When the leaves change, so can workouts

When fall arrives, athletes may be tempted to change the setting of outdoor workouts to more colorful and challenging terrain. Although this will add a new and more exciting element to any fitness regimen, it deserves caution.

Typically, biking, running and hiking are most suitable for an off-road experience.

Trail Biking Safety

Equipment: Road bikes are not well-suited for trail cycling. Mountain bikes are equipped with wide, densely treaded tires that are able to grip rugged terrain. The gearing of a mountain bike is also unique and allows for steep climbs and descents. The braking systems and handlebar grips are also safely positioned.

Protective clothing: Helmets are always imperative when cycling to avoid catastrophic injury — even the most experienced mountain bikers wear helmets. Other protective clothing includes gloves, elbow and knee pads. The rule in off-road cycling is that falling should be expected as part of the experience. Brightly colored clothing is also advisable when riding in areas that may be shared by hunters.

Knowledge: Try to use trails that you are familiar with or study the area on a posted map before entering a wooded area. A compass or GPS device is a wise investment. A cell phone or other communication device is helpful.

Group ride: It is best to travel with others when going off-road, and stay together as a group. This is important from the standpoint of safety as well as adding an aspect of socialization.

Nourishment: Water and energy bars are worth bringing along. Fatigue can be very dangerous and a rider shouldn’t hesitate to take a break for rest and nourishment.

Safety should always be the highest priority in any sport, even when they border on the extreme. Next week we’ll discuss trail running and hiking.

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