Let’s face it - this sport of ours is inherently dangerous and at some point things will probably go wrong and you’ll get hurt.
You can help mitigate the effects of things going wrong by following four simple rules: always tell someone where you’re going and roughly how long you’ll be out on your ride, don’t ride alone, carry a simple first aid kit and a fully charged mobile phone.
It struck me that I’d broken most of these rules when I stacked it and broke my ankle. I’d taken off without telling anyone where I was going, I was on my own and I didn’t have a first aid kit. Fortunately my mobile phone was charged and I had a signal so I was able to reach someone who could help. But it could've easily gone wrong; I might have passed out and then begun to suffer from the effects of shock or even hypothermia.
Photo: William Hook/Unsplash
Since that day, I’ve always tried to follow the four rules and have been carrying a simple first aid kit in my Camelbak.
I’m currently using a Lifesystems Light & Dry Micro kit. It’s a great little kit and has got all you need for basic trail first aid: bandage, plasters, steri-strips, antiseptic wipes and painkillers. It even comes with a waterproof bag and the whole thing is small and light so you don’t really notice it in your backpack. Fortunately, I’ve only had to use the antiseptic wipes and a plaster so far!
I was also fortunate enough to take a basic first aid course through my work which (in theory), would enable me to assist another rider if required.
There are loads of first aid course available, from basic entry courses to ones focused on treating the typical injuries found in our outdoor world. there are also some really good articles online which deal with the kinds of injuries you’re likely to see out on the trail - it’s worth spending a few minutes to read these and familiarise yourself with what to do should your mate stack it and not get up laughing afterwards. Bike Radar did a really good one; link at the bottom of this article.
A quick survey of my riding mates and shamefully none of them have ever carried a first aid kit, and all except one wouldn’t know what to do if things went wrong - except to call for help.
So I’d recommend that for your own safety and that of your mates - at the very least - follow the the four simple rules at the beginning of this article. But it would much better if you found a local first aid course and got some basic training, so at least you’d know what to do in the time it takes for the emergency series to arrive.
You never know, you may save your life or your mates’ life and live to ride it, stack it and get back on again.
Founder, Broken Riders
First Aid Treatment on the Trail by Bike Radar
Lifesystems First Aid Kits