Mountain biking demands balance, strength and stamina
Which bike is right?
Equipment: the right outfit
Mountain biking is not entirely without risks, so the equipment used plays an important role. “The most fundamental piece of equipment is the helmet,” explains Schefer. It needs to fit perfectly, and a pair of biking pants, a shirt and a jacket are also recommended, as are gloves. Anyone who is cycling for prolonged periods should have a drinking bottle and sunglasses handy too, and if the weather is not entirely predictable, it’s also good to take oversleeves and leggings. These provide protection against the morning and evening chill, without making the rider too hot during a climb. In the mountains in particular it can get cold, so clothing needs to be warm and waterproof.
TIP: If you are taking a fast, sporty ride (downhill, cross-country or freeriding), then you should also protect your knees, shins, elbows and lower arms. When it comes to downhill and freeriding, it’s also worth wearing back and chest protectors.
What insurance do I have for my bike?
What sort of protection do I have if I have an accident or someone steals my bike? If the bike is stolen from your house, then your basic home contents insurance will cover it. You will need a corresponding additional module, however, if you want to protect the bike from theft while you’re out and about on it. Anyone wanting additional insurance against damages should conclude a comprehensive insurance policy, i.e. special bike insurance. This is useful in the case of accidents in particular: for example, if the bike is damaged because you hit a rock. It’s particularly worthwhile for valuable bikes.
And what happens if it’s not only the bike, but also the rider who suffers? As a general rule, accident insurance will cover injuries sustained while mountain biking. Nevertheless, this does not release the biker from their own responsibilities, and anyone who thunders down a mountain at excessively high speeds, in very unfavorable weather conditions or with defective brakes is likely to have their benefits reduced.
What insurance do I have for my tricks?
9 tips for safe mountain biking
You should bring a first-aid kit with you in your backpack in case of accidents: This should include a plaster and some wound cream as a minimum.
If you’re heading into remote places or into alpine areas, you should always ride with another person. Don’t forget: Often you won’t have any mobile phone reception.
Take care when you encounter pedestrians or horses. Never brake suddenly, but make your presence known and overtake with caution.
Note: You may encounter dangers along the trail, for example as soon as you see fence posts, there may also be dangerous, hidden wire.
Have your mountain bike checked and maintained regularly by a mechanic. If the bike is not safe to use, any benefits you receive would most likely be reduced in the event of a loss.
A bit of bounce is very important for mountain biking, so you should be sure to have the right suspension. This way, you prevent somersaults, reduce the impact on joints.
The terrain may be dangerous. It’s particularly important to exercise caution, especially on descents and beside rivers and streams: If you’re not sure of the terrain, it’s best to dismount and walk.
Be sure to wear a well-fitting helmet and gloves.
- Mobile phone
This is another important item you should always have with you for emergencies. Exchange numbers with the other participants and save emergency contacts.
Interview with Daniel Schefer, Swiss Bike School
Three questions to Daniel Schefer:
We learn to ride a bike when we’re children, of course, so what’s the purpose of the bike school?
It’s true that you learn to ride a bike in school, yes, but there the focus is primarily on how to behave in traffic. Our courses cover the technical demands of mountain biking as a sport: Participants learn to position their weight correctly, to brake in the right way, to ride safely down steps, to do an emergency stop on gravel and to jump over barriers. The courses are staggered for different levels, from nervous beginners who have just bought a bike to experienced cyclists who want to keep learning new things. By the way, there are also courses for women with a more relaxed approach and more chats about fashion accessories (laughs).
“License to bike”: Do people need a license to bike?
After the course, participants receive a certificate with a “license to bike”. This isn’t an official certificate, but rather a personal record of achievement. On top of this, the Swiss Bike School also trains people to become cycling instructors.
Do you have any other tips for mountain bikers?
Use the bike to keep discovering new things. Personally, for example, I don’t have a favorite route or a favorite holiday destination, but rather I keep heading off to discover new routes, areas and cultures. Last winter, for example, I spent three months in New Zealand. My recommendation? Don’t bike alone, particularly in mountain regions and in valleys with no mobile phone reception, for example in remote parts of Engadin. If you ever do have to go out cycling on your own, then be sure to take the necessary technical equipment. Connect your mobile phone to GPS and add an alarm function, so that an alarm is triggered via the GPS if you have an accident. Nevertheless, cycling with a friend is not only safer, but also more fun.