With the dawn of a new year comes New Year’s resolutions. Fitness and getting in shape are fairly common promises to make and it’s always nice to see the mountain biking community grow but going out onto the trail without any idea how to keep one’s bike and body in the same shape they arrived in can lead to disaster.
It’s never a bad idea to brush up on safety tips no matter how familiar you think you may be with your bike and the trails you frequent, though; You never know when you might have to help a newcomer brush up on their skills, too.
Make sure you’re up to speed on your biking safety with a few solid tips on how to improve your technique, check your equipment before a ride and what to do in a worst-case scenario.
1.Take the Right Gear
Before you even set foot out the door on your first step towards your local trail you’re going to want to make sure your gear is in order. Safety equipment and emergency supplies are always wise to pack but having the right gear can mean something as broad as having a bike that you can ride comfortably yet won’t fall apart during the roughest portions of your ride.
At the bare minimum you’re going to want to ensure you’ve selected a quality bike made to withstand the expected difficulty of trail you like to ride. A bike in the vein of the Schwinn Protocol 1.0 should meet your needs without making you break the bank in the process. Additionally, knowing what to take also means what to leave behind.
An emergency patch kit for a blown tire is a great investment but bringing unnecessary weight in the form of too many snacks or gadgets could throw you off-balance in a hurry.
2.Ensure Your Bike Is Properly Tuned to You
If you haven’t spent a lot of time on your bike it can be difficult to judge just how you may want different components to be tweaked.
Knowing how high to keep your seat or the proper angle for your handlebars might seem like silly overzealous preparation for the experienced rider. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. For instance, having your suspension set too stiff might leave you bruised and battered if your favorite trails have many drops or rugged portions. Know your trail and your bike alike!
3.Know How to Fall
You may be trying to reduce injuries on the trail yet see the above header and wonder what a proper fall can do to stop a broken bone. After all, if you ride safely, shouldn’t accidents be a thing of the past?
Mountain biking involves terrain that is almost always going to be unpredictable due to weather, natural changes caused by wildlife or traffic or even incidents caused by multiple riders being in too close a proximity to one another. Learn how best to fall before you actually hit the dirt to make sure your next topple ends in a harmless slide and not a trip to the emergency room.
As with all crashes, keep your head protected with one arm and focus on keeping your body as limp as possible as you land to avoid sending the brunt of the fall through braced joints.
This applies to physical over-extension just as much as it does exceeding your skill level too quickly.
If you’re barely used to short two-foot drops, don’t suddenly start tackling drops twice as far without brushing up on your skill set. You can apply the same logic to nearly any other facet of biking difficulty, especially when it comes to the complexity of technical trails and the new challenges they may provide.
If you haven’t ridden beginner trails at least a good handful of times to the point where you feel comfortable and proficient, you probably aren’t ready to step up to a trail rated at black diamond difficulty.
The more tense you are, the worse an accident may be. Remember that you’re out and about to have fun, not to worry about the stresses of the day or how you’re going to take the next big step in your career.
Let your mind drift freely. Don’t lock up on the brakes or hold your handlebars in a death grip. By breathing carefully and relaxing you’ll enjoy your ride as well as avoid the nastiest side effects of tensing up. The tighter you hold on, the worse your crashes may be if you go rolling head over heels.
Staying safe while mountain biking isn’t always a guarantee, but there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of taking a tumble over yourself or another poor cyclist on your average trail ride.
Keep your eyes on the path ahead, don’t hold on for dear life and remember that a skinned knee here and there is a small price to pay for avoiding a bigger bump to the head while pursuing the perfect ride.