Mountain biking is one of the most popular outdoor activities, especially in the United States where there are around 40 million people who hit the trails each year. Mountain biking is certainly a challenging activity, but a very rewarding one that allows you to see places that you might not otherwise see.
With that in mind, there are plenty of new people that get into mountain biking on a yearly basis, as well. However, many of these people can become discouraged from riding because they try to jump into things too quickly. If you’re one of the many who are thinking about getting into mountain biking, there are some things that you should consider. Here are five tips for mountain bike beginners.
Setting Up Your Bike
No matter what item it is, whenever you get it from the store, you’re going to want to try it out the second that exit the store. While your new mountain bike may be ready to ride on the street, it probably isn’t ready for the trails just yet. You’ll want to make sure that it’s set up to perfection before you go on any serious ride. The first thing that you’ll want to check is the seat, making sure that you have the right height and position.
Stability and comfort are the two most important aspects of your seat, and from there you can adjust the suspension. The pressure needed will be different for everyone depending on weight, and you can adjust this if you drop or gain a few pounds. The other big part of the setup is the tires, as the right amount of air pressure can make or break any ride. It should be adjusted based on the trail. Keep the gears well-greased and your bike clean both before and after every ride.
Get The Right Gear
Now that you have the right bike, you’re not quite ready to roll just yet. After all, you can’t just hop on with a pair of sandals and some casual clothes and call it a day. First thing first, you’ll need a helmet. Make sure you find one that fits you properly above all else and check for the safety ratings.
As for other external gear, you’ll want to protect both your eyes and hands with gloves and glasses. Wicking shirts, padded shorts (or tights), cycling socks, and other articles of clothing that will keep you cool and dry are much-needed while mountain biking. Keeping your health in peak form is important, too, so grab some hydration equipment like water bottles and a small first-aid kit. As for your bike, there is a long list of equipment that you’ll need including spare tubes, a patch kit, tire levers, and a multi-tool.
It can be very tempting to want to tackle the strongest trails right away, especially if you’re someone that’s in good shape and can easily go hiking on some tough trails. If you’re new to mountain biking, though, get yourself acclimated to riding by starting with the easiest trails. If you’re not sure which trails are ones are for beginners, there will be plenty of people willing to point you in the right direction, as well as forums online (think Facebook, Reddit, etc.).
Beginner trails can also be easier to spot thanks to being marked while having well-ridden paths that are wide and mostly flat. Once you start to get a feel for the bike and how it works, you can start working your way up to hillier and narrower terrains. Even the most experienced mountain bikers can have trouble with some of the more difficult trails, so don’t be discouraged if you’re struggling to keep up with the hard ones.
Learn The Riding Basics
Most of us know how to ride a bicycle already. After all, they say it’s something that you can never forget. There are several positions that you’ll want to learn that will come in handy whether you’re in the toughest terrains or the flattest and smoothest ones. The first position is the neutral position where your knees and elbows are slightly bent with your index fingers ready to brake at any time. The ready position has you shifting your weight back with your back parallel to the ground and rear off of the seat.
Your body will be positioned in different ways when you’re climbing, descending, and turning, so get a feel for where you need to be in these situations. Always keep your eyes ahead about 15 to 20 feet on the trail and pick the right line. It’s going to take some adjusting but will come to you quickly, especially when you share the trail with others, which leads us to our final point.
Every trail that you ride on should be one that’s open to the public, first and foremost. Obey any regulations that are posted on the trail and keep control of your bicycle while not leaving any trace of your ride behind.
Yield to more expert riders so that you aren’t clogging up the trail, and make sure to get out of the way if you need to stop. Most importantly, though, have fun and stay safe and you’ll be an expert in no time.