Mountain Bike Gears, Apparels & Safety Check.
Mountain biking in Bhutan is challenging enough with its terrains involving some serious ascent and adrenalin rushing descend and trail riding in country outback trails or narrow dirt path. Be it recreational ride or cross-country or the trail ride. Mountain bike gears, apparels & safety check that promote safety is paramount.The basic idea is it should be light weight, comfortable and apparel made from high performance fabric. It’s only great if its looks compliment its functionality.
Helmet –Arguably, It’s one of the major protective gear and in Bhutan, it’s required to wear mandatorily by government rules. It comes in one or two general style – full face and open face helmet. For cross country, trail riding or recreational purpose open face helmets offers light weight, comfortable and well ventilated protection. If you enjoy down hill ride, dirt jump or high speed or high-risk ride consider additional protection of full-face helmet. Ensure it fits correctly, as irregular fitting size can do more harm than good.
Body Armor – Body Armor can be more than useful to keep any form of injuries at bay, also for any category of riding. If you prefer riding downhill or even for a casual ride, it helps to protect your chest, spine from cold mountain air and also alleviate from injuries and bruises due to fall arising out of overgrown bushes being lodged in the spoke of your bike in forested trail or any other way. You will get a maximum benefit if it’s lightweight, comfortable body armour.
Gloves: It’s the two hands that comes into play when holding the two ends of steering handle to maneuvere the action. It’s only natural that it will get most likely hurt. A high performance material gloves not only protect from cold wind at high passes but also from any strain or scraping in your hand especially if it involve long rides.
Glasses: A mountain Biking glasses is more than a fashion statement!! It’s a accessories that protects you from wind and dust and direct ray of sun to your eyes. And also while trail riding in some places, crossing thick overgrown bushes, which may be in same height as your face. Consider for light weight, UV protected.
Elbow Pad – A good elbow pad, which doesn’t restrict your movement, will stand in good stead in any biking journey. These are basically meant to serve as a protective layer, should there be any fall, which can categorically said that it is in some form a part of biking odyssey. Again the feature like lightweight, comfortable are important.
Cycling Shoes & Socks: Your feet is attached to the pedal of the cycle. It goes through lot of efforts and stress to gain mileage. It becomes imperative to protect from the wear and tear of your feet from it so a good pair of shoes and socks to a larger degree will rescue you from ill effect of chafing especially in prolong ride.
Knee Pad– For any form of rides, Knee is the major anatomy of body at work, thus directly under stress for the progress. Good knee Pads not only assist to keep your knees at good shape but also minimise the injuries, should there be any nasty fall. Lightweight, comfortable and good brand is recommended.
Cycling Shorts: Especially if you happen to ride in Punakha (Sub – Tropical Valley) during summer. A good cycling shorts assist you maintain coolness, thus in a way uplift comfort. Provided it’s made out of high performance fabric which alleviate the body moisture by allowing easy passage to dry quickly.
Check list for the Mountain Biking
Generally, we take care of all the functionality and logistical aspects of the trip . However, their may be few personal things that you want to bring along with you, be it the basic first aid kit to the energy bars to the mountain bike itself. Following are the few essential list to keep an eye on before departure.
1. Navigation: – Compass can come handy for the sense of direction
2. Hydration: Water Bottles, Hydration Pack,
3. Nutrition: some nutrition bars.
4. Sun Protection: Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Hat, Lip Balm
5. Insulation: Gloves, Light weight multi purpose jacket – wind and rain shielder.
6. Safety: Helmet, Pads, Bike Lamp
7. Illumination: Headlamp, Extra Batteries
8. First Aid (for self and gear): Bandages, Knife, Medicine, Bike tools, spare tyres etc
9. 10. Communication: Whistle (For emergency signals)
Before the trip, to have a thorough check of the bike is absolutely important, as its the matter of turning the good ride into nightmare, if everything is not adjusted properly.Although its functional aspects mainly mechanical features will be duly checked and maintained by our mechanic but rechecking on your part can only make you feel more reassuring and satiated.
1. Checking the braking system: Spin the wheels to make sure the brake pads are not rubbing on the rim or tire. Check the centering of the brakes making sure it has an even pull on both sides of the cantilevers. Make sure brake pads are tight by grabbing the brake pad and try to pivot it on the cantilever, also check brake post bolts making sure they are secured . Last take a look at the brake cables and housing to make sure there is no fraying or splits.
2. Checking the headset: The best way to check your headset (part that connects the handlebar stem to the frame) is by grabbing a handful of your front brake and rocking your bike back and forth. If there is any play or movement coming from around the headset area this will require an adjustment and tightening to the headset. Try not to ride on a loose headset because it can cause more damage to the bearings and bearing surfaces down the road.
3. Checking the bottom bracket: When checking your bottom bracket grab a hold of your crank arms, were the pedals are attached, and pull the crank arms side to side, if there is any play around the bottom bracket it should be adjusted immediately, if not this again can do damage to the bottom bracket cups, spindle or bearings. Also you should check your crank arm bolts to make sure they are secure, you will need either a 14 or 15mm crank arm wrench.
4. Checking The Hubs and Wheels: To check and see if your hubs are loose with the wheels on the bike, grab the tire and move it side to side, it should have a solid feel, if it has any play it should be adjusted as soon as possible as again this can cause damage to the bearings and bearing surfaces down the road. For the actual wheel to be ride-able the spokes should have an even tension throughout. To check the tension on the spokes grab two spokes on the same side of the wheel and pull them towards each other, they should have an even tension. Go through all the spokes in that process, if there are any loose spokes the wheel should be looked over by a mechanic to see what is wrong. If there is more than three loose spokes on the wheel I would recommend not riding it.
5. Checking Bolts: . Go around to all bolts that have hex inserts in them (i.e., handlebar stem bolt, stem binder bolt, derailleur, brake levers, shift levers, cantilevers water bottle cages, and seat binder bolt) and use wrenches to tighten them. Do not over tighten, this can sometimes cause stripping of the threads.
6. Frame Inspection: This is very important to do because a broken frame is a dangerous frame for riding on. Look for any type of cracking in the paint were the tubes join together. This is not a usual occurrence but is something you should keep an eye on.