If you’re a lover of the outdoors with a sense of adventure, mountain biking offers the best of both. Mountain biking involves riding specially designed bicycles that have features made specifically for rough terrain and to enhance durability. Riders usually follow off-road biking trails, which can include back roads, gravel roads, or trails that wind through mountains, forests, fields or even deserts. This type of biking has actually been in existence since the 1800’s, but has gained more popularity as a mainstream sport in the early 1990’s, and is now even an Olympic sport.
Participating in mountain biking requires a lot of stamina and endurance. Bike-handling skills, with full knowledge of the operation of mountain bikes, are necessary as well as excellent balance and core strength. Equally as important as these physical skills is a strong sense of self-reliance. Since much of the sport takes place away from any kind of medical or repair support, it is necessary that bikers are able to perform maintenance and repair on their bikes should a problem occur. Also, the knowledge of basic first-aid is extremely helpful in the event of an injury.
You use different muscle groups with biking than you do with other sports. There is also more wear and tear on the joints due to traveling over rugged terrain. If you find yourself having aches and pains that are more than just sore muscles, you may want to see a doctor that specializes in Sports Medicine. It is a field that focuses on injuries athletes face as well as preventive care.
Make sure your phone is properly charged before you begin so you can contact the authorities if an emergency arises. I had a bad accident about 4 years ago in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and my cell phone saved me. I rode off the side of a hidden ravine and fractured my ankle. I was off the path so no one could see me. Thank goodness my phone was charged so I could call for an ambulance and stay on the phone until they arrived so they could locate me. They got me to a nearby ski lodge where there was a local Pocono doctor who tended to my injury.
As well as first aid and communication gear, there are certain accessories and equipment necessary for safety and proper performance while mountain biking. The level of protective equipment varies depending on the difficulty of the terrain, but common gear for bikers includes:
This is standard protection for every biker, regardless of the course or your experience. The type of helmet you choose (half, full or full-face) is up to you, but protecting your head from injury is of the utmost importance on unpredictable biking trails (like the one where I broke my ankle).
Gloves offer not only protection for the hands, but increased comfort as well. They can protect against abrasion from falls and friction during longer rides. Choose long-fingered gloves for maximum comfort and protection. Keep them as dry as you can to avoid losing your grip over bumpy ground.
To protect your eyes from debris on the trail, a well-fitting pair of glasses is vital. Styles can vary, but those with more coverage will obviously offer the most protection. UV protection is important as well, so be sure to find a pair with the maximum UV filter. If they become too scratched, make sure to replace them. Scratched lenses can impair your vision.
Other accessories include specialized clothing and shoes, hydration equipment, bike tools and a first aid kit. These are at the discretion of each biker, but should be considered to ensure the most protection, comfort and safety throughout the ride. Mountain biking can be a fun and exciting sport for all ages and skill levels. With proper instruction and safety equipment, you can enjoy this rugged outdoor sport alone, with family or in a group. It offers the chance to be a part of nature, keep in shape and have fun all at the same time. Try mountain biking today for an exciting outdoor sporting experience and maybe we’ll meet out on the trail!!