Less News Coverage Doesn’t Mean Coronavirus Danger Is Gone

The mountain biking and thru-biking season is upon us, and many of us have made plans that involve long-distance travel not just on wheels but through the air. That means we all have hard decisions to make in the days ahead. Do we keep our flights and put small mountain towns at risk of increased coronavirus exposure? Or do we put off cherished travel plans for a year or two (or more)?

The questions have complicated answers.

First things first: you do you — but base your plans on current restrictions. Don’t let anyone else tell you what to think or how to feel unless that person is a government or CDC official. Take the facts on hand and make your own decisions. There will always be people who feel differently. The business owners in those small mountain towns will be desperate for your visit, whereas others might not. 

Our advice? Many people are congregating on more accessible areas because trips to less accessible areas had to be canceled due to government regulations. Although we understand the drive to get outside to be active, we request that those whose plans still work go ahead and keep those plans. Everyone else should rethink whether or not it’s really worth increasing the population in a particular region with traffic that would not have otherwise been there.

In other words, if your travel plans were ruined, then please suck it up and stay close to home. Changing plans will increase the probability of further restrictions being placed on the smaller areas.

If there is a chance you will interact with people during your mountain biking excursion, then please wear a mask and use plenty of hand sanitizer. Biodegradable “camp” soap is usually frowned upon for longer trips, but the current crisis has some trail managers rethinking their stance on the item. Consider bringing some. Good luck!

It’s Almost Time For Spring Bike Maintenance

Have you been out biking this winter? Not everyone does. We understand that it can be difficult to find the motivation to go outdoors when the cold is so soul-crushing. But spring will be upon us in just over a month, which means it’s time to think about making sure your bike is up to snuff. There are a few things you should keep in mind before the warmer months are here.

Where did you store your bike this winter? Not everyone owns a shed or has the room to store a mountain bike inside. For some of you, that might mean you sinned a little and store your bike outside. If you did, a tarp usually isn’t enough to fully protect your bike from the elements. You should consider having your bike checked out by a professional repair shop to make sure it can handle the rigors of the Spanish mountainside. 

Storing your bike is a long-debated issue. Some believe the only way to store a bike is to hang it upside down — but you never want to do this if you have hydraulic disc brakes. Finding a bike rack specifically designed for your mountain bike model is the best decision you can make when storing it, and will result in the least amount of long-term damage.

Everything look okay? You’ll still want to start out by giving your bike a deep clean. Take a biodegradable cleaner and wipe everything down with an old towel (and sometimes even a toothbrush) to scrub the chain, frame, pedals, brakes, seat, and all those tiny parts and mechanisms you’ll never know the name for.

Next, take your bike for a short ride (being careful not to venture too far from home) to check that your brakes function properly. Keep in mind that you’re not putting too much stress on the brakes without actually being in the environment where the bike is designed to be used. That’s why we always suggest professional tune-ups for your bike. You might find the brakes weren’t as safe as you thought.

Check your wheels. There shouldn’t be any bumps along the tire, and the rim shouldn’t be at all bent or warped. Riding a bike that has any of these problems could be dangerous. Do the tires still have an appropriate level of tread? New mountain bikes don’t always realize how quickly the rubber wears down on rough surfaces, so they don’t always replace them promptly. Accidents frequently occur because of this lack of foresight.

Be sure to oil the chains!

It’s Not Too Late For A Bikepacking Trip This Winter!

There are plenty of areas where one can enjoy the winter landscape in all its glory — but the best are all far above sea level. The easiest way to get to those places is to bike there. The pristine winter wonderland above the clouds is a sight to behold. Those who have ventured so far will often describe it as whimsical, peaceful or, sometimes, creepy. No matter what your experience, it’s likely you’ll find solitude.

But you can’t just get up and go if you’ve never gone before.

Bikepacking requires using every square inch of space on your bicycle for storing gear, a task which becomes monumentally more difficult in winter. Why? Because you need warmer gear, and warmer gear is heavier and takes up more space.

Almost always, you’ll need a sleeping bag rated down to zero degrees. Whereas lower rated bags can weigh two or three pounds, these warmer bags will probably weigh at least six. 

And then you need a fourth-season tent. These tents are sturdier and will hold up to harsh mountain winds in winter — or even under a bit of snow. They’re better insulated, but not by much. They’ll add another few pounds.

Heat lost to the ground is the most important problem to consider, which means you need a sleeping pad with a high “r” value. The higher the value, the thicker and heavier the pad. We recommend a foam pad coupled with an air mat. The latter can be placed directly in your sleeping bag. For added comfort, you can purchase a lightweight sleeping bag liner or two to increase the sleeping bag temperature rating another five or ten degrees.

Then you need to consider clothes. You won’t want to bring too many. Usually a daytime pair and a nighttime pair is enough. Insulated boots and a pair of wool socks will do well. Save the thicker socks for bed, because they can cut off circulation and make you colder while you ride.

Wear a polyester thermal set as your base layer if you need it. If you don’t need it, store it in your nighttime bag with your dedicated nighttime pair. Doubling up always helps. You’ll want a thick pair of wind-resistant pants, a cotton shirt, and a merino wool hoodie as your mid-layer. You may or may not need another layer for your legs, but it’s up to you.

A thin pair of gloves can be doubled up with a thicker pair of weather-resistant gloves.

You need two more things: a puffy coat (how much you spend matters) and a rain shell for when it gets wet. We recommend wearing a balaclava and ski goggles to protect your face from frostbite.

How To Gain Muscle For Mountain Biking And Bikepacking

Mountain biking and bikepacking are not activities for the faint of heart. They require a lot of preparation, time, and effort — not to mention the vast amount of endurance needed to sustain a bout of exercise. That is why it is so important to find the right exercises to gain muscle and stamina, especially if you plan to learn a few mountain biking tricks as well. Here are a few of the best exercises you can do to gain muscle for mountain biking right now.

  1. Biking. Sounds dumb, right? Mountain biking has a lot in common with similarly strenuous activities — like long-distance backpacking for example. And when people ask how you get into shape for these activities, the answer is most often simple: don’t bother. There isn’t really an activity or exercise that will truly prepare you for mountain biking except long-distance biking. You can gain muscle through doing.
  2. Running. For excruciating activities like mountain biking or bikepacking, one of the best things you can do is gain cardiovascular muscle — because while there is no single, tried and true method of preparing for what you’re about to do, you should make sure you won’t drop dead while you’re doing it. That means getting into slightly better overall shape before you leave.
  3. Core. Yoga is a great way to get a full body exercise, but core muscles are very important for maintaining balance while you’re biking. Practice the plank position frequently, but complement it with squat repetitions to build some muscles in your quads and glutes. Another position involves a side plank using an elastic band just above the knees to do repetitions of leg lifts while resting the body’s weight on your forearm and foot. This will help build up your obliques and hips.
  4. General. Lunges will build your leg and core muscles. One-legged push-ups will build your core, arms, and teach you how to balance. Weight training will build bone density and increase muscle strength. Walking will keep your muscles mobile and relaxed during rest periods.

    A stability ball is a great prop for core-building workouts. Exercises using stability balls also have a number of other important benefits, especially for aging adults. Some research suggests that they can help with lower back pain, and increase muscle mass in the back, glutes, and abs. They are especially useful tools during physical therapy after an accident or injury. If you were hurt while mountain biking, then ask your doctors about the potential benefits!

Bikepacking 101: What Is It And What Are Bikepacking Best Practices?

If you’re an avid mountain biker, you’ve probably at one point in time wondered what it would be like to head off one day — and then not come back. We all want to run away once in a while, and bikepacking is basically the counterpart to backpacking, an activity that tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts have always loved and cherished. These activities are a way to make life if little simple if only for a little while.

First, you’ll want to find a route good for your level of experience outdoors. You might be an expert mountain biker, but have you ever spent a few nights out in the woods? That’s the real question. Find a long route that caters to your level of experience mountain biking. If you’ve never backpacked or bikepacked before, then make sure that route isn’t too far away from civilization. 

Other hikers, backpackers, or bikepackers should populate this trail. If your bike breaks down, you should be able to easily walk or hike to town, or at least to a road where you can pick up an easy hitch.

What kind of supplies do you need?

High-calorie but low-weight food is important. Peanut butter, instant potatoes, pop-tarts, and candy are all hiking staples. Do some research and decide what’s best for you. A couple pounds a day is the basic rule of thumb. Bring more water than you believe you could need on the trail, and make sure you know where to get more. Don’t forget extra water containers and a water filter. The Sawyer brand of filtration is popular.

Overnight excursions mean you’ll also need to bring along a sleeping bag and tent. Make sure these items are as lightweight as possible, but also ensure they’re rated for the weather you might encounter. Clothing options are equally as important. You’ll want lightweight clothes — nothing cotton — that will keep you cool during the day and then something warm for the night. Bring along a rain jacket to keep you dry when it’s wet.

One important aspect of bikepacking that you have to worry about is maintenance. You don’t get that when you backpack. When bikepacking you’ll need items like extra chains or bolts, multitools, bike pump, bike lock, helmet, etc. On top of tools, you’ll want at least a couple extra tubes and tires. These are heavy but they can be a lifesaver — and at least they’re attached to your bike and not your back.

There are a lot of other considerations to be made. Start here:


Why Is Spain Such A Wonder For Mountain Biking Enthusiasts?

The trails in Spain are some of the most sought-after in the world, especially for those who love to travel via mountain bike. And who wouldn’t? The surge of adrenaline is like nothing else, especially when you couple the thrill-seeker’s sensation with the invigorating rush of wind you feel during each wild ride. It takes a lot of skill, control, and lightning-fast reflexes to make mountain biking a viable long-term hobby, but those who do will certainly learn to enjoy the most challenging trails that Spain offers.

But why Spain?

First of all, our country has something that the rest of Europe doesn’t: the highest average altitude in the entire region. For example the Sierra de los Filabres mountain range soars above 2,000 meters, which grants would-be riders some fantastic views. Depending on when you go, you might even run into snow! One thing is for certain, though: you’ll love the varied terrain to find on your way.

Spain also presents riders with some of the best trail conditions anywhere in the world, with maintainers working to keep them safe and clear of debris year-round. The routes vary in their difficulty; some stretch dozens, hundreds, even thousands of kilometers.

Because mountain biking is such a popular sport in Spain, riders will find many vacation packages geared toward making those trips all the more fun by designing them to reduce the amount of thinking you have to do. Those who offer these organized trips handle some of the food, lodging, and provide many options for routes worthy of your time. Whatever you need is exactly what you get. Personalized requests matter in Spain.

Another popular location is the Malaga mountain range out near the Mediterranean Sea. The trail offers easy access to River Guadalmedina, which makes longer outings a lot easier if you’re willing to bring some extra gear along. While out for a ride, you might see hikers as well. Those who explore this region are in for some of the best views that Spain has to offer — including the Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Loja, Alhama de Granada, and even a few of the ocean.

Many of these biking routes are still unmarked, but guess what: we have no intention of changing that. It’s exactly what some riders are looking for, especially since these locations tend to ward off ever-increasing populations of people as the sport’s popularity grows. Some of us like a quiet ride, and there are many available in the mountains of Spain. Then again, other trails are very well marked for those who don’t mind the extra company. Some of us who are just beginning might even need it.

What Should You Pack To Eat When Mountain Biking The North Atlantic Basque Coast In Spain?

Mountain Biking packages along the Basque Coast adjoining Spain and France are some of the most sought after, especially since the care given to these trails is top-notch. Bikers can expect to find trips that include accommodations, breakfasts, guides, transfers, photos, etc. What’s better, most of these packages are for small groups of six or seven people, which means a lot of personal support when you need it the most.

But what should you bring to eat on your next mountain biking trip to the Basque Coast? Usually, the answer is as much as possible! What you pack depends on your own personal tastes, of course, but you’ll want to be practical about how much you carry. More weight equals less control over the bike, and that can lead to disaster for those of us who are less experienced. That means it pays to be smart in planning ahead.

For those of you who are avid backpackers, you’ll be familiar with most of these lightweight foods:

  • You won’t have any problem drinking water, but you might want to add some flavor, vitamins or electrolytes to each refill. Propel or Mio are great options.
  • Believe it or not, saltines have a great calorie to weight ratio — but only pack them if you can spare the room, because they definitely do take up space. Bread or bagels are other good options.
  • Pop Tarts or Clif Bars are great for a morning calorie boost.
  • Peanut butter M&Ms. Any variety of this candy is great, but you’ll want the extra sugar, fat, and protein. 
  • Tuna pouches will give you some additional lightweight nutrients, but beware: you’ll get tired of them fast.
  • Bananas or berries if you have the option to resupply daily. 
  • PB&J sandwiches if you have the option to resupply daily — or any sandwich, really. You’ll want variety after a while.
  • Beef jerky, salami, pepperoni, and other meats that won’t go bad in your pack.
  • Babybel cheeses will keep well in your pack.
  • Fritos will give you lots of calories and will help replenish the salt you lose in sweat.

If you’re out overnight, then you’ll want to add to the list. Whether you bring a lightweight camping stove is up to you, but if you do then be sure to better your menu with foods you can cook quickly. Knorrs rice or pasta pouches can be great for a quick snack, but you’ll tire of them quickly. Instant potatoes are another great choice, and they can be prepared cold or combined with cheese and meat. Add olive oil to any meal for omega 3s!

What To Do If You Want To Start Mountain Biking

Mountain biking can be scary, dangerous, and time-consuming. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it probably goes without saying that those who take the time to get into the sport are thrill seekers. They like to live life a little faster, they like the wind washing over their bodies, and they’re not afraid to get back on the horse again after they fall off. So you’re interested in mountain biking, but not sure it’s for you? Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re first starting out.

Be sure you really do want this. The sport is getting more popular with every year, and last year over eight million people tried at least once. With that kind of popularity comes a particular kind of word of mouth. People have the tendency to want to try what they’re friends are doing, but it doesn’t mean they should. Be careful, and think about all the pros and cons before you give it a try.

Mountain biking requires a powerful core. If that isn’t something you’re confident you’ve got, then it’s time to find out. Start with a few yoga workouts, and you’ll get the idea pretty quick.

Find someone to go with you. It’s a dangerous sport, so don’t try it alone. Find others who are at or above your skill level so you have friends you can watch out for, and who will watch out for you.

Beware of how your body rests on the bike. Take a look at pictures and videos to see how experienced riders sit on the bike, and do your best to replicate it before you try anything crazy. You’ll get used to the effort depending on your stance. Start out by taking it easy.

Don’t forget food and water while you’re training on a new path–especially if it’s your first time out. You’re not just riding around on any silly old bike. You’re expending a lot of energy on a very physical sport, and you need to remember to rest and recharge frequently. Get a hydration pack, and make sure you have food nearby or keep a small backpack.

The most important thing of all? Don’t give up. Once you’ve decided to give it a try, don’t dismiss it after you fall the first time or procure the first scrape. Relax, rest, recharge, and then do it again.

There’s A Whole New Way To Mountain “Bike”

Millions of people enjoy the great outdoors and get some exercise in the process. Many take hikes along trails in deserts, forests or in mountainous areas. Others go backpacking, while still others use various bicycles to take rides down streets, trails or off-road.

Mountain bikers are especially prevalent in national forests, state parks and other areas where there are trails and rugged terrain, and taking them deep into these areas can be a fun challenge, but also have its risks in terms of injury with a fall.

Another growing form of outdoor entertainment is the unicycle, which used to be left to circus acts. More and more people have been using unicycles as a form of transportation and in some ways recreation. But can you imagine combining any of the aforementioned outdoor activities with a unicycle? Have you taken a unicycle with you on a camping trip? Have you done some backpacking while riding a unicycle, or having one packed with you?

How about mountain biking? Yes, the same trails, with a unicycle?

Does that unicycle on a mountain trail seem a little too dangerous or extreme?

While many of us may have a hard time wrapping our heads around the idea, a geologist with an excitement streak has started using his unicycle on some mountain trails that he has used his mountain bike on, and that has led to some real challenges – such as a 13-foot drop for example.

Find this hard to imagine? This guy does hear his share of jokes about “missing a wheel” or what have you. But how many of those jokesters are willing to jump on a unicycle and take on the same trials that they take on with their mountain bikes?

Who thinks less than one in 10?

You know how it is – those who joke about something that seems as crazy as mountain unicycle are those who are less likely to actually try it themselves. But for this geologist, he has heard them all and says he has gotten used to the comments and doesn’t let them faze him.

It certainly takes outdoor exercise to a whole new level. Is it enough to generate a new buzz of extreme athletes? Does this count as extreme, or is it just weird? How do you think mountain unicycle compares with extreme skateboarding or bungee jumping in terms of danger and/or excitement? Do you own a unicycle, and would you consider taking it out on a trail with rugged terrain?

Common Mountain Biking Injuries

Mountain biking is one of the most popular forms of outdoor activity and exercise around. Mountain bikes are often durable, excellent in all kinds of terrain and weather, and they can be a great vehicle to heading along forest trails or biking up hills and mountains to get some of that fresh outdoor air.

Like other vehicles, however, there are certain risks to mountain biking, which is why many of us wear helmets, pads, long pants and/or cloves when we go riding. While most places do not have laws requiring the use of a helmet on mountain bikes, injuries on mountain bikes can be quite common, even if most of them are not life-threatening.

However, a couple of the most common mountain biking injuries can put you out of biking commission for a few weeks or longer depending on the severity of the injury. Unfortunately, helmets won’t prevent these injuries from happening. Here is a list of the four most common mountain biking injuries.

1. Just Scraping By.

Mountain bikes go on all kinds of terrain and in various environments, and when you ride past tree branches or a cactus, or you lose balance on some rocks, inevitably you will get skin abrasions along your arms, knees, legs or hands. Most superficial and won’t require more than a bandage and won’t adversely impact your ride – they come with the territory, so to speak.

2. Shouldering the Pain.

Mountain biking can be tough on joints due to rough, uneven terrain. As your arms connect the upper body to the handlebars, much of the shock of going over rough terrain is borne on your shoulders, which is where AC joint pain can occur. The AC joint is where some ligaments could get sprained from wear and tear and weight on the shoulder. A sprain can cause enough pain as to keep you off your bike to rest the joint for a couple week s or a couple months.

3. To the Knee and Back!

Mountain biking is much like traditional bicycling in that while it is low impact, it can be repetitive in motion and joints will have adverse reactions to uneven or rough terrain. The repetition of mountain biking can result in wear on the knees and back, which can cause pain. Cartilage and ligaments wear with consistent repetition, and the muscles of the back can spasm if the back muscles are in the same posture for extended periods. According to several orthopedic doctors, a treatment for knee paid is Unique Dermatology and Wellness PRP Therapy.

4. Carpal Diem.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually associated with repeated motions in an office setting like on a keyboard or mouse. But it can also appear in mountain biking if your handlebars are at the wrong height and have undue pressure on your wrists as you ride. That undue pressure is on the nerves of the wrist which can cause tingling and numbness.