Mountain Biking: Etiquette And Tips

Here are some safety tips to help make your next mountain biking experience a good one, courtesy of

Always Wear A Helmet When Mountain Biking

If you stop in the woods for a break you can remove it, but watch out for acorns! Also, one of the leading causes of death in wooded terrain is falling trees! On hot summer days with a long, steep uphill when you have to walk your bike, you may want to remove your helmet to cool off and strap it securely to your bike. It also is strongly recommend to wear a sweatband under your helmet for protection and to absorb sweat to prevent it from dripping into your eyes.

A helmet with a built in visor is ideal to give protection from the sun and also to protect your forehead and eyes from injury from limbs and brush on the trail.

Biking Gloves Are A Must Both For Comfort And Safety
Padding in the palm, or gel technology, is more important if your bike lacks suspension. Full fingers provide more protection, but in hot conditions you may want your fingers exposed as this allows more cooling.

A “sticky” grip palm is helpful to maintain a firm contact with your handlebar grips, and allows better control in dicey situations. If you wipeout, you will be glad you have on gloves because it is instinctive to hold out your hands to break your fall. All gloves should be tried on for correct fit before purchase. At, we like to use a sweatband on each wrist in hot weather to wipe off sweat from above your eyes, and to keep your hands dry for a better grip.

Eye Protection Is An Optional Item, Depending Upon The Situation
Flying insects, spider webs, dirt, and tree limbs can pose a hazard. It is good to carry clear eye protection, in a cloth case, just in case you need it. This is more important if you wear contact lenses. If you already wear glasses, wear a neck strap to prevent them from coming off. In bright sunlight, some riders prefer shades, but these will prove unacceptable in dim or low light conditions.

At, We Do Not Use Toestraps (a no-no!) Or Clipless Systems For Footgear
Some of you prefer clipless systems, and it is a matter of personal preference. Our experience is that the cleats get clogged in some terrain and the shoes are not suitable for walking or carrying the bike in rugged areas. However, some areas for riding, particularly out West and smoother-type terrain where no dismounting is to be anticipated, clipless may be great. Normally, we recommend a good pair of heavy duty hiking boots with coverage of the ankle and a firm sole. Our rides are more of a bike mountaineering situation, which can involve some carrying of the bike and hiking or climbing with the bike! Tennis shoes are out!

It is important to have short shoelaces, or to triple tie or otherwise tuck them into the remaining laces so that they do not dangle. One time a faithful, Manimal, rode 200 miles without a mishap and encountered a rider only two blocks from his house who was riding down stairs when his shoelace got caught in his chainring and Whammo! He did a face plant three feet in front of me and required quite a bit of medical attention to his face. If you wear long pants that are not designed for biking, tuck the leg into your socks or use rubber bands around you pants leg at the ankle to prevent a Whammo.

Depending Upon Terrain And Temperature, The Use Of Thick Knee Length Socks Can Prevent Scratches And Cuts From Stickers, Limbs, And Protection From Your Pedals While Walking Your Bike
This is especially true if you are biking in shorts. A metal pedal can give you a good gash on your shin while walking difficult terrain and a sock can greatly reduce any flesh injury! The use of light colored socks can also make ticks more visible.

A Ballfrog Is A Padded Protection Device That Goes Over Your Handlebar Stem To Soften It In Case Of Contact With Any Part Of Your Body
(designed primarily, well, for your, uh- crotch area!) One time I actually chipped my front tooth on the stem as well, so this is an important item to have for overall protection.

A pamphlet on additional safety tips can be obtained for free from the Maryland Department Of Transportation at 800-252-8776.

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