Is it safer to mountain or road bike in Denver Metro Area?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    We the people ... Is it safer to mountain or road bike in Denver Metro Area?

    I have seen many reports in the news of road cyclists being killed on Denver/Boulder area roads.

    I don't remember ever reading about a mountain biker dying of his injuries. This includes "extreme" events like Crankworx etc.

    As a whole, would you guys agree that mountain biking is safer than road biking?

  2. #2
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    I road ride often but I don't think there's any question, mountain biking is safer. Sure you may be more likely to sustain non-life threatening but serious injury mountain biking, but you can easily be killed by a motorist when road riding. I except that risk but understand if others choose to refrain from road riding.

    I don't ride multi use paths because when I road ride I want to get a good workout. Riding that fast on a path means dodging people strolling with babies and slower riders.

    When road riding route selection is important. There are roads cyclists simply do not belong on.

  3. #3
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    road brings moar lulz

  4. #4
    The Notorious S.L.O
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    I would think that mtb is safer regardless of the location, sure there are big objects that one could encounter on the trail, but they are stationary, not like the 4000lb objects moving 40-60mph that you could mix it up with on the road.
    I think is it would safe to say the odds of having a life-ending event on the trail are considerably less that when one is riding road.
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  5. #5
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    If you get hurt mtb'ing its your fault. Road biking accidents is usually some one else's and has a better chance of being fatal.

  6. #6
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    mtn biking: you choose your exposure to risk

    Quote Originally Posted by nitecrwlr View Post
    ... As a whole, would you guys agree that mountain biking is safer than road biking?
    To a much greater extent, your safety on the trail is your choice.

    On the road you are at the mercy of the other people around. You can take more risk, cornering faster, allowing your speed to go higher on downhills, ignoring traffic signals, etc. But you can't control what drivers and other cyclists do. For example, riding in pacelines on pavement can be quite dangerous with people who aren't experienced. But by far your greatest exposure to deadly injury is from drivers, and you don't have any control over that.

    On the mtb (assuming you are talking about riding where motorized vehicles are not present), most of your risk is under your control. You can ride beyond your limits, out of control, etc. Accidents can be pretty bad, but yeah, I don't think death is as common.

    Of course, some other bike rider can injure you through no fault of yours. A horse can kick you. Somebody can string piano wire across the trail--so there can be external sources of grave danger.

    I have a nice 4" scar on the left side of my skull (and I don't have much hair). In 1996 I was riding in Mt Falcon Park. Or at least I'm pretty sure I was, I know that's where I intended to go that day. I say that because I lost most of a day's memory. I had a major concussion, deep gash on my skull, huge gravel rash on my left side. I did not die, obviously, but I certainly could have become somebody who drools all day in a home somewhere. I was lucky. I think I lost a few IQ points that day, but seem to have kept enough processing power to function in life.

    What would have been worse, death or a lifetime of drooling in an institution?

    I've broken a fair number of bones and dislocated a shoulder, but that shot to the head was by far the most serious accident I've head.

    I've been hit by a car (his fault), and broadsided a car (my fault) and neither of those accidents resulted in as much injury as several of my mtb accidents. But I would say the chance of death is greater on the road--and it would be much more likely to be somebody else's fault.

    Interesting thing about my head injury story: I was living in Ft Collins at the time. I was passing through Denver and went by myself to ride Falcon (I think). After the injury I got into my truck, went to a gas station and called my (then) wife. I left a message telling her I'd had a little crash. Then I drove home through rush hour traffic. She was waiting for me in the driveway when I got home to Ft Collins and we went to the hospital. First thing I remember was being slipped into the CAT Scan machine around midnight. Listening to my own voice on the answering machine the next day was spooky. I had no memory of it. But I was on autopilot. I wasn't storing any memories, but I knew how to make a phone call, and how to drive 60 miles right to my house.

    Brains are weird.
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  7. #7
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    I sold all my road bikes a few years ago.

    edit - god I hope Lyons isn't considered "denver area" though
    Last edited by ignazjr; 06-01-2012 at 06:07 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosayno View Post
    If you get hurt mtb'ing its your fault. Road biking accidents is usually some one else's and has a better chance of being fatal.
    True dat.

  9. #9
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    Everyone has confirmed what I have felt all along unanimously. I simply can't relax when I ride on the road and don't enjoy it.

    Thanks for your very thoughtful feedback as always Tom. Perhaps the head injury has heightened your capacity to process mtb data. You seem to have a true passion for the sport.

  10. #10
    hehe ...you said "member"
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    The way I see it, a rock/root/switchback (etc) isn't going to be distracted while talking/texting/changing the station and unintentionally swerve and hit me on the trail.
    I don't ride on the road because it just looks like it would be too nerve-racking to me. I simply can't see myself being able to relax and enjoy it.

    ...that, and there's no way anyone needs to see my big ass in spandex
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  11. #11
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    Relaxing, as far as automobile traffic is concerned, should never be a part of road riding. You must always remain vigilant. Its also very important to ride predictably, follow the same rules of the road as automobiles, and ride very straight. Many riders are surprisingly bad at riding straight while doing things such as reaching for a water bottle, etc.

  12. #12
    zrm
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    Well, I've lost more skin and hurt myself a lot more on Mountain bikes than on road bikes and I road ride a fair amount. Road riding has a lot in common with motorcycling in that you have to be very defensive. By riding smart and defensively (which includes avoiding high traffic roads with little shoulder) you can reduce your odds to a fairly acceptable level of risk. I'm fairly lucky to live in a place that has great MTB and road riding. We have a bike path system in which the issues that so many here complain about aren't that big of an issue, the roads have good shoulder or the cars give your room and respect..

    Ironically though, when I come to the FR to ride during shoulder seasons here, I road ride a lot more than MTB. The trails are often too crowded and sometimes the vibe too aggro in the Jeffco/Bolder open space parks.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2wheelsnotfour View Post
    Many riders are surprisingly bad at riding straight
    this explains trail braiding, right?

  14. #14
    FresnoGiant
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    In my experience (I do both types of riding), mountain biking injuries occur more frequently. However, road biking injuries tend to be more serious.

    MTB is typically a slower speed and the landings are softer. Going down on hard pack or dirt doesn't usually hurt as much as asphalt. Roadies ride faster and land harder.

    In short, I don't fear for my life while MTBing. But, I know I might get scratched, cut, bruised etc on nearly every trail I ride. On the road, I can go a year without incident, but a mistake could be fatal.

  15. #15
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    I've been a messenger in Denver for a very long time, and have been mountain biking for even longer. I definitely feel safer on the trail, for the same reason mentioned by others. On the trail, your safety is almost entirely up to you. On the road, no matter how vigilant you are, there is no way to take all that responsibility and hold it for yourself, a little bit will always belong to other road users. Every time you get passed, for instance, you are relying somewhat on that driver's attention and ability to get around safely.

    On the road though, it's usually not the other users that cause problems. Most bicyclist injuries that occur on-road do not involve a collision with a car. It's mostly road rash and broken bones from solo crashes, running into curbs, sliding out, etc. Road riders could use mountain bike skills in many different ways to keep them safer on the road.

    Trail riding and riding in traffic are not all that different. The mindset is essentially the same. When riding on a trail fast, you can't "relax" either. It's constant looking and moving. Just think of riding in traffic the same way, constantly engaged in the terrain, except the trees and rocks are moving and can kill you.

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