Ashton Court, Bristol. Photo: Russell Burton

8 ways to make the best of isolation

As a bunch who love nothing more than being out in the hills, having to stay inside is tough. But you can get grumpy about it, or you can use all this extra free time to your advantage. Here are 8 things we plan on doing...

1. Rediscover the local (just take it easy)

If you’re someone who sees themselves as a hardcore trail, enduro or downhill rider, then chances are, like us, you often jump in the car or van and head for the nearest trail centre or bike park to go riding. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it can mean that what’s on your doorstep gets overlooked. Sure, we’re not all lucky enough to live within reach of proper trails, but most of us at least can pedal to some sort of green space. Given that we shouldn’t be pushing the limits or taking risks right now, it’s time to shift gears and find the fun in a different sort of riding – think exercise, not adrenaline rush. You never know, you might even come out of this fitter than you were before!

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Stop yourself going stir crazy by heading out the door for a quick blast, but ride sensibly and stick to wide, safe trails – the NHS has enough to do right now without having to patch you back up. Photo: Russell Burton

2. Introduce the person you live with to bike riding

We can’t hang out with our usual riding buddies right now, so if you live with a housemate or other half who doesn’t ride bikes, why not show them what they’re missing? Lend them your other bike or fix up that old wreck in the garage and get them to join you on your daily permitted exercise ride. You may find the pace a bit slow, but chances are if they’re not a cyclist they’ll get a lot out of it.

Show someone the joy of riding. But remember, no one from outside the home, no groups bigger than two and no gnarliness! Photo: Russell Burton

3. Build some home bike storage

Forever squeezing past a stack of bikes in your hallway or battling to open the shed door? Why not install some storage to organise your fleet. There are lots of off-the-shelf solutions available, or if you’ve got some materials knocking about and a bit of DIY know-how, you can try building your own.

4. Backyard jam

The space to build a pump track or dirt jumps in your back garden is a luxury that few of us are afforded, but even a patch of grass or a concrete yard is enough to have fun on. You’re never too old to muck about, and even some of the world’s best are resorting to planks of wood and garden chairs right now to hone their bike handling.

5. Get some gains

Gym buffs always talks about ‘gains’ (aka improvements) but since we’ve not got access to the gym or much in the way of training facilities right now, it’s time to bring the gym to the living room. With the current health crisis, a lot of MTB coaches or trainers have produced videos detailing cycling-specific home workouts that can be done with minimal equipment. Why not experiment with one and try building it into your daily routine? At the very least it should prevent you becoming a couch potato, and you can focus on some specific weaknesses to tackle before getting back onto the dirt.

6. Give your bike a big overhaul

We’re as guilty as anyone at procrastinating when it comes to bike maintenance. There are always jobs we know we should do – like changing the bearings in the squeaky pedal that’s been driving us mad for the past month. Well, now what are you waiting for? Being confined to four walls is an excellent excuse to strip your bike down and give it the full once-over. It’ll thank you for it and you’ll be amazed how much better it feels to ride afterwards. Our Grimetime section in MBUK has step-by-step walkthroughs of different procedures each month. If you’ve never bled a brake or serviced a fork before, then why not have a go?

Give your bike some TLC. Photo: Jonny Ashelford

7. Stretch!

This is something that pretty much every mountain biker could do more of. Cyclists have chronically tight hips and hamstrings, and squeezing a ride into our busy schedules invariably means we dive straight into it with little warm-up and slump on the sofa when we’re done. Take five minutes to treat ya body right.

8. Plan your next adventure

Who know how long we’re going to be locked down for, but instead of letting enthusiasm dwindle away, use the time to start planning your next big bike adventure. It may be unwise to start booking anything just yet, but pick some destinations, plan some routes or create a tick-list of spots you want to hit when all this has blown over. Watch some great videos to get inspired.

And one extra one – subscribe to MBUK!

We’re still working to bring you the mag each month (albeit at home, in our pants) so don’t worry about your source of riding inspiration and advice drying up. Given that access to shops is limited, we’ve got a couple of great money-saving offers for you. You can get the next 3 issues delivered to your door, without signing up for any Direct Debit. Or, if you’d like to subscribe, then we can offer you an even better deal, with the next 6 issues for just £9.99.

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Click here for both deals!