Mountain biking has gained in popularity in recent years, especially here in the High Desert. It’s easy to understand why. There is a lot of natural beauty in the desert, along with easy access to trails, hills and yes, even mountains.

Here are five tips or things to remember when participating in mountain biking here in the region:

  1. There are great trails and trail systems in the Victor Valley and throughout the High Desert. There is a wide range of trails for all skill levels, and plenty of scenic beauty to enjoy. Bell Mountain and Sycamore Rocks in Apple Valley and Honda Valley in Hesperia are the heart of mountain bike riding in the High Desert. However, none of those three is official, open-to-the-public, riding areas. Most trails in this area weave between public, Bureau of Lang Management land and private property. There are some very well-known, established trails that may actually have you trespassing if you use them, though I’ve never heard of anyone being ticketed or arrested for riding a bicycle. Highway 173 from Hesperia to Lake Arrowhead is an exception. It can be ridden on a mountain bike, but it’s also technically an open highway so anyone can use it. That includes trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and horses.

  2. Big Bear is an amazing place to ride, and not far. It’s true mountain biking. The area is filled with specific mountain bike trails and hiking trails which openly allow bikes. Snow Summit has downhill riding in the summer time, with a chairlift to the top and bike rentals. It makes for a full day of riding. Planners are working on a long-term goal of a cross country trail system that will surround the lake. The Skyline Trail and Pink Knot trails are amazing true mountain bike rides. On the north side of the lake, Grays Peak Trail is open for bikes and is a challenging climb and enjoyable downhill.

  3. Stay safe. Drink plenty of water, and bring extra water. Know your skill level and stay within it. Be careful and prepared when you plan to push your limits. Have a safety plan and plenty of tools and a fully charged cell phone for emergencies. Stay on established trails and avoid getting lost. The good news about desert mountain biking is the visibility. You may get off the trail, but it’s usually pretty easy to reorient yourself to get home. Be cautious of the wild critters out there. Yes, there ares rattlesnakes but loose dogs can be more dangerous.

  4. Join a group. Facebook has several riding groups specifically for the High Desert. Strava is a competitive mapping route. It compares times of everyone that’s ridden matching routes or segments. It offers the opportunity to show off your improvement, and see how bad your friend just beat you. Strava is also good just for finding well ridden trails. Try checking in at your local bike shop. Most bike shop owners know who rides where and when.

  5. It’s not about the bike. Don’t go gear crazy, but get the best bike that suits your needs. Too often I see people riding inexpensive bicycles with lots of poorly made fancy options. I’d recommend most riders in the desert spend at least $1,500 -$2,000 on your second bike. Ride every day for a year and you’ll learn what features you want and what type of bike will suit your riding style. A beginning cyclist should concentrate on a simple and conservative bike, in the $600-$900 range. Then choose your long-term bike based on how you ride, not what’s trendy or in fashion. Its also very easy to overspend on a fancy bike that sits in a garage 350 days. Also, make sure to get a helmet.

Source: James Quigg, Daily Press