How to be trail smart

Sick of everyone picking you as noob every time you head out on the trails?  Fear not, here’s our simple guide to looking like a pro in no time.

Don’t wear runners

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Mountain biking can be expensive with all the bits and pieces you have to buy, but a decent pair of shoes should be number three on your list, after a bike and a helmet.  The hard and concave soles of most runners makes for terrible pedal grip and connection to the bike.  So get yourself a decent pair of flat-soled skate or mountain biking shoes, and you’ll improve your riding significantly, and also blend in straight away.

Bring a repair kit

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On the trails, you need to be self-sufficient; if you are unable to replace a tube or fix your chain, you’re not going to have a good time.  Another kind cyclist may stop and help out, but even then, their repair kit may not be compatible with your bike, or, more likely, they’ll rip straight past you without realising you were in a pickle.  Carry the tools you need for the most common mechanical issues, and know how to use them, and you won’t be doing the cyclist’s walk of shame out of the trails. 

Wear a helmet

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Pretty self explanatory.  No, you don’t look cool, and no, please don’t inform me about how helmets actually don’t work.  Use your head – wear a helmet.

Bring water

A bottle is good, a hydration pack is better.  It’s essential to hydrate on the trails, and there isn’t always a water fountain in the middle of the bush, so make sure you bring plenty of fluids.

Bring food

If you’re going out for longer than an hour, make sure you bring something to eat, otherwise you’ll wear out, and the best way to fall to the bottom of your group’s popularity list is by stealing everyone’s food.

Going in the wrong direction

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Most trails are unidirectional, so don’t try to climb a descent trail; if you encounter someone on their way down you’ll cause a pile up, and there’s a 100% chance you’ll get a mouthful.

Bring a phone

There’s always a possibility that another rider will crash and need help, so make sure you bring a fully charged phone on every ride.

Stopping in the middle of the trail

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Don’t be a poser.

Do you stop in the middle of a road?  For the same reason, don’t stop in the middle of a trail.  If you have to stop, find a spot to safely pull over to the side of the trail and in the unlikely event you really must stop in the middle of a trail, make sure you give those behind you a very loud warning call as early as possible. 

Scope out features before you hit them

If you’re riding a new trail, it’s always good to check out any jumps, drops or rock gardens before you hit them at full gas, otherwise you may quickly realise you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

Wearing lycra on the trails

The only time it’s acceptable to wear lycra is if you’re racing cross country, although, that said, no one can rip into you if you’re faster than them.  (Ok, so this one is a bit of an insider joke, so don’t take it to heart if you’re donning your fancy, matching lycra kit and hitting the trails – at least you’re on your bike, after all!)

Mountain biking is a community, and if you ever need help with anything, just ask – no doubt you’ll find plenty of other great people willing to lend a hand.

Photo Credit

Sam Waltisbuhl

Sebastian Pisarn

About Tim_Davis@Pushys

I'm a Science Graduate and Medical student at the University of Queensland, specialising in anatomy and physiology. More importantly, I'm all for any type of riding; road, mountain, dirt jumping, I love it all! Let me know if there is anything you want to know about nutrition and health, and I'll do my best to help you out!

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