coincindence that the commonly accepted collective noun for cyclists is bunch, and also for c*nts, it's bunch.
A pain in the arse to pass them, then when you do get past they go back in front of you at the next traffic light and make you do it all again.
I also filter to the front on my motorbike, but when the light turns to green I'm gone. I will not be inconveniencing those drivers who I cut in front of. If only roadies could say the same. Groups of recreational cyclists (not individual commuters) are the scourge of the roads.
It doesn't have to be that way. If they would just ride in single file up hills, and maybe pay attention to what's going on behind them occasionally, 90% of the annoyance they cause would evaporate.
Roadies are often completely inconsiderate. That’s what I dislike.
This is a common theory in the outdoor community, one I used to say often. However my personal experience finds it untrue. 5 friends have died in avalanches, 1 paragliding, 1 road riding and zero driving anywhere. It’d be nice to find numbers that say I’m wrong, but I don’t think the drive is the most dangerous. We take risks in many of our activities and shouldn’t downplay those risks.
Highest risk of injury due to your own mistake: motocross
Highest risk of injury due to someone else's mistake: road cycling
If you meant quad motocross, absolutely. The amount of people who get f*cked up racing those things is nuts.
Highest risk of minor injury: mountain biking.
Most likely way to die mountain biking: car wreck on the way to (or being hit by a car while riding to) the trailhead
Think the frequency of minor injuries is why mountain biking gets labeled as “dangerous” by the general public.
Big bushes went extinct in the '90s
As I answer my buddies when they ask why I don't ride road: "I've never been hit by a car while riding singletrack."
But ultimately, no amount of skill can avoid a car that is bearing down on you at speed.
Also yeah, mountaineering is dangerous as hell. I used to do a bit of that and ice climbing, but honestly, I have a kid and ultimately I decided the risk is just not worth it for me.
Condolences. That's awful.
As someone that has ridden there exactly once, I'm a curious (if its ok to ask). What exactly happened? Was he wearing any protective gear?
(mostly trying to figure out if I should avoid a specific trail/feature when I go back, or if it was some sort of freak accident/medical precondition/etc)
My point was that I should've been more cautious on a trail with fresh trail work. Even though I know the trail like the back of my hand it was my stupid mistake. I wasn't placing blame on them other than they did a terrible job altering r jumps. If turns out the trail builder also broke their collarbone on it.
Definitely type 2 fun.
You can do everything right and still trigger an avalanche. The science is evolving rapidly in that area but its not fool proof. You can never know 100% how stable that snowpack is. Same with surfing (for people who actually surf legit waves). Ocean conditions can change. Big sets can roll through, currents can change etc. And then for sports like climbing and mountaineering weather is a factor. As good as forecasts are, mountain weather can be weird and catch even the most prepared person off guard.
No there is a huge body of scientific evidence and practice behind avalanche safety. Luck should be attempted to be eliminated from the equation entirely before entering avalanche terrain.
Also the question is how you define risk, risk of injury or risk of death? I would say that the risk of injury is much higher in mtb compared to basejumping. But would say that the opposite is the case for the risk of death.
What do you count as road riding? Long rides on the road bike or the commute to the train station through the city? Would say that in most cases the commute has a higher risk.
All in all, i would say that the percieved risk is smaller if something is closer to everyday life. Out of all the different sports, i would say that basejumping is the riskiest of those. Mostly because if you're e.g. backcountry skiing you can just take a different route which is less steep or has a better snow pack, similar in most other sports.
What is surprisingly super dangerous statistically and missing from the poll, is Horseriding.
Ebike riding up no-ebike climbing trails
snake pit jumping
fire breathing, judgling mountain unicycling
Back to the subject, road riding is dangerous af.
Great white sharks have been protected in many places for nearly 30 years now. Are they also included in your gross generalization of the worldwide decimation of shark populations, or would you be willing to concede that the conservation measures have worked to increase their numbers, at least locally?
Certain species protected, yes. Good work on the White sharks
In general, world wide steep decline, with finning now including mantas and other rays. Last trip to Indonesia pre-pandemic: 0 sharks. 50 years of diving experience.
While it may appear that some shark populations are increasing due to migration from climate change, the overall picture remains bleak.
Of course conservation efforts will have an impact on the species targeted in the areas they are protected. A good example is the Grey Nurse Shark along the east coast of Australia, but as you said they don't have a huge impact on the total worldwide shark numbers but their future is far from bleak.
Water is always trying to kill you.
As an ex snowboarder I think snow sports are more dangerous than MTB, for brits at least, as we don’t get to practice as often.
However I think trampoline parks are the most dangerous activity.
Flying sports aren't as common, and seem safe (some of the wingsuit stuff not so much). I chose motocross, because they're pushing it to the limit (at least in races) and crashes are going to cause damage.
Mine is Croquet.
Watch ‘The Last Mountain’ or ‘14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible’ and the ask if there’s an outdoor pursuit with more risk.
The only sport where there are factors almost completely out of the participants control is road cycling
Mountainering (Ice/Mixed climbing, Summiting mountains via alpine routes, Alpine ski touring, Steep slope skiing, Multipitch routes, Trad climbing...) is pretty dangerous and requieres lots of knowledge and preparation. I think it should be part of the poll.
Or to put it another way, I’ve done paragliding (as a tandem passenger) but would never even think about wing suit BASE jumping.
If road cycling and mounting biking are different options, I can’t vote for BASE jumping if it also indicates I think paragliding is dangerous.
Sky diving UK Fatalities between 2001 - 2020 across 5440637 jumps stands at 39. (From britishskydiving.org).
According to the UKs .gov website, there hasn't been fewer than 100 deaths per year in the last 10 years (with the exception of one year where there were 99 people killed). (2020 went up 5% on previous year in theory due to more cyclist activity after lockdown).
Obviously, the missing statistic here is the amount of cyclist actually on the road each year and the above info doesn't take things like base jumping, wing suits, paragliding into account. Just thought I'd have a look at some numbers and found them quite interesting...
For me, its the back country snow stuff that offers the most opportunities to get yourself unalived.
*Severe injury in the middle of nowhere
*High rate of knee injuries
and I am sure there are more scary things about it too.
Plus, it gets us clicking and talking.
You guys make a wrong poll
It should be how many % people return to sports after serious crash
BASE, you're pretty quickly f*cked if things don't go exactly as planned. Flying sports is a broad category.
If you want to kill someone just give them a road bike.
Risk to injury leading to hospitalization: going to the gym.
But interestingly, a New Zealand study showed that falling is the most common type of injury making up 33.7% of hunting-related accidents (so basically the same cause of death as all the other sports listed above)
Oh and by the way, I'm not even black, I just grew up in a redneck state with long hair. So I only have the smallest appreciation of what my black friends go through. For all those posters going on about the inherent dangers of road riding, at least they aren't being targeted just for going outside.
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