Your bike should fit you and you’ll need to be familiar with the operation of your shifters and brakes. Most bikes are outfitted with one crankset chainring and 10-12 cogs at the rear wheel. You should also know how to safely remove and replace your wheels in the event you might have a flat tire. Older bikes use a quick-release skewer but all new bikes use a thru-axle attachment system.


You’ll need a few tools and items and the basic knowledge of how to use them. At the very least, a small multi-tool to throw in your hip pack or hydration pack should get you back home if something comes loose during a ride.


  • A helmet in good working order and fits. Use a full-face style if you are planning to focus on enduro, jumping or other gravity-defying thrills.
  • Appropriate clothing for the weather
  • Sunglasses or other eye protection. Dust, branches, etc.
  • Gloves and proper shoes (use short shoelaces to keep them out of your chainring).
  • Water or something to drink.
  • A spare tube that fits your tires, even if you are running tubeless. Things happen!
  • A way to inflate that tube (a pump or co2 inflator that fits the valve on the tube).
  • Tire lever(s) to remove a flat tire.
  • A “multi-tool” to repair or adjust the many bolts and screws on your bike (just in case).

There are plenty of other safety and convenience items that you might consider bringing, tailoring them to suit your ride, e.g., energy snacks, bug spray, a first aid kit, suncreen, etc. It would probably be a good idea to carry the “10 Essentials” if you’re planning on venture at all far into the woods. Here’s what one GORC member prefers to bring for shorter, simpler rides.


Choose a destination that suits your skill level as a new rider. GORC offers descriptions of the local trails. Be sure to check on trail conditions before you leave.



  • Anticipate potential problems. We’ve all had to walk out of the woods at some point.
  • Know the weather forecast. Incoming rain can ruin a ride in a hurry.
  • A smartphone is great to have but it may not always have a signal.
  • Bring a map, even if you’re riding with a buddy. You might get separated.

Having a more experienced rider accompany you might be helpful as you get to know mountain biking. Having a sense of adventure will help you get past some of the tough mental challenges you may encounter along the way. Stay in good spirits if you’re having trouble in spots along the trail. We’ve all had to walk obstacles until we gained enough experience to ride them. There is no shame in walking a tricky section because an injury could potentially keep you off the bike and who wants that!