Mountain biking is a fun outdoor activity but like any other sport, it also comes with risks, especially if you’re challenging yourself on the trail. You might go over the handlebars or maybe experience some type of environmental allergen. Therefore, packing the essentials when you go mountain biking is important and really helpful and one of those is a first aid kit. But aside from bringing a first aid kit, you should also be aware of the first aid scenarios that you might encounter when you go mountain biking.
If it’s your first time to go mountain biking, or if you want to level up your skills, you should also know what to do during emergency situations. Today, we are going to let you know all about first aid for mountain bikers.
The Essential First Aid Kit for Mountain Bikers
When you go mountain biking, there should be a balance between the weight and bulk of the kit your carry and efficiency and fun. It’s certain that you wouldn’t want to be tossed over the handlebars because your backpack weighs more than your bike, right? To help you out, here are some things that are light in weight but are fully capable of saving you.
Wound Care Dressings
These are a bit bulky but they are lightweight and can help you get the extra few miles you might need to get out in case of an accident. Bringing a few bandages and some gauze can help you a lot instead of putting a dirty shirt on a wound.
Medical Tape or Duct Tape
This is important to protect and close up any wound until you get to definitive care.
Alcohol Swabs or Antibiotic Cream
This can help you in cleaning wounds and cuts if ever you crash while biking.
This is also an essential item you can include in your first aid kit because it can be used in so many unpredictable situations. You might also want to bring a knife with a built-in multi-tools such as tweezers and scissors.
These weigh nearly nothing and does not take up much space but they have an uncanny ability to save your day.
Zip-Lock Bag with Medicines
Bringing medicines such as Ibuprofen, Benadryl, and iodine tablets always come in handy.
These are the essential things that can save you in case of minor accidents or emergencies. But if you will be heading out for a night right or you will be staying in the mountains overnight, you should bring more items with you such as a thermal blanket, a headlamp, a lighter or some matches and more.
Common Mountain Bike First Aid Scenarios
After knowing the basic first aid items you can bring when you go mountain biking, you should also know the first aid scenarios that you might encounter in the mountains. This is important for you to know how to prevent and treat common mountain bike injuries, making you prepared on and off the trail. Here are the common mountain bike first aid scenarios and what you should do.
When you go mountain biking, you will be prone to insect bites and stings especially during summertime. When you get bitten by insects, most reactions can be mild, causing little more than redness, itching, and minor swelling. If you get bitten or stung by an insect, you should first find or move to a safe area to avoid more bites and stings. If the stinger remains on your skin, use a tweezer to remove it.
When you go biking in an area that has a lot of ticks, make sure that you check yourself for ticks after your ride. It’s because ticks are known to carry Lyme disease which can cause fatigue, rashes, headache, and a fever.
Cuts and Scrapes
When mountain bikers crash, it usually results in minor cuts and scrapes. When you get cuts and scrapes, it’s important to clean the affected area with water or alcohol swabs then apply a Band-Aid if needed. Before you clean your wound, it’s important to wash your hands first with your drinking water to avoid getting it infected.
If you have a deeper cut and there’s a lot of blood, apply gentle pressure and a bandage. You can also elevate the wound if needed. If you think it needs stitches, visit a doctor as soon as possible. It will be your own discretion if you can still continue riding.
Bruises and Small Stress Fractures
Mountain bikers are also vulnerable to stress fractures because of the repetitive forces their lower legs absorb during mountain biking. Stress fractures are small cracks in bones or severe bruising of a bone. If you think you have a stress fracture, remove yourself from the trail and make sure that you’re not in the way of other mountain bikers. Then, try to stabilize the injured area and do not move it until an initial assessment is done.
Check the injured area for swelling, redness, or bruising. Gently touch the area for you to assess the pain. You can also assess the numbness or tingling. Continue to check circulation. If there’s poor circulation some signs can be numbness, tingling, pale or blueish skin, and loss of pulse. Make sure to seek out medical attention immediately.
If you suspect that you have a dislocation injury, it’s better to leave the joint alone and let a medical professional handle it. It’s because it’s kind of dangerous to try and jam the bone back into place because it can cause damages muscles, ligaments, and nerves.
To reduce the swelling, you can take an anti-inflammatory medicine like Ibuprofen, then apply ice to the affected area. You can also immobilize the affected area with a sling and do not move it until you visit a doctor. If there’s a wound, place padding around it or above and below the wound then put a clean dressing loosely over the injured part.
This is a very dangerous injury to encounter while mountain biking and fingers crossed that you never have to deal with it. To prevent this, investing in a high-quality mountain bike helmet is important.
If you fall and hit your head, stay calm and take a few minutes to sit at the side of the trail to observe your reaction to the fall. You may feel dizzy and most likely be shaken up after the fall. While you’re sitting, observe your helmet as well for any signs of failures like cracks, dings, and scrapes.
If ever you are mountain biking with a friend and he experiences a head injury, what you should do is sit them down first. Them check if there are any bleeding or wounds and apply direct pressure to the wound. You should also check their level of responsiveness using the AVPU scale. It stands for Alert, Voice, Pain, and Unresponsive. Check if your friend is alert, if he responds to voice, if he responds to pain, and if he responds to questions or a gentle shake. Take note of his reactions to pass on to the ambulance in case one is needed.
Dehydration is probably the most common thing that mountain bikers can experience. To prevent from being dehydrated, make sure that your mountain bike has a hydration pack or water bottle and while on the trail, you should constantly stay hydrated.
Some signs of dehydration are dizziness, muscle cramps, and headaches. It’s easy to treat dehydration. You can simply sit down in the shade and drink plenty of water. You can also take an oral rehydration solution to replace salt and other minerals that you’ve lost. If you experience painful cramps, take a rest at the side of the trail and stretch and massage the muscles that hurt. If these do not reduce the symptoms, it’s better to head back to the trailhead and visit a doctor.
Being knowledgeable about first aid is very important for mountain bikers because there are a lot of unexpected things that can happen in the mountains. By knowing the basic first aid treatments, you will be able to save yourself or even your co-bikers in case of accidents and emergencies while on the trail.