How to maximise your MTB trail time

Are you a serial procrastinator? Here’s how to reduce mucking about and get more time on the trails.
By Ric McLaughlin

You know what it’s like: you were supposed to meet your mates to go riding 30 minutes ago even though your bike is still lying in pieces and you’ve no idea where your other Five Ten shoe is.

Some people are born with the faff, others develop it, while others can even contract it or be caught up in somebody else's faff. Whatever kind of mountain biker you are, the faff is strong and pre-ride procrastination can ruin a ride before it's even begun. Here are some tips to help you conquer it.

1. Stay on top of your bike maintenance 

Åre Bike Park in Sweden
Biking mad © Mattias Fredriksson

Ride it, wash it, put it away. That should be your mantra. Admittedly, at this time of year it’s the second aspect of that particular holy trinity which is a tough pill to swallow, but stick with it and your bike is always ready to go. Rinse, clean, rinse again and give the chain a quick dry and lube. Done.

Keeping your bike clean means that mechanical wear-and-tear is less likely to wreak havoc on a ride, but more importantly, it also means that once you’ve got your riding kit in a pile, you can leave the house unhindered and without any nasty surprises awaiting you in the shed.

2. Box it up

Photographer George Marshall's tools and headtorch for the Trans Continental Race 2016.
Multitools and headtorches come in handy © George Marshall/Red Bull Content Pool

Buy yourself a large stackable plastic storage box and say hello to an easier life. Use it to store some basic tools, a spare tube and a pump, along with your helmet, riding shoes and pack if you use one. A multipack of snacks is a worthwhile addition, too. 

Now all you need to do is throw in whatever kit you’re planning on riding in the night before you head off, and you’re sorted. Now everything is in one easily transported place and your car is saved from the inevitable filth splatter.

3. Make time for mechanicals

The Scott MTB team mechainic prepares the tyres on Brendan Fairclough's Gambler MTB in Leogang on June 9, 2016
Fairclough's mechanic cutting down tyre spikes © Nathan Hughes

Got some new tubeless tyres? Want to try them out on the next big group ride? It’ll only take ten minutes to install them – that's the common lie every rider tells themselves, and it always takes longer than that. Working on your bike and doing things properly takes time, so don’t try and bodge a job as you'll only end up wasting precious riding time.

Doing stuff the night before a ride can always feel impossible when all you want to do is sit on the sofa, but trust us, it's a lot easier than removing LaTeX sealant from your inner ear at 7am.

4. Turn up early 

Remy Metailler and his bike are transported up to the trail in Squamish
Leave nothing to chance © Nathan Hughes

Collecting a mate on the way to riding? Get there early. You may have vanquished the faff, but that doesn’t mean that they will have. If the worst comes to the worst, you can have a cup of coffee while you're waiting, but be prepared to talk them out of fitting a new chain device or headset.

5. Say no to stopping

Oso Negro coffee shop in Nelson, British Columbia, a popular hangout for mountain bikers
Anyone for coffee? © Mattias Fredriksson

You’ve made it as far as the van or car and you’ve managed to leave the house. But you’re still not outside the faff’s time-sapping grasp just yet. Food and hot beverages can be the biggest deviation between you and the trails, so resist the urge to take an unscheduled break if your riding partner hasn't found time for breakfast and take an extra snack to help see them through.

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