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Trail Topics

   Balancing the Risk and the Enjoyment

    Monday, July 09, 2012

Author: Valerie Pretzel

I’ll admit that I am often quite conflicted about supporting my family in our trail bike riding activities.

In my role with the RTRA and Trail Bike Management, we are often amongst the first to hear about trail bike related injuries and fatalities. 

When I co-wrote the State Trail Bike Strategy I had to do a lot of research into the hospital statistics around injuries. So I am very well aware of what can go wrong – and how badly it can go wrong, and how it can affect people’s futures.  So why do I want to ride and why do I let my daughter ride and encourage my husband…am I crazy?? That’s what my non-riding family and friends think.

On the other side of the ledger are all of the reasons why we ride – the fun, adventure, challenge, exercise, quality time spent with friends and family in our amazing WA outdoors. Above all I equate riding with being like an “active meditation” because when you are riding you really get to switch off from day-to-day life, smell the roses and be absolutely in the present. 

For my 13 year old daughter, who started riding when she was 6, I like the fact that it encourages independence and self reliance – she alone can make her decisions when she is riding. She has to learn to correctly judge risks, read the best line to take, decide how fast she can go depending on the conditions and above all respect the bike. This will be invaluable when she first gets in a car and learns to drive.

So I worry that I am tempting fate by knowing the risks and continuing to ride. On the other hand we mitigate the risks by wearing all the right gear (our rule “all the gear, all the time”), ensure the power of the bike is suitable for the rider, ride in groups, ride with someone who knows the trail and trying to minimize the risk where ever we can.

I know that risk is involved in everything (my last broken bone was earlier this year from ice skating!). I also know that life wouldn’t be much fun if we stopped doing everything that was risky. So on that basis – see you out on the trails.

How do you feel about the risk of trail bike riding? and how do you manage it?