While riding today I approached a young man on the trail who was struggling. His chain had fallen completely off of his crank (it was hanging off his cassette) which had caused him to wipe out so all in all he wasn’t having a good ride. When I approached him he was distraught, but also appeared to be mentally challenged. He wouldn’t let me help him put his chain back on, couldn’t tell me the names of anyone he was riding with, and wouldn’t let me leave because he didn’t want to be alone. I had no problem with this at all, but whoever he was with had put a considerable distance between them and him, to the point where we couldn’t see anyone else. Eventually, one of his riding partners rode back to help and I went on my way.
While I would never want to exclude anyone from the sport, my concern is that mountain biking takes a certain level of control and concentration that someone with mental disabilities may struggle with. It’s definitely a personal choice for the parents, but given the responsibility to make a decision like that myself, I would try and find something else for us to do together. What do others think?
In my opinion, the issue wasn’t that he was riding a bike in the woods, the issue was that nobody cared more about him than they did the enjoyment of their ride. I’ve seen many people bring a new person along and then leave them in their dust so they can ride their desired pace.
I always ride behind new riders, regardless of who brought them along. I talk to them, offer suggestions and help them if something occurs. I ride maybe 80-100 times a year. I can handle losing the wind in my hair for a few. A couple years ago, My brother invited his childhood friend and his wife along on a ride. Immediately at the start, they took off, leaving her so I hung out with her. Towards the end of the first half of the ride, she twisted her ankle walking up a steep incline she couldn’t ride. If there hadn’t been anyone with her, it would have been an incredibly stressful situation, not knowing how far she had to walk out. Instead, I let her know that we were almost out, carried her bike so she could balance herself and got her to the top. We met up with my brother and his friend, rested and then headed back down, with them taking off and leaving her again.
TL;DR: The issue wasn’t that he was riding a bike, it was that his biking ambassadors were thoughtless douche bags.
Thanks for the replies so far, but I feel like I should mention that the rider whose chain fell off and wiped out was mentally challenged, so I’m asking opinions about whether or not people think mountain biking is an appropriate activity for mentally challenged individuals not specifically new riders.
I understood that from the original post, and had not responded as I felt the other responses covered it. Mentally challenged people should not be excluded from anything they can physically do and enjoy. But virtually on one should be left alone, especially someone mentally challenged.
As alvin stated, we all understood the situation as explained. Biking comes in all shapes and sizes and while they may not be up for balls out downhilling or epic 40 milers, there’s no reason they should be excluded from the hobby.