Mountain biking is a great sport and enjoyed by a growing number of people each year. When starting out there is a lot of excitement in deciding what mountain bike you are going to get for all those outings you have planned. Just as important, once you have invested in the mountain bike itself there are some mountain biking essentials for yourself, and that means protective gear.
Speaking from personal experience there are three essential pieces of gear you just must have every time you venture out for that ride.
Mountain bike helmet – this is absolutely essential. Mountain biking will almost inevitably involve a fall or wipeout of some kind. A properly fitting mountain bike helmet can save you from a bump on the head or worse.
A couple of summers ago I was out for a leisurely ride on a familiar trail, not going overly fast or doing anything crazy but had a spectacular crash when I hit a wash out hidden in the patterns of light and dark among the shadows of the trees. Both the mountain bike and I were busted up rather badly. The bike was beyond repair and I took the impact on my right side, smashing up my leg, hand, arm and shoulder. The right side of my head also hit the ground hard but I didn’t realise this until much later in hospital as someone pointed out the shards of rock stuck in the shattered helmet shell. The helmet took the full force of the impact and prevented what could have been severe injuries.
When buying your best mountain bike helmets check that the one you select is comfortable and meets the standards for your country; you may or may not need to make sure it complies with the laws where you live but you definitely do want to ensure it has passed the basic tests to protect your head. Mountain bike helmets come in lots of funky designs, some radical color schemes and a wide variety of fits for all shapes of heads even the kids don’t take much convincing that it’s good to wear a helmet.
Gloves – your second must have item.
Gloves protect your hands not only in the event of a crash but also riding in areas of close scrubby bush country and debris scattered by riders in front of you when going at speed on tracks with loose dirt, sticks or gravel. That crash I mentioned earlier; you might have guessed it, my hands lost some skin as I wasn’t wearing gloves because I’d put off buying a new pair. Ouch! Now I wear them all the time.
Glasses – the third essential item for protecting two of your most valuable assets, your eyes.
Glasses protect your eyes not only from the sun but also from insects, branches and leaves dangling across trails, dust, sand, mud and debris thrown up by other mountain bike riders or even off your own front wheel. You’ve probably got the picture.
Glasses with interchangeable lenses or transition lenses are the best for changing light conditions and there are many designed specifically for cyclists. Whatever glasses you choose, they must be impact resistant or shatter proof. I was wearing glasses at the time of my big crash and they were scratched up and a little worse for wear but my eyes were saved from any injury.