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  1. #1
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    eye opening crash today...

    Well I had 5 hours to think about this at the ER today while my elbow was stitched up.

    My front wheel washed out and I went down hard. While superman-ing down the trail I opened up my elbo with a deep 4cm by 2 cm cut.

    It occurs to me that if I'd been wearing forearm/elbo protection, I would have gotten up and ridden off without any issues. Instead I now have to hope that my cut wasn't deep enough to hit the joint otherwise I'm looking forward to surgery to clean out infection.

    I'm primarily an XC rider, but my main rig is now a full-sus rocky mountain msl 50 and I'm a better xc rider because of it. But that means my speeds are higher and screw ups hurt more.

    What is the basic level of protection I need to look for? I'm thinking full face, knee and elbow pads. Is that right? Anything else I need?

  2. #2
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    Most people will tell you that a FF is hot or overkill for XC riding. I live in arizona, which is epitomy of AM riding. When I wanted FF protection for a gnarly DH run, I would ride up with it strapped to my pack. Two weeks ago I was tackling a steep uphill section with my helmet strapped to my pack and fell backwards and couldn't bail because my seat was too high and fell into a pit of rock and had to avoid hitting my vulnerable melon at a sacrifice of my wrist. Long story short, don't haul a helmet, use it, that said, full time FF use can be HOT for XC/climbing. I use forearm/elbow protection at ALL times, shins at ALL times (I ride flats), and knees for descending or super chunky/unfamiliar stuff. I would go for a hard shell style arm/elbow pad, I have actually split my elbow and dug a rock out of my elbow slightly THROUGH my 661 2x4s even though they have pretty darn good protection- impacts that would have likely meant surgery without them. Heal up then shop for some new armor to limit the damage next time around.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the very valuable input! I'll add forearm and shin to my list. I can see how FF could be hot for climbing, but so much of what I do is rolling terrain that I'm going to just suck it up and do it.

  4. #4
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    That sucks, too. You'll feel like you're rebreathing your exhalation because of the chin bar, and drinking is more difficult via either a hose or a bottle.

    I understand where you're coming from- I had 2 root canals after a crash a couple years ago and it took me a few months to stop imagining rocks coming at my face and really start riding full speed again. I bought a full-face in that period, and I wear it for some rides, but generally only when I can climb with it strapped to my pack. I ride with knee pads pretty much all the time now, but I generally save my elbows for the gnarlier trails. It really is a balancing act, and you'll have to decide for yourself what you're comfortable with.
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  5. #5
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    Thing is, I was on a fire road. I wasn't bombing through a rock garden. I was riding down a fire road. I was a bit preoccupied with some stuff and wasn't paying enough attention. I was having a bad day and figured riding would cheer me up.

    Right now, I'm in a staggering amount of pain. I basically tore my skin off down to the muscle, doc described it as "degloving." It only took 13 stitches to close, but it was deep and exposed a bunch of nerves. They aren't sure if it penetrated the joint space. If it did and I develop a fever, I'm looking at surgery to open up the joint and clean it out... I'm praying it doesn't come to that.

    All that from a fire road. It could have easily been a blown front tire, same thing would have probably happened.

    The really crummy part is I'm a single dad and my boy is spending his nights at the babysitter's place because I'm not sure I'd be able to look after him at my place. I'm very lucky she's around and so awesome.

    Bottom line for me is that I can't have this happen again. So I'm going all out with the gear and wearing whatever keeps me the safest. I'll consider climbing in a FF training.

    Thanks guys.

  6. #6
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    Sorry to hear this ... Hoping you heal quickly, and without complications.

  7. #7
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    Thanks! Much appreciated.

  8. #8
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    Pads & FF will make you hotter on the way up, but for the added protection they offer can be worth while.
    When I ride trail centres or non-technical I still pad up but go with a regular helmet unless theres jumps/drops. If I know that the route has jumps/drops/rock/tree stumps then I go FF.

    Came off twice a few years back. First one was without FF and my face ended up 1" away from a recently felled tree stump. A little more speed and it would have been a different story.
    2nd off was whilst racing mates down a fire road. My mate stole my line into a bend and I was forced wide and off the trail doing 40mph. Thankfully that day I was wearing FF so walked away.

    No shame in being over protected, and the FF/Pads will give you a bit of mental courage to ride faster and more aggressively.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyJC View Post
    Thing is, I was on a fire road. I wasn't bombing through a rock garden. I was riding down a fire road. I was a bit preoccupied with some stuff and wasn't paying enough attention.
    Yep, I've had my worst crashes on fire roads doing the same thing. Fire roads are really dangerous .

    G-Form elbow and knee pads are the shiz for xc stuff, would need bigger pads for dh. Check the thread just below this one, I got the knee pads, and just about to get the elbows after doing both my elbows in the last month in different crashes.

    Hope your elbow gets better soon .

  10. #10
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    I'll second the G-Form pads for XC. They're incredibly flexible and comfortable. They use Poron for impact resistance--it supposedly absorbs like 90% of the force of the hit, but I wouldn't wear for downhill.

    Hope your elbow heals quickly and properly.

  11. #11
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    Get well soon Andy. Your situation is not unfamiliar to a lot of us "old" guys. I had an accident 4 years ago riding motocross. It resulted in a titanium shoulder and three months of missed work. I was very fortunate I didn't lose my practice. I am not willing to curtail my experiences in this life but I do try to stack the cards in my favor in regards to balancing risk/reward. And the best thing to come out of it is it got me into mountain biking. Hang in there!
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  12. #12
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    I guess i'm going to go against the grain here, but I think a full face helmet and armor is overkill, especially when riding fire roads. It sucks that you went down extremely hard and you're in the ER right now. Armor would have probably kept that from happening, but you also said you were distracted. There are so many variables at play here it's very hard to just say go buy armor and all will be great in the future. Riding a little slower would have prevented that (nobody wants to hear that though) a grippier front tire, or trying to avoid getting distracted. I hope you heal up well, but armor wouldn't hurt if you do go down. Instead of going all out on the downhills etc. I would stay more in my comfort zone. Rocks on fireroads are tricky, especially when they're deep. I hope you heal up soon and get back out there on the bike. I wouldn't sweat it too much. We all make mistakes.
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  13. #13
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    Each person definitely has to weigh their risks and odds according to their own comfort level... I do think a full face is overkill and I know I wouldn't wear one unless I was doing gravity riding. I keep telling myself I'm going to start wearing some basic pads (G-force on elbow and knees) but I haven't in more than 10 years of riding and haven't been bit too badly because of it. I have a few falls that have made me take a day or two off, but more by choice than necessity that pads would have helped. Then I have a couple of other wrecks which kept me off my bike for weeks that pads wouldn't have done anything for...

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the kind words guys.

    I enjoy going fast. I have the bike and the engine to do it so "going slowly" just isn't much fun. I don't really see the downside to protective gear. I like to climb big hills and the reward is bombing down the other side. I'm not a fan of stopping much so I just keep on going. Even rolling terrain, I like to take it at speed. Hindsight is 20/20 and I don't want to look back and have to say "I wish I was wearing pads" again.

    Luckily this time I didn't break anything and the joint didn't become infected because of the cut. I had the stitches out today and things are looking good. So I should be back in the game next week...

  15. #15
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyJC View Post
    Thanks for the kind words guys.

    I enjoy going fast. I have the bike and the engine to do it so "going slowly" just isn't much fun. I don't really see the downside to protective gear. I like to climb big hills and the reward is bombing down the other side. I'm not a fan of stopping much so I just keep on going. Even rolling terrain, I like to take it at speed. Hindsight is 20/20 and I don't want to look back and have to say "I wish I was wearing pads" again.

    Luckily this time I didn't break anything and the joint didn't become infected because of the cut. I had the stitches out today and things are looking good. So I should be back in the game next week...
    I see your point. We all enjoy going fast. Like you, I have the engine too, but I'm on a hardtail so I get more trail feedback. When I rode my full suspension, if it was not in propedal, I could be going too fast and not even realize it. It took me awhile to be aware of that on a f/s. Anyways, I was just trying to say don't ride at the edge of your comfort zone unless you're racing. Just back off a little so you're still smiling, still bombing the downhills, having a blast, and not on the verge of crashing. I definitely don't want you to look back either and say wish I had armor. That wouldn't be good for anyone, but I honestly think this crash was a fluke. Like you said though, what about next time? If you feel like you need armor, which it appears that you do, by all means go out and get it and keep bombing the downhills. It's good to hear you'll be out there again next week. That's some great news.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  16. #16
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    Doing 30-50 miles of singletrack on a mountain bike in 90 degree plus weather in 80+ humidity and few thousand feet of climbing would be the downside to wearing pads...
    The machine I'm on and the speeds I go aren't really a factor I consider. I feel how stable my center of gravity is when riding and stay in a comfortable level where I'm certain my momentum is going to stay in a straight line and I don't have any problems with the trail. Now animals sprinting in front of me, that is a problem I haven't figured out yet, and pads would have helped that instance last year considerably...

  17. #17
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtdan View Post
    Doing 30-50 miles of singletrack on a mountain bike in 90 degree plus weather in 80+ humidity and few thousand feet of climbing would be the downside to wearing pads...
    The machine I'm on and the speeds I go aren't really a factor I consider. I feel how stable my center of gravity is when riding and stay in a comfortable level where I'm certain my momentum is going to stay in a straight line and I don't have any problems with the trail. Now animals sprinting in front of me, that is a problem I haven't figured out yet, and pads would have helped that instance last year considerably...
    Well said.. that was the point I was trying to make. If you realize you're going to push the envelope definitely buy armor.
    Last edited by Rod; 01-31-2013 at 04:19 PM.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  18. #18
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    When I started wearing armor (knee and elbow/forearm pads) on regular rides, it was mostly when trying out new and unfamiliar terrain. However, I found I rarely needed it in these instances since I'm always more cautious on a trail that I've never ridden before.

    It turns out that most of my crashes occur on trails that I know well and have ridden many times. Familiarity encourages higher speeds and riding closer to the edge of my personal envelope. Maybe this time around I can squeeze just a bit more speed out of that turn, maybe I can cut a bit closer to that rock? Either that, or my concentration drifts as I'm auto-piloting the trail. Because of this, I pretty much wear knee pads on every ride now. I'll bring the arm bits if it's a particularly rough/fast/risky trail. I also have gloves with integrated wrist protectors. I have delicate porcelain doll wrists and I depend on my hands to make a living.

    Wear whatever makes you comfortable (physically and mentally), be honest to yourself about the risks you're taking, keep the shiny side up.
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  19. #19
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    A good thing about a crash, well my crash(es) is the fact that I no longer care about what others think. I'm going to wear whatever I feel like wearing to protect myself. My injury took me off the bike for a few months so I did my research and bought a bunch of stuffs a set for light protection and another for heavy duty, overkill really but it felt good.

    Get yourself some gears, and if you do have the scars to show for remind yourself of that the next time someone tells you that you don't need not protection gear.

  20. #20
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    I appreciate everyone's point of view and for sure we are all out there doing our thing. I think it's a good point that the familiar trails cause problems and also there are plenty of other things that can go wrong. Blown tires, animals, dodging hikers, that have little to do with riding style. Accidents are called accidents because they are unexpected.

    I'm living in los angeles and the trails in socal are completely different than the ones I grew up on in the Adirondacks. What was roots, dirt and moss is now rocks and sand. Rocks and sand suck was more for crashing than the trails back home.

    Lot's of factors at play here. My bottom line is that I'm safer with pads than without. So I'm hotter, no big deal and a small price to pay.

    I'm older now too. I have a boy to look after and I can't do that when I'm all busted up. Being broken as a kid was no big deal, but I've got him depending on me. That's enough of an argument for me...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyJC View Post
    I appreciate everyone's point of view and for sure we are all out there doing our thing. I think it's a good point that the familiar trails cause problems and also there are plenty of other things that can go wrong. Blown tires, animals, dodging hikers, that have little to do with riding style. Accidents are called accidents because they are unexpected.

    I'm living in los angeles and the trails in socal are completely different than the ones I grew up on in the Adirondacks. What was roots, dirt and moss is now rocks and sand. Rocks and sand suck was more for crashing than the trails back home.

    Lot's of factors at play here. My bottom line is that I'm safer with pads than without. So I'm hotter, no big deal and a small price to pay.

    I'm older now too. I have a boy to look after and I can't do that when I'm all busted up. Being broken as a kid was no big deal, but I've got him depending on me. That's enough of an argument for me...
    I just saw this on Woot. Compress Yourself: Compression Clothing Check out the Zoombang, they are pretty light weight and good. I have a set, but I usually use my Spyder D3O Armour top. They are similar, the smart material harden at impact and remain soft and quite comfortable the rest of the time. Then it's pretty easy to find your favorite elbow and knee pads. Get well soon.

  22. #22
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    I've been riding mountain bikes on the same trails for close to 20 years and never had any serious injuries other than one fall onto a rock that gave me 10 stitches in my knee. I never thought about wearing more protection than a helmet... until this past October when I took a nasty crash. It was on a night ride on an easy stretch of trail and I'm still not sure exactly what happened, but wow I went down hard. Huge contusion on my hip, bruised hand, and lots of missing skin on my elbow. I have a 3 year old daughter and I was shocked how much the injuries interfered with my interacting with her for weeks afterward. I now wear elbow and knee pads and don't really notice them when riding. I realize that the pads would have only prevented one of my three injuries, but that's good enough for me. I recently fell in a rocky section and landed on my elbow on a large rock. I got up and was getting back on my bike when it dawned on me what had just happened- my elbow slammed into a rock and I barely noticed. Yep, pads for me from now on.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by markymark View Post
    Yep, I've had my worst crashes on fire roads doing the same thing. Fire roads are really dangerous .

    G-Form elbow and knee pads are the shiz for xc stuff, would need bigger pads for dh. Check the thread just below this one, I got the knee pads, and just about to get the elbows after doing both my elbows in the last month in different crashes.

    Hope your elbow gets better soon .
    Ditto on the G-Form's. I tried several different pads and have settled on the G-Forms for both knee and elbow. I also ride Fox Launch padded shorts. Are these warmer than no pads, sure, but man has it been worth it; mostly, I don't notice them anymore and even rode with them this past summer when temps were over 105. I have had several crashes including a couple that required replacing my helmet due to impacts and the pads have kept me riding and no trips to the hospital yet (knock on wood).

  24. #24
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    lot's of strong endorsements for G forms. Seems like the way to go, I'll order them up this week. Thanks guys!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyJC View Post
    Thing is, I was on a fire road. I wasn't bombing through a rock garden. I was riding down a fire road. I was a bit preoccupied with some stuff and wasn't paying enough attention. I was having a bad day and figured riding would cheer me up.
    This says it all, you don't need armor, you need to pay attention!

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