The Worst Advice I’ve Ever Heard
Over the years I’ve heard numerous helpful tips and seen countless how-tos that, more often than not, offered excellent advice. That said, there are a lot of good and bad tips casually tossed around at the local trailheads. To help you avoid the mistakes I have made in the past, I’m highlighting seven tips that happen to be the worst advice I’ve ever heard.
“Just send it!”
Mountain bikers love to tell other riders to “send it” when faced with a scary obstacle. While diving into the deep end might be a great way to get past the fear of attempting something new, it can also land you in the hospital. Riders should always take the time to look before they leap. Get off the bike and inspect the jump, drop or trail feature you’re trying to tame. Inspect the landing and takeoff, and picture the movement required to get the job done safely.
“That’s plenty of water”
Don’t ever let your riding buddies tell you that you have too much of something, especially when it comes to water. With most bikes only having the space to store one water bottle, it can be tricky to plan for longer rides. My general rule of thumb is any ride longer than an hour requires a second bottle or a hydration bladder. I’d much rather carry excess water than be caught without it.
“You won‘t need pads”
Some days I just don’t want to wear my knee pads during a ride because it’s either too hot out or I tell myself it’s just going to be an easy ride. Those usually turn out to be the days I need my pads the most. Just because a trail might be easier doesn’t mean I won’t make a mistake. I often crash more when I least expect it than when I’m fully focused on a difficult trail.
“You only crashed in that helmet once”
Unfortunately, every helmet, no matter how expensive or nice it is, has a shelf life. Helmets are only designed to handle one impact. Afterwards, the structural integrity is weakened. Every other riding season, or after each hard crash, a rider should consider a new helmet.
“Hit it with the pressure washer”
Cleaning with high-pressure water is one of the most harmful things you can do to your mountain bike. While a power washer might get your bike sparkling clean, it will damage your bearings and components. It’s best to wash your bike with a gentle spray or just a rag and a water-filled bucket.
“Did you lube your chain before the ride?”
Occasionally, you see a rider on the trail with chain lube all over his bike and dripping from the back of his leg. Telling a rider to lube his chain should be followed with a little more education. Chain lube is best applied the night before a ride so it has time to soak into the chain. The night before a ride, coat the chain evenly with lube, and then use a rag to wipe off any excess oil.
“If you can‘t find ‘em, grind ‘em.”
This is often said to or by riders with poorly adjusted gears. A well-tuned and cared-for bike can last a long time, but if you smash on your bike, things are bound to break. If your idea of shifting is grinding gears, you’re likely doing something wrong. Make sure every shift is quiet and smooth for the longest possible drivetrain life.
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.