10 Tips for Mountain Biking Preparedness

Mountain BikeWhether an after-work jaunt on back roads, or a weekend trailblazing adventure, mountain bikers frequently venture out inadequately prepared. The tips in this article will help you start out properly equipped to deal with repairs and other emergencies.

Make sure you have the right knowhow and equipment for bike repairs and emergencies. Consider the following a minimal list:

1. Helmet
An approved bike helmet can help save your life. Buy an approved helmet from a reputable dealer, and make sure it fits you snugly, i.e., not too big.

2. Gloves
Biking gloves will help in avoiding blisters, as well as minimizing road rash in the event of a spill.

3. Extra Clothes
Bring a cap for warmth at night. Don’t forget extra socks; wet feet will blister. A lightweight, waterproof windbreaker with hood will keep you warm and relatively dry if it rains.

4. Water
Water is essential. Consider frame-mounted water bottles or hydration backpack. Carry at least two quarts.

5. Flat Tire Repairs
Flat tires are the most frequent bike repair problem. To prepare, consider carrying bike tube sealant (e.g., Slime™). You’ll also need a valve stem tool, and a compact tire pump or CO2 inflator.

6. Bike tools
Carry enough tools to effect small repairs so that you can at least hobble home. As a minimum, carry a multi-tool made for bikes (e.g., Park MTB-3 Rescue Tool).

7. Cell phone
Carry a charged cell phone. Reception is good most everywhere these days. If you’re badly hurt, a cell phone can save your life.

8. Pack
A light day pack or backpack can hold extra water, food, clothes, cell phone, radio, etc. It can also serve as a pillow.

9. Other essentials
You can’t bring everything, but you should have a few protein snacks, matches or a disposable lighter, flashlight, water purification tablets and insect repellent. With these simple items, you can survive the night with a warm fire, food and a comforting light.

10. Injuries
You can be reasonably sure of injuring yourself at some point while mountain biking. It’s not necessary to bring a full-blown emergency kit, but you should have a lightweight kit containing antiseptic, bandages, adhesive tape and ibuprofen or aspirin. If you’re in snake country, it wouldn’t hurt to bring along a snake bite kit. In addition, if you’re severely allergic to bee stings, carry a doctor-prescribed kit which contains injectable epinephrine.

There’s not much worse than the sinking feeling that you get when you are hurt or stranded and night is fast falling. Don’t let it happen to you. Be prepared!