Reasons to Skip a Ride That You Should Not Ignore

By Martin Atanasov

Skipping a ride in MTB culture is often perceived as a fate worse than death. However, sometimes skipping a ride is the best thing to do. You know, going down a trail or climbing an absurdly steep pick should be fun. It should be your happy time (God knows how). So, doing it, regardless of anything, is just overkill and bordering obsession. That’s not healthy.

So, sometimes it’s OK to say “No,” especially if you have one of these six good reasons.

1. You have pain

I’m not your dad, and I won’t tell you to walk it off. Mostly because I do have some basic knowledge of how the human body functions, and if you feel pain, that’s a sign that something is not OK. Most often, through pain, your body is not-so-gently reminding you that if you continue doing the wrong things, you will end up with a serious injury. So, having severe knee pain, ignoring it, and going for a ride anyway is like doing deadlifts when your lower back is killing you.

Simply ignoring your pain may lead to significantly severe consequences, which may ruin not only your season but your life as well. So, skipping a ride when you have some pain is completely justified. After all, going for a ride in the mountains should be fun, not a torture. It’s much better to give your pain the attention it deserves, fix the problem, and go for a ride rather than risk the entire season.

2. You are sick

Speaking of not feeling well, you must also avoid going out for a ride when you are sick. Going on the trails with a fever or coughing like you recently got tuberculosis doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you a biohazard. You little bioweapon, you.

Yes, some fresh air will probably do you good, but still, when the doctors give this advice, they continue with “and have a lot of rest.” Your body is working hard enough to get rid of the virus, and pushing your heartbeat to 170 bpm is definitely not helping. Moreover, depending on the virus, your respiratory system will be in enough agony without climbing a 15% gradient.

More importantly, however, you can, and most probably will, spread the virus if you ride with others. Breathing heavily, sweating, and laughing at others will inevitably spread the virus.

So, if you are feeling under the weather, it would be much better to skip a ride and get well sooner rather than get out, spread the virus, and complicate your own situation.

3. Severe weather forecast

When riding a bike, the weather is one of those things you can’t really control. Still, you can always see the forecast and plan accordingly. While rain, snow, or cold are definitely not good reasons to skip a ride, some more severe weather conditions are. For example, going out in a thunderstorm, regardless of whether you are riding a bike or just going on a walk, is madness. Moreover, if the forecast suggests heavy rains, hailstorms, or extreme winds, staying at home is not just preferable but a must. Imagine riding your bike during a hurricane. A gust of wind can literally blow you away from the track during a jump.

There is no reason to risk your life so pointlessly. Just skip this particular ride and wait for at least somewhat acceptable weather conditions.

Cycling in storm
Consider skipping the ride when there’s a risk of a thunderstorm. © Profimedia

4. The trail is too dangerous

Speaking of extreme weather, it can often lead to poor and dangerous trails. There are many such trails in the Alps, where sudden bad weather may lead to snowfall at high altitudes, making some trails unrideable. Adding snow on otherwise slippery terrain is a recipe for disaster. But that’s not all. Many trails go through areas prone to landfalls. Needless to say, going there just after heavy rains or storms is not the best idea, as landfalls may occur even after several days. Though the surface is dry enough for you to enjoy, beneath the soil, the erosion processes can unfold for days before a fatal landfall occurs.

So, is there a reason to risk it? Just wait for a few days after a storm, and hopefully, everything will be OK. If you can’t wait, find a place that’s not prone to landfalls and has solid rocks. Or just go to a bike park, where the trail is maintained and checked constantly. If there are no such places nearby, just skip the ride. The risk is not worth it.

5. You notice a problem with your bike

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people go to the trails with bikes in dire conditions. I have no idea what can bring you up a dangerous track with a bike with a sizable crack on the frame, fixed with duct tape, but I’ve seen it. That is an extreme example, of course, but quite often MTB riders go on a ride with some serious problems, like having their brake pads worn out, their chain not lubed, or even their shock absorber squeaking like it’s dying.

I agree these are stupid reasons to miss a ride, but for God’s sake, fix your bike before heading out to the mountain. It doesn’t take ages. If you don’t have enough time to do it, just skip the ride, fix your bike, and be ready for the next one. Going on a track with a bike that’s barely holding together endangers you and everyone using the same track. So, be considered and check your bike after each ride, not before it. This way, you will have enough time to act if there is a critical problem with your beloved.

6. You feel it like a chore

Finally, we have your mental health. That fragile thing that most people tend to dismiss until it’s too late. When it comes to riding a bike, it most often reflects pretty well on your psyche. It brings you out, meets you with people, and allows you to burn the frustration you’ve generated. However, to be effective, bike rides should not be a chore. If going out to the mountains brings additional stress, and you are doing it because you should and not because you want to, that’s a problem. So, don’t hesitate to just skip a ride if it won’t make you happy.

Riding a bike is for fun, and that’s all it should be. So, skipping a day just because is always a viable option. Something more. Doing things you don’t want to do is reserved for being at work or taking care of your home. In your free time, you should do as you please. And if, for some obscure reason, that’s not riding a bike, well, you do you.