Run What You Brung

Maybe you’ve never ridden on dirt. Maybe you have no interest in riding dirt. Or maybe you’d love to ride dirt, but live in a place where the closest thing to dirt roads is a pothole-ridden street. If you’re feeling intimidated by riding dirt or struggling to get started, you’re not alone. Instead, you’re where we all been before: at the beginning. We’d like to help get you rolling.

Why dirt?
Introduce your bike to dirt to get a new perspective on your everyday rides. Enjoy miles of low-traffic routes and knowing that the end of the pavement doesn’t mean the end to your ride. Go ahead, let your bike live a little.

Where do I start?
Don’t waste energy worrying about whatever it is that is holding you back. Instead, know that beneath the exterior of every experienced rider is someone who remembers when the mileage of their longest ride didn’t come close to breaking past single digits.

If route-finding intimidates you or you feel held back by lack of fitness, talk to your local bike shop about nearby rail-trails, which tend to be flat, well signed and easy to follow. If you’re nervous heading out alone, check with local mountain bike and road riding groups for ways to connect with riders seeking similar experiences. If you feel like you need a bunch of gear to get started, then you’re in luck, because one of the best parts about riding dirt roads is that you can get started with whatever bike you have.

Tips for your ride

» Wide and low is the way to go. Wider tires with lower pressure offer the grip you need and the comfort you want, making the tires found on most hybrids, cruisers and mountain bikes great for dirt.

» Pamper your bottom line. Padded bike shorts offer extra cushion that may be desirable on rougher surfaces.

» The best part about riding dirt roads and paths is that you can “run what you brung.” So grab your hybrid, cruiser or that bike that’s been sitting in the garage so long you’ve forgotten what color it is, and go have fun.

» Bring extra food and water to keep your energy up and body hydrated.

» Take a chill pill. Maximize control while riding by maintaining a moderate speed and keeping your elbows slightly bent with your arms, shoulders and grip relaxed.

» When it comes to braking, moderation is key. Grabbing a fistful of rear brake can cause the rear tire to skid. Instead, practice gently applying both the front and rear brakes for even, controlled braking.