Ten easy ways to help the sport of mountain biking

1.  Resist the temptation to ride your favorite trails immediately after a period of heavy rain. Ride a road bike to improve fitness, leg speed and cornering skills. Go for a run. Or - dare we suggest it - take a day off from training.

2.  Volunteer for trail work a few times each year. It's fun.

3.  Stay off your rear brake as much as possible in tight corners and switchbacks. It's easy to skid around sharp turns but lighter braking is better for the trail.

4.  Double-check your saddlebag or bumbag. Make sure you've got a working pump, a good extra tube, a patch kit and a chain tool. Being self-reliant is part of the satisfaction of being a mountain biker.

5.  Study topographic maps to find new trails and roads to ride. Careful analysis will almost always reveal previously unknown opportunities.

6.  Work on your trials skills in a parking lot or at a trailhead. The better your balance, the stronger you'll ride on difficult trails.

7.  Do a trash ride by carrying a small garbage bag and filling it with discarded energy bar wrappers, cans, tire tubes and other items you find along the trail.

8.  Take a teenage neighbor who has never ridden off-road on a ride.

9.  Kick out the leaves from a clogged waterbar or water drain. If your foot-repairs help move water efficiently off the trailbed, you're probably reducing trail erosion.

10.  Ride fast, but when you pause for a rest, stop. Put your bike down. Step away from the trail. Look and listen. Don't feel compelled to get back in the saddle once you're breathing easily.

11.  Consider all 10 of the suggestions listed here but don't get too serious about any of them. Mountain biking is nothing if it's not fun, spontaneous and relatively free.


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