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This resonates with me as I've been both getting older and moved to a place where the riding has higher exposure. I used to live in the Northeast of the US and while there were definitely dangers (trees for instance) and I got banged up a number of times both trail and park riding, it always seemed like there were pretty low risk options if I wanted that.
Now I've moved to Nevada and live where I can pedal from my house to Bootleg Canyon in 5-10 minutes (where Outerbike used to hold its demo, though the most popular demo loops are the exception to my next comments). The riding is great, but even a lot of the "XC" trails have substantial exposure so while the riding isn't always more challenging that I was used to back East, the consequences are higher. If you get kicked a foot or so off the trail, you could be going for a long, rocky tumble rather than ending up in a bush). I pad up much more than I did previously and for more rides, but I still don't totally love the exposure, mostly because it means I can't push as much as I could previously as I need to be farther from my limits to maintain my acceptable risk level.
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