There are few activities that are quite as exhilarating as mountain biking. You get the adrenaline rush of a rollercoaster while also enjoying quite a bit of natural scenery. It can also motivate you to explore the various mountains of the world and the trails that they have to offer. However, when going abroad to a mountain bike, it’s crucial that you prepare yourself adequately. With this in mind, here are a few tips that can help you have a better experience of mountain biking.
Tips for Mountain Biking
Keep up-to-date maps ready
Mountain biking is an activity that requires a keen eye for navigation. Cycling through the treacherous and hilly wilderness is difficult enough on its own, you don’t want to get lost along the way.
Unlike any flat terrain trails, mountains are pretty easy to get lost in. You can find yourself in the middle of a trail with no way to get back if you aren’t careful. This is where maps can come in handy.
However, not all maps are equally reliable. This is especially true for the wilderness. Who’s to say that natural erosion and human influence hasn’t changed the landscape of a certain area over the years? This is usually the case, which is why maps need to be updated every once in a while.
Inexperienced mountain bikers will often use the first map they get ahold of. It’s reasonable to assume that the map won’t have any significant changes, but you never know. Even slight differences can have you going off-trail with no idea where you’ll end up.
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When going at high speeds on uneven terrain, this is something you want to avoid. Keep yourself updated on all the latest maps for your favorite trails. If you’re heading for a new one, make sure you have the latest edition.
It can help keep you on track and prevent awkward situations where you might need to call in for help.
Don’t forget about safety
Whether you’re riding your bike on a clear day on the road or through a rainy mountainside, personal protection is crucial. Unlike driving a car, riding a bike offers no protection, and this is something that most cyclists are aware of. Mountain biking brings about new dangers and hazards, which is why safety is paramount.
When you’re going abroad, it’s important to consider all kinds of different hazards. If there’s flora or fauna that you have to watch out for, make sure you have the right safety gear. Long sleeves are recommended. Falling from a bike isn’t at all uncommon, and you don’t want some poison ivy ruining your day. Brings the right ointments and medkits with you to prevent cuts from getting infected.
Helmets, knee guards, and safety lights go without saying. Keep in mind that you might need extra protection from the sun if you’re going somewhere with a tropical climate.
Keep the right sunscreen with you and apply it to exposed areas like your face and hands. It’s going to go a long way towards making your trip safer and more comfortable.
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Watch the weather forecast
There’s nothing worse than having your plans cancelled by unexpected bad weather. Unless, of course, this happens when you’re stuck in the middle of a mountain range. Bad weather is nothing to joke with when you’re mountain biking.
If you aren’t prepared for the weather or it severely impacts your chosen trail, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation. Best case scenario, you don’t get to enjoy your day of scheduled mountain biking.
It’s crucial that you pay attention to the weather forecasts for the region. If there’s a high chance of the weather turning sour, you’re better off rescheduling the ride. Rain and snow don’t make for a good ride through the mountains.
The weather forecast can help you better manage appropriate clothing. Bringing extra clothes won’t always make you more comfortable. If you’re overdressed for the occasion, you’ll quickly acquire a sweat and overheat. Keeping the extra clothing in your bag will only slow you down.
Obviously, riding through freezing temperatures with inadequate clothing is risky as well. You can catch a cold and lose a few days of your scheduled mountain biking trip.
Get a good idea of what kind of temperatures you can expect on any given day and then choose your outfit accordingly. It will save you a lot of trouble.
Don’t overexert yourself
Everyone wants to reach their full potential as soon as possible. When you’re mountain biking, the main goal is adrenaline. This is why the hardest trails always seem like the most fun.
This might be true, but you probably shouldn’t rush into the harder trails right away. Especially if you’re still inexperienced.
Mountain biking is a challenging sport. It requires quite a bit of preparation and practice. It’s easy to overestimate your abilities when going out to the mountains.
Lots of mountain biking enthusiasts find themselves exhausted halfway through a taxing trail and end up dreading the rest of their trip. This is even more apparent when travelling in groups.
You want to make sure that the biking trail is appropriate for everyone in the group. If only one of you can handle a five-day pedalling trip, it’s not going to be a good experience for everyone.
To avoid these situations, make sure you know your limits and the limits of everyone else in the group. It’s going to mean a lot for the whole trip.
Bring lots of water
The human body is around 70% water, that much is well-known. When you’ve been biking for days through the mountains, you start feeling like your body runs on the water as a fuel source.
It’s something every mountain biking enthusiast has to keep on them at all times. Between the constant cycling and moving around, you’ll be as sweaty as you’ve ever been. All this water needs to be replenished so that you can continue riding.
Amateur mountain bikers will often underestimate how much water they’ll need for a trip. A single bottle won’t be enough to hydrate you if you’re sweating liters every single day. Your hydration pack needs to be refilled every couple of hours.
If you’re travelling by car to the location, bringing a five-gallon jug or two would be the best course of action. Use it to refill the hydration pack and take it wherever you go.
You can even take advantage of natural sources of water in your vicinity. Bring a water filter with you and you will be able to drink from streams and rivers. This is especially helpful in mountainous areas, as you’re very likely to run across a stream every once in a while.
Look for accommodation
If you’re planning on taking a longer trip for mountain biking, the day-to-day challenges will be the least of your worries. Where do you plan on staying while heading out in the mountains?
In favorable weather, sleeping tents and similar conditions might be enough, but even that’s questionable. It really depends on the weather and how you feel about sleeping outside.
The easiest way to deal with this is to look for accommodation along the trail. There are often resorts and villas available for mountain bikers passing by.
However, you might not be able to get a spot if you just waltz in during the season. There’s no guarantee that they aren’t booked. It would be best to take care of accommodation before you head out and then not have to worry about where you’ll be sleeping.
Maintain your gear
Mountain biking is a pretty demanding sport. You have to prepare your body and your gear in order to have a good ride through this kind of terrain. The gear is especially important, as the bike is your primary source of transportation in the mountains.
Most cyclists will already know the basics of bike repair and maintenance. Things like changing a flat tire and broken shifter cable are essential skills you have to have. On the other hand, you never know when something unexpected might pop up.
Before you head on your mountain biking trip, make sure your gear is ready for the ride. Finding a sturdy bike from a range of full suspension mountain bikes is essential if you don’t already have one. If you do, you should probably take it to a shop every once in a while.
Have the brakes and ram inspected for issues. Get a few spare tires, so you don’t have to patch up yours while on the trail. Check the suspension as well, as it’s extremely important for uneven terrain.
Once you’re sure everything’s patched up and ready, you can head for the nearest bike trail and enjoy yourself without worry.
Don’t be zealous with the schedule
Having a plan for your trip and sticking to it is a good way to make sure you’ll enjoy yourself while mountain biking. However, this doesn’t mean you should take the plan as gospel once you arrive at your destination. There are many things that can happen to change your plans and expectations of the trip.
Sometimes, the weather will turn sour and make some trails less than favorable. Other times, you’ll find that you’ve planned a very ambitious schedule and you’re just not feeling as energetic as you expected to be.
In these scenarios, it’s best to just go with the flow. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do the whole trail at once and enjoy your time in the wilderness. Even with a lighter schedule, you can have fun alone or with friends.
It’s not a competition. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll find that the trip was a success.
You need lots of preparation when heading abroad, whether you’re mountain biking or not. But, it’s especially important if you want to partake in a sport like this. If you’re unsure of what to bring and how to plan for the trip, go over this list once or twice beforehand. It’s going to help you get a good idea of what you need to watch out for