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Mountain Bike Prep

Mountain Bike Prep: A Spring Checklist for the Riding Season

With summer approaching quickly and a tax refund staying fast in people’s bank accounts, it is time to haul your dust covered bike out of winter storage, head to the local shop for a tune up, and stand at the counter and swap stories with the guys.  While spending time at the shop, it is also a good time to either overhaul your mountain bike kit or put together your first one, which can help aid in mechanical issues and flats on the trail.

DSC_0397aThere are several options for carrying a mountain bike kit when out on the trail, from the big and roomy, to the small and compact.  The small and compact option is a seat wedge. These bags fit snugly under the rear of the bike saddle and can range in size, from just big enough to fit the minimum gear for a mountain bike kit to large enough to add extras such as a cell phone and a small snack for the trail.  The big and roomy option for gear storage is a hydration pack. These can be small and streamlined, having just the water bladder plus enough space for a kit and some edibles, or larger packs with space for spare clothes and other random gear for the trail.  The final option is to wear a cycling or mountain biking jersey that has a rear pocket; this can be used to carry the gear needed for the day as well.  A mountain bike kit is not limited to just these three methods of carry; the important part is having it on hand for when trouble strikes.

A flat tire can strike at any time; this can turn a great ride into an excitement killer. It helps when an individual is prepared to quickly fix the flat and be back on the trail enjoying the day.  To make quick removal of the tire, one or two tire levers can make quick work of this task. To be able to repair small punctures quickly when on the trail, you can use a temporary pre-glued patch, which can get a rider back to their car for proper repair. For a more permanent, reliable, and lasting repair, a traditional patch kit can be used. These kits contain traditional patches, sand paper, and glue.  The final item for flat repair is optional, but for the aggressive rider or kitchen sink individual, a spare tube can be a welcome addition in case of traumatic blow out on the trail. With the tube repaired and placed back on the rim it is now time to re inflate.

DSC_0405aAir is everywhere but being able to get it back into a repaired or replaced tire can be a quick and easy process, or a time consuming experience. When looking for a bike pump, an individual needs to consider a couple things, like what size of pump to carry and how strong the desire to resume the ride is.  The pump market offers many sizes and options for every individual. The larger style frame pump is able to get the wheels spinning quickly again, but are more at home on the road, than on the trail.  The mini pump is another option, which will be more at home on the trail. They come in a variety of sizes from the very small, which can fit in a seat wedge, to the larger of the mini pumps that can be strapped to a bike frame or tossed in a backpack.  By spending a little time in the bike shop and asking the right questions, it is possible to find an efficient mini pump that is able to refill a tire quickly.  But for those that desire a flashier, less strenuous method, consider investing in a CO2 inflation system. These systems are capable of filling a tire completely on one cartridge, with the only draw back being that a bad day of flats could leave a person walking back to their car.  Flats are not the only things that can wreck a great day on the trail.

Minor mechanical issues can strike at anytime when out with the kids or out exploring a new section of single track. When this happens, it is important that you have the right tool for the job. The bike market offers a variety of multi-tools, which can meet anyone’s needs.  When selecting a multi-tool, it should have the right size Allen wrenches and screwdrivers to be able to make minor adjustments on the fly. The Crank Brothers Multi-5 is a good example of a compact minimalist tool.  For epic rides, or being able to tune up a car at the trailhead when the ride is done, look for the Swiss Champ style tool.  Topeak offers the ALiEN DX. This tool includes tools to meet most any needs on the trail and even includes a knife, pliers, and the very important spoke wrench.

DSC_0401aBeing prepared for anything that can happen to the bike when on the trail is a must, but try not to forget yourself in case you have a rough day.  It is important that you have enough fluids along on the trail to keep dehydration at bay. Along with dehydration, running out of energy is another concern when on an extended ride.  To prevent this from happening pack a snack along. These can either be store bought gels and energy bars or home made snacks.

Hunger and thirst are not the only personal worry on the trail; even the most experience rider can have a bad day in the saddle. Carrying along a couple of bandages and painkillers on the trail to patch ones self up after a spill is a good idea.  Along with the small amount first aid gear you carry with you, having a large first aid kit at the tail head to better clean up and treat injuries collected on the trail might be prudent as well.

It is possible to be prepared for anything when out on the trail but likely most of us are not.  To take precaution and make the day more enjoyable, hit the trails with your friends or a local biking club. These individuals can be a great help on the trail and will motivate you to improve your riding skills.  Mountain biking is a great activity for getting outside, enjoying the trail with others, and maybe get a small rush of adrenalin too. With a little bit of prior preparation you’ll spend more time enjoying the ride and less time sitting on the sidelines fixing things!

Pre-Ride Check List.

  • Mountain bike tires are properly inflated to trail type, and secured to the bike frame
  • Chain is adequately lubricated
  • Check all moving parts for mechanical issues (derailleurs, suspension, breaks, and shift leavers)
  • All gear to change a flat tire along with mountain bike kit
  • Enough water for the trail ride along with snacks
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Helmet
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
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