If you haven’t ridden in the jungle, you haven’t seen anything yet!
You are about to ride into the jungle, a great adventure lies ahead. What do you need to enjoy this experience to the fullest and to not return dehydrated and fed up?
We, here at Elite Cyclery Tours and Bike Rental and MTB Cancun & Riviera Maya do what is known as XC or Cross-Country. We love adventures and the jungle always offers us a lot of challenges and surprises. Discovering new places lost in the jungle, Mayan Ruins, having fun in cenotes, small communities, lakes and beaches.
But riding in the jungle is a different challenge than any other MTB ride you’re maybe used to. We have to cope with, among others, the always growing jungle, the animals, the insects, the poisonous plants, the technical roads and the immense heat and humidity……
As we want you to enjoy it as much as we do, we would like to give you a few pointers.
(Note: Never go riding in the jungle by yourself or without anyone knowing the roads. Our trails are not signaled and it is very easy to get lost here in the jungle)
Using the proper equipment in any sport is vital and mountain biking is no exception. Being a high-risk sport, it is important to practice within the necessary safety standards, not to endanger our lives and those of others.
1. – Your Partner in Crime
The truth is that any bike that is for MOUNTAIN (All Terrain) is good while it’s in good shape, lubricated and adjusted. Sure, there are some that would yield better than others. Bikes with front and rear suspension or with just front suspension, both work perfect, 26 ” and 29″. But if you are to buy one, the truth is that for our types of trails, filled with stones, the 29 ” is better suited. Also better to go for aluminum then carbon fiber. An aluminum bike is more resistant to all the stones, hits and vibrations from our trails here in Quintana Roo.
The rest-hands or horns are not recommended if you’re going to get into difficult and narrow trails. They can be dangerous as in narrow trails you can get stuck behind trees or plants and make a nice forward flip. But on longer less complicated distances it can be very comfortable. It is up to you what you prefer!.
Treat your bike nice. It’s your partner in crime. Bring it to service once in a while. Give it a basic or full service, lubrication, adjust the spokes, brakes, gears and a good cleaning, so you can use it without any problems. We keep our bike locked inside. First it is safer and second it is more protected against our climate of humidity and salty sea air.
2. – Helmet (MANDATORY)
The helmet is the most important safety item on a mountain bike.
It is our lifeline on the bike and not using it is the biggest mistake we can make. Don’t use just any helmet, use one specifically for biking. Also, it is not enough to just put it on your head, the helmet must be properly placed and adjusted to your head.
You never know when you’re going down, even the most experienced biker goes down from time to time. There are 2 types of bikers; the ones who are going to fall and the ones already fallen down.
3. – Gloves (MUST HAVE)
Many are just too lazy for using gloves in MTB, but the truth is that the gloves are important because they protect our hands from the falls that we suffer. Plus the sweat causes the handlebars to become slippery and will make it more difficult to have a good grip on your bike. Here at the Riviera Maya, gloves are really a must have.
Use full gloves, not half gloves because it means sooner or later you’re going to leave fingerprints on the ground.
4. – Clothing
You can wear any kind of clothes, except pants or jeans!! That will be very uncomfortable and will get stuck in the bike and lead to a mega madrazo as we say here…(a huge crash)
Bike shorts are essential as they are specially manufactured to allow efficient pedaling, and protect against bumps to the frame and the seat of the bike.
As extra protection against the sun or tree branches, which can mess up your arms and legs, and not to forget the poisonous plants, you can use a full length cycling short.
Don’t wear any underwear beneath your cycling short, because of the friction this will not make you happy.
Using specially made sports clothing gives us a considerable advantage over the climate conditions and our physical wear down. Sweaters or shirts made of lycra are more absorbent.
5. – Shoes
Any type of shoe is good, I mean tennis, don’t show up in cowboy boots or patent leather shoes.
If using normal pedals, you will just need normal tennis. No problem. But they are not the most efficient option. You will spend a lot of extra energy pedaling like crazy. On rides with many stones or more technical ones, your legs will be flying in all directions…. you will get a few hits against your shin and heel. So if you only have normal pedals and tennis….Good Luck!
The toe clip is no more than a plastic shell which prevents the foot from slipping forward or sideways thereby preventing the shin and heel hits. However if you don’t put it on, it will go dragging over the road. When this happens, the shell will not have a long life. It is also uncomfortable trying to get your foot into the shell as it always goes down and it can take time to get in your foot correctly.
Another option and for many the best, is the clip-in. It allows the rider to become one with the bike and increase overall pedaling efficiency because when riding you push and pull your legs and use the force correctly from your feet and legs.
It does need some practice to clip in and out. Especially the out! It has to become automatic. The first few times you will see the ground from close by a few times. But just keep practicing and later you will see how many advantages it has and you will not understand how other people do it without!. For in the Riviera Maya we recommend more flexible mountain bike shoe, as we sometimes also have to do some walking to arrive at hidden cenotes or climb Mayan Ruins.
Note: for new-bees; first ride with tennis and normal pedals to get a feel of the bike and the control, before starting with the clips.
3 – Glasses
To protect your eyes from branches and insects. In the jungle transparent glasses are the best, as there is shade, sun , trees, rocks…with normal sunglasses you will not see that well. All glasses must be of anti-splintering mica and have a removable bridge (sports type). Lenses should not be glass or metal frame or crystals with screws… or else…bye bye eyes!.
4 – Tools and parts
There are certain things you can’t do without. Like spare parts and tools needed to make repairs in the jungle, being in the middle of nowhere. It beats having to walk pushing the bike for miles under the hot sun, rain or muddy roads full of ticks!.
• Extra inner tube. I recommend you use self-sealing cameras and tapes that protect the tire from punctures. But always bring an extra tube, here in the jungle with all the branches, thorns and stones you may be needing one.
• Tire levers and patch kit. Always check the inside the tire for thorns before placing back the tube.
• Sticky contact patches. Those who do not require glue, although the ones using glue are more reliable and safe, but are bulk.
• Air pump. If you bring all the necessary tools to repair a flat tire but do not have a pump, you’re toast. Some use CO2 cartridges. But these are completely anti-ecological, and also more expensive than buying a good pump.
• Zip ties, you never know what kind of repair have to do my dear McGuiver.
• Duct Tape, same as with the plastic zip ties
• Paper money (Yes, you read that right). Try to bring with you a note because paper money is tough and it can serve in the event that your tire has a hole in it through which the inner tube is coming out. Place it inside the rim. This will help you return to your car or home. Obviously, bring more money for any emergency not just for repairing tires.
• Flashlight: of course when you do a night ride you need light, but also comes in handy exploring caves and cenotes.
• A Basic Tool Kit you can get at most Bicycle specialty stores. This contains the most basic tools for small repairs.
• First Aid kit. Hopefully you never have to use it. A good first aid kid should have: Band-Aids, alcohol, bandages or dressings, analgesics, and if you can get some ointment or something for bee or wasp stings, and to take away the ticks.
In most routes here there is no cell signal or nextel, so from experience we recommend to take with you the basics to get out of any trouble.
5. – Food & Water
One of the great evils is running out of water. Or if you left home at 5 or 6 in the morning without breakfast and it is now 11 or 12 noon… your stomach starts to creak, you urgently need some tacos or cochinita and you begin to see your riding partner as a rotisserie chicken on a bike….
Just a water bottle is not enough! You need a hydra pack. The heat is immense and humidity is very very high. Besides our bottle, we bring hydra packs of 2 or 3 liters.
For food, something light, rich in carbohydrates and sugar. It is necessary that your body replenish some calories burned during the tour. Granola bars, an apple, banana, or any fruit and nuts are perfect. Also olives are a good choice.
6 – Hydra Packs
Already mentioned before, but really important to be stressed again. “no, I don’t need it. Just a bottle is enough”. Until you are riding in the jungle, in the humidity. Within 1 hour your bottle is empty and no convenient store around the corner of the tree….
Also in the hydra pack you can take some of your tools and food.
So, now you are prepared and ready to go off into the jungle. It’s amazing.