Riding through a pristine forest on a mountain bike is a lot of fun! However, it’s only a good time if you dress the part. The difference between an exciting time or a miserable experience that you may never want to do again is all in how you dress. Here are some basics to make your outing as fun as it can possibly be.
1) Helmet. First and foremost you must wear a helmet. This is a safety precaution that cannot be overlooked. Helmets come in many different shapes and range in price from 20 to 150 dollars. Helmets of all prices meet the same safety standards, it’s just that those on the low end of the price range have less ventilation openings so they may feel hotter. Now just be sure to wear your helmet at all times as it’s probably the most critical safety element.
2) Shorts. Many people wear Lycra cycling shorts. Most Lycra shorts have a pad on the inside which can add protection from a hard bike seat. An added benefit of Lycra shorts is that they hold the large leg muscle groups in stabilized position and can cause you to be less tired at the end of a long ride. It’s usually best to wear a pair of Lycra shorts close to the skin and then a nylon type of outer shorts on top. The outer shorts can be made of nylon and are often resistant to stickers or any other small branches as you ride along a trail.
3) Shirt. Typically the best shirts for mountain biking are those that are very breathable and are known to wick the sweat away. Cotton is very absorbent and can literally make you feel like you’ve been out in the rain after a long ride. Many riders wear a backpack to hold water and bike repair items and find that their backs become overheated when wearing cotton shirts.
4) Socks. Socks are important and can be made of cotton or other sweat-wicking material. Dark socks are best at hiding the inevitable mud and dirt that will be splashed on the rider.
5) Gloves. Gloves are necessary addition to any mountain biker’s wardrobe. They serve two main purposes. First, should you fall off of your bike they will protect your hands from the ground. Second, gloves will protect your hands from branches and stickers that may overhang onto the trail.
6) Shoes. Mountain biking shoes are known to be very stiff so that they can’t bend easily. This means that energy is not lost and transferred directly to the pedals. Shoes come in a variety of price ranges but most function in the same way.
During cold weather, don’t forget about the wind chill that’s caused by simply riding down the trail. Even somewhat warm days while walking a trail can seem cold with the rushing air against your skin when riding a bike. Take precautions by wearing long sleeves and longer Lycra outfits that cover your entire legs. Many mountain bikers have found that dressing like a surfer, who must battle cold waves yet be nimble enough to maneuver on a board, is a great way to prepare. Have fun on your ride!