A guideline for better biking
There are race rules, trail etiquette tips, and training tips, but sometimes consistently good riding comes down to developing better habits.
Check your bike
There’s nothing more maddening than getting 20 minutes into your ride and your ride partner stops because “my bike is making a funny noise”. If you’re riding solo, it’s even more infuriating because it’s self-inflicted. Give your bike a once-over the night before a ride – make sure your tyres are inflated, your spares are intact, and that all the bits and pieces are exactly where they should be.
Wash your bike
It’s the very least you can do, whether you’ve ridden in muddy or dusty conditions. This is your baby, your pride and joy. Leaving your bike dirty after a ride is like putting your dishes back in the cupboard while they’re still smeared with tomato sauce.
Carry the basics
Don’t leave home without them – tyre plugs, gas bombs, tyre levers, and a multi-tool. You should have very few issues on the trail if you pack these items for every ride.
Say hi. Wave. Say hello. Be friendly. Share a smile. If you’re racing, the same applies. Mountain biking is fun. What makes it even more fun is when you’re friendly to other mountain bikers.
If you ever need to stop on the trail – mechanical, flat, you spot a gleaming R5 coin – make sure you step off the main path as quickly as possible. This is a basic etiquette rule, but it’s also another good habit to get into. Likewise, standing around having a chat at the trail entrance or exit is also something to avoid – for obvious reasons.
South Africa’s blossoming trail park scene means we’re lucky to have more and more trails right next to coffee shops and restaurants. If you’re stopping for a bite to eat after your ride, the bare minimum of a face wash is required. Please. Also, you can’t go wrong thinking ahead and packing a clean set of clothes for your post-ride war stories. Likewise at events; finish, fist pump, shower, then go for the beers.
Get on your bike and ride. Cold outside? Put a jacket on. Wet outside? Put a rain jacket on. Hot? Ride early. Dark? Ride with lights. There are a million excuses to not ride, all of them negated by a million reasons to ride. The more you ride, the more you enjoy riding. The more you enjoy riding, the more you ride.