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How to Ride Bike Park

The bike park season is coming up and your social media feed is starting to fill with epic clips of big jumps and gnarly trails. Like many fellow mountain bikers you can’t wait to start riding. However, if it’s your first time at a bike park, you might be a bit nervous and even a little scared. Chairlifts, downhill bikes, protection and (un)written rules… How do you actually ride at a bike park?


No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top tips for riding at a bike park when it’s your first time.





Get the Right Mountain Bike Gear


Riding a bike park is quite different from your local trails. If you mostly ride cross country or at trail centres, you likely do not use the same gear as you would in a bike park. Here’s an overview of the right bike and equipment essential for a fun and safe experience:


An Enduro or Downhill bike

Firstly, you’ll need the right bike. Either an Enduro or a Downhill bike will do. These bikes have large suspension, slack geometry and features such as a dropper post to handle the most technical downhill terrain. Don’t worry if you don’t own a bike like that, most bike parks will offer rental bikes.



ENDURO/DOWNHILL BIKE Canyon Sender


Wear protection

Some bike parks and nearby shops will also offer helmets and protective padding for rent. Riding technical downhill singletracks means you’ll need a bit more protection than the usual trail ride. A full-face helmet is mandatory in many bike parks and a back protector is these days seen as a must have for many riders as well. Additionally, you can wear more padding on your shins, knees and arms. 


Don’t look silly

Wear your padding underneath your clothes and swap the lycra for a loose fitting mountain bike specific kit. Showing up in jeans or wearing pads on top of tight-fitting lycra might just result in stares and laughs from fellow riders.



MOUNTAIN BIKER IN FULL DOWNHILL KIT


Written & Unwritten Rules


Just like riding your local trails, riding a bike park has a few written and unwritten rules. Always check the bike parks guidelines beforehand and follow our tips:


Don’t stop in the middle of the trail

There’s nothing wrong with stopping halfway down the trail, but don’t stop and stand in the middle of it, blocking any oncoming riders. It’s not only annoying for anyone coming your way, it can also be dangerous. Whether you’re assessing the trail ahead or have issues with your bike, move to the side.


Help your fellow mountain bikers

Speaking about issues with your bike, try to help fellow riders when they’re in trouble. Often two pairs of hands make a job easier or you can help by lending out your multitool. If you need help yourself, a good way to attract someone’s attention is by placing your bike upside down. Most mountain bikers are familiar with this sign as a call for help and will gladly assist you.



MOUNTAIN BIKER WITH BIKE PROBLEMS


Give way to other riders

Some people are faster than you, that’s just the way it is. Instead of stubbornly blocking their way, move to the side and let them pass. If you’re planning to pass someone yourself, make sure to do it on a wide part of the trail and let them know where you’ll pass by shouting out “on your right/left!”.  If you’re standing still, give way to the person in motion. Look behind you and let any oncoming mountain bikers pass before you take off yourself. 


Don’t litter

This shouldn’t be a new rule to anyone, yet too many people ignore it. Don’t litter in nature, instead stow any garbage away until you can dispose of it properly. Keeping the trails clean is a responsibility we all share.



CLEAN BIKE PARK


Know Your Limits


Going to a bike park for the first time is an exciting experience, but it is important not to push your boundaries too much. Here are a few things to keep in mind before trying out that black diamond jump line:


Gravity will do all the work, easy!

A big misunderstanding by endurance focused riders is that downhill mountain biking is easy, gravity will do all the work right? In contrast, bike parks can be quite physically demanding. Whether it is braking or keeping your balance, your body has a lot of work to do to stay on the bike. If you’re tired, take a break and munch on a muesli bar while you enjoy the views.


Start easy

Even for experienced bike park goers it’s not recommended to immediately hit that black diamond trail. Try some easier lines first to warm up and increase your confidence.



MULTIPLE LINES AT BIKE PARK


Choose the right line

Talking about lines. Familiarise yourself with the trails at the bike park by checking out their trail map. Green lines are usually the easiest trails, then blue, red and finally black, which is for experts only. A line can also be described as a freeride or technical trail. Freeride means the trail is flowy, there are not many obstacles to hinder your speed. Technical trails have many features such as jumps, drops, rock gardens, etc.


Practise your skills

Riding at a bike park is the perfect opportunity to finetune your skills. Try practising your jumps and drops at your local trails before hitting them at the bike park. Knowing when to brake (and when not) and to look ahead is just as important. If you’re completely new to bike parks, it might be a good idea to take a lesson or two. Experienced coaches will help you get a grip of the basics and boost your confidence. 



COACHING MOUNTAIN BIKER


5 More Quick Tips for any Bike Park

Riding a bike park is incredible fun and with our tips above you should be fully prepared for a thrilling experience. However, here are 5 more quick tips to put the cherry on the cake:


Using the lifts at a bike park

Bringing your bike on the chairlift for the first time can feel overwhelming and puzzling. Adding to the challenge are the various "hook systems'' used for securing bikes on chairlifts. Some require you to place the saddle on two side hooks, while others involve rolling your front wheel onto a rear hook or hooking the front wheel onto the lift's side. Even seasoned riders find all these systems confusing!


Don't hesitate to seek assistance from the lift attendant or the person behind you. Remember, everyone has been a novice at some stage and understands the struggles you may encounter.



BIKE LIFT AT BIKE PARK


Bring spares & tools

Bikes break down from time to time, especially when they get a beating. Be prepared and bring some spares and tools to fix any issue. Things like a spare tube, derailleur hanger, chain, etc. can be a life saver. 


Look up beforehand where you can find a nearby bike shop, as they can also help you out. Most bike parks will have a workshop with experienced mechanics too. 


Maintain your bike

If you’re bringing your own bike it’s important to keep it clean and well-maintained, but even a rental bike can use a check-up once in a while. Before your ride check if everything is in place. Are all the bolts tightened? Does the dropper post work? Did you remember to unlock your suspension? 


A day of shredding at the bike park can be exhausting, but it’s worth it to clean your bike after every ride. Most bike parks have a cleaning station to make it easy for you.



CLEANING YOUR BIKE


Explore further

In many cases the bike park is not the only place in the area with great trails. There might be some trails taking you further into the mountains or valley. It’s nice to have some change of scenery once in a while. Use apps like Komoot to find recommended routes.


Planning ahead

You don’t want to travel half the continent just to find yourself in front of closed gates. It’s important to plan ahead and check things like opening times, accommodation and transport options. Putting some effort into researching the trails can also help you prepare for a great mountain bike getaway. Many bike park websites offer detailed descriptions and some even POV videos.


Ready to explore new mountain bike destinations? Check out our Trail Guides!


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