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
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!