To help get you started!
These strong bicycles are able to carry us to off-road destinations that were never dreamed of in a single days hike. The mountain bike provides us with a new mobility and greatly increases our range, such as getting back to that favorite lake for trout fishing. When ridden properly and responsibly, the all-terrain bicycle can be an excellent "LOW IMPACT" tool for the environmentally conscious person. By staying on designated mountain bike trails and obeying the basics of riding etiquette (yield to hikers and horseback riders, traveling at safe speeds, and being sensitive to soil erosion), the mountain bike rider can set totally new parameters in outdoor fun and enjoyment.
Your First Ride
Limit your first ten rides to about two hours. Don't try a major off-road trek when you aren't in great shape or ready for rugged terrain and steep hills. After you have gotten used to your new mountain bike and built up a condition base, try a short off-road ride with a group or club. Riding off-road can be dangerous and should not be done alone.
As you become better conditioned, strategy, tactics, and skill become more important than leg strength. The best climbing strategy is to never spin the rear tire. This is accomplished by keeping a constant, steady pressure on the pedals. Stay seated as long as possible, with your upper body bent forward and your elbows in. Try to keep both ends of the bike weighted equally. Bar ends help keep your arms in a better position for climbing.
On downhills, keep your weight back (WAY BACK) , tuck in your knees and thighs in tightly around the bike, and use upper-body shifts to control the front end. Don't oversteer , take it slow and easy, and use your brakes to modulate your speed. Avoid locking up your brakes, but instead modulate (drag) them lightly to control your speed. You may need to lower your saddle for better clearance while standing on your pedals. Firmly grip the bars, but keep your elbows, hips, and knees loose. Most of all, practice, practice, practice... Remember, it is no disgrace to dismount and walk your bike, just good sense. Walking is part of the sport.
Once on the trail, RIDE SAFELY, be considerate of other trail users and the environment so we can all continue to ride the trails. The International Mountain Biking Association offers these rules as guidelines of proper trail etiquette:
- RIDE ON OPEN TRAILS ONLY. Respect trail closures, private property, and requirements for permits and authorization. Federal and State wilderness areas are closed to cycling, and some park and forest trails are also off limits.
- LEAVE NO TRACE. Don't ride when the ground will be marred, such as muddy conditions after a rain. Never ride off the trail, skid your tires, or litter. Strive to pack out more than you pack in.
- CONTROL YOUR BICYCLE. Inattention even for a second can cause disaster. Excessive speed frightens and injures people, gives mountain biking a bad name, and can result in trail closures.
- ALWAYS YEILD. Make your approach known well in advance. A friendly greeting is considerate and appreciated. Show your respect when passing others by slowing to a walking speed or even stopping, especially in the presence of horses. Anticipate that other trail users may be around corners or in blind spots.
- NEVER SPOOK ANIMALS. Give them extra room and time to adjust to you. Running livestock and disturbing wild animals is a serious offense. Leave ranch and farm gates as you find them, or as marked.
- PLAN AHEAD. Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding-- and prepare accordingly. Be self-sufficient at all times, keep your bike in good repair, and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather conditions. Keep trails open by setting an example of responsible mountain biking for all to see.
Personal Equipment List
Riding in the mountains, you can go distances beyond a normal days hike, getting away from any sign of people. In the mountains the weather can change in just minutes, easily going from sunny to warm, to rain or snow and then getting really bad. These facts should be kept in mind when venturing out on a mountain bike ride. A mountain biker should prepare for the worst, using this equipment as a guide.
WHAT TO WEAR
- Biking shorts (keep your legs from chafing and have extra padding)
- Biking gloves (absorbs shock)
- Mountain Biking shoes (stiff soles reduce foot fatigue)
- Heavy cotton socks (or wool in cold weather-- wool will keep your feet warm even if they are wet)
- Biking jersey or T-shirt (jerseys have handy pockets)
- Eye protection (from sun, dirt, and low branches)
- Sweater top (polypropylene or capalene for warmth)
- Windbreaker jacket (lightweight nylon shell)
- Wind pants and/or heavy tights
TOOLS TO CARRY
- Tire pump (make sure it fits your valves and is attached securely to your bike)
- Under saddle tool bag
- Small crescent wrench
- Patch kit (make sure the glue is not dried up)
- Tire irons (for removing your tire from the rim for fixing flats)
- Screwdriver (slot)
- Chain tool (for repairing a broken chain)
- Spare chain pin (if you have a shimano chain on your bike)
- Spare tube (make sure the valve and size are the proper ones)
- Basic allen wrench set
- Multiple size spoke wrench (you may need to adjust a friends spokes)
- 1 Small first aid kit
ACCESSORIES FOR TOURING
- Map and compass
- Water purifier (to filter out the protozoa parasite Giardia found in almost all water)
- Lip balm with sunscreen
- Matches (in a waterproof container)
- Swiss army knife
- Headlight (instead of a mini flashlight, it is more versatile)
- Spare glasses
- Toilet tissue
- Food and water
- Personal medication (tampax)
ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR MT. BIKE
- Water bottles and cages (or a camelbak)
- Chain stay guard (keeps chain from chipping paint)
- Toe clips (holds foot on pedal, or clipless pedals)
- Bike lock
- Computer (electronic speedometer and odometer etc.)
- Packs (panniers)
- Headlight and taillight for your bike
- Fenders (for winter riding)
- Bike rack for your car
- Home work stand
- Home floor pump with a tire pressure gauge
- Second set of tires and/or wheels for use on the road
To make your bike last you should follow a regular maintenance schedule. Your bike should be tuned up at least once a year depending on how many miles you ride. This involves adjusting both derailleurs and both brakes, truing both wheels, adjusting the hubs, bottom bracket, and headset, inflating the tires to the proper pressure (maximum on road and 35-40 pounds for off road), tightening all loose bolts, and doing a general safety check.
There's work to be done, you should help maintain trails (the essence of off-road mountain biking). Volunteer to help maintain trails that have been neglected due to lack of money. Land managers and other user groups are a good source to see how you can help. Support local bike clubs in their effort to establish committees for trail maintence in your area. Support mountain bike organizations such as IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) P.O. Box 412043, Los Angeles, California 90041.
Biking Pre-Ride Checklist
Mountain Bike Terms
Fixing Your Bike on the Trail
Cycling Adventurer's Checklist
Bicycle Safety Tips