* CHAIN, LINKS: It may be too ambitious, but recently I had clipless pedals put on my mountain bike and bought the appropriate biking shoes. The mechanic who installed the pedal cleats to the shoes got right to the point: I'll have to learn how to fall to the left, away from the crankset and rear derailleur. It is much cheaper to crash that way, since you do not have to replace expensive parts as often. It is good advice, something I will keep in mind when trying to keep up with friends on the excellent singletrack at Schaeffer Farms in Montgomery County and at other mountain biking hot spots in the Washington area. The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, which helped develop many of those areas, has filled its schedule with good rides this week, including one for early risers at Schaeffer Farms starting at 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday and one on Thursday at 6:45 p.m. on intermediate terrain at Wakefield Park in Annandale, just off the Beltway. Non-members are welcome. For schedule and directions, visit www.more-mtb.org. Moreover, the Bike Lane Bicycle Shop of Burke will host its "Casual Night Ride" on Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Wakefield. It is a ride geared toward beginners, who will be able to touch up on their technique while covering ground at a slow pace, perfect for the first few times when tightly stuck to the bike on clipless pedals. . . .

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., REI will host "Bicycling Touring: Packing for the Road" at its Fairfax store. Event is free. Call 571-522-6568 or visit www.rei.com for more information. . . .

The 24 Hours of Snowshoe, a mountain biking extravaganza featuring hundreds of relay teams and thousands of fans and held at Snowshoe Mountain Resort close to Marlinton, W. Va., starts on Saturday. For race schedules, directions and to volunteer, visit www.grannygear.com. . . .

The second event in the Cranky Monkey Mountain Bike Race Series, a dirt criterium (riding as many laps as you can within a given time, plus an extra lap) on a 1 to 11/2-mile loop, will be held at Wakefield Park on June 27. Check-in starts at 7 a.m. To register, visit http://www.ex2adventures.com/tcm/

index.html.

* SPLASHFEST: The Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival, highlighted by the Tim Gavin Downriver Race and Rodeo, will be held on Saturday. The event starts at 7 a.m. with a two-hour river cleanup. The downriver race, which starts at 11 a.m., covers about six miles on Class I to Class III (easy to intermediate) whitewater beginning on the Shenandoah River and finishing on the Potomac. The playboater rodeo kicks off at 1 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.harpersferryoutdoorfestival.org.

* A FUND TIME: The Potomac Conservancy will host a fundraiser on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Whitlow's on Wilson, 2854 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. To reserve a spot, e-mail Jen Schill at schill@potomac.org. For more information, visit www.potomac.org.

-- John Mullen

mullenj@washpost.com