Yesterday, for the second time in 9 months, I had to limp off the trail and head to A&E. This time I couldn't get myself there and had to call my wife to pick me up from the car park as a relatively high speed OTB had resulted in a fractured humerus (not as funny as it sounds). It wasn't quite all the way through (about 90%) and only displaced by a few mm, so after much debate they decided on a sling and lots of pain killers in the hope that gravity would cause it to heal straight enough. Back next week for more x-rays to find out.
But, once again, this has left me wondering whether the fun of riding is really worth the injury risk. Especially as, this time, it's not just affecting me. Not being able to drive for a few months will be a major hassle for the rest of the family as well.
A quick look at the stats would suggest that I've been unlucky to have two significant crashes in 9 months as injury rates for recreational mountain bikes are around 1 per 1,000 hours of riding. But a few things bother me.
First, as I've got better my risk of serious injury seems to have got higher rather than lower. When I first started I crashed on almost every ride, but they were just silly prat falls and just resulted in the odd bruise or scrape. Now I crash less often, but when I do I'm going much faster so the consequences are potentially more severe.
I've re-run the crash in my head a few times and I'm not sure I could have done anything to avoid it. I didn't see the rock that stopped me, but even going back for a look it didn't look as though it would result in a crash. It just seems inevitable that riding a bike down anything technical is going to go wrong sometimes.
So far both crashes have happened close enough to the car that I could get back under my own steam. But they could easily happen further away, or at night or just be a bit more serious. Of course I could minimise this risk by finding other people to ride with, but I enjoy riding on my own. It's a big part of the appeal.
Finally I'm just not sure I enjoy technical descents that much. I love being out on my bike, I relish the challenge of a climb and gentle descents are great fun. But even if I make it down a technical descent I'm not sure I could really say I've enjoyed it. There is a sense of achievement and relief at being in one piece, but that's not really the same thing.
Anyway, I'm just rambling as a way of collecting my own thoughts. Thanks for listening