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Mountain Bike Blog

 

 

Mountain Biker Airlifted - A timely reminder about safety prep

 8/5/2013

A saddening news report concerning a mountain biker who was airlifted from the Heath Track, Belrose after a fellow MTBer found the 30 year old local unconscious on the track earlier this week.
Careflight Media Release

Its not exactly clear if the rider was on the fire trail (or lesser used single track), however the popular Heath (and Bare Creek) Track is a fast flowy fire trail descent.  Heaps of fun and my favourite fire trail. But as far as fire trails go it's one of the more challenging I've ridden for the sheer number of enormous water bars with blind, rocky, uneven and sometimes sandy landings.

While we're not aware of the circumstances of the incident and certainly don't presume to know the details of what transpired it is a good opportunity to think about the important rituals a MTBer should undertake prior to every ride, especially when riding alone.

ID

Carry ID on you at all times. An old driver's license is perfect, alternatively a laminated business card is easy or simply write your details on cardboard in waterproof marker and put it in a zip lock bag. Don't forget to put your emergency contact details and relationship to the person on the back. If you can list your blood type, allergies or critical medical info that's recommended too! 

ID checklist

  • Waterproof ID
  • Full name
  • Address
  • Emergency contact name
  • Emergency contact phone numbers
  • Relationship to the emergency contact
  • Blood type
  • Allergies or critical medical info

Let someone know

Let someone know where you are going, how long you expect the ride to take, the trail and weather conditions you're expecting and what gear you are carrying in your pack.

I don't trust anyone in my family to remember what I said and sometimes I change my mind before or during the ride, so the routine I've created is to send an SMS at the trail head and an SMS when I return. (P.S. I forgot to txt my wife before I set off this morning and I got in trouble for it.)

I've found the easiest way is to use a phone app that sends my GPS map location via SMS (and I add route info).  If I change my route while riding I will generally TXT the details mid-ride and when I finish I habitually TXT to say "I'm back at the car".

The app I use to send my location is aptly named "Send My Location" a free app from the Android Play store. There appears to be similar apps in iTunes but my quick search didn't find any that send via SMS. Email or social meda might be your lesser option.

Let someone know

  • The time you actually depart
  • When you expect to be back
  • The trail or route you are riding
  • Expected conditions
  • What emergency gear you are carrying
  • Let them know when you arrive back safely

Your kit

I regularly head out on the trail alone, most of the time in fact, so about 6 months ago I asked my outdoorsey mates for advice on what I should carry in my pack. If you ride lone-wolf then you should carefully consider what you might need to carry.

As of today I'm going to post a list of my pack contents on our home office wall and I'm going to tell my family what I would try to do should I have an emergency on the trail.

Read about what I keep in my pack

Route tracking and emergency beacons

SPOT
A friend of mine who regularly sets off solo for days on end fly fishing in the NT wilderness uses one of the SPOT devices. http://www.findmespot.com Unlike mobile apps, that require a mobile signal, this device uses satellites to transfer the information to the service provider.  The service provider then sends the SMS or email etc.  It also has a long battery life, unlike your phone.

It has some quality features including automatically sending regular messages with your location, sending alerts if your location hasn't changed in a set period of time (i.e. like if you come off and knock yourself out), plus it has configurable panic messages where you can easily advise of how serious your panic situation is (e.g. How quickly you need to be evacuated). The service provider will automatically contact the emergency services, fully supported in Australia.

There are a number of devices starting at around $120USD plus the subscription costs.  If you are heading on paths less travelled a device like this is highly recommended.

Phone Apps
I've recently found an app for Android Stay Safe that looks like it has some neat features, however I've yet to try it in action.  It also relies on mobile coverage so it's not in the same league as a device like SPOT.

You can also configure some popular GPS riding apps for your mobile to automatically tweet your location at set intervals - assuming you have mobile coverage, the app is still running, your GPS is accurate, your battery hasn't gone flat and that Twitter isn't overloaded.  You wont have many Twitter followers if you are tweeting your location every 5mins.

I certainly wouldn't be relying on phone apps for ultimate safety but they are another tool to have in your kit.

None of these tips are going to stop you getting in trouble but they may help you get rescued sooner, may save the emergency services tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention reduce the stress on your family and loved ones.

Our thoughts are with the local rider who I understand is still in a serious condition in hospital.  Our best wishes to you and your family and we hope to see you back on the trails soon.

 

Trail Centres and Trails featured in this blog

 

Comments:

This website is brought to you by MTB weekend warrior Aaron Markie.
There are plenty of great websites out there with a wealth of information about Mountain Bike Trails,
however in my experience its hard to get a good mix of info, maps, photos and videos of trails I've never ridden.
The idea of this website is to tie those 4 elements together and give you a more detailed look at the MTB Trails I ride.
If you have anything to add then let me know.