It's so easy to get caught up in the adrenaline and euphoric rush that mountain biking gives us. The more we ride, the more confident we get, but we also start to forget the little things... like safety and riding etiquette.
It's great to spend time riding with other like-minded shredders at trail centres - but it's always sad to see people not taking care of themselves, and others!
So here are 8 things to remember when you're out on the trails, so everyone can enjoy awesome riding without incident, feel more confident.... and not be a douche-bag to others.
It's important to maintain your bike regularly. Washing it after a ride is usually the last thing you want to do, but it's a good habit to get into. Washing it down, polishing it and lubricating the suspension will help your bike last longer and be less susceptible to wear. Cleaning your bike is a great opportunity to check tyre pressure, check the suspension and torque settings. The best way to run through your bike is with an M-Check.
Wear Appropriate Protection and Clothing
It goes without saying that wearing skinny jeans and flip-flops isn't the best riding attire. So, wear comfortable clothing that's fit for purpose. Whether you prefer Lycra cycling clothing or baggy downhill wear, it doesn't matter! Wear what you're comfortable in.
Arguably, the most important thing to wear is a helmet. Some bike parks are very hot on safety, and won't even let you ride without one. So who cares if you get bad helmet hair, or if you feel a little goofy wearing a helmet because you're probably not the only one.
Pack your bag according to the type of riding you'll be doing. Whether it's a quickie in the park, a cross-country adventure or a trail-blazing day at a bike park. Ensure you have a good source of hydration with you to keep hydrated throughout your ride.
Sun cream is another essential because even if it's cold out, you won't notice the sun cooking you. The most vulnerable places to fry are the back of the neck, face, and forearms, so top up throughout the ride. Sun protection will of course help against burning, but also prevent those cringe-worthy tan lines.
A good multi-tool, a spare inner tube and a pump are also essential for any unexpected mechanicals. You don't want to be one of those friends that have to rely on others for parts.
Mountain biking requires a strong core to be able to power the legs for pedalling, for keeping a strong frame onboard and being able to move around the bike. Your core is your stomach, lower back, hips and butt and these all need to be worked on to keep up your stamina whilst riding. It's important to stretch before and after every ride to reduce the risk of muscle strain and fatigue.
Ride to your Ability
It's important to know your strengths and weaknesses in your riding ability. It's great to try new things and progress your riding, but be careful and don't be over-ambitious, otherwise, accidents will happen!
If you want to try a black run, but you're not sure you can do it, then take it easy. Be aware that there may be other riders fast approaching from behind, so stay vigilant and if need be, pull to the side and let them pass. Holding people up isn't cool, and if you find you're pushing your bike too much on a trail, then it probably isn't the right grade for you.
Don't feel defeated though! It's great to know your limits because you can slowly start to push it further and further until you crack that stubborn feature, or manage to ride a full trail without stopping. Progress is one of the BEST feelings for me in mountain biking, and a reward in itself.
Be Cool to Fellow Riders, Regardless of their Kit or Skill Level!
Most mountain bikers are really friendly and sociable because you all share a common passion for biking. Sadly, there will always be that one show.- off who may even intimidate you with tricks and expensive kit, but who cares? Enjoy yourself, be supportive of those who are a lower skill level than you because believe it or not, you used to be in their shoes.
If you're tearing down the trail and you fast approach a slower rider, don't buzz their back wheel, slow down and calmly call out "rider", or "on the left/right" so they know you are there and they can safely pull to the side. If you scare them or pressure them to go faster, you are likely to cause an accident to them, and yourself.
Respect Mother Nature
We're riding in her backyard, and as beautiful as it is, it's easy spoilt by litter. This is a huge pet peeve for all riders, and there is really nothing worse than having a stunning landscape littered with trash.
If you're riding on non-maintained trails, then try not to blow out the track with back wheel skids and over-aggressive riding. It's not fair on other riders who come down after.
Always pack a thin rain jacket which you can roll away into your bag. You just never know when the skies will open up and drench you.
So there are a few things to remember when out riding the trails. Be safe, support one another and most of all, have fun!