Posted by Claudiu Giurgiu on
Mountain biking is inherently dangerous and we all like to push the limits sometimes, but there is a fine line between pushing the limits safely and pushing them recklessly. Follow these steps to stay safe on the trails and on the right side of the danger line.
- Gear up. Always wear a helmet and any other appropriate safety equipment for the riding conditions. If your riding in an extremely rugged area I suggest kneepads and if you plan on doing any stunts or going down large hills then a chest plate can prevent some particularly nasty injuries from twisted handlebars.
- Never ride beyond your abilities. There is no shame in walking sections of the trail you don't feel confident enough to ride, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
- Use appropriate equipment for the terrain. Some bikes are better for different situations. Just because you can see tire tracks, doesn't mean you can ride it with your bike.
- Keep your speed in check. Always keep your speed at a level that will allow you to adjust to any unforeseen obstacles or changes in trail conditions.
- Know the trail. Never push the limits on a trail you are not familiar with. You need to get to know the trail you are riding at slower speeds before you can ride it like the trails you're used to.
- Slow down for blind corners. You never know what or who is around a corner when you can't see past it.
- Stop and look. Stop and look at sections of the trail that look like they may pose a challenge before you ride them.
- Plan on the crash. Always look at the consequences of crashing in a particular section or on a particular stunt before trying to ride through it. Sometimes a section can look easy to ride but can have deadly consequences to a crash.
- Start small, go big. Work your way up to obstacles and stunts. Find ways to practice moves in less difficult and dangerous situations or at lower speeds before committing yourself to something more dangerous.
- Play it smart. If you think what you are doing is not the smartest, you are probably right. Think about what you are doing and trust your instincts.
- Approach animals with caution. Wild animals are very unpredictable so approach them with caution. Never startle them by shouting or making any loud sound.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Safety against criminals is something you have to look after. Be wary of suspicious people you see on the trail. Always ride in a group and avoid using the same trail often.
- Avoid riding in the dark. We’ll talk about night safety in a minute, but my general rule of thumb is that you should only ride in the dark if you know the area very well and usually if you have a friend. Unless you absolutely need to ride at night I don’t recommend it.
- Plan your ride. Know more or less how long it takes. If riding in the dark is unavoidable, be sure to have reflectors on your bike and on your clothing. Headlights will also be useful.