Monthly must-dos

New Year, new stuff to do. Here are twelve things you should do this year.

Yep, that works out at one a month.

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1. Clear out a trail

We all have that trail – or section of trail – that has gone a bit wrong over time. Maybe the destruction and debris from last year’s crazy winter rains are still messing up the trail’s flow. Take twenty minutes or so to stop and have a go at sorting it all out. Have a think before you head out if you’re likely to need any tools (folding saw/spade, gardening gloves, pruning shears etc).

2. Learn to bleed your disc brakes

We reckon there’s a large percentage of us who are putting up with below-par brakes. You know the sort of thing; a rear brake that needs a couple of lever pumps to firm up. Not a serious enough issue to bother your bike shop with. So it drags on and on. Sort it out. Get yourself a bleed kit and watch a vid on how to bleed your brakes. It’s a essential workshop skill we should all know.

3. Learn to service your fork

Whilst we’re in the workshop… Loads of folk think that a quick routine fork clear out and lube-up is beyond them. So they never do it and their suspension performance nosedives and more often than not it results in permanently damaged suspension that costs a bundle to repair/replace. Rear shocks are even easier.

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4. Go on a ferry ride

In recent years we’ve noticed a boom in ace trail centres situated off the UK mainland (or at least best accessed via a ferry). Northern Ireland is the obvious choice for a long weekend over the water (that’s Rostrevor in the photo above). But there’s also the enduro-racers’ secret Dunoon that involves a quick ferry hop and can be easily included in your annual trip to the 7stanes centres.

5. Go for a ride without recording it

No need to do anything rash like leaving your phone at home (you’ll only end up having a huge mechanical/crash and needing to contact someone). Go for a ride and don’t switch on Strava. Don’t take any Instabangers. Don’t reply to any texts. Just ride and remind yourself why you mountain bike in the first place.

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6. Enter a local race

Local races need your support. They’re usually significantly cheaper than a national enduro series. It’s even worth doing something crazy like entering a trad XC race if it’s on your doorstep. Minimal travel. Minimal time away from home. Family may even be tempted to watch and support/heckle. They may not be technically be ‘fun’ but they’re rarely regretted. Everyone needs their riding mettle tested now and then.

7. Walk or run somewhere you normally ride

This can be good for a few reasons. Firstly, it gives you a new outlook on an overfamiliar area. Secondly, it exercises parts of the body – and mind – that aren’t much touched by mountain biking. Thirdly, you may well stumble across new trails or new ways of putting existing trails together.

8. Do your longest ever ride

Ever done a 50km? How about a 75km? Having a long-distance riding goal is much more exciting than having a race or event as a goal. There are plenty of prescribed and waymarked long-distance routes out there these days if you don’t fancy the task of creating your own and/or want to cut down on navigational hassle during the ride.

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9. Navigate your way around a new route

This could be part of #8 above but it’s worth putting in as its own thing too. Basically, stop just riding trail centres and the same few natural routes you know. Pick a brand new (to you) route and navigate your way around it. In the age of the smartphone, navigating is easier than ever (just keep an eye on your battery life).

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10. Clear out your bike clutter

Take it to a cycle recycle place. Or if you can’t find such a place, find out about your nearest bike jumble and get rid. Someone will be very glad of the parts that are currently just stopping you sorting out your garage/shed/cellar.

11. Sell that old 26in wheel frame

A specific addendum to the above. Get shot of that old 26″ frame/pile-of-bits you have cluttering up the place. You’re never going to fix it up into a hackbike or commuter and ride the thing. You would have done it by now wouldn’t you?

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12. Find your first ever mountain bike

In a complete about-face to the de-cluttering activity mentioned above(!) use next winter’s darker months to trawl eBay or Gumtree etc to find a model of whatever was your first ever proper mountain bike.

You’ll get extra pointlessness points if you’re old enough to look for your first ever BMX.