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Mountain Biking Mishap Stories

Updated on September 24, 2012
My well-used, well-loved mountain bike.  It's been with me through a lot - even a few crashes.
My well-used, well-loved mountain bike. It's been with me through a lot - even a few crashes. | Source

Mountain Biking and Accidents

I am a mountain biking and road biking enthusiast. There’s a little problem with that, though. I am quite accident-prone. I may have inherited this from my ancestors – I have no idea. But, I have to wonder if accident-proneness lends itself to faulty DNA. Despite this shortcoming, I still keep on riding. Maybe the fact that I keep riding despite my ability to find the nearest tree and wrap myself around it at high speed is another genetic deficiency. Aside from all my accidents, I’ve learned a thing or two about first aid.

© C. Calhoun 2012. All rights reserved.

I was on a trail similar to this - the mountain goes up to the right and dropped off to the left - for one of my mountain biking incidents.
I was on a trail similar to this - the mountain goes up to the right and dropped off to the left - for one of my mountain biking incidents. | Source

Will You Take a First Aid Kit on Your Next Ride

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Learning Mountain Biking Skills

The summer when I was 14, I discovered just how much I liked to ride my bike. Donning my helmet, I would venture out for hours. I owned a hybrid bike: one that you could ride on the streets or on the trails.

I hadn't ridden on trails that much when I might try my skill at mountain biking. I headed to a trailhead a few miles from my house in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The beginning of the trail was not rider-friendly. It was a steep ascent with quite a few boulders and steps to climb.

When I got to the top, however, I was inspired by the beautiful view of the city to the east and the mountains to the west. I looked out toward the trail. The part I could see was relatively flat, until it turned abruptly in the other direction.

Never having tried narrow single track trails before, I figured it would be an adventure.

I got on my bike. I rode a few hundred feet, feeling the mountain wind on my face.

Then the trail started getting more technical. I immediately noticed how to my left, it seemed to drop off – hundreds of feet. To my right, the trail continued uphill.

I began having trouble staying balanced. I kept putting my left foot down for balance - the one nearest the mountain cliff.

As soon as I thought the words hmm, I shouldn’t keep relying on my left foot; I’m likely to go over that cliff, my thoughts seemed to materialize into actual events.

One moment I was standing on firm ground, terra firma. The next moment I was airborne – no terra, just extra air-a.

At some point in mid-air, I had the notion to grab some sort of shrub. I turned my toes inward to hook my bike onto my body, wedging it between my feet. I have no idea how I had the presence of mind to do that.

A few milliseconds later, I landed on the steep slope. I was effectively hanging from that bush, with the bike still dangling precariously between my feet. I knew that if I let go, it would slide and then tumble down the steep slope.

Before I thought about my predicament, I used one hand to feel my head, helmet, other arm, and legs – everything was still there. Apparently, I was still alive and all body parts were attached.

I told myself not to look down.

Reaching for a small bush, I attempted to pull myself up. That bush gave way and tumbled down the slope with frightening velocity.

I knew that a poor little grassy bush was not going to hold my weight and the weight of my bike. Grabbing my bike with one hand, I pulled it up and pushed it back up onto the trail above my head.

Then, I swung my legs until I got a foothold and hoisted myself back onto the trail.

Taking a small first aid kit with you on a ride is a really good idea.
Taking a small first aid kit with you on a ride is a really good idea. | Source

Lessons Learned

  • Avoid going mountain biking alone – a friend could have lent me a true helping hand. You must read the next tip - it could save your life!
  • Take a cell phone – I might have called my mommy. However, I never did tell her what happened. I knew she wouldn't let me ride my bike anymore, so I kept my cliff-capades to myself.
  • Take a little first aid kit – I would have loved some tweezers to pick out a few prickly pear spines from the side of my leg, and to clean my scrapes with some antiseptic wipes.
  • Don’t put your foot down when there’s a cliff nearby – this one is self-explanatory.

Despite my tendency to "hug" the earth, having the proper safety gear is a must - a helmet is a must for every bike ride.
Despite my tendency to "hug" the earth, having the proper safety gear is a must - a helmet is a must for every bike ride. | Source

Mountain Biking Takes Practice...Right?

Apparently, I must like the adrenaline kick I get when riding, or I really like the speed of going downhill on trails, because the cliffhanger incident wasn’t enough to stop me from going again.

With this new hobby, I joined the mountain bike club in my high school. I was the only girl.

Imagine the pressure to impress a group of teenage boys. Though, admittedly, I was already an awkward mess by then, so I guess I wasn’t that concerned about it. Still, my goal was not to sink lower on the social ladder with my accident-prone antics.

One sunny Saturday morning, I met the group for a ride near a reservoir in the Rocky Mountains. It was a 14-mile ride, mostly on narrow single track trails.

The ride began well. I didn’t mind lagging behind the boys. I had ridden on plenty of dirt roads, but my last experience with a narrow trail was when I went over the cliff. So, I allowed myself time to get accustomed to better riding on the trail.

We were nearly ¾ of the way around the lake and I was feeling great. I had attempted a few jumps and rode them well. My heavy hybrid bike was rolling along beautifully.

The trail emerged into a “rock garden.” It was a rocky strip of trail that narrowed considerably.

I felt confident I could sail through this obstacle with flying colors.

I sped up to help get enough momentum to pedal up a small hill. I maneuvered my bike up into the rocks and deftly avoided a few different obstacles jutting up in the trail.

I still had the last little bit to go and I was rolling along pretty quickly. Suddenly my bike stopped. I didn’t. I sailed – with the flying colors of my water bottle and backpack – into a rock face. Instinctively I put my arms up in front of my body just before impact.

Moments later, I sat, dizzied by the blood trickling from my arms. I realized my bike pedals had wedged between two rocks.

Lessons Learned

  • I needed to “level” my pedals to get through that narrow rocky part of the trail. The pedal that was lower caught on a rock that had jutted out just enough for it to stop my bike - cold.
  • I already knew I couldn’t show any weakness in front of the guys. But, they still get surprised when a girl shows up with bloody arms. I never complained, and my teacher said he'd seen guys that were a lot more wimpy.
  • I didn’t have a first aid kit with me. Luckily, my teacher – the sponsor of the trip – did. He took one look at me and immediately began digging for iodine and gauze. He had to scrape the wounds on my arms to get tiny particles out. Then he bandaged me up using large gauze and plenty of tape.
  • I don’t remember what the others in the group said or thought about my accident, but I can say that my ego was rather bruised. I think only time heals that.
  • I also learned I should never go biking without a first aid kit. I always seem to use up the Band-Aids before anything else.

Always Ride With a Helmet

Wearing a helmet may one day save your life.  If I had been wearing one when I was six years old, I feel certain I would have avoided my concussion.
Wearing a helmet may one day save your life. If I had been wearing one when I was six years old, I feel certain I would have avoided my concussion. | Source

First Learning to Ride

I must be stubborn like a donkey, though. I continued to ride (and still do - lots!) despite my crashes. I started crashing at a very young age.

When I learned to ride a bike, it was at a time when you didn’t see people really wearing helmets.

I was down in Santa Fe, NM visiting relatives. The adults were out shopping and I was with my cousins playing outside. One of their friends came over who knew how to ride a bike without training wheels.

My four other cousins also knew how to ride – the one older one who was watching us, and my other three cousins who were younger than me. I was 6 at the time.

I decided that I would learn how to ride, too. I couldn’t have my younger cousins out-riding me - or, so I thought.

My cousins’ friend helped me get onto a bike and pushed the back part of the seat while I pedaled into the street. I figured it out immediately. It wasn’t hard at all. I began pedaling and turning and going in big, wide circles.

A couple hours later, my cousins all went in to get something to eat.

I was thrilled about learning how to ride, so I stayed out, riding my bike.

I had seen my cousin and her friend riding without holding on to the handlebars. I figured I was already experienced enough to try that.

I went to the end of the street, turned the bike in the other direction, and began pedaling – fast. About halfway down the street, I let the handlebars go and kept pedaling.

Almost immediately, the bike started wobbling. I tried to put my hands back on the handlebars. Unfortunately, just as a large truck begins to jackknife when it’s out of control, so did the bike’s front wheel and handlebars swivel violently from side to side.

Instantly, I lost control and lost my balance. I hit the pavement at a furious pace: first my shoulder, then my head, then the rest of my body rolled and skidded with the bike.

I blacked out.

I vaguely remember a strange man picking me up and walking door to door trying to figure out which house was mine - I certainly couldn't tell him, and I couldn't tell him it was my aunt's house that he needed to find.

Eventually, he did find the house. I barely recall waking up in a pile of blankets, feeling very ill, and falling back asleep. I have no idea how long I was in that state.

Though I've had a few mishaps, biking continues to be an enjoyable sport for me.  As with anything in life, you can't live under a rock - there are inherent risks to everything you do.
Though I've had a few mishaps, biking continues to be an enjoyable sport for me. As with anything in life, you can't live under a rock - there are inherent risks to everything you do. | Source

Were You Paying Attention?


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Lessons Learned

  • Always ride with a helmet – I know I had a concussion, but I bet I could have avoided that if I’d only worn a helmet.
  • If you do end up with a head injury, you really should get yourself checked out at the hospital. Better yet, with a head injury, if there’s even the slightest suspicion of a neck injury, don't move - wait until help arrives. A Good Samaritan moved me and I wasn’t too broken - just a few brain cells that regretted ever living. Today’s advice is to never move a person with a suspected neck injury unless his or her life is in danger.
  • Given my luck, I could have been run over by the next passing car, so I guess the Good Samaritan should have moved me.
  • If you suspect a concussion, you should always see a doctor or go to the nearest emergency room. I didn’t, but even just 25 years ago, people didn’t always know this - I never went to the hospital for my injuries that day and now I know that should have.

Comments

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    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Oh what a great hub. I've been following the comments on the thread and was wondering which of us was going to get the 'funny mishap' hub written first, haha. Well done-filled with lots of useful info, a quiz, photos-Yikes! That one with your leg covered with mud looks a bit painful. Wonderful job with this one...enjoy your w/e and watch those trails. LOL Voted up / funny/ useful and interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, Denise, I suppose I HAVE to laugh at myself or otherwise I'd always be pouting from my mishaps. :D Thank you so much for your kind words, comments and insights. Hehe, the one with the mud was right after I slid down a muddy bank in the rain. I don't recommend rainy mountain biking. Hehe. Thanks for the votes, too. (HUGS)

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Cyndi, what a fantastically informative article wrapped up in a humorous package. Voted up and awesome and shared for it great humorous style!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow, I love the part "stubborn as a donkey," though you seem to be more like a Timex watch, you take a beating and keep on ticking. I was born in Colarado and my Dad and Brother go back every other year for the bike races in Leadville, CO. My Dad is getting too old so he voulenteers to set up lighting and course ropes. He really wants me to go back with him. I would need to train. I love your adventures and how you always weave your sense of humor into them. Well done!!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      That is funny and it isn't! I am accident prone too so I feel ya. Gosh I can't imagine you hoisting a bike and then yourself up that trail! Lol. Amazing! You really must love that bike - I'd have dropped it:)

      I have had a couple of concussions - that might explain a few things, huh? Lol

      Great hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Teresa - hehe, I still have to laugh at myself every time I think about these stories. :D Thanks for coming by and for commenting. I appreciate your feedback. :) (HUGS)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      tammy - I was born in Colorado, too! That's craziness! :D Hehe, Timex watch - I'll have to use that one. I would love to try a ropes course again - I've done high and low courses - they're really fun. Thanks for stopping by. (HUGS)

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      RealHousewife - oh, I have to laugh every time I tell these stories. :D I think I was stronger at 14 than I am now - I'm not so sure I could do that again, LOL. Yes, I've always wondered if that concussion I had when I was six did something to my personality. Hahaha! Thanks for stopping by. (HUGS)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Oh my, what an adventurous spirit you are! Glad that everything came out all right for you. That first cliffhanger would have done me in. Does your mother now know? He He He! Thanks for the advice and the tips on bike safety, it was a very enjoyable read.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      teaches - oh my, I'm so glad I'm here to tell the tales. :) I'm not sure my mother knows. I think she suspects, but I have so many clumsy-girl stories, by now she just rolls her eyes. Hehe. I'm so glad you liked this. Thank you for stopping by again - it's always so wonderful to see you. (HUGS)

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 4 years ago from Neverland

      Your stories are so funny (BUT Im not laughing at you I am laughing with you!) I love all these tips because I am new to mountain biking... but I have all the equipment and a new bike rack thingee on my truck. Now I just wait for warmer weather. Like you, I also tend to have "accidents" so I will be taking a first aid kit FO SHO!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, Ardie, I just LOVE your comments. You always make me laugh. Are you SURE you're not laughing AT me, cuz I am! XD The bike rack thingee makes it so fun - you almost feel like you HAVE to go riding when you have one of those. Oh, and DON'T FORGET YOUR FIRST AID KIT, FO SHO! :D

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I absolutely love how you are able to wrap humor around incidents that could have turned out to be so fatal. But, the one thing that prevailed in your article (aside from always wearing a helmet) is that you have a natural instint to protect yourself. Plus, God really loves you a lot.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      MarleneB - Hey there! Thanks for stopping by. :) I figure you can't really take life too seriously - I mean, nobody gets out alive, right? Hehe. I definitely think that ability to protect myself comes from years of ice skating - I was always falling and tripping. I definitely learned how to "fall" on the ice. :D (HUGS)

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      Nice little story, reminds me of the messes I used to get into and the lessons I learned the hard way. hopefully this will let some learn the easier way lol.

      Shared, up, interesting and funny.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 4 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Cyndi you are one tough cookie! After the first biking accident, I would have hung up my helmet and called it quits. Of course if I ever tried mountain biking I am sure I would have the same kind of stories to share :)Happy to see you stuck with it and shared your valuable lessons! Voted up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Brett - haha, we all get into little messes, don't we? :) I do hope a few can learn without getting bumped and bruised like I did. Thanks for the shares and votes. Cheers!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Alissa - you know, I DID think about not going out again. But, for some reason, I just wanted to keep going. Perhaps I was a donkey in a past life. Hehe. I can be stubborn sometimes. ;)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I don't mountain bike but do cycle on occasion. Here's a vote for always wearing a helmet -- once ran into an unseen sharp branch on the road that scratched the side of my helmet. If I hadn't been wearing the helmet, it would have gashed the side of my head. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      alocsin - whoa, yes, I'm glad you were wearing your helmet. It's amazing how many times I've avoided injury just by wearing one. Thanks for stopping by. always great to see you.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

      AWESOME Hub! Some of the worst injuries I've sustained have been from bike crashes. Way to turn an unpleasant mishap into a helpful guide!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Simone - oh, yes, bike crashes are definitely on the top of my list for severe crashes. But, I definitely learned a thing or two, hehe. Thank you so much for stopping by. :) Cheers!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Awesome story, Cindy. Now, besides your helmet, are you outfitted with other things so no matter how far you skid on the tarmac, you will remain uninjured?

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      aviannovice - hehe, Yes, these days I wear gloves, glasses (no matter the weather) for safety, a helmet and I've actually gotten a lot better at riding itself. So, here's to hoping that the sport remains fun and injury-free. :D (HUGS)

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Wow!!!~ you are very adventurous!!! Gald you pulled through all mishaps. Mountain biking sounds great, very informative on the do's and don'ts of mountain biking. Great hub. Voted up.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Vellur - hey there! Thanks for stopping by! :) I love adventure, and I've definitely lived my share of mishaps. I still love my bike, though. We're really good friends and sometimes we get a little beat up. ;) (HUGS)

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      This hub reminds me of my childhood in every way, boy was I an accident prone child, and I also had my share of times waking up in the hospital, or being carried to the ambulance by my older brother.

      The ending of your hub here was unexpected, that was a cool technique to take us further back in time, when you first got to learn to ride a bicycle, and the so familiar hard knocks that followed.

      Awesome hub indeed, I will not forget to strap up and wear my helmet next time I go out for a ride, oh and also bring a friend or two!

      Voted up! and getting shared across the entire digital landscape.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, Michael - thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your feedback and I'm so glad you'll be wearing a helmet next time you ride. :D Hehe. I also appreciate all the wonderful votes and your kind words. Hubhugs!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      Wow stubborn resistance is my best teacher! I can't agree with you more. Sometimes you have to keep making the same mistakes until you learn something that sticks. Loved this! Voted up and shared. Kelley

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Kelley - hehe, I know all about the stubborn resistance. :D Yeah, I have learned through my biking mistakes. I don't hit trees too much anymore. Hehe. But, even if I did, I've got a helmet and a first-aid kit to help me. :P Thanks for stopping by!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      CC, you lil risk taker you. I give you lots of credit, I'm not sure I would keep riding after the accidents. Thank you for taking us on the rides with you.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Sharon - haha, that's right. ;) I still do love my bike. :D

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