You ride long enough hitting the dirt is inevitable.
It's almost a rite of passage for those who enter the sport. Usually, crashing on your dirt bike results in minor bumps and bruises. In the event of modest injuries that come with the territory you can quite often get back on your bike and keep riding. Sometimes though a sprain, broken bone, or torn ACL knocks you out of contention. Other more serious injuries simply knock you out.
Weston Peick knows he's in trouble during this Heat race at Detroit Supercross
In the heat of a race, adrenaline can take over and mask any pain resulting from a dirt bike crash. You get back on your bike not realizing there's substantial risk of further damage. When involved in a dirt bike crash be it trail riding, practicing on the track or in a Motocross race it's a good idea to give yourself certain protocols, if you will, of when it's OK to return riding, when you should walk away from the race and when to wait for medical help.
Check out this video of a young Ricky Carmichael:
It's not too far of a stretch to say Carmichael's career almost ended long before he ever got nicknamed The GOAT.
If you've been thrown off your dirt bike (which happens to the best of us in the whoops) relatively unscathed and out of bounds, don't jump back into traffic when retrieving your ride. "Look both ways" is relevant not only on public streets but the Motocross/Supercross track as well.
Conversely, if you've been thrown off your bike but remain on the track in the way of on-coming riders you've only got one option: Get out of the way. Now, depending on the severity of your injuries, if your night is over and you don't have a head/neck/back injury, then move (read that: crawl) to the side off the track. If you're unhurt get to your dirt bike as quickly as possible and if there is time try and get it started otherwise move to the side, off the track, and re-start it there before reentering the race.
Jimmy Albertson narrowly avoided getting hit after crashing in the LCQ at Phoenix Supercross.
The technology in today's Motocross helmet is unmatched at any time in the sport's history. However, concussions are not a thing of the past. They still happen and returning to a race or even practice after a blow to the head is a bad idea. If you feel any of the following after hitting your head it's better to call it quits so you can ride another day:
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Dazed and confused
Concussion symptoms may not be immediate, either. As the rider, you decide if it's worth your career to possibly inflict more damage if you crash again.
Sometimes Motocross crashes leave riders with serious injuries and in severe pain. Jumping back on the bike is the last thing on the rider's mind, instead, the natural instinct to remove their helmet often takes over. If you have head, neck and/or back injuries leave your helmet on until medical personnel arrive.
Most helmets today have a quick release system that helps to easily remove the helmet from your head rather than the need to pull it off or even forcibly remove it. Hastily removing your helmet, especially in a state of pain, can cause or even exacerbate spinal cord injuries. Medical personnel can remove your helmet much easier without incurring further damage and get a stabilization collar around your neck, if needed.
A more prevalent yet non-life threatening injury is the knee. Read about Motocross Knee Injuries for more information on the damage many riders incur to their knees. The following are symptoms of the more common ACL tear:
- Feeling or possibly hearing a "pop" in the knee
- Feeling the knee is dislocated
Though unlikely, it might be possible to get back on the bike and ride if you think your knee is sprained or badly bruised. A partial ligament tear is better than a full blown rupture, so it's best not to aggravate an injury and make it worse. If excessive knee pain exists, remain still, or if you stand to walk and your knee gives out, sit down and wait for help.
Weston Peick rolls off the track relatively unscathed and came back to make the Main and finish in the Top 10
We all want to win at any cost. No pain, no gain, right? In many respects there's truth to that. Ryan Villopoto reportedly rode through a nagging knee injury for his fourth consecutive Supercross championship. He underwent surgery immediately following the season and missed Outdoors. But in San Diego this year, Chad Reed broke his scapula, collarbone and T1 vertebrae then a week later tried to race the next Supercross round before smartly bowing out and finally out of the season altogether.
Ironically, pain is your friend. When involved in a Motocross crash gather your senses to know your surroundings and what's happened to you. Do you need to get out of the way and if so can you? If pain is a factor, is it debilitating? If so, call it a day. But if you didn't hit your head and you can get to your feet relatively pain free then it's probably a safe bet that a good run to end the race will help salve tomorrow's eventual aches and pains.