There is a dark side to the lifestyle many of us love and enjoy— the injuries. Like it or not, when we’re flying down the trail pushing personal limits or launching ourselves skyward, crashing is part of the game. Unless you shy away from challenging yourself, we all fall down eventually, and for many of us, protective gear has become a regular accessory of our rides. Maybe I’m just getting old, but when I watch BMX competitions on ESPN where riders are pushing the boundaries of the sport (and themselves) sans helmets, I wonder what kind of example that sets for younger riders. I’ll admit, I don’t always leave the house (to ride) with a helmet on, but damn- shouldn’t a corporate contest consider the example set to the young and impressionable viewers? Injuries are a part of the sport, and the level of riding continues to increase, so will the sometimes disastrous consequences.
Two new films seek to address the dark sides of the sports we enjoy. The first, Going the Distance, is a collaboration between three-time Emmy Award winning filmmaker David L Brown and Epic Way Sports (Bikeskills, Skiskills, Surfskills) that chronicles the lives of four TBI survivors. While the fim is inspiring, they have worked to leave the viewer with an important message: most TBI survivors do NOT get the treatment they need which leads to life long, degenerating disabilities. The goal for the film is to first raise awareness, then funding to help TBI survivors.
You probably know someone who has had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Unfortunately, they are not only the leading cause of death of those aged 5-45, they are also a fact of action sports participation. Moreover, there are two facts that we must confront: they are increasing, and, there’s inadequate awareness and funding.
The Leatt Brace is becoming a more and more common site on riders at local freeride spots. While I personally don’t own one, it is a piece of protective gear I plan to add to my arsenal as soon as possible. This trailer follows Tara Llanes and other paraplegic athletes that have suffered spinal cord injuries, and how they confront the challenges of their injuries.
This can be some scary stuff. Don’t forget to wear your protective gear, and if you don’t own any, it is probably time to buy some. And if you frequently find yourself in out of control situations on your bike, you might consider professional coaching. I know I learned my bike handling skills at the school of hard knocks, and have lingering issues and lots of scar tissue to show for it. When I started riding, all we had were videos like Chainsmoke, Kranked, Tread, and Hammertime to learn from. People don’t think twice to take a lesson skiing or snowboarding. Why not for mountain biking? We can all progress in our riding while minimizing down time.
Here are a few links to get you in the right direction:
Bikeskills — Located in the Bay Area as well as Southern California, Bikeskills.com offers skills clinics regularly, and has a channel on YouTube worth checking out, with some great content. Soon as you’re done surfing ih8bikes, of course. If you haven’t already caught the post I wrote from the clinic I sat in on from last summer, check it out.
Leelikesbikes — Lee McCorrmack, author of Mastering Mountain Bike Skills is based in the Boulder, CO. area. I shot photos of one of his skills clinics, and learned stuff after just five minutes.
Betterride.net — I’ve only met Gene once, randomly at a diner in Moab, but I’ve heard great things about his coaching skills. He boasts some name riders amongst his clientele. If you sign up for his newsletters, you’ll get free email tips that can help you get rid of bad habits.