What to expect on your first MAD spin

So you are joining your first mountain biking spin with MAD and you are wondering what to bring and what to expect.

Well first and foremost, welcome to MAD and we hope you get as hooked on biking as the rest of us are.

The most important thing about biking with the club is to bring a helmet! No helmet, no cycle!

Other protective wear might include knee pads and elbow pads, but these are not essential. Although they may seem essential if you happen to knock your knee off a rock.

A working bike is also essential. This may seem like stating the obvious but it’s worth reminding people to check over their bikes the day before a spin and not the morning of when everyone else is waiting around in the cold for you to finish your emergency repairs.

Bike check list:

  1. Brake pads are not worn out
  2. Brake levers are not bent and are moving freely
  3. Brakes are actually stopping the wheels and there are no hydraulic leaks or brake cables snagging.
  4. Gears are shifting smoothing and you have the full range of gears working.
  5. All bolts are tightened including the stem, seatpost and wheel bolts/ quick release skewers.

What to bring:

  1. We would recommend to bring with you at least 750ml of water per spin (your typical bike bottle size).
  2. An energy bar or piece of fruit is a good idea to keep the energy up.
  3. Spare tube, complete with tyre levers and working pump. Unfortunately punctures are common enough for these to be essential kit.
  4. A small backpack is great for carrying all your gear but if manage to fit all in pockets then work away.
  5. Bring a mobile phone in case of emergencies.
  6. A full first aid kit is probably over kill, but a few sterile wipes are good to have for those little scrapes.


  • At Ticknock and Ballinastoe, biking.ie have a bike hire service. This may be of use to some, but be sure to call them first to make sure they are open on the day of the spin and have bikes available.
  • Pedals: if you have spd pedal and shoes great. If not, don’t worry. Flat pedals will do you just fine. It is a good idea to have shoes with a stiff sole for added comfort when peddling. And the more waterproof your shoes the better.
  • A small multi tool with hex keys /Allen keys is a handy tool to have for adjusting gears and tightening bolts.


  • On cold spins it is a good idea to wear a few thin layers, rather than one thick layer. This means you can remove one layer if too warm and put one back on if it gets cold again. Temperatures can really vary depending on whether you are on the windy side of the hill or not.
  • Gloves are a good idea, especially on a winter spin. Just be sure that you can still grip your brake levers through your gloves, i.e. make sure your gloves are not too thick.
  • Avoid wearing cotton as this soaks up water rather than wicking it away. Polyester, or even better, merino wool jerseys are great for mountain biking.
  • Spare rain jacket in a backpack is always a great thing to have, especially if the weather turns cold and wet. If you have a foldable rain jacket that will fit in your back pocket than all the better.
  • Padded cycling shorts are a great step up in comfort if you have never worn them cycling before. But if you don’t have any, don’t worry, normal shorts or tights will do for now. Trousers are not great as they can snag in your chain or pedal.

What to expect

Well on a typical MAD introductory spin, we all meet at the carpark 10 or 20 minutes before the spin start time. This gives the club members a chance to chat with everyone about bike technique, mountain code and to check over every body’s bike for obvious dangers. However, it is every riders responsibility to ensure that their bike is in good condition and safe to ride.

We then set off, preferably in small groups but this depends on the amount of experienced members on hand to lead out groups. For beginner spins we will stick to less technical trails and maybe just do a half loop of our usual trails.

Our main aim to introduce the wonders of mountain biking to as many people as possible. But we also do our best to help everyone improve their bike technique and increase confidence on the trails with all our Intro spins.

What NOT to bring

We recommend that anyone partaking in Intro spins be aware that this is mountain biking and trails can be bumpy. This means ensuring your bike is as light as it can be, so leave those locks, chains, bike lights (unless it’s a night spin of course), kick stands and child seats at home please.


While we take every care to ensure that people are not riding trails beyond their ability, it is up to every individual rider to judge for themselves if a section of trail is beyond them. There is absolutely no shame in walking any part of any trail. The last thing we want is push anyone beyond their comfort zone. But don’t worry, mountain biking is normally a safe and very fun sport and it quickly becomes addictive. Just ask any member.

Mountain Code

We will most likely not be the only people out on the hill so always, always either stop and give way to walkers and horse riders, or make sure to give plenty of space when passing. Horses can get spooked by bikes, especially if you are approaching from behind, so just be aware of this. Clubs have worked hard to gain mutual respect among other mountain users, so please don’t ruin it for everyone else.

Enjoy it

The most important point is to have fun. Don’t worry about what you’re not good at, it will all come in time. Just concentrate on staying upright while having fun at the same time.

See you on the trails!

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