Mountain biking is about more than euphoric memories. Who could plan – or forget – that sun-cracked rear tube hissing like an enraged rattlesnake, caroming off baby heads into a bramble patch, those beautiful moments of misery. Sometimes, mountain biking is more about elevated heart rates than elevated ridgelines. Preparation makes the mistakes tolerable, the lessons survivable. Consider Active Junky the voice in your ear, one muffled by a righteous helmet.
Being mentally equipped for trailside problems is the difference between a night in the woods and making it home safely. Three things are key to keep in mind:
Stock your iPhone with these apps and your bookshelf with this technical tome for a deeper understanding of both your bike and the places it will take you. Above all, ask questions. Do you know exactly where you’re headed and expected trail time? What about maps, GPS data and trail beta from other riders? At what point will the weather influence your decisions?
Active Junky’s been cross-referencing this 600-illustration volume for years. We’re not alone as this guide is the world’s best-selling book on the topic. Here’s an insider’s tip; buy the book before you get a bike to see what’s involved with each component category including brakes and forks. Over 450 pages of practical ideas make Zinn’s work a must-have from a cycling fanatic who rides and lives the two-wheeled mindset. Anticipate problems but be ready to escape them with some sense of style and artistry thanks to your new best friend Lennard.
Best For: Anyone spending over $100 on a bike
Crowd sourcing turns favorite rides into beta for others with this seminal app. While Strava and others push the competitive element (for individuals and between peers), MMR puts it to the pedal without all the meddle (meaning, comparison). Under Armour bought this company so look for more integration between imbedded apparel biometrics and workouts. Employ the same technology if you’re a runner or hiker to improve your trail IQ.
Best For: Beginners and immediate riders, travel to new areas
Download Map My Ride:
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Close to 100,000 personal weather stations feed this app with one of the most interactive mobile weather maps (WunderMap). Going well beyond airport and TV station data, WU helps track storms in addition to providing instant notification of local conditions. Active Junky appreciates the locally-gathered data approach but uses this one in tandem with more traditional methods to assemble a three-dimensional view. That said, having a friend on the ground is a solid idea that’s appless but not hapless.
Best For: Combining with other sources before remote or extended rides
Download Weather Underground:
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Ripping down a rocky aspen-lined trail, chasing friends while the sun sets at light speed. Topping out after a grueling climb with a silent, peaceful vista of an alpine lake below. We ride to replicate these moments every time we turn over the pedals.
In reality, challenges and obstacles define our two-wheeled life more than perfect GoPro edits. Making the walk of shame back to the trailhead with our taillight between our legs is among the most defining moments.
Brain. Body. Gear. Three elements that make for a faster, stronger start to your 2015 mountain biking season.