Welcome to the TRF
What should I wear when riding green lanes, byways and trails?
While speeds are generally a lot lower on trails than on tarmac, you’re certainly more likely to take a tumble through the course of the day. And, almost guaranteed when starting out. It’s obvious then to think of the basics; a good helmet (with goggles if you prefer), a jacket with back, elbow and shoulder pads, trousers with knee and ideally hip protection, as well as kidney belt to stop your organs jiggling about.
Boots are probably the most important consideration, with it easy to twist an ankle or catch a foot in a rut. Many trail riders as a wear motocross boots, which usually aren’t the comfiest – or waterproof – but they do offer the most protection and are relatively cheap to buy. After that it’s the level to which you’re prepared to compromise for better comfort and waterproofing. Boots such as the Sidi Adventure or Alpinestars Toucan offer a good blend of protection, comfort and waterproofing, but they are expensive to buy. Sometimes a stiff army boot is just as good, and better, than some of the budget options, which can be a false economy.
Most textile riding gear claims to be waterproof, and it often is once the outer layer has soaked through to the waterproof inner, but often it’s much better, and more comfortable, to head out with a cheap set of waterproof overalls or jacket and trousers. Army surplus stores do these for a good price, and it just means that everything underneath stays dry. And if you rip them, they’ve not cost you the earth.
What tools should I carry?
Riding out on the trails can lead to the odd issue, with breakdowns and repairs a possibility. It’s easier to pick up a puncture, break something or for increased wear and tear to take hold. Having the tools to fix a puncture is one of the main concerns. If you’re running tubeless tyres take the necessary plug and pump to get back up and riding again. If your tyres are tubed then tyre levers, a puncture repair kit and even spare tubes are handy. For bikes without a centre stand you’re going to have to improvise. A tyre sealant such as Slime is a handy product to save you the hassle of fixing punctures, and shouldn’t cause handling problems with speeds being so low.
Consider also taking a little pack of cable ties, a spare chain link, a tube of plastic weld and some wire thread for binding things back together. Also consider that if you’re riding through particularly wet terrain, or crossing rivers, then there’s a chance you could flood the bike if you drop it, so that would require tools to take out the spark plugs in order to drain the water. For the novice rider it’s a situation best avoided.