Like so many other things in the world, mountain biking is a road littered with potential potholes. While we’re constantly trying to move faster and more smoothly down the trails, it’s easy to let some things fall through the cracks. Eventually, these little mishaps can become huge impediments to our progress as riders. So, we’ve put together a list of bad mountain biking habits that you need to nip in the bud this year.
Poor Bike Maintenance
For many people, bike maintenance isn’t ‘fun’. Unfortunately, it’s 100% necessary. In an ideal world, we’d be scrubbing down our entire mountain bike after each ride. While striving for that is great, perhaps start with a five-point maintenance check after every trail day for now.
Skidding Too Much
Skidding looks cool -- it’s hard to argue with that. But, it’s actually a pretty destructive behavior and should generally be avoided. Skidding excessively tears up the ground, and can spread dirt or gravel where it shouldn’t be. Instead, try to time your cornering more accurately, and always aim for that apex.
Taking Turns too Slow
On the other end of the spectrum, taking turns too slow is really going to halt your development as a mountain bike rider. Try to lay off the brakes going into turns -- break way, way before the turn, instead of through the turn itself.
Not Wearing a Helmet
The 90’s are done. The days of helmets not being ‘cool’ are long, long gone. Mountain biking is dangerous enough. Wear your helmets. Please.
Not Bringing Tools
Constantly bumming tools off your mountain biking buddies isn’t cool. It doesn’t just slow down your day, but everyone else’s too. We suggest assembling a small, trail-dedicated toolkit and leaving it in your car/bike bag/etc. It’s a small investment, and one that you (and your friends) will be thankful for when the time comes. What should you put in this kit? Just to cover the basics, we suggest the following: allen keys, torx keys, a chain cleaner, a chain checker, a shock pump, and a pressure gauge.
Sitting Too Much
Towards the later parts of our day, it’s easy to sit down on the bike. It gives your legs some rest, and gives you something of a ‘break’. Well...don’t do it! If you need some rest, just take a pause. Drink some water. Eat an energy bar. Chill out. On the bike, you should try to stand as much as possible. This is going to give you a smoother, safer ride. If you need to take an extra break to do that, go right ahead.
Don’t do it. Often, riders who claim to hate gloves simply haven’t tried the right pair. A high-quality pair of MTB gloves will improve your control on the bike naturally, and allow your hands to breathe while doing so. Thankfully, we’ve engineered Dirt gloves to do exactly that. With their four-way stretch material, our gloves may be just what your ride is missing.
Although this is mostly a no-brainer… don’t litter. It’s ruining the trail for yourself, and it’s ruining the trail for the rest of the world, as well. There’s really no upside to throwing your Clif bar wrapper on the trail. Really, just stuff it in your sock or something. And while we’re at it… if you see some litter on the trail, why not pick it up? Sure, you may not have put it there, but if we all pitch in a little, the trails of the world will be in much better shape.
We’ve all seen it. Heck, most of us have probably been it. Whether you’re tired, making some adjustments, or just talking with friends… you decide to do it in the middle of the trail. Even if there aren’t any riders coming, you should avoid stalling in the middle of the trail. Many times, mountain bike riders are looking far in front of themselves to plan their routes. If another rider sees you standing in their way, it’s really going to throw them off. If you’re in an emergency situation, pull over to the side of the trail and wave people on.
Trying to Beat ‘That Guy’
Wherever you go, someone is going to be better and faster than you are. While striving for improvement is awesome, the only person you need to compete against is yourself. Don’t spend your trail days trying to beat ‘that guy’ -- instead, try to beat your own times. Mountain biking isn’t about being better than some other dude, it’s about having fun and being better than you were yesterday. If you get caught up in comparing yourself to others, well...you’re missing the point.