Mountain biking is a great way to spend your time when you’re not on the river. If you’re new to the sport, read this checklist of mountain bike safety tips on how best to ride the trails near the Ocoee River in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Eyes – You should see the helmet’s edge when you look up.
- Ears – The strap should connect under your ears – forming a Y around them.
- Mouth – If you open your mouth the strap should be tight enough to feel it pull the helmet down.
ABC Quick Check
- Air – The tires should be hard
- Brakes – The brakes should work and not rub against the tire
- Chain – The chain needs to shift and hang tightly
- Quick – Ensure the quick release levers or bolts are tight – wheels especially
- Check – Make sure nothing is broken. One way is by dropping the front of the bike when you’ve raised it about a foot off the ground. If something feels off or sounds funny the headset may have a problem, and you should wait to ride that bike until it’s checked.
The seat should be level with the top of your hip bones. If it’s closer to the bottom of your pelvis, that’s too low.
Shifting is a fact of off road biking. This is the way you can clear hills and get the most out of your own power and the bike’s capabilities. Newer riders should shift gears a lot, which will get you accustomed to doing it until the act is automatic.
Also remember to continue pedaling as you shift, which is the way the chain slides from cog to cog on the rear wheel.
Your Riding Stance
Don’t get tense. You may not realize you’re tensing when it happens, so be aware of your joints locking and your elbows winging out, supporting your chest far back from the handlebars.
Instead, try to form your body with chest close to the handlebars, with your arms tucked in low instead of winged out, and easy thighs that are only lightly pressed against the seat – not firmly squeezed around it.
Riding Up and Down
When you’re riding downhill try to keep low, toward the nose of the seat, and if the angle is steep, inch back toward the back of the seat – kind of the way you ride on a bucking horse – in case that helps.
Slogs uphill require you find the sweet spot on the bike, not too forward in the saddle, which makes the front wheel get skittish, and not too back, which makes the back tire lose its grip and spin without traction.
In dicey conditions, ride with your first two fingers on the trigger, outstretched over the lever to enable quick braking.
This may be the most unfamiliar cycling feature you encounter on a mountain bike when you’re riding off-road. When pushing uphill, lock the front suspension fork so you’re not losing power from your pedal. When going straight or over bumpy downhill sections unlock the suspension, which is what it’s designed to absorb.
Look for the lever atop the suspension fork that allows you to turn it on and off.
If you get near horses or dogs – slow down (or stop) and give them the right of way and a wide passing lane. Hikers, too.
Let people riding ahead of you know that you’re coming and if you intend to overtake them.