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I just got back from a 5 day trip to Killington Bike Park with my son. I'm 43, certainly not old, but I'm not 20 anymore so it takes a little longer to recover despite being in pretty decent shape for my age.

I started riding bike parks 3 years ago, and this year since I have my own FS, I went about 20 times since I don't have to rent anymore.

I'm just wondering, how much do you avoid getting into a wreck? I push myself harder than I probably should, but it's only cause I feel like I don't have too many more years sending 10ft drops and clearing 25ft jumps. With that comes the occasional spill, and while I obviously don't go looking to crash, I realize it's pretty much inevitable if I'm gonna try improving to get to where I want to be.

Last wreck though took a lot outta me, and I'm thinking it might be a good idea to take it a bit easier. No breaks or anything major, but went OTB and landed hard on my head. Cracked my helmet, gave myself a concussion, black eye (was wearing goggles), and my neck and jaw have been pretty sore for a few days.

Are you guys pushing yourselves too, to the point where you know crashing is just part of the deal? How often do you crash? And how much do you avoid trails, jumps, drops, etc in an effort to avoid taking a spill?
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I'm 45 and recent mtb injuries have convinced me that my goal should be to ride, period. That means I need to avoid injuries that would keep me off the bike for a long time. In turn, that probably means easing off the technical difficulty level a bit. The key is finding the sweet spot where it's still fun (which requires some risk) but is fairly safe. Fortunately I enjoy the challenge of technical uphills. Those require a lot of skill work but are not very dangerous. There's still a huge sense of accomplishment and improvement when I finally clear a technical uphill feature /section. Most of all, I keep reminding myself that I don't have anything to prove to anyone. I did a bunch of crazy riding stuff when I was younger and the peer pressure was strong. Now I know wisdom is the better part of valor.
 

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Also if you enjoy a different type of challenge: sign up for the free version of strava and chase your PRs on uphills and other less dangerous trails. If you're like me the challenge will keep you engaged and striving for improvement. Plus there are big fitness benefits. Lot of pain though!
 

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Agree with the 'sweet spot' comment above. Get out and ride. Stay within or at times even at the edge of your abilities and comfort level, and stay relaxed about it. If you start over-thinking, over-worrying, and generally giving too much to the thought you may crash and hurt yourself, you're going to suck the fun right out of your ride while also setting up mental conditions that may actually make you more susceptible to crashing. While I can be pretty quick, I'll never be the fastest guy on the mountain and I have nothing to prove. Enjoyment is key. I'm 47 and this approach works for me.
 

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I’m 50. Still crash pretty regular. In fact I’m still nursing my shoulder after popping it out of the socket in May. Pushing myself? Yes, but I’m not into bike parks or “jumps” in general so thats not an issue for me. I do like ”technical” trails, but more in a naturalistic sense. Regardless of age you have to have good judgement. I bike alone probably 90% of the time on trails deep in woods. A big part of what I like about MTBing is being out in nature. I’m not trying to film a Mountain Dew commercial. Also, I work a very physical job so that’s way more of an issue for me than MTBing.
 

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I spent the first 22 years of my life playing contact sports, taking plenty of abuse because I'm not that big and suffering a few major injuries. I'm still very active, still enjoy a range of sports/activities. Got a nice mtb bike last autumn, after quite a few years as an avid roadie/crosser/graveleur.

I have no interest in crashing, so push my legs and lungs, but not my non-Earth based skills. I'll ride over rocks, logs, up rocky patches...but I generally avoid the jumps and park-type stuff.

I ride a bike everywhere, so crashing hard while mtb biking on the weekend would be a major PITA. I hate being in a car, so being off my bike would be hell.
 

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I'm 40, been riding mtb seriously for about 15 years or so. I ride bike parks pretty regularly, ride 3x a week and I don't generally shy away from double black diamond trails but that doesn't mean I hit full send on all of them every single time I ride. I have had my share of crashes in my time, and I grew up on moto's... so maybe that gives me a bit more perspective on how things lead up to me going full blown yard sale. That doesn't mean that I don't ride hard... I'm typically in the top 5-10% of segment times when I actually care to look at that stuff and technical riding (more then jumps) is really my wheelhouse.

Now that the context is out of the way... the key for me is recognizing that this sport is all about how I'm feeling on a certain day. It boils down to confidence, setup and conditions coming together in a nice harmony, and that is my indicator that it might be a day (crap, sometimes it's just a few hour streak) to push myself and try something new. I do find that if I'm crashing due to lapses in concentration, that's generally a sign that I'm just not fully bought into the ride and I need to dial it back and re-focus or just admit that I'm a rebuilding phase and cruise for a bit.

This is 100% a state of mind sport. You're either in the flow and on your game, or you're not from my experience, rarely is there a gray area in between. The important thing is to just embrace that and let your engagement flow in and out and recognize what sort of mode/state you are in. Each ride doesn't need to be uber shreddy and grow your skills... sometimes it can just be a great day in the bike park, and you have a handful of sections you did well, or corners you railed. Other times, it can just be about getting out after work and pedaling. The important aspect to embrace to do this a long time without breaking yourself off... is recognizing that it doesn't have to be any one thing, or type of ride to enjoy it.
 

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I’ll be 40 in November, I crash about once a month. What’s funny is my crashes aren’t from pushing myself, it’s dumb stuff. Washed out on a turn and clipped my hand on a rock in August. Two weeks ago, I was ridding a steeper downhill, stopped looking ahead, and rolled into a 18” deep rain rut.

I don’t ride park, because we don’t really have parks to ride in Phoenix. But if we did, I would be pushing myself to do bigger and bigger jumps. To me jumps are much easier to bail on vs some of the techy downs I’ve done.

I agree with the post above as well, it’s a mindset for that day. I went on a group ride to South Mountain, and got into a few techy descents and told the group I was done for the day. I rode 18 miles of XC the day before and I was not on top of my game.
 

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51 here. The older I get, the longer it takes to recover from an injury. However, I generally push myself and don't think too much about crashing. After a major back injury and surgery in my 40s, it literally took a couple years before I could ride without caution. Now, I am back to being an idiot, mostly. I do not and have never done big jumps or park riding, though. I do love very technical riding with crappy consequences for messing up.

Edit: oh yeah, i crash maybe once a month. a couple "bad" crashes a year. And, I ride a lot (185 rides so far this year, with over 200k in elevation gain, 0 gap jumps :) )
 

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I think all adrenaline junkies eventually have a moment when they reassess priorities. How bad that moment has to get to change behavior is an individual thing.

I've been mtbing for 30 years, and I'm really confident handling a bike in most cases, but after spending 3 years rehabbing a back injury... not knowing if I would ever be able to really ride again like I used to.... it's very humbling.
 

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I'm 67, started riding mountain bikes at 40 after retiring from amateur motorcycle racing for 20 years. I crashed my motorcycles maybe 250+ times in those 20 years, mostly when practicing for an upcoming event. I've crashed maybe a total of 13 times on a mountain bike in 27 years. The last crash was two years ago on my XC bike, broke four ribs. I practice my skills, ride within my limits, and minimize the crashes...because more down time healing as you age equates to less time on the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Excellent feedback, thank you. Whoever mentioned the mindset and concentration thing is completely right. Now that I'm looking back on it, I've never crashed on a trail or feature I hadn't ridden before. Literally not once. A couple of my worse crashes came on green trails I've ridden 100 times. When I'm riding a new feature, I'm locked in, but sometimes my mind floats around and I'm thinking about everything besides what I'm currently doing. I think that's a realization that could be corrected.

Someone also said that every ride on every trail doesn't have to be some personal conquest. THAT is my biggest problem. Since I've only ridden for 3 years, I feel like I have limited time to get to where I want to be, and that often leads to riding when my concentration and/or fitness level is less than par. Again, I think that's something that could be improved upon with my new enlightenment!!
 

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I'm 56, have been riding mtbs as long as they've existed in commercial form (1983). Also have commuted most of my life on bike and spent 4-5 years racing on road bikes.

I'm skinny and fit and pretty good at technical/park riding and technical trails and generally at going fast. But I want to keep going and not have to take time out because of an injury, so I take it easy-ish. Trees, rocks and compacted dirt are hard and will hurt you.

I contrast my mtb approach with how I approach skiing, where there are fewer hard and sharp things to harm you in most situations -- I grew up skiing and ski racing and in that environment at 56 I still totally go for it (including racing gates in a beer league) and feel limited only by the forces my body can withstand...I don't worry about the consequences of falling at all.

On park/flow trails, broadly speaking, on green trails I rip as hard as I want and maximize all features...on blues, I flow and clear tabletops and such when I have the speed but don't push my speed to clear all of them...and I don't do black park/flow trails, esp. that require clearing any gaps.

Out on real trails, I'll ride anything, just am judicious about speed and have no ego about walking certain sections. Xanadu trail in eastern Washington is a good example...no way am I going to try to clean the whole thing.

I wear an XC/road helmet and no pads. Right now I'm riding a plus hardtail with 140mm of fab Pike travel in the front.

I quit road bike racing in my early-mid 40s. As the saying goes, it's a matter of when, not if, you have a big crash. Saw one or more in every race. Did not want to be on a couch with a broken femur (saw that happen more than once) for a year or more after the age of 45...just way too hard to recover and get back in shape.

At the same time I stopped road bike racing I also stopped skating the bigger features at skateparks (i.e., pools/pool-like features). Somehow they are making the cement much harder now than they did when I was a teenager!
 

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I never used to really think about the consequences of possible injuries, I just accepted the fact they they will happen. I've had bad crashes that landed me in the hospital numbers of times. Always BMX and skateboarding. Worn casts and been through the rehab phases. Just stupid I guess? I think it hit me about my mid 50's when I cracked my neck surfing. I landed head first onto a sand bar. I could have drown or been paralyzed right at that moment. I got lucky and never lost feeling in my arms or legs. I felt like I had whiplash for a few weeks and for about 6 months my neck popped every time I leaned forward. That morning pop in my neck when I leaned over the sink to brush my teeth was a constant reminder that I'm getting older and don't want to miss being able to do outdoor activities with my wife and adult kids.
Then a hard slam down crash on my bike about 4 months ago that sent me to the hospital was the apex of my 'going for it' career. My wife just look at me and said, "No more big jumps Old Man'." She didn't have to say anything, I had already realized my age had exceeded my ability's. I used to just dust myself off after a missed landing. There was no dusting off the blood in my nose and mouth, and the broken ribs, and sprained wrists. Even my whole torso was swollen. It was bad. I still haven't gotten completely over the jump jidders, but that's a good thing.
Last week my wife and I rode the Flow Trail in the Santa Cruz, Ca mountains. What an amazing trail. Miles long through the Redwoods with huge beams and flowing jumps. Hit it with speed and confidence and had a smile on my face the whole time. That's my kinda trail. I now have a built in limiter that allows me to just dial it back... a little.:rolleyes:
 

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I'm 60, and I'm guessing my ride/crash ratio is about the same as it has been for over 4 decades. However, as bike design and capability have evolved, my riding continues to become more aggressive. I now ride more gnarly terrain at higher speeds than ever. Drops, jumps, and gaps I take on are getting taller and wider. I know this has more to do with new bike capability than it does about my capability. I ride 4-6 times a week year 'round. Ticking time bomb? Maybe. All I know is I'm still having fun.

As for the question, Too Old to Crash? I guess I've never associated an age with crashing.
 

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I am 46 and have been riding for 25 years. I broke both arms in a crash a few years ago, since then I stay on the ground, no more jumping. I also learned to ride a dropper which I firmly believes makes riding safer. Instead of focusing on going faster, I am now focusing on building strength, climbing faster and overall skills other than jumping and flat-out speed. My goal is 3-4 two hour rides per week and I am in better shape than I was 20 years ago. I hope to be riding for another 25 years.
 

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It's going to be a personal decision for everyone, but I can tell you that two years ago I had a non-biking injury that required surgery and I'm just now getting back on the bike. I missed out on SOOOOOO many rides with my two boys, who are now far better than me and I can barely keep up. But now it's more about actually being able to ride again, not if I can follow them on the jump lines I showed them 3 years ago. I'm 47, and I think with age comes the wisdom to know what's important. Take care of yourself and you'll ride a long time. I don't want to experience the depression of being unable to ride at all ever again. On the plus side now my wife and I are riding together again, just like we used to 25 years ago. She loves that I like easier rides now! ;)
 
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