A Different Challenge
For what is perhaps, the ultimate expression of motorcycle freedom you might want to try off-road or trail riding. Away from the rigid confines of the motorway or the city streets, you can really take your bike to the limits and let your machine fly.
Off-road, the dangers are different but nonetheless just as serious and potentially fatal. Off-road, there are 4WD’ers, mountain bikers and other trail riders to contend with, not to mention animals, trees and rocks.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
The remoteness of most off-road riding trails increases the potential severity of any accident so make sure:
• Someone knows where you are riding
• You carry a GPS device, cell phone or radio
• You have a comprehensive first aid kit–know how to use it and how to administer CPR
• You ride with friends or as part of a club ride.
Hard objects hurt
It might seem cool to ride in the fresh country air, wearing only a shirt and jeans but if you come off and connect with a rock or tree, you will come off second best.
In addition to the usual protective gear, you really need to invest in some serious protection for those vulnerable body parts: neck, back, shoulders, hips, elbows, knees, shins and feet.
• Neck braces: These go some way toward protecting your neck and spinal column from severe injury. A good neck brace could make the difference between riding your bike another day and riding in a wheelchair permanently.
• Back braces: one of these will also help protect that vital spinal column. Try to find impact protectors that have met the demanding European standard: CE EN 1621-2.
• Chest protectors: This is an area that frequently suffers high impact forces when in collision with other bikes, rocks or fast-moving trees. Choose a chest protector that also covers the shoulders.
• Knees, shins and elbows: These areas are exposed, vulnerable and often suffer the first, most violent impact. They are also vulnerable to stones and other material thrown up from the road. Try to find protectors that adhere to the European standard; CE EN 1621-1.
• Boots: Good boots not only protect your feet in the event of an accident, they protect your feet from flying stones, and they help you to maintain a good connection with the pegs. Look for the European standard, CE EN13634.
The Bottom Line
Riding off-road is just another of the many exciting facets of being a motorcyclist. Making sure that you are prepared with the proper gear, including a helmet – will allow you to enjoy the freedom of the ride to the full.