Mountain biking is one of the most exhilarating sports you can take up, but it can also be very dangerous – especially if you don’t take the right safety precautions. I recently went to Bike Hint, to get a new helmet. They have some other great gear and locks.
Everybody has to start somewhere, and here are our top tips for novice mountain bikers, designed to keep you safe as you learn new skills and develop as a rider.
1. Always wear a helmet!
This one is at the very top of the list. It should be a no-brainer, but its something that many novice riders choose to ignore!
A high quality, properly fitting and well-adjusted safety helmet is the single most important piece of safety equipment for any mountain biker.
It doesn’t matter how hot, itchy or uncomfortable it is: if you’re on your bike, you need to be wearing a helmet – it really is as simple as that!
2. Get the right gear
As a beginner, you are going to fall off your mountain bike – it comes with the territory. Although most of your injuries will be fairly minor, having the right safety equipment will help to protect you from the inevitable scuffs, scratches and scrapes you’re likely to suffer when you do hit the ground.
In addition to the helmet (see point 1!), you’ll also want to invest in:
• Some gloves – to protect your hands from knocks, scrapes and blisters
• The right shoes – to give you good grip on your pedals, and prevent the laces from getting caught in the chain (a sure fire recipe for a fall!)
• Protective glasses – to protect your eyes from sun glare, and from small pieces of debris as you ride
Depending on the terrain you’re planning to ride, you may also want to invest in padded shorts, elbow and knee pads, body armour and shin protection – you’ll be thankful for all the protection you get when you do fall off!
3. Know your limits
When you’re just starting out riding, it’s easy to get carried away, and to try and tackle trails you simply aren’t good enough to handle.
There is absolutely no shame in getting off your bike and walking if the going gets tough – showing off and attempting sections you’re not ready for can lead to disaster.
Start small, and practice your skills on easier routes before attempting dangerous or challenging trails. Always think about the consequences of falling off before you attempt a trail and even if a section looks within your limits, it may not be worth risking it if there’s a 50ft drop to one side!
Its also worth thinking about your fitness – as you get tired, your skills, ability and concentration diminishes, so rest when you feel tired, and know when to call it a day.
4. Get clued up on first aid
Having some basic first aid knowledge can mean the difference between life and death, and it’s a really useful skill for any mountain biker. There are loads of courses about, as well as basic first aid books and guides online, so there’s no excuse for ignorance.
Take a small first aid kit in your bag with you – you can even get kits that attach to the frame of your bike, without slowing you down.
5. Check your bike is up to the task
A poorly maintained mountain bike is a liability – make sure yours is up to the task before you ride by giving it a thorough check. Top of the list is your brakes, as being able to stop quickly and safely is absolutely vital.
It’s also important to check your tyres, oil your chain (using specialist, appropriate products) and inspect the mechanics for loose and broken parts regularly. When riding, listen out and feel for any changes, and stop and check if you think there’s a problem.
Taking some essential spares and a puncture repair kit with you will help to ensure you’re not left stranded, with a long walk home.
6. Use common sense
A lot of mountain bike safety comes down to common sense. Checking the weather and dressing appropriately, planning your journeys and letting your friends know where you’re going when riding alone are all good places to start.
If in doubt, trust your instincts, and err on the side of caution – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
…and 1 for luck
Finally, if you’re riding alone, you’ll never want to be without your Ridersmate unit, available exclusively from Ridersmate.com. An electronic guardian angel, it constantly tracks your location, speed and heading, and is there to protect you should the worst happen.
If you fall off and suffer a serious accident, Ridersmate will immediately spring into action, notifying your loved ones so they take the appropriate action – providing you with the security and peace of mind to ride wherever your adventures take you.
Head over to the Ridersmate store and pick up Ridersmate today.