How to Prepare for Winter Mountain Biking Fun

Tips from pro rider and Red Bull Rampage Competitor Mark Matthews

What is the best part of mountain biking in the winter? Well, love it or hate it, if you’re properly prepared it will make your riding experience much more fun. Learn to adapt to the conditions and you’ll have a blast in no time.
Here’s a few tips to get through the dark, cold months:

1.  Ride with a Small Pack

In the winter it’s important to be extra prepared. Getting stuck with a flat tire or injury in snowy conditions is way worse than in the summer. In my riding pack I carry a small pump and tube, hand warmers, a basic first aid kit, and for those longer rides I like to have a warmer drink in my pack (I use a HydroFlask). Winter more than any season is the time to be prepared. If you are Fat Biking in areas with heavier snow, I recommend being extra prepared. Shovels are cheap and should be your bare minimum additional kit, while riding with others is also a very smart choice. Be aware of hiding natural traps too.
2. Dial in your Suspension Setup

The trails can be very slippery and icy this time of year, so you want to maximize the amount of grip you can get on the trails. A small amount of suspension tuning can go a long way. If you ride technical natural trails, you should try playing around with the compression settings on both your fork and rear shock. I’ve found that bringing down the low-speed compression a few clicks will help the bike stick to the trail better. Keep in mind, the difference is not significant, but any little bit helps.

3. Install mud tires and fenders

You wouldn’t leave summer tires on your car in the winter, and the same thing goes for your bike. As already mentioned, you want as much grip as possible. Mud and wet snow can be super fun to rip though but having your front end fly away on you, not so much. A mud specific tire on the front will make a huge difference. For fenders, there’s lots of affordable and easy solutions out there. I personally recommend a MashGuard. It’s surprising how much more pleasant a small fender attached to your fork will make your ride.

4. Invest in quality riding lights.

Night riding doesn’t just make your days longer; it gives you a whole new perspective. You’ll tend to read the trail differently than in the day time, which is why it’s such a fun experience.  I would recommend a light with at least 1200 lumens, then one light should be enough to get you started. For the short winter days, it’s a great way to stay out there. If you can round up a crew of friends, you’ll be surprised how well lit the trails become even on the darkest of night.

Mark Matthews
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Treating Concussions with Physiotherapy

According to Statistics Canada approximately 30,000 hockey players a year suffer a concussion

It’s everywhere.  The talk about concussion. Everyone seems to know someone that has had one or is currently sitting on the sidelines because of one.  

According to Statistics Canada approximately 30,000 hockey players a year suffer a concussion.  Seventy eight percent of all concussions occur during sport. 

What is a concussion? A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. It is a shear stress to the brain tissue caused by rotational or angular forces, direct impact is not required. Some injuries to the brain can cause a loss of consciousness, but most concussions do not. Because of this, some people have concussions and don't realize it. Most symptoms resolve within 7-10 days, however, approximately 30% of the time symptoms persist. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. There are 22 signs and symptoms that can result from concussions, most of us are only aware on average of about 5 or 6.  

Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport, such as football, rugby, soccer. But every concussion injures your brain to some extent. The brain needs time to rest and heal properly. Most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild (mTBI), and people usually recover fully.  

If you are involved in a contact sport it is important to get a baseline test done. Baseline concussion tests give health care professionals a starting point should you sustain a concussion during your season. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function (including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems), as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms. Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a health care professional during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.

Baseline tests consist of a series of clinically validated musculoskeletal, vestibular, balance, proprioceptive and cognitive protocols including; SCAT3, ImPACT and BESS standardized tests. These tests give us valuable objective data so that in the event of a concussion, we know what normal was for the athlete and this helps us in making informed decisions about an individualized treatment path and when to determine the athlete is ready to return to school or sport. 


Think of your brain as you would another body part that you may injure, knee, back, shoulder. Each body part injured needs treatment. The brain needs to be rehabilitated too. Studies show that within an 8 week vestibular and cervical spine rehabilitation program, athletes with symptoms of headache, dizziness and neck pain have a 66% higher rate of return to sport/school (Orthopaedic Division Review-Vol.27 No.2). Certified Athletic Therapists and Physiotherapists are trained to take the patient through a series of validated treatment protocols depending on the flagged areas after a concussion. We look at all the systems that the brain controls and what it is affected by; the neck (cervicogenic), the vestibular system, balance, memory and the oculormotor system (eyes). We are able to focus our treatment on the specific area that is causing your symptoms. For example if we flag an area through your baseline test redone, and through our series of assessment processes with your eyes, we essentially take your eyes to the gym and strengthen them back up. Until all the systems are functioning properly together will you be able to return to your daily life, work, school and play at 100%. 

Here are a few excellent resources online for more detailed concussion information.


Kara Creed is a Certified Athletic Therapist and Nancy Botting is a Sport Physiotherapist. Both are from Physical Edge Physiotherapy - a multidisciplinary sort medicine clinic in Oakville , Ontario.