Thinking about mountain biking abroad?.
Every year we provide mountain biking insurance to hundreds of mountain bikers who travel abroad to do their sport. In fact, mountain bikers represent one of our biggest groups of customers. Now, the type of mountain biking you do affects the type, or level of montain biking insurance cover you need. Experience has shown that mountain biking falls largely into two zones and there is, of course, quite a bit of cross-over so let's try and clear things up:
What's the difference between 'Recreational', 'Downhill' and 'Competitive'?
Well, as we said above, we think there are two main types of mountain biking and you can compete in both. Let's take a look:
Recreational or general cross-country mountain biking
Firstly, there are people who enjoy forest and mountain trails - getting the bike off the roof of the car and just going. We define this sort of thing as "recreational mountain biking" even though it can, of course, be fairly adventurous. You'll be tackling a variety of terrain, climbing and descending. For general recreational mountain biking holiday insurance, you'll need Dogtag Sport, our default sport cover level, no extra charge.
Downhill mountain biking
The other large group of mountain bikers are those who intend to do what we define as "downhill mountain biking" and while we're going with the Wikipedia's definition as downhill mountain biking being a type of time trial (which would, by definition, be competitive) we're also defining it as doing the same thing for fun - or for a burst of adrenaline. So, for recreational downhill mountain biking travel insurance, you need to choose Dogtag Extreme as your sport cover level.
Duuurrrh? - I sometimes go downhill :-/
Now, before we go on, we realise that cross-country, "recreational" mountain bikers go down hills - usually ones that they've just cycled up but that's not what we're talking about here.
We would define "downhill mountain biking" as going to the top of a hill or mountain with the specific intention of riding a marked or unmarked downhill trail. It's commonly done using full protective clothing and although we can't enforce that, remember, as with car seat belts, if you knowingly or unnecessarily compromise your safety then you could compromise your insurance cover.
The usual way to get to the top for downhill mountain biking is by using the local uplift (usually ski lifts) but we're not necessariiy talking about how you get to the top, it's that the purpose of your trip is to cycle downhill on rough and challenging terrain on a trail that's designed for the purpose - one where you wouldn't dare go up simply because you'll meet other folk coming down.
Now we've had customers saying, "Well, it's not really proper downhill mountain biking because
a) "... I won't be going off any jumps and I'll take care." or
b) I won't be wearing any downhill mountain biking protection or a wrap-around helmet..." or something like that.
Well, we would answer those questions thusly:
a) it doesn't matter, it's still downhill mountain biking and
b) are you nuts?
As we said above, for Downhill Mountain Biking travvel cover, you need to choose Dogtag Extreme as your sport cover level.
Competitive mountain biking
The competitive element in any sport changes things. When we compete at sport, to a very large extent, the gloves come off and the red mist comes down. Our competitive urges will even drive us to go as close to or over the edge of our experience or ability, a zone where judgement and caution run at reduced levels and this is where the additional risk comes in. Making mistakes and crashing is bad enough when you're cycling recreationally but the competitive element will mean that you'll probably be going much faster and closer to the edge and not only that, you'll be in the company of other competitors who are equally determined.
To be properly covered with your competitive downhill mountain biking travel insurance then you need to be sure to choose Dogtag Extreme+ as you sport cover level. Note the + there, it's Extreme+, not Extreme.
CHOICE OF POLICY
Let's be more specific:
Recreational Mountain Biking
If you're going on holiday to do general mountain biking of the 'recreational' type we've defined above then Dogtag SPORT will cover you for that. We're thinking about general cross country, forest trails, up hill and down date, so to speak
Downhill Mountain Biking
If you intend to do downhill mountain biking, plainly, you specifically need downhill mountain biking insurance as we've defined above then at the very least you'll need Dogtag EXTREME. This would be only for non-competitive downhill mountain biking and does not include competitive events like Megavalanche or similar or any kind of race or time trial. It's the non-competitive element that makes it merely Extreme. As we'll see below, competitive changes things.
Plainly, when we compete at anything, the 'gloves come off' and we get altogether more sportive, as the French say, and things tend to get a bit edgier. This is why Competitive Mountain biking is rated as Extreme+. The reasons for this should be pretty obvious - it's not a sissy sport.
Remember, it's your responsibility to ensure that you pick the right sport cover level for your sport.
Ok, so you don't know whether you'll try downhill mountain biking or not. Or perhaps you only intend to do a bit but the main purpose of the holiday is recreational mountain biking. Well, there's the rub. If you have Dogtag Sport or Sport+ then you are not insured for downhill mountain biking as we've defined it above - at all. The best plan, always, whatever the sport, if you think you might do downhill (and 'might' with our type of customers usually means 'will') then make sure you get the right cover.
Finally, to reiterate - anything competitive but not specifically Downhill
Any competitive mountain biking event such as the Yak Attack, a rally or a race is classed as Extreme+. We're not bothered about the altitude or whether it's at sea level, it's just that competitive events carry a far higher risk. Racing across terrain isn't as risky as Downhill racing but we still rate the likes of Yak Attack or Rumble In the Jungle as Extreme+.
You can find some other useful information regarding sports that we cover in our Sports Information Library.
The DOGTAG Team
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