I have pretty much stated what is wrong with mountain biking inside our public forests, and in this posting I have veered off the environmental issues, to speak of the other dark side of mountain biking's freeride.
Not only is mountain biking very damaging to the natural environment, off-road, but it can result in some serious injuries.
Several mountain biking injury and trauma studies have been published over the past few years -- the most recent being out of Whistler Bike Park. And another mtbing study proved that there are more injuries among children, teens and women. And this is the very demographic many extreme mountain biking advocates want to see more of in their sport. Concussions are also very common in mountain biking, and helmets are of little use for protection.
When mountain bikers need to wear full face helmets and body armour (like motocross), you have to ask yourselves if mountain biking should continue be lumped in with such passive pursuits as hiking and nature viewing? Or should it be placed in the same category as any other off-road vehicular sport in the woods?
Perhaps, a famous Hollywood actor, Matt Damon, could have prevented his little mtbing mishap over the Christmas holidays if he had read the Berenstain Bears' "The Bike Lesson"
"We finally get an explanation on Matt Damon's bizarre injury! A broken collarbone? Now that sounds painful!! Matt broke snapped his clavicle four weeks ago after his
bike got stuck on a bunch of rocks while he was riding down a hill and
he tumbled over the handlebars."
But, mountain bike outfits, like Pedalheads, etc. are teaching our children a very different kind of bike lesson, these days: stump jumping, riding logs, etc. -- like this is a normal thing to do on a bike. It isn't! It primes them for dangerous, risky thrill-seeking behaviour.
**There have been two mountain biking deaths on the North Shore: on both Cypress (2012) and Mt. Fromme (2013). Both deaths were the result of dangerous man-made stunt structures for mountain biking, built to "enhance" the inherently dangerous thrillsport on our mountain slopes. In both cases, those structures have not been removed, but deemed "safe" by the public land authorities -- at least on Mt. Fromme! The media "buried" the stories** (MTBers call any such serious accidents or deaths in their sport as "freak". It is more common, than "freak")
This is just one very recent mountain biking injury study, out of a few done in recent years. Food for thought:
• 1,759 specific injury diagnoses. • 420 fractures in 382 patients (42.5 percent). • Upper extremity fractures (shoulder, arm, wrist) predominated (75.4 percent) • 11.2 percent traumatic brain injury • 8.5 percent were transferred to a higher level of care: 7 by helicopter, 62 by ground, and 5 by personal vehicle.
(The District of North Vancouver Freeride mountain biking is pretty much uncontained and unenforced.Emergency services are finding more serious mountain biking injuries happening, not less, on our mountain slopes. If such serious injuries are happening inside a well-run and enforced recreational resort, what kind of liability for those happening outside of it? No statistics, and the media rarely, if ever reports these incidents on our North Shore, as they have become too far too commonplace. Instead we have indiscriminate media glorification of this inherently dangerous and environmentally damaging off-road wreckreation.)
An anatomy of a "freak" mountain biking accident on Fromme Mtn., from a 10 foot fall off a mountain biking stunt structure: