So you just bought your first real mountain bike, now what?

May 23, 2018 | Education

Many riders in the Alliance have been riding mountain bikes for years, but every day a new rider purchases a mountain bike and hits the trails as well. Whether you are a seasoned veteran, or getting ready for your maiden voyage, here are some awesome resources that will have you “trail ready.”

The most important thing to do before you ride a trail is to make sure it is currently open! The purpose for trail closures is to preserve the quality of the trail. Riding a closed trail is a party foul. Just don’t do it! Check out our trails page to learn more about what trails offer open or closed status.

Items you’ll need before hitting the trails

  • A good quality helmet – This is the number one item you need to purchase. Don’t skimp as head injuries are a serious matter.
  • Some type of hydration system – This is the second most important item you will need to purchase. Be it a water bottle mounted in a cage on the bike, or a hydration pack, such as a CamelBak. These nifty packs hold water in a bladder and allow for storage of other trail related items.
  • A quality pair of biking shorts – This will add to your riding experience (skimping here isn’t the best of ideas, either –that’s your nether region on that saddle, protect it!).
  • Gloves – fingerless to full-finger gloves will help prevent blistering and fatigue (and the occasional rash from an unexpected tumble).
  • Eye protection – From safety glasses purchased at your favorite home improvement store for $10 to a $500 pair of Oakleys, protecting your eyes is a very good idea.

Items to stash in your pack

  • Spare tube – your local bike shop can help you make sure you’ve got the correct tube for your size of tire.
  • Patch kit
  • Tire levers
  • Inflation device – there are many options for frame mounted pumps that fit behind your water bottle cage.
  • A good quality mini-tool
  • Road rash style First Aid kit (‘cause ya never know)
  • Some cash
  • A form of identification
  • Your Smart Phone – download the MTB Project App, and then download the state you’re riding in. When you’re out on the trail, you can see your GPS coordinates on the map, so you’ll know where you’re going. Also, many trails in the region are now marked with way-finding points, so if you need medical attention, you can call 911 and tell them were you are!
  • Snacks – if you’re planning on being out on the trails for any extended period of time, take a snack.  This could be as simple as a PB&J, or some energy gels that you can pick up at your local bike shop.

Suggested beginner trails

  • The Springs Loop at the Lake Hickory Trails, in Hickory. This 1.5 mile beginner level loop has some rolling hills and and very few roots or rocks, and makes a great place to get you moving.  It’s close proximity to the Geitner Greenway means you can bail out if necessary. Very kid friendly, with a pump track near buy to hone in some of those skills as well!
  • Zacks Fork in Lenoir, NC – Very kid friendly trail for all ages and experience levels. This trail was designed with accessibility for beginners in mind.
  • The Tindo Loops at Lake James State Park in Glen Alpine, NC – The Beginner rated Tindo Loops are nearly flat; the West Wimba Loop adds more flow and speed, and the East Wimba Loop has tighter turns, more elevation change, and requires more commitment.
  • The Overmountain Victory Trail at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir –  “Smooth, rolling singletrack with banked turns and berms that will make you smile.”
  • Cub Creek Park in Wilkesboro – The trails are mostly smooth and have little elevation change. Most of the turns are bermed, a trademark of the nearby trails at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir.

For more trails, check out our Trails Page, or download the MTB Project App to see trails in your area, complete with mileage and difficulty ratings.

Additional Resources

  • Attend the monthly Northwest NC Mountain Bike Alliance meetings to meet other like minded individuals with a passion for mountain biking.
  • Join us for a work party, or organized ride, to learn about our local trail systems and to make some awesome new friends.  (Calendar)
  • Check out some YouTube videos about Mountain Biking, when it’s too wet to ride outside.  We like the videos from Seth’s Bike Hacks, which is based in Asheville.
  • Visit and become friends with the staff at your Local Bike Shop (LBS). Not only are they keeping Mountain Biking local, the’ll be your best friends when you inevitably have a mechanical issue, or when you’re ready to upgrade your ride.
  • Many LBS’s offer maintenance clinics on topics such as changing a flat tire, repairing a broken chain, adjusting your brakes and that balking derailleur, and other trail side repairs.
  • If you’re not already, become a member of the Alliance! The Alliance is 100% dedicated to increasing the awesomeness of our local mountain bike trails. We need members and volunteers to keep this mission alive. Plus, when you become a member of The Alliance, you also become a member of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, and you get some awesome member benefits and discounts. Not bad for $39 a year!

Group Rides

The Northwest NC Mountain Bike Alliance is here to support you, if you have any questions about getting started, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’ll be stoked to help you out!

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