For those that love mountain bikes, there is nothing quite like getting off the road and testing you bike to the limits. The more challenging the trail, the more invigorated a mountain biker is likely to become, but the veterans will also tell you that some basic safety tips need to be adhered to before heading up that mountain trail.
The most obvious safety tip is to always wear a helmet. You would think that it goes without saying, but you would be surprised how many riders ignore that simple step in hopes of feeling free and getting a bigger thrill. You helmet should be tight without being uncomfortable, and should sit about an inch or so above your eyebrows. One good way to test the fit of your helmet is to open and close your mouth. Ideally, you should feel a little bit of movement in the helmet. If not, it is probably not tight enough.
The helmet is an essential, but you need to remember that it only protects one part of your body. Gloves are always a good idea, as are a good pair of shoes. Before setting off, you should make sure that your laces are tied tightly and not flapping around, as they can become caught up in the chainset quite easily. Padded shorts are always a good idea, and you may want to consider some form of shin protection if you are heading to a particularly nasty location. Some form of protective eyewear is also a good idea, as they will keep out flailing branches and flying rocks.
Now that you are dressed for success, you need to be aware of your surrounding and where you are headed. It’s always best to map out your route in advance and make others aware of where you will be and when you will be returning. No matter how observant you are of safety, there is still always the chance that something could go wrong that incapacitates you or your bike. If no-one knows where you are, that could lead to major problems.
Yes, mountain biking is done for the thrill of the ride, but that doesn’t mean you should be taking unnecessary risks. Stick to clearly defined trails and be aware of your limitations. You are less likely to run into trouble if you stay to the path, and also less likely to be hurt or injured if you know your fitness levels and riding ability. You can still have fun without riding the trails like a crazy person. You need to keep in mind that there are likely to be other riders out there, and that you actions can also affect their safety.
Finally, you should keep your bike well maintained and make sure that all the moving parts are in perfect working order. The brakes, the tires, and all the mechanics need to be checked each and every time you head out. Taking a few moments to check on the status of your bike could well be the difference between a safe ride and one that ends in disaster.