Tired of getting hurt

August 27, 2020

As I sit here, nursing yet another mountain biking related injury I realize how tired I am of getting hurt.

I've had this thought before; many times before. And yet, here I am again, hurt.

My list of injuries includes:

  • Flipping over the bars countless times, with the worst resulting in a folded downtube, a whole lot of blood and a stick jammed inches into my leg. I still have a visible dent in my shin today, 20 years later.
  • Fracturing and dislocating my ankle on a wheelie gone wrong. The result was surgery, plates and screws as well as a year of physio and re-learning how to walk.
  • Separating my shoulder BMX racing, slamming hard around a berm.
  • Smacking my head and cracking my helmet several times. This often resulted in concussion-like symptoms that I really should have gone to the hospital about, but didn't.
  • This spring, breaking a chain and plowing knees-first into the pavement. The outcome was heavily scraped knees and a sensitive part of my body making painful contact with the stem. Oof.
  • While in Whistler, going over the bars after slamming my pedal into a boulder. I was thrown into a pile of rocks and came out bloody and woozy. Got down to the bike patrol hut and passed out. I ended up in the medical centre to get my wounds scrubbed out.
  • Being hit or run off the road by a vehicle six different times (!) while commuting. None were overly serious collisions, but one really hurt and put me in the hospital for a few hours.
  • Bashed many a knuckle or finger into solid objects such as tree limbs, logs or rocks.
  • Obtaining countless bruises, swollen body parts and scraped elbows, knees, stomach and shins from skateboarding accidents over the course of 30 years.

When I was in my teens to mid-20s, getting hurt wasn't much of an ordeal. I'd fall, get banged up and a short while later be back on my bike. The injuries were almost a point of pride.

2003. Pre-kids. Lots of physio ahead after dislocating and fracturing my ankle
2003. Pre-kids. Lots of physio ahead after dislocating and fracturing my ankle.

As I grew older, into my 30s I continued to ride and get hurt. I was still riding like a 20-year-old though, jumping gaps and attempting things I shouldn't.

Now, in my 40s I still get hurt although not as much but the healing time takes longer. I'm more cautious and ride slower than I used to, which no doubt reduces the number of incidents.

No matter the stage of my life, the pattern seems to be I get one or two significant injuries per year. The rest of the mountain bike season there's smaller stuff once in a while.

I don't think that's too bad considering I ride 3,000 km per year. Or is it?

I love mountain biking, but sometimes I'm not sure I should be doing it anymore, or at least drastically changing the way I ride so I can continue to do so. Maybe I need to say No to even more things and find the even easier, even less risky path.

Having a bike that is extremely capable of pretty much anything – my Kona Process 153 – doesn't assist with good decision making. It can get me into all sorts of dumb situations where I can recover and ride out of it. Well, except on days like today.

My wife tells me I need to be more mindful while mountain biking, which is true.

This morning when I got hurt, I was commuting to work. I came leaning around a blind corner and smacked a big root on the trail. I went over the bars, hit the ground and the Process dropped on top of me.

Looking back, I know my thoughts were elsewhere.

Hilariously and embarrassingly, I was thinking about work.

What's that about mindfulness? Yeah.

So once again I'll sit here, ice my shin and knee, pop some ibuprofen and think about how to do better.