There are a lot of ways to improve mountain bike safety. Some will argue, including myself, that wearing a helmet is the single most important step you can take. However, the second most important step should never be overlooked; you should always ride in control.
Riding in control not only helps prevent crashes, it keeps others on the trail safe as well. When you ride out of control, you lose the ability to adjust to the terrain and environment as you pass through it. This can and does lead to dangerous crashes and injury to yourself and others.
Mountain biking is inherently dangerous and we all like to push the limits sometimes, but there is a fine line between pushing the limits safely and pushing them recklessly.
Follow these steps to stay safe on the trails and on the right side of the danger line.
Always wear a helmet and any other appropriate safety equipment for the riding conditions.
Never Ride Beyond Your Abilities
There is no shame in walking sections of the trail you don't feel confident enough to ride, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
Use Appropriate Equipment for the Terrain
Some bikes are better for different situations. Just because you can see tire tracks, doesn't mean you can ride it with your bike.
Keep Your Speed In Check
Always keep your speed at a level that will allow you to adjust to any unforeseen obstacles or changes in trail conditions.
Know The Trail
Never push the limits on a trail you are not familiar with. You need to get to know the trail you are riding at slower speeds before you can ride it like the trails you're used to.
Slow Down for Blind Corners
You never know what or who is around a corner when you can't see past it.
Stop and Look
Stop and look at sections of the trail that look like they may pose a challenge before you ride them.
Plan on the Crash
Always look at the consequences of crashing in a particular section or on a particular stunt before trying to ride through it. Sometimes a section can look easy to ride but can have deadly consequences to a crash.
Start Small, Go Big
Work your way up to obstacles and stunts. Find ways to practice moves in less difficult and dangerous situations or at lower speeds before committing yourself to something more dangerous.
Play It Smart
If you think what you are doing is not the smartest, you are probably right. Think about what you are doing and trust your instincts.