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You’ve decided to take up mountain biking, buying your bike and researching and planning for your first excursion on a local peak. But there’s more to the sport than just riding down the trails, and there are a few safety tips to keep in mind to prevent accidents. Here’s a short guide on what to know before your first mountain bike trip.
Before you head out, ensure your head is protected. Buying a helmet is the first order of business. Helmets prevent concussions and head injuries. Make sure you pick one that fits snugly, sits in a level way, and doesn’t block your vision. After buckling it on, ensure it doesn’t slip. If it slides too much, it’s the wrong helmet for you. Pick up sunglasses or a visor for your helmet for eye protection. You want to cut down on glare and have a barrier against trail dust, dirt, and other objects kicked up by your tires. Cycling shoes and bike gloves can provide traction while absorbing the continual shock of riding a tough trail. Finally, bike shorts can reduce chafing and abrasions brought on by long rides.
Even if it’s brand-new, inspect your bike for any issues. Make sure the chain, pedals, and brakes are in good working order. Look for cracks, bubbles, and punctures in the tires and replace them if you notice any issues. Above all, keep your eyes open, and don’t take the more difficult trails until you’re ready for them. When riding, always keep your body up and off the saddle and toward the rear wheel. This helps reduce stress on your neck and back and aids in climbing and sprinting. Don’t coast down hills, but actively use the brakes as you ride down them. Most injuries occur while going downhill because you’re building up momentum and running the risk of hitting something and going end over end. Know the terrain of the place you’re going, study maps, and investigate trail conditions before you go there. Finally, do some stretches before you ride, drink enough water, and know when to rest.
When thinking about what to know before your first mountain bike trip, consider this: you’re getting back to nature, and you’ll be far from home. Be ready for anything by packing a small bicycle repair and tool kit. It should contain a multi-tool, a patching kit and extra tire tube, a small pump, and a few tire levers. It wouldn’t be amiss to include a few dollars as well for any unforeseen expenses a credit card can’t pay for (though you should still bring your wallet just in case). Bring a first aid kit as well in case you need to make some “repairs” on yourself. There may be several abrasions in your biking future, so pack several sizes of bandage and band-aids, a roll of medical tape, and antiseptic wipes!