Pinkbike Poll: Mountain Safety

Jun 19, 2015 at 1:04
by Matt Wragg  
Over the years what most people do with their mountain bikes has had more to do with the "biking" half of the name than the "mountain." Using a bike to climb and descend a mountain was a fairly niche pastime, the domain of super-fit, experienced riders who were willing to make the harsh equipment compromises from the kit available to them. The choice was stark but simple - do you opt for a lightweight bike that will make the climbs, but suffer on the downs, or a capable descender that you're probably going to have to push most of the way up? If you read the review of any modern 120-160mm bike it should quickly become clear that this is no longer the case, better bikes mean getting up into the real mountains is now a realistic possibility for more riders than ever before. For just a few thousand dollars/pounds/euros you can get an incredibly versatile bike that makes big, backcountry rides achievable for riders with regular, human levels of fitness and ability. Yet heading up into remote backcountry zones fundamentally changes the ride, the possibilities of things going very wrong and getting very real multiply the farther out from the world you ride.

Another good thing about living in France is the access we have to the alpine zones. This was maybe a half hour drive up then a ten minute hike looking out towards Nice and the Mediterranean. Where else in the world can you get to such amazing terrain so easily

As more and more people head out that far, the simple math dictates that many of them are going to be ill-prepared to deal with the unforgiving nature of high mountains. For winter sports, backcountry awareness courses are common. Before you head out away from the resorts or trail centers, you are expected to understand the terrain and the challenges you may face. While it would be untrue to argue that mountain biking carries the same risks as snow sports (precisely, because the snow is not present in the same way), the dangers are still real. Conditions can change quickly, the terrain can be incredibly unforgiving, with massive exposure. And if something goes wrong, help may be a too far away to reach you in time. Quite simply, if you take mountains lightly they will chew you up and spit you out. So, as backcountry riding grows in popularity, is it time mountain bikers start educating themselves to ride in the big mountains?

Would you consider taking backcoutry awareness education?


  • 57 0
 Is it time mountain bikers start educating themselves to ride in the big mountains?

Will they?
....Probably not.
  • 8 0
 Interesting on here that no one has mentioned GPS beacons (SPOT etc). Coming from a whitewater kayaking background lots and lots of people carry these now and I know for sure they have saved lives (not to mention getting heaps of people out of sticky situations....) They come with an insurance option so if you're in a country with shithouse medical laws (yes that's you america) you can push the button safe in the knowledge that you wont have to sell your mother's kidneys to pay for your accident...
  • 24 0
 but ive already seen like every survivorman...
  • 43 0
 I tore my shin with my pedal firts day riding in Norway, 2000 km from home. I did nice 12 stiches on it by me self, without anesthesia. Good luck that my friend had medical sewing. Now I have it as a part of my first aid kit, you never know. So it is better to be prepared. Its not just about yourself, you can help someone, who is in trouble. Anyway, be safe!

Here you have proof. Smile
  • 7 0
 Nice job, you are a brave man! Important to say that you need to know how to sew too! Might be is a good idea to have some topic anesthesia along with the must have iodine and antibiotic cream in that kit.
  • 5 0
 It was my first piece of experience, stiches weren't perfect but it prevented mud to get into wound. Norway is pretty wet sometimes, so it was only way to ride next days. It worked quite well. Iodine is part of my "survival kit" too.
  • 2 1
 It's amazing what you can do with a bottle of iodine/betadine, some 4-0 Monocryl PS-2 & some pliers.

Glad ya made it out safe and didn't lose that leg to infection.
  • 5 1
 I have a pretty comprehensive tool kit I bring with me on rides to ensure that i can fix anything that goes wrong with my bike... but it has never even crossed my mind to bring first aid. With some upcoming big rides planned, that is going to change now. Thanks /bro hug
  • 4 0
 Dermabond. Medical equivalent of crazy glue, works perfect for those situations... Can get at most stores now. Size of a pen.
  • 11 0
 That's metal as fuck
  • 5 1
 That's what duct tape is for. A really good on the trail butterfly stitch especially if you don't want to stab yourself over and over again like some crazed Slayer fan.
  • 1 0
 I have a small med kit, size of a tube in volume but hardly weighs much. Now I will add needle and med thread. I just used antiseptic and Neosporin yesterday when my 11yr old went down and had a pedal strike on his lower leg. It calmed him down real quick and we rode another hour. He wears the scrape like a badge of honor, showing all his friends during fireworks last nite.
  • 30 0
 Maybe pb can throw out some survival tips every now and then haha
  • 71 0
 survival saturdays. hosted by bear grylls and cedric gracia
  • 15 0
 Idea of the day! Grylls' over dramatic serious tone mixed with Gracia's flamboyant humor would kill ratings.
  • 17 1
 As a search and rescue volunteer I can say that the most important thing is telling someone where you are going and when you plan on being back. Leaving a route plan narrows down search area significantly and will get you home sooner and alive. Also, a whistle is a good idea to pack on every ride. Small, light, and can make all the difference.
  • 3 0
 Not always practical in our riding packs but a mirror goes a long way to attract attention from far away (if it's sunny)
  • 2 0
 @DarrenV absolutely right. My brother went on a solo 3-week hike through Iceland last summer, and his travel insurance company only agreed to grant him coverage if he submitted a route plan and timeframe, and actually sticked to it too.
  • 3 0
 I have an emergency whistle about the size of 2 sticks of chewing gum; it's in a hip pocket on my pack that I can reach with either hand. I used to carry my phone in the same pocket though new phone's too big. Great to have with me, though not if I'm too busted up to get to it when I need it most :/ Also carried certs as a Wilderness First Responder for 8 years, and will be getting that again as my kids are big enough now to be playing with me deeper in the woods. I get razzed for the size of my pack, though I've got all the tools, first aid kit, splint, pump, rain shell, space blanket, extra food and water. Once dislocated my collar bone deep in the hills in Santa Cruz on a late afternoon ride. I was able to limp my way out; it would have been a long night out there before I could have been evac'ed. We all think "it won't happen to me" and you're right, it won't, until the moment it does...
  • 2 0
 One of the reasons I like my EVOC pack so much: whistle built into the chest buckle. That thing's loud.
  • 6 0
 I've done a bit of work with guides around the mental aspects of survival from my background in psychology. For many I find preparing for survival often equates to boosting knowledge or having the right gear. Both of these are important. I grew up around a culture of moutnaineering and one of the things I noticed though was that when sh#t hit the fan, really smart, well trained and well equiped people made stupid decisions. IMO mental preparation is every bit as important as the physical and material preparation in surivival situations. Being able to calm and slow your system down in a moment of dysregulation can be the difference betwen life and death. It's a big topic that I love chatting about and training. One simple thing I suggest to anyone who is in a hyperarousing situation is to BS (Breathing and Senses). 1) Breath: Slow your breathing through the nose, pushing down to the stomach and holding the air and exhaling slightly longer than inhaling. Releasing the air through the mouth. 2) Senses: The auditory is a great one to focus on and I ask people to list 10 distinct sounds in the environment (It tends to take a fair bit of concentration and focus after about 4). Slowing the breathing inhibits the nervous system response that limits critical cognitive processes (such as planning and creativity) and paying attention to senses allows you to remain present and calm. So...if something happens... take a quick seat, BS and then plan your way out.
  • 3 0
 says in the article "if you take mountains lightly they will chew you up"..

As an outdoor enthusiast with experience in hiking, skiing and cycling in the mountains, I can say, that the answer is exactly in the same sentence. Do not take the mountains lightly. You respect them - they respect You back.

Whatever helps You be prepared - courses, Youtube, hanging out with experienced friends - do it. Preparing yourself for the outdoors is never an effort wasted.
  • 3 0
 Another backcountry article and no one seems to talk about the summer time WILDLIFE you may encounter. You can figure out the logistics but being ready for a wild animal is by far the most important factor to consider when going into the backcountry. IMO.
  • 2 0
 best mountain biking related gift I ever got was a First Aid course and a basic first aid kit (from mum... or 'mom').

Never had to use the kit however knowing its there is quite handy. Of course if shit really hits the fan that's what I have the fancy gps and health insurance for ;-)

Very relevant and yet overlooked article @mattwragg.
  • 4 0
 Reminds me of the Cedric Garcia crash...
  • 1 0
 Definitely worth getting your WFR/WFA. Shit can get real, fast. Having an idea of how to react can make a big difference. I feel like I've gotten off easy so far, but I've still seen friends break their back, neck, collar bone, leg, ribs, wrists, etc on the trail. It's never pretty, but a little wilderness first aid might just save someone's life.
  • 1 0
 I agree. But as emt, if you treat something you see and are aware, and in doing so damage something you didn't know about (patient may not have known either), uou are nkw liable for thay damage if they so choose. That can turn into a really expensive day and only because you were decent enough to stop and help. Now while in my experience mtbers aren't out there chasing a lawsuit - you are seeing it more and more in the news as the sport becomes more accessible to more people. EG: the woman suing the race for a tree on the trail.
  • 2 0
 Certainly good to know the "Good Samaritan Laws" of the jurisdiction you'll be riding in. But more importantly, since taking a WFR course largely opens ones eyes to how little must be treated away from definitive care—i.e., what very few things truly threaten life or limb of a human rather than just setting off inordinate amounts of blubbering—and sets right a number of very common myths, e.g., "oh oh I've a cut, sew it up and seal it shut right now!" I'd say it's very worth it so you *don't* do harm.

Lessons I've directly applied from WFR include tractioning-in-place multiple fractures on myself (SAM splints and shears FTW!), the ever important "get up and run away when the EMTs reach for the backboard" though it took failing my teachers once and getting forcibly stuck in a wheelchair for an hour to truly learn that one, and managing patients (and myself) with serious concussions (though I haven't yet had an opportunity for any backwoods trepanning, darn it.)
  • 1 0
 Don't need it. I have common sense and pretty decent survival skills. I can start a fire with sticks. All you really need is fire and water. As for being prepared, being in the scouts has taught me all about that.I never venture out on a ride, hike without proper gear. (Food, water, first aid kit, waterproof jacket, extra layer etc. If i'm going into a national park miles away from any roads but only small foot paths, I'll take a paper map, compass and a spare battery for my phone. With all that i'm basically prepared for anything other than extreme injury.
  • 2 0
 I was thinking about this recently, and I beleive that anybody who gets a mtb license should take a first aid course to do so....just an idea
  • 3 0
 Most bikers are too cheap and too clueless/overconfident to realize what they don't know so what @orientdave said
  • 1 0
 adventure medical kits - sam splint... never have had to use one, don't want to, but not a bad thing to carry on bc rides. don't forget your organic medicine for pain relief....
  • 3 0
 I'm from the UK, what's back country?
  • 1 0
 The back arse of nowhere away from any settlement. ie the highlands
  • 1 0
 Agreed. I spent some time in Torridon, and The flows of Caithness and Sutherland... not a nice place to take a serious tumble.
  • 2 0
 Admins please correct "Would you consider taking ***backcountry*** awareness education?"
  • 2 0
 I practice freeride-enduro to five hours from the nearest hospital ...
  • 1 0
 pffffff. bear grylls taught me all i need to know. "when life gives you tree bark, make a bug burger"
  • 1 0
 No such thing as a small mountain.
  • 1 0
 Cary a shank in case of gressy hillbilly's and dirty bears
  • 1 0
 It`s time to had mountain safety class at pinkbike

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