Mountain bike season will be here soon enough.
Get ready with these six tips from Amanda Wilks, author and creator of Mountain Bike Reviewed.
The allure of the freedoms of mountain biking might lead a newcomer to believe there are few dangers to consider when tearing up the mountainside or taking a leisurely downhill ride through the forested countryside.
In reality, there are more scenarios that could lead to an injury or a broken bike than there are scenarios that won’t. Knowing how to identify these situations and how best to prepare for a worst-case scenario should be one of the earliest biking skills one aims to master for the sake of themselves and other riders.
So before you hop on a bike and take off for the nearest hill in pedaling distance, take a few moments to double-check this list and ensure you’ve got a proper handle on how to best keep yourself insulated from some of the dangers of riding in the wild both big and small.
1.Wear A Helmet!
You’re going to have this drilled into your head from day one and for very good reason: Wearing a helmet can save your life.
Yes, you’re going to be out on your bike to have a good time and forget about the stresses of your day to day life but taking a moment out of the day to remember the importance of essential safety steps is worth the minor unpleasantness it can cause.
A helmet can be the difference between a slightly jarring crash ending with no injury or a serious accident leading to brain trauma. Make sure you wear a helmet!
2.Know Where You Are at All Times
If you live in an area with clearly marked trails and a bustling biking community you’re probably thinking it’s nearly impossible to get lost on a beginner’s trail.
It may be difficult, but never underestimate how easy it can be to wind up turned around while in unfamiliar territory. Without a method of easily tracking where you’ve been or where you planned to go, finding your way back can be a serious ordeal.
Solutions are many and varied. You may want something simple like a lightweight app for your phone or you might want to find the best mountain bike computer available to ensure you don’t run out of battery life mid-ride, leaving yourself without an easy way to call for assistance.
For extra peace of mind, you should always inform friends or family of where you intend to be biking and when you plan to be home, just so someone knows where you might be should you lose your way.
3.Ride with Friends, If Possible
The only thing better than telling others where you’ll be is riding with those same people. It’s not always feasible to squeeze an entire group of friends into every cycling trip you intend to take, but the social side of biking acts as both a safety net and a lovely way to spend more time with people you enjoy being around in one convenient package.
4.Bring More Water than You Think You Need
Becoming dehydrated through intense physical activity takes less time than you might think, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a working vending machine out in the hills if you forget to pack your own water.
At the very least, pack a few insulated water bottles to get you through your days’ worth of riding, but always have extra water available in a convenient location, be it your car or in a bike’s saddlebags.
5.Bike Maintenance Lessens Trail Breakdowns
Maintenance is rarely fun. There’s no arguing against the tedium of checking every moving part on your ride before taking off for an exciting afternoon of mountain biking yet skipping something as vital as a pre-ride check could be what leaves you on the side of the trail with a broken chain or a snapped brake cable. If you think riding your bike is a solid workout you should see how hard it is to push a bike back to your car!
Check all vital components on your bike before loading it up for a ride. Ensure the chain is properly tightened and the brakes are in working order with no obvious signs of wear along with your tire pressure at the very least. If you use gadgets on the trail, ensure they’re charged or have fresh batteries before your trip.
6.Know Your Limits
You may be tempted to jump into an advanced trail early into your hobby riding days, but you’re better off getting to know your personal limits and the limits of your gear before tackling heavily technical courses.
Know what trail signs mean and always endeavor to ride trails that match your level of skill until you feel comfortable enough to explore more technical terrain for the sake of your bike and your personal health alike.
There’s nothing wrong with taking your early mountain biking career nice and slow. Feeling out exactly what you enjoy about the sport and what you feel comfortable doing is key in almost any hobby, especially one that requires a keen mind and well-honed body as trail difficulty reaches higher and higher levels. After all, staying safe now is key to enjoying your new biking hobby for as long as possible.