Mountain biking carries with it certain risks.  This can be said about most things worth doing.  During my "running days" (ie back when I was running more than 10-12 miles in a typical week...when 10-12 miles was about the shortest distance long run I'd typically be logging) I dealt with a few overuse type injuries...tweaky hip-flexor, cranky knee, shin splits, peroneal tendonitis, and 1 acute grade 2 sprained ankle.

Assuming a well-fit bicycle and proper gear selection (gear meaning saddle, shorts, shoes, and actual toothed rings) I have found that the chronic overuse sort of injuries aren't nearly as common in cycling.  Generally the cycling injuries I've been aware of fall under the acute injury umbrella -- from falls.

Yesterday my friend Heather (one of my many friends named Heather who ride) joined us for an hour or so of mountain biking.  She is even more of a noob at the sport than I am, but really seems to be taking to it well, especially considering that she doesn't have any road cycling history, so just plain handling a bike and having that sort of fitness is new to her.

We were starting with an easy loop of a nearby trail system (during the Summer months it's a Boy Scout camp.  In the Spring and Fall hikers and mountain bikers are given paid access to the trails).  One thing that makes the Owasippe trails particularly challenging is some pretty heavy patches of sand.  Even the most skilled riders can struggle with the stuff, for certain.  It definitely still freaks me out.

At the bottom of a smallish hill there is a veritable sandbox.  Heather came flying down the hill, hit the sand, endo'd, and landed on her wrist (I've had it drilled into my head to keep my hands on the handlebars and not try to catch myself.  Even at stops on my road bike when I've been unable to unclip I keep a firm hold on my bike...I don't think I've ever even tried to catch myself.  I guess my hubby's lessons have not fallen on deaf ears).  I didn't actually see her fall, as I was ahead a bit and waiting at the top of a small rise.

Shortly after she landed she hollers "I broke my wrist!"  Because I'm apparently a bad friend and Heather is a jokester my response was "you're kidding!?!"   Unfortunately, she wasn't.

Not really sure what I'm looking at, here...
Luckily we weren't at all far from the parking lot, so her fiancé rode back to the car to bring it back to where an access road crossed the trail.  He got Heather to a med center, she then went to the ER for X-ray and it was determined that her injury included 2 broken wrist bones and that sort of bump on the outside of her wrist was pretty shattered, so the poor girl (tragically she is uninsured, even though she works 2 part-time jobs...a rant I could spend pages dealing with.  No one should have to choose between risking injury engaging in a healthy activity or allowing their body to slowly destroy itself by remaining "safely" on the sofa.  This injury is very well going to cost her thousands of dollars...ugh!) is going to need orthopedic surgery.  Today she went to meet with the orthopedic surgeon.  I haven't heard anything, so I'm guessing she may be in surgery right this moment.  Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for my dear friend.

The bright side of the day (if there is one to be found, since Heather and I had been hoping to ride together a lot more in the coming months.  I know these wrist injuries can take a really long time to heal properly, which may take her out of riding until next Spring.  Maybe it's just as well that we can't ride together for a while...the two of us together in the woods seems recipe for disaster.  She was with me 2 years ago when I badly sprained my ankle during a trail relay.  Maybe it's too much klutziness to have in the woods at one time!) is that I rode trails that terrified me in May...they were still a little scary, yesterday, but I can see that even with the minimal off-road mileage I've logged over the Summer that I've made progress in my bike handling and confidence.  I really can't wait to see what I can accomplish on my new, better fitting bike (which I think will be here sometime next month, from what I've been reading).  I'm looking to a lot more mountain biking in the coming year and trying my legs at some more races next year, including the Iceman Cometh race up north.  I've even thought that if I have my bike in time I might see if I can buy an entry from someone unable to use theirs, since it's already full for 2012.

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