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When it all Goes a Bit Saddle-up…

Mountain biking is awesome, although there are times, rare as they are, when things don’t quite go to plan and with it feeling a bit on the wintery side these days it’s a good time to think about just what would you do if it all went saddle-up.

Now a word of warning , this little bloggette is not the answer to all things safety and riding and wintery, its more about pointing you in the right direction of some great advice should you feel you need it and with COVID still lurking in our psyche, a few thoughts on when that may impact your usual precautions and preparations.

First port of call, those mountain rescue folks. Plan your adventures, hope you don’t need them but if you do, they are there for you. They also have a wealth of information for you and it’s not just for those big adventure days. Sit back with a cuppa and have a good read.

So you’ve planned your ride, big or small, remote or trail centre. How’s the weather looking?

Weather changes massively in Scotland from one location to another, from one minute to the next. Our weather may not be the most severe in the world but there are occasions when it is barely survivable, wind and rain can make even a mild day seem super chilly. And here’s a cool fact; in 1995 a temperature of -27.2 was recorded in Braemar – wonder what that felt like on hills around?

You want to know what weather is anticipated, and not just for the expected duration of your ride but what weather is coming in too. Importantly, look about you as you are riding – is the weather as you expected? Is it getting windier and colder sooner than you expected? If so, maybe time to head back home….

Met office is great, check out the mountain weather information service as well.

But even with all the preparation, accidents do still happen

If you or a member of your group have an accident or take a turn for the worst and walking or riding off isn’t an option, i.e. you need professional medical help (and you have a mobile phone signal) then call 999. You can use 112, it works as well.

The Ambulance Service are primarily equipped to work in more urban environments, if you are away from a decent road by much distance, then there needs to be a more coordinated response from additional emergency services.

If you are easily accessible by road ask for Ambulance, if not then ask for the Police and then Mountain Rescue .

  • Location (for example a grid reference for mountain rescue and a description of your location/access to it
  • Number of people in the party
  • Nature of injuries or illness and any deterioration/improvement in the casualty over time
  • Casualty/sick person info for example age, gender, relevant medical conditions
  • Weather conditions at your location.

You may find yourself in situations where there is no mobile phone coverage. If your phone is showing ‘emergency calls only’ it is piggy backing on another network because yours isn’t available. You should still be able to make a call to the emergency services.

There is a wee bit of an urban myth that 112 works better; 999 & 112 are exactly the same in the UK. Use either one, and you will get the same service and the same location details passed to emergency services.

Remember, mobile phone signal can vary quite a lot in the hills, do consider moving around a bit or gaining height if you find yourself with no signal at all. Stay safe though, don’t wander off and get lost, that wont help anybody.

Consider registering your phone to text in an emergency -you need to do this in advance of your ride.

V2osk 4 Lh UW6 Oie5o unsplash

There are other forms of communication too from the traditional whistle and shouting to sat phones, personal locator beacons and various trackers. Worth knowing your options in advance.

Importantly, Mountain Rescue are there if needed.

They have protocols and procedures in place to help mitigate the extra risk posed by COVID. There is still a risk though and response times may be a bit slower, numbers may be lower but if you need them, call them. Accidents happen!

What about First Aid?

The very best way to manage incidents is to be prepared in advance and a first aid course is the best way to prepare yourself. These range from a few hours (where you will cover the basics of CPR) to the more in depth that take a number of days. For most of us, the Outdoor First Aid course is a great balance of detail and time. 2 days very well spent!

First Aid courses should now include COVID specific protocols; some procedures are a little different as we look to protect ourselves from this added threat. Check out some generic information and do click on the link within this article for specific advice from the UK Resuscitation Council.

A note on group shelters during covid

The group shelter is a stalwart of hill and mountain kit. Brilliant to shelter the group from the worst of the Scottish weather while you wait for help but during COVID times, consider individual shelters if you are not out and about with your immediate household.

And this really and truly is our last thought…do consider investing in a Mountain Bike Leadership Course. Not just for aspiring mountain bike leaders, the training course is super holistic and looks to managing incidents, weather, map reading and may also up your riding skills too. 2 days of skills training to help you boldly ride with greater confidence and knowledge on many things mountain biking. We have some of the best tutors in Europe here in Scotland - make the most of this asset!

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