Even with the whole Covid-19 situation all around, riding your mountain bike on trails is still a thrilling experience. Now that most people are hiding away in their homes to keep safe, you can have a more peaceful time riding alone in wide empty places, not worrying about other people.
It also gives you more time improving and learning new skills in carving up dirt trails. However, there will be instances that developing bad habits when riding is inevitable. Most especially if you had just bought a super cool new mountain bike and you cannot wait to just run through the woods or the canyons.
Whenever you first start riding bikes, there is a large chance that you are not familiar yet with how to properly take care of one. For riding trails most especially, you must remember certain techniques in mind to keep you upright safe while speeding down the road. So to help improve your dirt trail skills, here are the most common habits that you need to avoid.
Bad bike storage
Mountain bikes are more complex pieces of machinery that you should take care of properly. There are instances that mountain bikes are left in awkward places and even placements. Sometimes they are just hung upside down or open to other elements. Mountain bikes aren’t super high-tech objects, but keep in mind that these bikes will be running very fast down dirt (and most times rocky) trails. If they are not in tip-top shape while going down the hill at 40 kilometers per hour, it will still hurt to crash.
If you cannot store it inside your home or garage, there are plenty of outdoor bike storage ideas out there on the internet today. As much as possible, cover your bike if you are planning to store it for long periods. Keep your bike mounted upright if you need to so that brakes and suspension parts will not get broken.
Stopping in the middle of the road or trail
One of the most dangerous things, not just for you but for your friends and fellow riders, is suddenly stopping in the middle of the trail. Keep in mind that trails are usually not flat. Hence, people riding behind you will not see you stopping in the middle of the road. This problem leads to people crashing into you accidentally. When you first start out riding out there, this danger might not be as obvious at the moment. Most especially when you are out there riding alone during the pandemic.
Whenever you need to stop, always move away from the main trail and move to the side. This simple move will turn into a good habit that you must keep. When the time comes that more and more riders return and start riding with you again, you may thank yourself for moving aside when you need to stop when you see one of them fly past you at great speed.
Walking up on hills
Uphill trails are fun up until the time that your legs start burning. Whether or not it’s your weight or the clunkiness of the bike or the steep angle, the result, and the bad habit here is against stopping and pushing your bike up. While it does for a short period, help keep you from dying, it still becomes a habit that might be detrimental in the long run.
Running uphill is indeed a challenge. So what you can do is practice. Just like in strength training, practicing on small uphill runs will help make your legs work better and stronger. The more times you do it, the better you run uphill without stopping and pushing. Again, even in the uphills, stopping in the middle of the trail is bad. What if someone more experienced is also running uphill behind you? Not only will he or she bump into you, but they may fall off the hill because they may have lost their balance trying to avoid you.
Riding Without a Helmet
Believe it or not, there are still riders out there that don’t use helmets. You might think, hey, it isn’t a motorcycle, it’s not that fast, right? But a good fall from just five to six feet is enough to give you catastrophic injuries. A bump to the head of about five inches straight to the concrete already hurts.
When you are mountain biking, you will most likely be also running off the road. That is, of course, the usual environment of a mountain bike. Falling and hitting your head in this kind of environment is hence, absolutely dangerous.
Always wear your helmet. Simple as that. Helmets are cool. Besides making you look like a pro, these special types of gears also protect your head from getting crushed in. The same goes for your elbow and knee pads.
Not bringing tools and extra tubes
Just like most things that exist here in this universe, objects age and break. Yes, even expensive bike equipment and gear. But when you are mostly thrashing your way through rough off-road terrain, things will break sooner or later.
So if you end up in the middle of nowhere with no tools and extra tubes for your tires, you won’t be able to get home or back to your camp easily.
Bringing a bag of tools and extra parts seems to be bothersome, especially for first-timers. But, being ready for anything is a lesson that 2020 has taught us. Being ready for blowouts and breakdowns is also a good lesson. Just like in cars, tools and extra parts come standard when riding out.
Keep a couple of tubes, and tools like a wrench, Allen wrenches, pliers, a compact pump, a couple of tubes of sealants, etc. Your bike won’t always break, but you will be thanking yourself later on if it does.
And with that, keep these tips in mind and ride safe out there!