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.
I have learned every one of these through experience. There are just some bad habits or decisions we make that can take what would be a great ride and turn it to crap quickly. Here are 8 bad habits that can ruin your mountain bike ride quickly.
1. Going Out Too Hard
You’re excited about the ride so you take off like a bat out of hell out of the gate. Who needs a warm up?! It’s time to ride! What ends up happening to your body? It hates the fast start and takes about 30% off the distance you can ride today and slows you down for the rest. The beginning was fun but now you are paying for it the rest of the ride. It is important to warm up properly and not bonk before you even start.
2. Lazy Bike Maintenance
Nothing disrupts a good ride like a bunch of mechanicals. Even little things like not enough tire pressure can cause you to flat or crash. It is always a good idea to go over every aspect of your bike before you head out on a ride. That can mean the difference between trouble free riding and walking home…or even worse…a bad wreck.
3. Trying to Keep Up with “That Guy”
We all have a friend that just seems to never run out of energy and can ride anything. If you end up chasing him/her up that climb…off that drop…you end up bonking or wrecking with the hindsight of “I knew I shouldn’t have done that.” Always ride your ride and not someone else’s. It is great to challenge yourself and push your abilities and fitness but make sure you do all of that on your terms.
4. Not Eating or Drinking Enough
There are those times that the ride is going so well we just don’t want to stop. Eating and drinking during a ride – especially longer ones – is just as important as turning over the pedals. We often times have to force ourselves to eat and drink on the ride and this prevents cramping, bonking, wrecks, severe headaches…you name it.
5. Getting Lost
If you are riding a new trail without the aid of a rider that has been there before, make sure you do plenty of research ahead to make sure you don’t get lost. Not every trail is clearly marked like your one at home and that could mean hours of trying to figure out where you are.
Cell phones and GPS units have made this much more unlikely these days but you still don’t want to be racing daylight back to the cars tracking through the woods. You also end up spending a lot of valuable riding time trying to figure out where you are.
6. Not Taking that Pre-Ride #2
This one is self-explanatory. No one wants to be caught in the middle of the woods when nature calls in this fashion. Always try beforehand.
7. Forgetting Something Important…Like a Front Wheel
Almost all of the bike racks these days don’t require you to remove your front wheel but I know most of us have had a friend that has done this (or ourselves). Every time I am about to leave the house before a ride, I double-check everything to make sure I am not forgetting something important…like a helmet or shoes. You can end a ride before it is even started by not having everything you need.
8. Trail Standing
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.