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Basic Tips for Mountain Bikers

As most regular mountain bikers know, there are several important rules that should be followed and there are important bike handling skills that must be mastered before subjecting yourself and your bike to the thrills and spills of off-road riding.

Usually, most of us ride within our capabilities but occasional riding new trails or in even different weather can present some new challenges. And these challenges can require some new biking skills and knowledge.

Here are some things you should consider before embarking on your mountain biking adventure.

Quick Tips

  • Plan your ride.
  • Dont ride alone on unfamiliar trails (especially without proper planning).
  • Carry spares and sufficient water.
  • Protect your body from falls and extreme weather.

Planning Routes
When planning new routes for yourself and other bikers to ride, be sure to look at a map first. USGS maps are great. They show off-road vehicle tracks, forest roads and most trails. Some trails marked on these maps can suddenly disappear. On the other hand, I have ridden trails, which are not indicated, on the maps.

Take into account the trail length, terrain, altitude, gradients and vegetation. Consider these variables and you can plan a suitable route for the time of year and rider experience.

During summer try to ride in the morning or late afternoon. Look for shaded trails. Higher altitude trails will usually be cooler. If you are planning an all day epic ride you should also think about places to refill your water.

During winter, you need to keep an extra eye on the weather. When ascending, you generate a lot of heat but racing down the other side you arent generating as much heat. To top it off, you are subjecting your body to a substantial wind chill factor which can drop temperatures even further. Be sure to carry extra layers of clothing. Finally, it is just as important to hydrate. The air is usually less humid during the winter and this can help to dehydrate you.

Preparing for the Ride
Of course, you must be fit for the ride tat you have planned and you cant get in shape in over night. Assuming you are physically ready for the ride, eat a good breakfast composed of mainly carbohydrates. Cereal, toast and fruit are excellent and provide a lot of energy for your adventure.

You should always stretch before starting a ride and be sure to spin in a low gear for the first 5 to 10 minutes. This is important during the summer but even more so in winter.

You should have a first aid kit and know how to administer to yourself as well as to others.

Of course, make sure that your bike is in good condition and that you have at least the following tools and parts; spare tubes and/or patch kit, pump, tire tools and a bike tool or small tool kit. With the knowledge of how to use these items you should be able to fix your bike enough to limp back home or to your car.

Other than that, get out there and enjoy yourself!


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