Injury and illness in mountain bicycle stage racing: experience from the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic Race

Wilderness Environ Med. 2012 Dec;23(4):356-9. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2012.05.003. Epub 2012 Jun 9.


Objective: The popularity of mountain bicycle (MTB) riding has increased significantly since its inception in the 1970s, as have injuries from MTB riding. As MTB stage racing is a relatively new segment of MTB racing, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the injury and illness patterns associated with MTB stage racing to assist future medical providers in covering events.

Methods: The Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic Race consisted of 7 stages. An onsite medical team of physicians, nurses, and paramedics provided medical coverage. The providers logged each medical encounter on a medical form. The log included the location where the treatment was provided (on course, at the finish or after the race), a description of the injury/illness, treatment that was rendered, the supplies needed for treatment, and the disposition of the patient (continue, withdraw but continue the next day, withdraw, or transfer to the hospital).

Results: A total of 52 athletes competed in the inaugural edition of the race. There were 30 separate medical encounters, with a total of 34 injuries/illnesses. Of these, 22 (65%) were classified as injury, and 12 (35%) were classified as illness. Four athletes withdrew from the race, 1 from injury and 3 from illness. Skin and soft tissue injuries/illnesses were the most prevalent.

Conclusions: Injury and illness patterns of MTB stage racing are similar to those of other wilderness sporting events and prior data on MTB-related injuries. Minor skin, soft tissue, and orthopedic injuries are the most common. Illness accounts for the majority of withdrawals.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mountaineering* / injuries
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Skin / injuries
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / epidemiology
  • Sports
  • Sports Medicine / statistics & numerical data*