Recommended Riding Gear:
100 Level – Boots, Gloves, Eye Protection, Helmet. This is the bare minimum. Your body will have no protection if you fall or come into contact with the bars. Few to no riders ride at this level off-road.
200 Level – The above plus – Jacket or riding jersey and riding pants. The jacket and pants will provide you some abrasion resistance if you come into contact with the dirt or road at speed. Little to no protection with a hard collision with surfaces or handlebars. Big bike riders may choose this level based on their terrain selection. Oftentimes Jackets and Pants come with padding/ D30 which may help some.
300 Level – The above plus – Chest protector (Chest, Shoulder and Back protection), Knee or Elbow guards, Reinforced gloves, Kidney Belts and dust protection. Most people ride at this level for extended off-road travel. Good protection, relative comfort, and moveability.
400 Level – The above plus – Neck braces, Knee brace riding gear (Carbon helmets I would group in this). The best class to be in upon financial barrier to entry.
Buy the gear you want to wear and is comfortable for you. The worst crashes I’ve had were bad because I wasn’t wearing the proper gear. Jeans offer little to no protection which is why riding pants are in the 200 level class. There are excellent options for riding gear for even the sub $100 club. The noobs event even offers a used gear flea market. If you’re planning on landing on your head then get a neck brace. Knee braces are for those who need them. There are a lot of options out there for good gear and just because its a good option for one person doesn’t mean it works for you. Goggles, a full face helmet, and a chest protector also protect you against roost and flying rocks at a speed which hurt.
Rider Tips, Bike Set Up, Safe Riding:
1. Know your abilities and comfort level of riding. Rocks and sand are part of just about every non-paved road/track in the desert. Research the area, find the places you want to see, talk to other riders.
2. Proper bike set up for riding in the desert is important. This is something that finds many riders get stranded or hurt for all the wrong reasons. The topic can be debated endlessly regarding do’s and don’ts. If you are joining a ride with a designated ride leader and sweep, the leader and or sweep should check over your bike prior to the ride. If they are not comfortable with your set up, be prepared to not be part of their ride. Here are some pretty basic things to address:
– Your bike is in good running condition, the “desert” is the wrong place to bring a bike that may or may not get you back to camp.
– Lay your bike on the ground and be sure you can pick it up on your own.
– Tires in good condition; whether you are riding all pavement or the most difficult trails.
– Know your bike’s fuel range. Lots of riders carry additional fuel on their bikes.
– Carry the appropriate tools to address potential problems on the trail. Most bikes have specific tool kits related to the bike … always have them. No need to bring the whole toolbox from your garage or truck.
– Carry tire irons and some kind of pump. Know how to fix a flat tire.
– Make sure you have a spare tube and patch kit with you. Better yet, carry two. Even if you have tubeless tires, a plug is not going to help you if a rock slashes your side wall.
– Leave your panniers in camp; they make great ice chests. Everything noted above, fuel, tools, tubes can easily be carried in a backpack, tail bag or under the seat. There are only bad things that can happen when riding off-road with “adventure” panniers.
3. Safe riding is your biggest responsibility. Following the guidelines from the previous notes/points is a good start, however, there are some basic safe riding points to consider:
– Try to ride in a group and have a ride plan. If you are going to ride alone, make sure someone in camp is aware of where you are going and when you expect to be back.
– Follow basic group ride etiquette; maintain a safe distance between riders, stop at turns/forks/intersections and make sure rider behind you follows.
– Always have water and snacks with you at all times.
– Carry a basic first aid kit
There are lots of very experienced riders who attend this event and can be very helpful to address all the above points. Keep in mind there are lots of opinions and preferences to ALL, so gather the information and advice best suited to you.