Mountain biking is one of the most exciting and fulfilling sports out there, but it’s not always easy to get started and build your skills. People who haven’t tried mountain biking but want to experience it no longer have to worry where to start. This guide will show you the basics and have you prepared for what you can expect and what you need on your first ride.
Learn the Basics
When it comes to mountain biking, there are some basic skills that can make your first ride easier and better. First off, there’s something called cornering, which is basically making tight turns. It’s used when it comes to singletrack. When it comes to other types of trails, it’s better to carve the turns. However, cornering is still a valuable skill that should be practiced and improved on every ride.
Floating is another valuable skill that refers to your bike’s ability to ride through and over roots, stumps, ruts, rocks, and drops. Advanced tires and bike suspension is capable of handling anything on the trail, so long as you improve your floating technique.
When it comes to braking, it’s important to remember the amount of momentum you’ll have during a normal ride. The breaks are also generally rather sensitive and powerful. This is all to say that you should always break lightly in order to avoid a crash or falling over.
Come Up with a Training Schedule
Mountain biking isn’t one of the easier sports to train for simply because you need to work on a lot of things to get your stamina and strength up. As well as different types of exercises, rest days are super important. Therefore, it’s essential to come up with a weekly schedule that you stick to.
So, here is an example of a schedule you can use:
- On Mondays, you can go for a hill ride. Hill rides matter because they function as a kind of high intensity interval training routine (or HIIT). Essentially, you have intense bursts of activity when you go uphill, and then you can rest and take it easy going downhill.
- Tuesdays are active rest and technique work. You want to go on short, easy rides, preferably on totally flat terrain. Do some cornering drills and look for ways you can improve your pedaling technique.
- Wednesdays should be of intermediate difficulty. So, you want to go for flat or slightly hilly terrain, roughly medium length rides. A good marker for the required speed on intermediate days is your breath. If you are able to hold a conversation without losing too much of your breath, you’re going at just the right speed.
- Thursdays (like Sundays) are very important. On these days you want to rest your legs completely. Stretch, do some light yoga, massage your muscles (foam rolling is a godsend). Don’t think you can skip these, no matter how fired up you are.
- Firdays are similar to Wednesday, except you want to go for a longer ride.
- Saturdays identical to Wednesdays.
- Sundays – like Thursdays, you want to rest and stretch.
Consider Your Weight
The trick to overcoming even impossible looking obstacles when mountain biking is controlling your weight. Properly distributing and shifting your weight across your bike is key to mastery. For example, when you’re going downhill quickly, you want to move your body as far back onto your seat as you can, shifting your weight behind, stopping your from flying forward.
On the other hand, cycling uphill means shifting your weight forward instead.
There are some obvious dangers that come with biking around hillsides and mountains. No matter how experienced you are, you can always get hurt. So, try to be responsible. Wear helmets, elbow pads, gloves and eyewear. Getting some rougher, tougher clothing can also save you from scrapes and scratches.
You should also keep an eye on your bike. Keep it in tip-top shape. Do some regular maintenance, protect your tires from punctures, and always carry quick-repair tools with you.
Keep Your Speed Up
Speed is safe. This may sound counterintuitive, but when you’re riding up steep hills, hesitation can get you hurt. By accruing speed, you gather momentum that helps you moving forward and cries you over obstacles. Not enough speed means stopping, getting stuck, and losing your balance.
Choose The Right Kind of Bike
There are multiple types of mountain bikes that are all suitable for different types of rides. Choosing high quality mountain bikes is imperative regardless of what type you go for, though. In general, you have your choice between recreational, cross country, trail, enduro, dirt jump, e-mountain, hardtail, and dual suspension bikes.
Each is suited to different trails and specific rider needs, so make sure to research them and find the one that matches you best. Think about what kind of trails you’ll be riding and what your overall goal with mountain biking is. As well as that, it’s always a good idea to start with a bike for easy trails to build confidence and skill. Otherwise, you may end up with something intimidating and give up mountain biking altogether.
Learn Basic Trail Etiquette
Just like everywhere else in a world, there’s a certain etiquette that comes with mountain biking. After all, you won’t be the only one on the trail so it’s important to be mindful of others, as well as the nature around you.
Some tips regarding proper etiquette include moving or stopping to allow pedestrians and horses to cross, never approaching an animal fast and close, and never feeding or chasing them. As well as that, make sure to pick up after yourself if you get a snack, don’t ride on private property, and slow down if you see other people on the trail. Uphill traffic has an advantage, so yield if you see any. Most of all, be mindful and respectful of your environment so the trail continues being enjoyable for all who use it.
As you can see, mountain biking can be an amazing way to do exercise, as well as to get high on adrenaline. It may take some time to get good at it, but if you keep going at it, you’ll definitely get there. These tips will help you prepare mentally and practically for your first ride, and hopefully it will be the first of many.