Mountain biking in Spring presents a whole set of challenges in itself. Temperate climates can bring sudden rainfalls and cold winds, leaving the trails muddy and dangerous. We recently had the chance to talk with Näak ambassador and master of all things cycling, Ryan Draper, about his tips for riding in Spring, and we thought we would share it with you.
1. Get The Right Tires For The Job
For Ryan, Spring riding is all about the fat tires.
After the snow melts, we all know how muddy the trails can get. Ryan is putting plus-sized tires on his bike to tackle any wet, technical trails. When selecting the right gear for the terrain, wider tires have a larger footprint, which means more grip and more control.
He also recommends lowering the pressure in your tires for increased traction. Finding the right pressure for your tires is a rite of passage for every mountain biker. Too much pressure and you are sure to be sliding all over the trails. Too little, and your handling could send you right into the trees. Play around with different pressures, find what works best for you, and always enjoy the process!
2. Dress For Success
Knowing what to wear on your day in the mountain will keep you enjoying your ride all day. When considering an outfit for your ride, a delicate balance is needed to stay comfortable in the unpredictable Spring weather.
There are no rules stating that you can't wear baggy hiking shorts when hitting the trails. But, I'm willing to bet that you'll be much more comfortable if you wear clothes that comfortably fit your body and are appropriate for your surroundings.
When we asked Ryan about his Spring attire, he stated,
"I usually wear a base layer and softshell jacket with waterproof pants or shorts. Clear lenses in my glasses allow for me to see in the low light and protects against any mud from getting in my eyes."
This type of gear keeps the ride fun while still being prepared for a sudden turn in the weather.
3. Arm Yourself With Some Pads
Coming to terms with injuries is also a bittersweet process in the mountain biking world. For Ryan, a broken shoulder, broken hand, and several yards of road rash over the years serve as his reminder to pad-up!
He suggests arming yourself with a pair of lightweight knee pads for any unexpected falls that happen. There's no feeling worse than going to bed with your knee propped up on a pillow, so I'd advise you to take Ryan's advice to heart.
4. Know Your Pace
Keeping your pace during Spring riding is more important than other months. Ryan emphasizes the importance of taking climbs slower than usual and making sure not to overheat. Wearing a jacket with zippers that you can open means you can quickly ditch off excess heat to keep your body temperature regulated.
"On the downhills, zip up your jacket and take it at a safe yet fun pace that allows you to maintain good control."
When asking Ryan about some of his injuries, he said,
"The most serious of all was heat and cold-related injuries. They forced me off the bike in major events that I needed to be hospitalized for."
While your Spring riding may not present the same risks as some of Ryan's daunting feats, the importance of keeping a good pace to prevent overheating is a practice we can all benefit from.
We hope this guide helps you get the most out of your rides. After you've hit the trails, don't forget to give your body time to rest and recover.
What's Ryan's favourite way to recover?
"I'm a real homebody, so after a long ride, I like to come home to my wife and our dogs and spend time with my feet up on the deck."
Looking for some more recovery tips? Check out our guide to Recovering After an Ultra for an in-depth look at what your body needs to recover at an optimal pace. You can also read all of the Performance Articles that the Näak team has put together!