Mountain biking is fun, no doubt about it. However, just because you can bike somewhere doesn’t always mean you should. Mountain biking can ruin the natural terrain and displace wildlife. The thing that makes mountain biking great is the scenery. If you destroy the trails as you ride, you are ruining it for everyone else. Don’t be a selfish jerk. Do these things instead:
- Keep your bike in good shape. Wash it and your car before and after you ride. Invasive species is a real thing. Let’s not be the perpetrator of an alien invasion, OK?
- Wear your helmet and any other safety gear you are required to wear. The point is to be safe and visible, not look cool. Safety looks good on everybody.
- Stay on trails and ride in the middle of them so you’re not destroying the areas on either side. If you can safely clear it, go over obstacles instead of around them. If there is a curvy trail, don’t cut it. Follow the path.
- Don’t ride on trails that are clearly muddy or wet. You’ll do a lot of damage.
- Be there legally. Don’t assume it is OK for you to be there, actually find out. Talk to the land manager. Get any necessary permits. Learn about area restrictions and then actually comply with them. Respect those in charge of keeping the area you are riding in safe and sound.
- Respect barriers and signs. Most of the time, they are there for your safety or the safety of others. If the sign tells you there is a sharp turn or a cliff, or that the trail is closed, they aren’t lying just to annoy the heck out of you and screw with your ride. They don’t want be traipsing down the side of a cliff to rescue your mangled self.
- Sideslipping and locking your bike wheels on a descent will gouge or damage the trail so avoid these.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones in both ears (it might even be illegal where you ride) so that you can heed the warnings of others.
- Be sober.
- Ride slower if you can’t see anything, especially around blind turns.
- Don’t ride alone. If you are alone and get hurt out in the middle of the woods, who knows how long it will be before someone comes by to help. Likewise, tell somebody not going on the trip where you’ll be. If you don’t turn up, they’ll know where to send help.
- Have a map. Know where you’re going.
- Be prepared. Bring emergency supplies.
- You bring it in, you take it out. That includes all trash. Either dispose of body waste properly or bring it back out with you as well. Gross, yes, but it’s worse when you ride through somebody else’s waste. Trust me.
- Don’t be an idiot and terrorize the wildlife. Don’t go off trail to explore. Don’t mess with places you should not be.
Following these tips will allow you to have a safe experience and will allow those who come to the trail after you to enjoy it as well.