MIYF Hint - Extra Protection
It's NOT Wussy To Wear protection!
Gone are the days when elbow and knee protectors were the domain of the Downhill riders only. These days, there is a plethora of cross country and all mountain trails around that provide ample opportunity to hurt yourself if you aren't careful, don't ride within your own limits or simply make that once in a lifetime mistake. Trust us, the author knows what's he's talking about! First hand.
Having said that, you'll find that cross country riding results in fair less injuries than soccer, rugby, netball, hockey and many other sports played regularly every weekend around the country. As many as 30% of players from those sports report sustaining at least one or more injuries that prevent them from playing their sport the following weekend or longer. As a percentage, studies conclude that mountain biking is high in small injuries such as grazes, cuts and bruises, but low in serious injuries. However, why not take precautions anyhow?
Gravity Enduro events, longer travel bikes and the demand for more exciting cross country courses have seen the rise in comfortable (called soft shell) elbow and knee protectors from several manufacturers. The protectors are not overly expensive and very cheap when you weigh up the loss of work time, medical bills, physiotherapy etc that is involved with a broken elbow or knee. Aside from that, your elbows and knees are often subject to minor scrapes so having protective barriers that keep you riding and enjoying it is a good thing.
At time of writing, we have been using G-Form Pro-X Elbow and Leatt Airflex Pro Knee pads and have found they stay in place well and we forget we are wearing them once the ride has begun. Other brands are likely comparable and pads can be a rather personal choice.
Skiers often wear protective pads, as do hockey, football, even baseball and other sports players. So do many mountain bike riders of all disciplines. Consider it for your own safety.