The basic skill needed to ride a road bike maybe the same with mountain bike. The main difference however is the terrain. While it is easier to manage on smooth paved road, off-road is entirely a different story. Mountain biking requires better skill and more conscious riding. Here are some of the things you should do to stay safe while riding:
Wear proper gears – Keeping your butt on the seat, your feet on the pedals, and your hands on the handlebar is not always possible. You may crash and may suffer minor cuts and bruises along the way. To minimize injury, you have to wear the proper gears. Wear the right helmet whenever you go for a ride. Not because it is prohibited to ride without a helmet, but because it can save your head from possible injury if you crash. Wear gloves (full or cut offs, it is your choice to make) as it protect your hand from falls, cuts and blisters.
Ride within your abilities – Admit it, there are better riders than you and there is no shame in walking and carrying your bike on some sections of the trail if you don’t feel comfortable riding. You don’t have to prove anything. It is better to be safe than risking your life and limb on a trail that you know you can’t ride. It is also equally important to know your physical fitness. Pushing yourself beyond your physical capacity may get your into trouble. Do not ride on a long and steep trail of you don’t have the physical capability.
Use the right bike – Not all mountain bikes are the same. Some are better for certain terrain and weather conditions than others. Make sure that your bike is designed for that particular trail.
Take extra caution when riding downhill and on blind curves – Mountain biking is almost similar with driving a car. The only thing that sets them apart is that when you ride your bike you will likely get a wipe out if you lose control when riding downhill and on blind curves – you will likely get a facial encounter with the rock, sand and mud which can be nasty. Be careful. Slow down. Always be in control.
Always have a crash plan – Any trail can be a venue for disaster so aside from keeping control with your bike, you need to plan your crash. Have a mental simulation on the possible scenario and the things you should do to protect yourself if in case you lose control. Never underestimate any type of trail. Sometimes, what looks so easy to ride is actually deadly to crash.
Know the trail – Any mountain biker will agree that knowledge of the trail is better than years of experience. Do not push your limits on an unfamiliar trail. Get to know it first. And even then, you have to take the outmost care.
Keep your speed in check – The faster you get, the least time you have to react on unforeseen changes in the trail’s condition. Sharp bends, a ditch or muddy holes are venues for crashes and can only be dealt properly with the right speed.
Finally, keep your attitude in check – Having a good bike and wearing a complete gear do not equate to total safety. Do not be too proud of yourself. Do not be overconfident. Stay focus at all times.