We’ve all been in one of those situations where a great time on the bike has suddenly turned nasty. Crashing and hurting yourself is generally accepted as part of the process, but it can still be tough to get over a crash and long term it can really hammer your confidence, but then maybe part of the fun is going full throttle and enjoying the risk. Life’s not for getting wrapped up in cotton wool, after all.
Here we take a run through the 5 worst MTB crashes we’ve come across in our time scouring through the very best biking videos. There are some pretty shocking sights in this list to say the least, so look away now if you don’t like the sight of broken bones or copious amounts of blood! You have been warned.
There is a serious element to all of these films and photos, of course, but all have been made available by the riders to let people know how it can go wrong and how to deal with it, and ultimately that ninety nine times out of 100 you can still get back on the bike.
5. Josh Bender’s 2003 Red Bull Rampage Mega Stack
Already well known as the nutter of MTB, Josh Bender – the inspiration behind Red Bull Rampage – furthered his reputation as the stunt man/test pilot of freeride time and time again by pushing the limits of what was expected and what was even possible. In this particular run at Rampage 2003 Bender once again showed the world why he’s the boss of Utah. Just look at the distance he falls here. Incredibly he just got up and walked away, but not before a concerned audience looked on in horror.
And in slow-mo for full ouch-o-vision:
4. Nicholi Rogatkin’s 40ft Smash At Red Bull Rampage 2015
It’s no coincidence that Rampage features heavily in a list of the top 5 gnarliest mountain bike crashes, given the limits that are always being pushed with speed, height and gap distance. In 2015 Specialized Bikes rider Nicholi Rogatkin took this huge fall while lining up for a triple drop section. Tumbling around 40 feet down the canyon wall Rogatkin looked as though he should have been out for the count and ready for an ambulance, yet somehow the Boston born rider just jumped up, shook himself off, grabbed his bike and climbed his way back to the fall point to finish his run! Not only did he get down the remainder of the run without any hiccups, he still managed to throw in some amazing style for the crowd. Yeah buddy!
3. Cam Zink’s No Bike Gap To Flat At Red Bull Rampage 2012
Winner of Rampage 2010, Cam Zink is well known for throwing down when it comes to big events. The then Corsair Bikes rider set off like a missile into this 65ft canyon gap on his final practice run only to lose control with the sun in his eyes mid way through the jump. Falling around 80ft and impacting feet first on the very bottom of the landing ramp Zinc looked like he had severely hurt himself, and the sound alone is enough to make anyone wince. Cam luckily hobbled away from this crash with nothing more than a pair of severely bruised heals, testament to his skill in crashing. Look out for the swearing in this one!
“Since I was going over the bars I just had to eject and accordion myself. This was one was really scary because as soon as I came off the jump I knew I was in trouble and it was a really long time in the air knowing that something bad was going to happen. I’ve never heard myself so loud when I knew that I was going to crash.”
– Cam Zinc
2. Francois Gachet’s Career Shattering Leg Break
Sport can be incredibly rewarding and it can be heartbreakingly cruel. In the 1990s Francois Gachet was the man to beat and seemingly had mountain biking sewn up with a series of world cup wins (the first to reach four wins in one season – 1994), a World Championships silver medal in 1995, and a place on the Sunn-Nike squad – an unbeatable team full of mountain biking winners.
“Breaking his right leg in at least two places and more than likely dislocating his right knee as well”
Tearing into the practice session during the 1997 World Champs, the seemingly indomitable Francois went down hard, breaking his right leg in at least two places and more than likely dislocating his right knee as well. Despite receiving excellent medical attention immediately on the track side, Gachet never fully recovered the mental edge he had shown leading up to the crash and unfortunately dropped out of downhill racing soon after.
1. Cedric Gracia’s Ruptured Femoral Artery
Look away now if you don’t like the sight of blood. More so if you don’t like the idea of someone bleeding out in front of you and feeling that awful sense of helplessness. What looked like a straight forward over-the-bars tumble into the dust very quickly turned into a fight for survival as Cedric’s femoral artery was ruptured in the fall and proceeded to gush out heaps of blood. Luckily, Cedric and his buddies immediately put pressure on the wound and stemmed the flow enough to buy him some time. It’s quite harrowing hearing someone say that they might die and serves as a kick up the backside to get some first aid skills under the belt!
Did we miss anything out? Let us know in the comments if you think Gee Atherton’s big crash in the snow should’ve been included in this list, or any other nasty falls you think should have made the list.
By James SwannOriginally from Sheffield, James lives and works in the mountain bike mecca that is the Lake District and has been falling off bikes since he was six. In between working on bike events, riding bikes, racing bikes and writing about bikes he enjoys talking about bikes with anyone who will listen. He really likes bikes.