There are certain fundamental things you should know while trail riding with a mountain bike.

Wear a helmet. Many riders, depending on the difficulty of the ride, will fall.

If you plan on doing cross country riding, I suggest a hard tail bike with front suspension. If you plan on doing major downhill riding, I suggest a full suspension bike.

If you are a beginner, start easy. You will only fall if you ride something that you can't handle.

Make sure that your bike is maintained. Ensure that your brakes, shifters, and gears, are functional.

If the trail is mostly downhill, lower your seat. When riding steep terrain, you will want to scoot your bum back. Do not lean forward, you will only fall.

When riding loose dirt, place your weight to the rear by sitting on your seat.

Carry food, and water. Also make sure that you have tools to fix your bike.

When riding, look forward, and find a line of sight, and follow it.

Pump your brakes. Front brakes should be used in conjunction with the rear brakes, in a light pumping manner, or you may find yourself over the handlebars. If you are going downhill, it is all right to use your rear brakes and slide.

If you ride through a puddle, pump your brakes a few times.

Finally, if you do fall, get back up.

Here are a few more additions that will keep you upright and enhance your mountain biking experience:

While keeping your head up and choosing a line, look where you want to go-- not where you DON'T want to go. This sounds obvious, but if you keep looking at that large rock or stump in the trail, chances are you will ride in to it rather than avoiding it.

Bombing the run through mud can be fun, but don't do this on public trails. When you ride through mud, you leave ruts. With continued abuse of the trail, you may come back one day to find it closed.

Riding up steep grades is easy with practice and traction. Avoid standing up and pumping the pedals to clean the hill. This may cause your rear tire to break traction, causing damage to the trail, and you to go horizontal. Instead, try selecting an easier gear before you begin the hill. Work on spinning, or pushing AND pulling up on the pedals throughout your stroke if you are clipped in. If you start losing traction, try pulling the handlebars back toward you, which will increase pressure on the back tire and provide your bike with a better grip. With these tricks, you can steadily roll right up a steep hill full of mud and gravel while staying in your seat the whole time.

The best way to avoid a flat is to bring along a spare tube, tire pump, and tire levers. Some kind of mystical force will work to save you from flats as long as you carry a spare. Also, you may encounter people that are as not as prepared as yourself, and you can fix their flat and greatly increase your karma.

Whatever you do, keep the future of the trail in mind. Don't tear it up. Don't litter. Give hikers and those on horseback the right of way. Yield to bikers going uphill. Believe me, I have seen way to many excellent trails close (or be closed only to mountain bikers) because of failure play nice.

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