So, you have decided to take up a new hobby: mountain biking. Mountain biking might sound easy but there are many safety tips to this hobby and tips for buying your very own mountain bike. Whether you decide to compete, or just to ride for fun, there are some things you need to know!
First, let’s go over some safety tips for mountain biking. There are many ways that you can improve your safety when mountain biking. Always the number one safety tip is to wear a helmet. While this may be the most important, let’s not neglect the second most important, ride in control. Riding in control is not only important for your own safety, but also for the safety of everyone else on the trail. If you ever become out of control, you will lose the ability to adjust to the environment and terrain as you ride through it. This can cause crashes and possible injuries to yourself and/or others. Most adventurers like to try and push the limits sometimes with a dangerous hobby such as mountain biking. You just have to know how to push the limits safely and not recklessly.
1. First things first, gear up. Always wear a helmet and other appropriate safety gear.
2. Do not ride beyond your abilities. If you are not confident with certain areas along your trail ride, there is no shame in walking through them!
3. Be prepared for the type of terrain which you are riding on. Some bikes are better for different types of terrain. Make sure that your bike is appropriate for the trail you wish to ride on.
4. Always remember to keep your speed at a level that is comfortable to you and that will allow you to avoid objects or obstacles that may be in your way or sudden changes in the trail.
5. Get to know the trail that you are riding on at slower speeds until you become more familiar with it.
6. If you cannot see past a corner, slow down! There may be something or someone there that you cannot see.
7. Stop and look at sections of the trail that you think may be challenging before you actually ride through it.
8. Weigh the consequences of a crash if you see an area that might be beyond your abilities.
9. Work your way up to stunts and difficult trails. Always practice your stunts in a less dangerous spot and at lower speeds.
10. Trust your instincts. If you think what you are doing is stupid, most of the time it is.
Now that you are more familiar with some of the safety of mountain biking, let’s find a bike that is right for you. One of the most common questions when buying a mountain bike is “Should I purchase a full suspension or hardtail?”. A full suspension has front and rear suspension and are much more comfortable, enjoyable and you are in better control. Hardtails do not have any rear suspension and are lighter and require less maintenance. The choice is yours on what to buy, depending on the types of activities that you will engage in.
When you hit the trails, sometimes it is nice to go by yourself for a relaxing, meditative ride. Sometimes, however, it might be fun and exciting to ride with a group. Bike shops and mountain bike clubs will put together weekly group rides but they will not tell you what to do once you sign up for a ride. Here are some tips to making the most out of your group ride.
1. Always make sure that you select the category that best suits your riding ability. Some groups will meet in the same place and split according to what type of ride each person is looking for. Do your homework and know which group you would rather follow.
2. Always, always show up on time! The group numbers vary from week to week so the group will not wait.
3. Ride safe. This means, make sure your bike is repaired, dress for the weather, bring water and food and always have a first aid kit handy.
4. Be patient when you are riding with others, especially if you seem to stay ahead of the group. Encourage your peers! Some may not be as fast or experienced as you.
5. Be friendly and smile. Meeting other people that enjoy mountain biking is one of the main reasons to join a group ride.
Just remember, if you are just starting out, be safe and don’t try to ride beyond your abilities. Find others that possess the same hobby as you and have fun!