Stop Doing These 10 Things While Mountain Biking

With everything from gyms to movie theatres closed in the wake of COVID-19, many people have turned to the outdoors for both fitness and entertainment. The renewed interest in the outdoors has led to a renaissance in numerous sports, one of which is mountain biking. Whether you’re new to the sport or just getting back into it after a long hiatus, make it look like you’ve been riding all along by avoiding these ten mountain biking mistakes.

1. Skipping Maintenance 

Neglecting your bike is no joke. Avoid going from shredder to schmuck by cleaning your bike when it’s dirty (here’s how), lubing your chain regularly, and checking the air pressure in your tires before every ride. If you’re riding tubeless tires, refresh the sealant every few months. For bikes with suspension, wipe down stanchions and check the pressure of the shocks frequently.

2. Not Knowing How to Make Easy Fixes 

Walking your bike out of the woods because you don’t know how (or weren’t prepared) to make an easy fix is no laughing matter. Know how to make simple repairs, such as fixing a flat, and carry the tools needed to make them: a multi-tool with a chain breaker, a master link, a few zip ties, a pump (or CO2 inflator and cartridges), and a spare tube (or tubeless repair kit). Another trick is to practice making repairs in a consequence-free environment so that you’ll know what to do if mishap strikes on the trail.

Credit: TIm Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

3. Not Wearing a Helmet

Always hit the trail wearing a helmet, as even the most experienced riders have unexpectedly crashed their bikes. Helmets protect your most valuable asset—your brain—and have gotten progressively more comfortable and lightweight over the years. Think they look dorky? Better to look like a numbskull than have a cracked skull.

4. Leaving Trash Behind

These days, it seems like every trail junction has a small collection of water bottle caps, energy gel tops, and bar wrappers—not to mention valve covers and cam nuts. Pick up your trash and take it with you. Better yet, clean up rogue litter and leave the trail in better condition than you found it.

5. Riding Muddy Trails 

Riding your favorite trail while it’s wet and muddy is one of the most foolish things you can do. It leaves ruts, creates erosion, and widens the trail. The damage you’re doing makes mountain bikers look bad to landowners and managers, and threatens the future access.

6. Strava-ing 

In the hands of the right person, Strava is a wonderful tool for tracking rides, logging miles, and gauging improvement. In the wrong hands, it turns even the best-intentioned bikers into monsters. KOMs and QOMs are nice achievements, and medaling on a segment boosts confidence, but if you really want to race…enter a real one.

Credit: TIm Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

7. Acting Like a Jerk

There’s nothing funny about a lack of trail etiquette. If you’re a slower rider, move over and let faster riders pass you. If you’re a faster rider, give slower riders a chance to let you pass and resist tailgating. If you need to make a repair, stay clear of the trail when doing it. In general, act friendly to other riders and trail users—ride in control, smile, and say hello.

8. Being Elitist 

27.5-inch or 29-inch tire? Aluminum or carbon? Fully rigid or full-suspension? Flat pedals or clipless? The fact is that the trails are filled with many different types of bikes and riders. So long as everyone is acting appropriately and having a good time, the sport is healthy. Thinking you’re better than everybody else on the trail ensures you’re the butt of the joke.

9. Making Excuses

It’s too hot. It’s too cold. The trail is too far away. Stop making excuses and start riding your bike! The trick to an awesome riding season is to get out in all conditions, on all types of trails, with lots of different riders, and to simply spend as much time on your bike as you can. Here are some great rides around Boston’s south shore and a favorite spot to stop for a ride and a pint (or two) in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region to get you going.

10. Thinking About Mountain Biking (Instead of Actually Riding)

The world is filled with distractions: Danny MacAskill videos on YouTube, your riding buddy’s latest GoPro shreddit, magazines like Bike and Freehub, glossy manufacturer catalogs, and Pinkbike to name a few. While those are all great for getting psyched, they also dupe you into wasting time that would be better spent actually riding your bike.

Do you have a tip for new riders or see something you’d love more experienced riders to stop doing? If so, we want to hear it! Leave it in the comments below.

Credit: TIm Peck
Credit: Tim Peck