|Orange County Parks|
|Laguna Coast Park|
|Caspers Wilderness Park|
|Santiago Oaks Regional Park|
|Arroyo Seco Trail|
|Snow Summit Ski Resort|
|Gear and Links|
Like most sports in order to fully enjoy mountain biking you have to have the right equipment. This includes the proper clothing and accessories that will make riding the trails safe and enjoyable. I have put together some items that I feel are important to have before hitting the trail.
The helmet is probably the single most important item you will buy. This is one of those items where you are going to have to try on a few to find the right fit. The major players are Bell, Giro and Specialized and you can't go wrong with either of them. Plan on spending about $40.00 to $80.00 and get one with plenty of air vents. Don't settle for less than 19 or you will be placing your noodle in danger of frying on those hot days! I also suggest picking a helmet with a sun visor to keep the rays out of the eyes.
The main features to look for in shirts are a
long zipper down the front for ventilation and pockets on the
back for storage. There are so many
new fabrics on the market today it makes it a tough choice but most do a good job of wicking away
perspiration from the inside to the outside. And don't be
afraid to pick out those loud neon colors, they can look pretty cool and
are more visible on trails so fellow riders can see you coming.
There are two main types of riding shorts to choose from. The
first is the traditional
riding pant every roadie has and second is the heavy duty off-road short. The
main tradeoff is between comfort and functionality. For the best in comfort go with the traditional black racing pant made
usually from a Nylon/Lycra mesh. Make sure
the pant has a high quality chamois and liner for saddle protection. Nothing can ruin a bike
trip faster than a case of the old saddle rash . The racing
pants are also lighter and cooler but they are less durable.
On the other hand, mountain biking shorts are nice
because their sturdy design protects you from the many nasty things you will
encounter on the trail. They also have lots of pockets for storage! Try putting that digital camera in one of
those racing pants. Most of these shorts come with a chamois and liner for comfort. The best advise is to buy one of each type
of pant so depending on the ride you are planning you can choose accordingly.
The major decision besides comfort and durability when looking for shoes is cleat or no cleat. Are you going to strap or snap in the pedal? Go for the cleats right from the start and you won't be sorry. When you get used to clicking in the pedal the riding experience will increase ten fold. Your feet will be locked in so they can't slip off the peddle and your pedaling strokes will be more efficient. Look for a pair of shoes & cleats that are SPD compatible which will work with most pedals on the market. Just make sure to find a shop who will fit the shoes to your pedals and train you. It isn't pretty seeing someone fall over on their bike because they can't get their foot un clipped from the pedal. Shoes are best to get in the store but don't forget to add the socks to your cart.
First aid kits aren't mandatory but they sure are a good idea.
Mountain biking is a lot of fun but it only takes one fall to get seriously
injured. Play it smart and make sure to pack a kit.
Eye Protection is a must anytime you go riding. The bugs are abundant up in the hills and it's not real pleasant getting one in the eye. Spring for a nice pair of sun glasses and you won't be sorry. Not only will you get a quality lens with the UV protection but you will be able to see the terrain clearer. One tip for staying out of trouble on the trails is to always look ahead so you can avoid the gullies and ruts.
Gloves protect your hands and they also help absorb the bumps and jitters that are part of riding. Find ones that have a nice thick padding on the palm for protection. You can choose between full finger and 3/4" gloves. The full finger offers better protection for downhill riding and cold weather but the 3/4" are going to be cooler and more comfortable for everyday riding.
The hydration pack is the best invention since sliced toast! Don't even think about hitting the trails with the old fashioned water bottle.
It only takes about 5 minutes for the water to heat up and for the dust to find its
way in. Go out and get yourself a nice hydration pack. Blackburn and Camelbak
are the big names in town. Get one with a large water bladder and pockets for storage. The pack can be a great place for keeping the pump,
camera and other items.
Extra Items You Don't Want To Be Without
A saddle bag ,which fastens under the seat, comes in handy for storing
a spare tube and tire repair tools. Don't be the person who isn't prepared for
the dreaded flat tire.
Bar ends are a definite addition to your bike. They fasten onto the handlebars and help when climbing. They also allow you to rest your back because you don't have to lean over so far to reach the handlebars.
Many bike manufactures are now installing fenders on both the front and rear wheel. They are light and do a good job of keeping the muddy water off the shirt and pants. If you like to ride through the puddles, then hook on a rear fender and come out clean and smiling.
Arm & Knee pads are another item you may want to add to your shopping list. Now they may not be necessary for that easy Sunday ride but before heading to places like Big Bear or Mammoth it's better safe than sorry. The elbows and knees are usually the most vulnerable during a fall.
Work Stand Even if you don't plan to do a bike overhaul a stand is necessary for lubing and the minor adjustments that will be necessary to keep your bike in top performance.