Deadly Waterbars

On Wednesday I was out riding around Gap Creek in the morning with a couple of mates. They are both fairly skilled with their mountain biking handling except one, who has only really been doing it on and off for a year or so, but we were out for a fun relaxed ride.

We had been riding for about a hour. Riding up and over Mt.Cootha and back up past the Channel 9 broadcasting station. The plan was to go back down in the reserve and do all the single trail that surrounds the park. Rolling down the fire trail which I think is known as Three Sisters, this is a fire trail that leads you down past a turn off that leads you down to a road which takes you back to The Gap. It also takes you to the top of a fun trail called Dingo which I think would be classed as an advanced track due to early tricky rock garden climbs. 

My friends and I started to descend and I was just mucking about drifting my back wheel all over the place trying to kick up dust, and in general be and idiot. Since my mates were coming down close behind me I stopped fooling about and started to descend fast. That’s when I heard a voice and I looked back see my mate almost cartwheeling down the fire trail heading towards a tree. I had already turned around and started to ride back to him as he was collecting him self on the ground.

Bad news, he had a huge gash in his leg and pretty scratched up hip. He was lucky not to do any more damage then he had. He couldn’t really move because he was pinching the skin together. I had to ride down Dingo and drove up to the road where it meets the fire road he was on. I had a first aid kit but I had rung a surgery and they were happy to clean up his wound which was a relief.


What had happened is that he was descending just fine but he was approaching one of the waterbars in the road and he slammed on his front breaks to slow him down. As he was doing that his rear wheel bucked while it was going over the water bar sending him flying over the handle bars.

Just a bit of riding advice with waterbars. They are a fantastic and simple way to keep fire roads where they should be. Allowing the water to run over them and down in the bush. A natural gutter. They are also turn a boring fire trail in one where you can jump off the water bars or even pump your bike down over the other side increasing your speed. But if you’re a beginner or don’t fancy on jumping them and want to enjoy descending this is what I can advice you to do.

  • Weight over your back wheel (This doesn’t mean standing up on your pedals over your seat, I mean stretching your arms out and getting your weight over that wheel)
  • On approach to the water bar, try to lose all your speed before you get to it
  • If you do panic just use the back break, this won’t send your weight flying forward
  • Gently squeeze your breaks (also known as to “feather” your breaks) on and off to maintain your speed properly, if you slam them on it will give you less traction and control.


My mate also managed to dent his frame and destroy his break leavers!