Have you ever tried to ride with a person who turned every mountain bike ride into a huge production? You show up at their house, ready to roll, and they’re still pulling on their shoes and socks, haven’t even filled their hydration pack with water yet, and oh they need to put on a different set of tires “for the conditions” and a brand new chain before they’re ready to roll. An hour later, you’re finally hitting the trail, and you get caught in an afternoon thunderstorm thanks to the late start.
Don’t be that person. The key to getting out on the trail quickly and often is to make sure your gear is always ready to go. Here are 5 ways to ensure that hitting the trail is as easy as possible:
1. Make sure your bike is in running order at the end of every ride.
There’s nothing worse than getting ready for a ride only to realize that your bike has a flat tire or a broken component. To make sure that your rides don’t get derailed by mechanicals before they even start, get into the habit of making sure your bike is ready to ride at the end of each ride. This includes:
- Washing your bike if you got it dirty on your previous ride.
- Lubing your chain if it’s dry.
- Topping off the tire pressure (although it’s always good to double check this before every ride).
- Adjusting your shifting if you noticed it was off during your ride.
- Fixing anything that broke on your previous ride.
For bigger mechanical issues, be sure to get your bike into the shop as soon as possible so that you can have it back before your next ride!
2. Maintain a backup mountain bike.
While getting your bike into the shop as quickly as possible is the best course of action, if you don’t want mechanicals to keep you off your bike, it’s paramount that you have a backup ride.
Now, does your back up rig need to be another $10,000 dream machine? Yeah right… who can afford that? But having a spare mountain bike can be as easy as not trading in your previous bike when you upgrade, or keeping your 10-year-old hardtail around and in decent working order. Now sure, it won’t be as great as your main rig, but mountain biking on any bike is better than not mountain biking at all!
However, it’s really not unreasonable for your backup bike to be a solid rig. Especially with the advent of fat biking, and with so many great options for full suspension and hardtail mountain bikes alike, chances are you can easily justify regularly riding more than one bike. And if one does break down, you’ll always have a backup!
3. Keep your hydration pack stocked.
I always make sure to keep my hydration pack full and ready to go, so all I need to do is add water. In addition to standard tools and repair equipment, I always keep a rain jacket, extra layer or two (depending on the season), and food in my pack, so it’s ready to rock at a moment’s notice. If you eat a few granola bars on your ride, make sure to replace them at the end so you don’t have to worry about having enough food on your next ride.
4. Keep your gear clean, and in a dedicated location.
If you always keep your helmet, shorts, jersey, shoes, gloves, socks, and glasses in the same dedicated location, you can quickly throw your gear on and hop on the bike without spending an hour searching the house for your kit. If you only have one set of riding clothes, this can be a bit difficult… the key is to wash your kit right after you ride, so it’s ready to go for the next time. This might mean that the place you store your gear is in the dryer if you’re riding every day… but at least you know where it is!
If you have multiple sets of riding clothes, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated drawer for your riding gear, but make sure you set your favorite, go-to clothes (depending on the season) aside for easy access.
5. Keep your bike as close to the trail as possible.
For years I had to drive up to a half an hour to get to the closest trailhead. And let’s be frank: loading and unloading your bike can be a PITA, especially if you have to do it over and over again every day. One trick I used to minimize my prep time was to simply keep my mountain bike in the back of my truck at all times. Thanks to a locking bed cover, it was out of the elements and reasonably secure (but only you can decide how secure your bike needs to be in your local community). Since I kept my bike in the back, I wouldn’t have to get it out of the garage, load it up before I left, or unload it when I got back (unless I needed to wash it). Even if I did need to wash it, I’d finish drying and lubing my bike, and then put it right back in the truck. Eliminating that loading and unloading time every day drastically decreased the time it took me to get ready!
Even if you have an SUV, minivan, or a relatively-large passenger car, you can do this too. Heck, I’ve even left my bike on my locking roof rack for days at a time when I knew there wasn’t any rain in the forecast and that I’d be riding every single day.
If you don’t have to drive to the trailhead, make it as easy as possible to get your bike out of the house. If you have a safe garage or shed, keep it there. If you have to keep it inside the house, don’t bury it down in the basement behind a bunch of junk. Keep it as close to the back door as possible so you can hop on and just ride.
Prepping for a mountain bike ride is unquestionably more difficult than getting ready for a run or heading to the gym, but as we all know, mountain biking is way more fun and rewarding than any other activity. With the few simple tips listed above, I can personally go from not thinking about riding at all to either pedaling my bike or driving to a trailhead in under 10 minutes. And when it’s really that easy… what’s your excuse for not riding again?