Mountain Bike Safer, Every Ride!

Who wants to ride until 85 (or longer) like my former student Fredrick (Fred) Schmid? I do! Here is a quick series of articles to keep you safer on the trails and hopefully riding til 90!

The first thing you can do is simple, protect your knees! The last two times I’ve gone to the Moab Rec Center to workout there has been a nice man, probably 5-10 years older than me who just had a knee replacement and the new knee won’t bend! Nancy Harris, one of my students from way back in 2004 has had both her knees replaced and is still riding strong but, she went through a lot of main and expense to get there! Avoiding knee injury is high on my list, who wants to go through that amount of pain, expense and time off the bike?!

One, simple, easy way to protect your knees is to buy a nice set of knee pads! They aren’t expensive, you hardly notice they are on (even on hot days) and wow, they really work! I’m amazed by how many riders I see with bare knees! “But Gene, I’m not a downhiller!” Yes you are, unless your riders are totally flat every ride you go on you go downhill and, I fell over yesterday on a loose, technical climb and went straight to my knee! I love my knee pads, they are amazing. Not only do knee pads protect you, they also give you more confidence and focus because you will be less worried about falling when wearing them (because they work!).

No, they won’t protect your ACL, MCL or any other twisting injuries (more on protecting yourself from these injuries in my next article) but wow, they you from hard impacts.

So, go out and buy some knee pads! My favorite or made by POC, their VPD 2.0 (I have no relationship with POC, just great pads) as they stay up, do not affect my movement and protect both the front and side of my knees (twice last winter I forgot them, both times it was an easy ride so instead of driving 30 minutes home to get them I rode without them, both times my knee smacked the frame as I went into a corner, ouch!). Probably all companies (there must be at least 15 pad makers) make good pads though, invest in a set.

Although not quite as important a joint as your knees your elbows can easily be protected too! Elbow pads are nice, small enough to fit in your pack or back pocket (so you can put them on for your descents). I always where them when at a downhill resort and all the tougher descents in Moab and BC (both Bootleg Canyon and British Columbia).

Look for my next two/three articles on other ways to protect yourself on the trail (you can’t buy these protections but the work you put in will pay off in spades!).

Any experience with pads? Without pads? Let us know!