Safety tips for riding dirt bikes
Ambulance picture
Dirt bike safety tips
Accidents happen, especially in dirt bike riding. In fact, it sometimes seems we go out of our way to have accidents, but there are some simple things we can do to reduce the severity of injuries and the frequency of getting hurt at all.

Number one on anybodys list of accident prevention has to be safety gear. Helmet, goggles, gloves, boots, long sleeves, long pants - at least these things, every time you ride. We've all jumped on our bike for a quick spin at some point, without one or the other of these things. "Just a little spin, won't need gloves (or whatever)". Have you ever come off your ride, ever, at any speed from stopped to flat out? Did you put your hands out to stop your fall? If you're not wearing gloves and you hit the ground with your hands at much more than a walking pace, then you're going to lose skin, and probably meat as well. It'll probably end your riding for the day, possibly much longer, but it may put you off
work, or worse, for a while as well. Hit the ground at speed with no gloves and you're in for a world of hurt.

The same applies for every single item of your safety gear. A few weeks ago I was navigating around a fallen tree, through some small rocks and concentrating on a problem with the bike in front of me. I was only going slow, shouldn't have been any problem, I've been round the same obstacle many times before. This time, however, the front wheel dug in to a rut, turned sideways and speared me into the ground like a lawn dart. Even at such a slow speed, it was violent and quick - I didn't even have time to get my hands off the bars before the top of my head smacked into the ground and a decent sized rock. I got up, dusted myself off, picked up the bike and continued on. No harm, no foul, but the gouge in the top of my helmet tells me it would've been a different story if I wasn't wearing it.

Another thing we can all do to prevent accidents is think! Just pause for a second and think about your actions before doing something stupid. I've heard of a guy who was washing his bike at home and decided to fire it up to make sure it was clear of water. Threw his leg over, placed his thong-clad foot on the kickstart and booted it. Of course the wet thong/foot combination slipped and the footpeg gouged his shin to the bone. Ouch. Just pause and have a little think about what you're doing. "Should I be going this fast on a trail I don't know?", "What does the landing area of this jump I'm in the middle of look like?", "What if the guy I'm 3 feet behind brakes hard?" - these are all questions that you should give a bit of consideration to before they happen.

Closely related to thinking is to always ride within your limits, and to start small and build up gradually when learning new stuff. Don't hit a 35 foot gap the first time you try a jump. Just because everyone else is doing it and landing it, doesn't mean you should, or could. You may have stumbled into the Crusty Demons training area, which is why everything looks so easy. Stop, think about it first. Please.

Prepare for accidents. We don't want them to happen, but even with the best of intentions, safety gear and rider abilities, sometimes things go pear shaped. When it does go wrong, know how to handle it. Have a basic first-aid kit, have some knowledge of how to use it. Know how to summon help quickly if needed and how to get to it in the fastest way possible.

Avoid riding alone. Even if someone knows where you're going and when you'll be back, it's not much comfort to you if you're laying in the bush bleeding and hurting, but you're not expected back at camp for another half an hour.

Have fun, look out for one another and stay safe out there!
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