It’s the headline we always dread whenever we’re scanning the news. “Mountain biker dies in 60ft plunge” was the strapline across the top of today’s
Manchester Online news.
From the brief details given it looks like the rider – a 32 year old man – crashed while riding singletrack on Sunday. His body was found next to his mountain bike in a river at the bottom of a 60ft ravine on the edge of the Ashworth Valley in Heywood at 10am on Monday morning. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His tyre tracks were found further back on the singletrack that skirts the ravine top.
Along with the kick in the stomach that always comes from a fatality in our sport, is the very real wake up call that it could so easily have been you or I lying there undiscovered. We probably all ride singletrack with some pretty sketchy sections – where’s the fun otherwise? We’ve all probably ridden alone more than once too – that quick blast out when everyone else is busy.
But let’s be honest. Did we tell anyone where we were going or when we’d probably be back? Have we ridden that tricky section with the pointy rocks that we normally only try in a group? Have you ever thought, “well if it goes wrong a dog walker will probably find me before it gets dark”?
I’ll hold my hand up to all of those moves – repeatedly – and after this morning’s news they don’t feel clever and daring anymore, just very stupid. Mountain biking can be dangerous – that’s the nature and the joy of the beast – but there’s no need to make it more reckless than it has to be. Wherever possible, telling someone where, when and how long you are riding should be as natural as pulling on your helmet and checking your brakes. If you’re stuck for biking buddies find out about local riding groups in your shop or the rides section of the forum. You’ll still crash, but at least you won’t be lying there broken and alone.
If you take a mobile then know where the signal coverage is and what numbers to ring for the fastest response, and go out this lunchtime and buy a plastic survival bag to stick in your bag for rides that might leave you stranded.
We know we’re probably sounding like your mum right now, but at the end of the day if it helps save somebody then we don’t give a damn. The last thing we want to do is have to run a tragic story like this again. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to all his relatives and friends.