Injury Prevention – handlebars

It’s turning out to be a very exciting racing season for kids: Wednesday Night Races at BHP, KOM/Cup series at some of the best MTB sites in the province, and MTB racing as part of the Manitoba Summer Games for the first time in over a decade!

To keep things going smoothly, it’s still important that all of us – coaches, parents and Commissaires – keep safety considerations at the forefront. We all know that cycling and mountain biking is risky. But there are things that are within our collective control that could lessen that risk. We wouldn’t send kids onto a soccer pitch wearing metal cleated shoes, for example. And so we shouldn’t send kids into a program or race with bikes and equipment that could result in further injury.

Recently it was observed by Commissaires that some bikes in a KOM race really needed some TLC: grips were off; bar-end plugs were missing; the bikes themselves were the wrong size for the rider…etc. Commissaires are nice people; they didn’t pull racers from the course – an action which is certainly within their authority as race officials. So what kinds of injury prevention measures could Commissaires reinforce at the start of a race?

Attached is a letter from Dr. Lynne Warda, Associate Professor with the Injury Prevention and Child Health department of WRHA. She kindly reviewed the academic literature – studies and case reports – about handlebar injuries that doctors see. It’s scary stuff.

Manitoba Cycling Association – handlebar letter May 2012

Of course there are no guarantees; cyclists can get injured just like any other athlete. But when a coach, official or store mechanic suggests a few low-cost changes that could prevent a serious injury, say “thank-you – let’s do that right away”: it really is expert advice that’s in the best interests of the child.

Karin McSherry, KOM and Commissaire Director
Jason Carter, MCA President