Most extreme, mountain-based sports have a code of conduct. Either written or spoken, this code allows riders to remain safe and responsible while on the trail. Climbing has one. Skiing and snowboarding has one. Mountain biking, a fast-paced extreme sport wherein several people share a swath of wilderness and may or may not interact with one another, has one, too. In fact, mountain biking etiquette may be one of the more important codes of conduct; you will likely share Redding’s trails with hikers, runners, and equestrians, which increases the need for extreme caution and a reverence for safety. Below, we have listed and detailed the six Rules of the Trail.

 

  1. Ride open trails. You should never ride on trails that are closed off. Respect trail and road closures, and don’t trespass on private land.

 

  1. Leave no trace. This applies to all outdoor adventure sports. Stay on existing trails, don’t cut switchbacks, and pack out at least as much as you can pack in.

 

  1. Bike in control. Keep your head up and obey all speed regulations and recommendations. Stay alert and always ride within your limits.

 

  1. Yield appropriately. Always let other trail users know you’re coming and give a friendly greeting. Do your best to anticipate other trail users around corners, and yield to non-bike trail users. Always yield to riders headed uphill when you are riding downhill.

 

  1. Don’t scare the animals. Frightened wildlife can be very dangerous, so do your best to stay alert and use special care when passing horses.

 

  1. Plan ahead. Do the appropriate research before your trip and pack what you’ll need. Know your equipment and your own ability and be self-sufficient. Always, always, always wear a helmet.

 

Depending on your mountain biking terrain, these rules of conduct should be posted on either the base or the peak of the trail or mountain. Even if they’re not, learn to respect the code and other riders; mountain biking is only safe if you know how to stay in control and handle the trail.

As with any sport, mountain biking comes with its own terminology and language. Learning the ropes out on the trail is nearly as important as understanding essential commands, equipment, and ways of communicating. In memorizing a handful of important terms, you’ll be able to better communicate with fellow bikers both on and off the trail. The Redding mountain biking scene is full of veteran riders who might tease you if you don’t know your stuff. Brush up on some of the most important words with our guide below.

 

Attack Position: This is the well-balanced position you ride in while you are approaching or riding on rough terrain. The knees are bent, the butt is above the saddle, the elbows are slightly bent, and the head is raised.

 

Berm: An embankment on the trail

 

Bunny Hop: A hop you incorporate to clear obstacles, such as logs, without stopping

 

Chain Suck: The dragging, jamming, and bunching of the chain that occurs in sloppy, muddy conditions

 

Clipless Pedal: A pedal that has spring-loaded cleats that clip to a rider’s shoe

 

Dialed In: When everything on your bike is running smoothly

 

Doubletrack: Two trails that run parallel to each other; this may also be called a tractor trail or Jeep trail.

 

Downshift: Shifting to a lower gear

 

Dropping In: When you proceed down a steep single track when other riders are around

 

Dualie: A bike with both front and rear suspension

 

Endo: A crash that involves going over the handlebars

 

Fire Road: a backcountry dirt or gravel trail wide enough for emergency vehicles to use

 

Gnarl: This is an extreme technical section of a trail often characterized by rough, rooted, slippery, and rocky sections.

 

Grider: A long, uphill climb

 

Hardtail: A bike with no rear suspension

 

Line: The desirable path or strategy to tackle a tricky section of the trail

 

Ratchet: A riding technique in which the rider pedals in partial strokes to clear difficult obstacles

 

Upshift: A shift into a higher gear

 

Wash Out: When the front tire loses traction, especially while going around a corner

 

Yard Sale: A crash so bad it scatters every piece of equipment

 

Whether you’re new to biking or need to refresh your technique, you’ll likely fall into some bad habits on the trail. It is important to start mountain biking with the correct form and equipment for maintain skill and handling throughout your time as a biker. Redding is full of passionate, experienced bikers, and if you have a question on the trail, don’t be afraid to ask the person taking a break at the next turn. Similarly, do what you can to research mistakes to avoid. Here’s our roundup of beginner errors you’ll want to understand before stepping foot on the mountain.

 

Not using your front breaks. You should use your front breaks. It’s often the more important of the two brakes you have on your bike. Of course, the wrong situation can flip you over the handlebars. Use the front brakes to keep control of the bike and drastically shorten your braking distance where necessary. The front break will account for up to 90% of your downhill stopping power. Remember that.

 

Don’t hold any tension in your body. You’ve probably heard that statistic about drunk drivers surviving car crashes more often than sober drivers. This is because they’re less likely to hold tension in their bodies, which allows them to react more naturally to the impact. The same logic applies to riding. If you have a stiff neck and shoulders, you’ll end up hurting yourself. It’ll also be pretty dang uncomfortable. If you catch yourself hunching your shoulders, remember to relax.

 

Get the right type of bike for what you’re doing. We’ve already covered the types of bikes that apply to the types of biking disciplines. If you’re not sure which bike works best, talk to a sales associate or visit one of Redding’s dozens of bike shops to pick up a rental. We don’t recommend making a bike purchase until you’ve figured out which discipline you like best.

 

You’re wearing the wrong clothes. Cotton can really hold you back when you’re out on the trail. It’ll leave you soaked with sweat, which can make you catch a chill, cause an injury, or—in the most extreme cases—get hypothermia. Wear mountain biking-appropriate clothing, which will include moisture-wicking fabrics and zipped pockets.

 

Keep your butt off the seat. Keeping your rear a few inches above your seat is an excellent way to absorb the shock of rough terrain. However, if you have to stand up to pedal through an easy part of the trail, your cadence level is probably too high. Switch down a gear so your legs can more easily pedal through an area. Generally speaking, you should be looking for 75-100 foot rotations per minute.

 

In a previous post, we discussed the five mountain biking disciplines you might encounter during your time on the trails. Redding has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts, and mountain bikers can enjoy a plethora of every type of biking terrain. However, the terrain you choose will dramatically affect the type of bike you purchase. If you haven’t settled on a preferred style, we recommend renting different types of bikes until you figure it out. When you’re ready to purchase, use this guide to determine which type of bike will work best for you.

 

Cross-Country Bikes—Traditionally, novice riders will start with hardtail bikes that have a single suspension system. This makes the bike easier to maneuver and allows for quick moves and better precision. They also allow you to move faster without exerting much energy through pedaling. However, a full-suspension bike will offer maximum control and stability. This is especially beneficial if you’re on a trail that requires more effort on the descent. Cross-country riders should also invest in a lightweight frame, which will make moving through the trail much easier.

 

All-Mountain Bikes—A mountain’s natural terrain necessitates a bike tough and rugged enough to tackle the task. All-mountain riding is usually done on bikes with full suspension for maximum control and comfort. The tires should also be extremely robust; all-mountain bikes have very thick wheels to prevent punctures. You may also want to consider guide chains and a tilted head for faster, more precise control.

 

Downhill Bikes—Downhill bikes have a slack to make the bike more aerodynamic, allowing riders to fully experience the speed and control necessary for great downhill riding. These bikes are longer and lower to the ground, and their 65-degree head angles add more control and stability. Downhill bikes will also have metal springs and rear shocks, as well as additional weight and heft.

 

Dirt Jumping Bikes—Dirt jumping bikes are incredibly simple in design. This allows the bike to be lighter and more aerodynamic, allowing riders to perform aerial tricks without the hindrance of added weight and features. Additionally, these bikes have a sloping design to help build speed while approaching a jump. Dirt jumping bikes will also have a high front suspension to absorb the shock of landing, and rear suspension is also a good idea.

 

Freeride Bikes—These bikes are the most versatile; they are made to be used in a variety of applications. They are similar in design to dirt jumping bikes and generally have full suspension systems to absorb the shock of a drop. Freeride bikes have very light frames, which allows the rider to maneuver through intricate features of a trail or riding area.

 

Redding is known for its world-class trails and diverse terrain. Our area is an excellent destination for any type of mountain biking enthusiast: cross-country lovers, all mountain fanatics, downhill junkies, and freeride chasers. However, not many beginner mountain bikers know the distinction between terrain and the types of bikes that best fit these separate styles. As an intro to style or a brief refresher for veteran riders, we’ve detailed the five types of mountain biking below.

 

Cross-Country—This is the most common form of mountain biking. Cross-country involves riding for extended periods of time through trails. It doesn’t often involve extreme obstacles (as other forms of mountain biking might), but still requires significant control in order to maneuver through the trail. Most cross-country trails involve long periods of climbing and descending, incorporating winding paths and banked turns for efficiency. Though Redding has terrain for all forms of mountain biking, this is the most abundant and popular.

 

All Mountain—This is an action-packed, variable adventure involves more varied terrain than cross-country biking. It involves riding through the mountain’s natural terrain. The trails are not easy to maneuver, and this form of biking often includes drops and jumps. It requires a great deal of skill, control, and confidence, and the trails are incredibly unpredictable and adventurous.

 

Downhill—Downhill riding has one goal: speed. Unlike cross-country trails that involve curves and snaking paths, downhill trails are often straight down through the mountain terrain. Most riders don’t even use a specific trail; they use their focus and control to get down as fast as possible. In this case, bikers don’t ride up the mountain; they either walk up or take a lift.

 

Dirt Jump—This type of riding is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than riding through trails on a mountain with different types of terrain, the sport is done in a dirt park consisting of jumps. Dirt jumping is about tricks and air. This is the least common form of mountain biking in the Redding area, but riders can still find or make their own jumps using the available terrain.

 

Freeride—Freeride is closely related to downhill mountain biking and dirt jumping, but it emphasizes tricks rather than speed. Riders use their creativity to use the natural terrain and special features built into the trail. This can include anything from ladders and ramps to beams and jumps. This is the most versatile mountain biking discipline; depending on your personal riding style, you may go for speed, jumps, or creativity.