Safety Tips when Mountain Biking in Cold Weather
Mountain biking in cold weather brings a whole new challenge and lots of fun. But just like any other outdoor activities, extra safety precautions are important:
Weather can be very unpredictable on high altitude especially during cold season. Be sure that you wear the right types of clothes. Wear extra layers of clothing to keep you warm. Wear waterproof outer shell to keep you dry. In case of rescue, a brightly-colored jacket can be a lifesaver.
Never ride without a helmet.
Wear thick gloves to protects your finger from possible frostbite but make sure that the gloves you wear do not reduce handling and control of the bike.
Wear extra pair of socks to keep your feet warm. Take note that if the body experiences extreme cold, blood circulation on lower and upper extremities is reduced, which results to frostbite. Wear cycling shoes or boots a couple of size larger to accommodate the extra pair of socks you need to wear.
Freezing winds can cause your eyes to dry making it harder to see and navigate through the road. Wearing sunglasses is a must.
Never leave without your tool kits and tire repair kit. Breakdowns can happen at anytime, and more likely during extreme weather conditions. Pack a spare inner tube, portable pump, patches, glue, chain kit, and wrenches for nuts and bolts.
Riding in cold weather can cause the suspension to freeze, make it brittle and not work properly. Before setting out for a ride, check if the parts are properly lubricated. Check the overall condition of your bike as well. Do not leave if you see any irregularities on your bike (be it small). It may become a major problem while on the trail. Never attempt to go out if your bike is not designed for cold weather.
Hydration and Food
Cold weather consumes a lot of energy from the body as the body tries to keep up and regulate its temperature. Cold weather also suppresses thirst even if your body requires replenishment. Make sure that you keep hydrated by sipping small amounts of liquid regularly. If you are worried that your water will freeze, use insulation cover for water bottle or just use water hydration pack with bladder. Do not bring cold water. Instead, bring hot drink. It will keep you hydrated and warm. Eat before and while on the trail. Bring extra food in case of emergency.
Trails during winter season can be trickier than ever. There may be some unexpected bends, curves, mud, and dips that can throw you off the bike. Keep your speed in check. Stay on the trail at all times. If you are going to ride alone, make sure that you bring a map, a cellular phone or a satellite phone, a compass, an altimeter or a GPS, and let your friend or a relative know where you are going, although I strongly advice that you should not go out there by yourself.
These are just some advices that may save your life. The amount of preparation depends on how far is the trail from your base, how long will you stay on the trail, and how well do you know the trail. Always use your common sense.