Mountain biking is a fun and challenging sport that people of all ages and athletic abilities can enjoy. Whether you’re just getting into biking or have been riding off-road for years, there are many ways to enjoy mountain biking. You can start as a cross-country biker or try the longer white-knuckle descents and more technical features in all mountain enduro riding.
If you are thinking about trying your hand at mountain biking, this article will take you through everything you need to know to get started and how to start mountain biking.
What Is Mountain Biking?
Mountain biking is a recreational sport involving riding bicycles off-road, often over muddy and rough terrain. The bikes used in this sport have a bigger wheel size, wide, knobby tires, and upright posture.
Mountain biking can be done on different terrain over single-track trails, dirt roads, bridle paths, and motorways. They are often also described as all-terrain cyclists, and you can venture into the sport no matter your expertise level.
Why Should You Start Mountain Biking?
Mountain biking can seem pretty daunting, especially if you’re only building skills on the trails. But with the right equipment, it’s a lot of fun—and an excellent way to get outdoors and enjoy plenty of fresh air. The best part? You don’t have to be an expert rider to start enjoying the benefits of mountain biking.
If you’re looking for a new hobby or want a fun way to exercise, mountain biking is a great option. Plus, you might find yourself hooked on the sport and moving up the ranks as you gain more experience.
Unlike many other sports and activities that require a certain age or fitness level, anyone can try mountain biking and see results. Many avid mountain bikers and other better riders are in their 60s and 70s and still ride daily for fun or money.
Where to Ride Your Mountain Bike
The best part about mountain biking is that there are trails for all levels of riders. If you’re a beginner, find a local trail network or bike park and start there. Most bike parks offer trails for beginner mountain bikers who want to train and build their riding skills.
You can venture into advanced trails with more technical features as you progress. However, ensure you have the necessary skills and fitness level to handle them. And if you’re ever in doubt, it’s always better to play it safe and stay on easier trails.
What Mountain Bike Should You Get?
The first step towards getting started in mountain biking is choosing the right type of hardtail mountain bike. You need a fully rigid bike that can handle the rough terrain without breaking the bank on your first purchase.
There are various types of mountain bikes for different terrain. Whether you love enduro-style riding or normal cross-country biking, choosing a bike that offers comfortable riding is important. Here is a look into each mountain bike
1. Cross Country Mountain Bike
Cross-country bikes are lightweight and designed for speed, making them ideal for covering long distances on varied terrain. They are the most common type of bikes sold by Mountain Bike brands.
2. All-Mountain Bike
These are more versatile, with a sturdier frame and a wider range of gears that allow you to take on more difficult trails.
3. Downhill Bikes
These mountain bikes are built for extreme terrain and are unsuitable for general riding. They are the perfect choice if you want to get started with enduro riding.
4. Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Hardtail bikes are the best if you’re just getting started. They are lightweight and easy to maneuver. Hardtail mountain bikes also tend to be much cheaper than full-suspension models, making them a great choice for beginners.
5. Full Suspension Mountain Bikes
As you gain more experience and skills, you can always upgrade to a full-suspension mountain bike. Full-suspension bikes typically have both front and rear suspension, making them more comfortable and easier to navigate difficult terrain.
When choosing a new bike, consider what type of riding you’ll often do. If you’re not sure, ask the salesperson at your local bike shop for help. They’ll guide you and recommend the perfect mountain bike for your needs.
Tips for Beginner Mountain Biking
Here are a few tips to consider as you get started with mountain biking:
1. Start Slow and Easy
Find a good trail that is challenging but not too difficult. You don’t want to get overly frustrated and quit the sport altogether before you’ve even started. Pick trails that are rated easy to moderate. You can always work your way up to more difficult trails as you get more experience.
2. Get the Right Bike Gear:
In addition to a mountain bike, you’ll need a helmet, gloves, mountain bike shorts and sturdy shoes. You should also invest in knee and elbow pads for extra protection.
3. Be Prepared
Before heading out on the trail, check the weather forecast and have a map of the area. It’s also advisable to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Similarly, you don’t want to forget items like your water bottle, helmet, or sunscreen if you’re riding during the summer!
4. Ride with Other Mountain Bikers
Try to ride with a friend or group. Not only is it more fun, but it’s also safer in an emergency. Also, follow trail maps to avoid getting lost or ending up in unfamiliar territories.
5. Stay Hydrated.
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re riding, especially in warm weather. Carry enough water with you on your rides, and often stop to drink.
6. Don’t Allow Your Nerves to Get the Best of You.
Many new mountain bikers feel intimidated by the sport, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just take it slow and follow these tips, and you’ll ride like a pro in no time.
How to Ride Your Mountain Bike
Now that you’ve got your mountain bike and you’re all kitted out, it’s time to learn how to ride it. The first rides on new trails are usually challenging, but you’ll improve with time. Here are a few recommendations to follow when starting your first mountain bike.
1. Maintain Balance
When you’re out on the trail, it’s important to keep your balance. Remember to lean forward and keep your weight over the pedals. If you’re losing control, don’t be afraid to bail—it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Keep Your Bike in Good Condition.
Your bike is important to the entire mountain biking experience. Please keep it in good working order to make the most of your time on the trail. Check tire pressure, rear wheel, and rear suspension to ensure your bike is in good condition before you hit the trails.
The last thing you want is to go out with a flat tire or a damaged suspension fork. That means your bike won’t be able to absorb bumps and cracks on the trail better. This may damage your bike and get you injured.
3. Set Up Your Bike to Achieve Better Pedaling
Short or long, a good pedal stroke is key to comfortable riding. The most important thing to consider when aiming for the perfect pedal stroke is the position of your bike. If your saddle is too high, you’ll struggle to transition from the downstroke to the upstroke. And if it’s too low, you’ll encounter the opposite problem: a lack of power on every upstroke.
Also, ensure your bike has good pedals for all-mountain riding. The best platform pedals will work well on your new or old bike. They work perfectly on all bike types, including a fully rigid bike to help you pedal uphill more comfortably.
4. Keep an Eye Out for Trail Markings.
Be sure to watch for trail markings and stay on it. You don’t want to risk crashing into other mountain bikers or hikers by riding off the trail.
Enjoying Your Time on the Trails
Assuming you’ve found a good trail to start on, it’s time to enjoy the ride! Here are expert tips to help you make the most of your time on the trails:
- Take your time, and don’t try to do too much too soon. Remember that you’re just starting, and it’s going to take some time to build up your strength and endurance.
- Start with shorter rides and gradually increase the distance as you get more comfortable. You can also transition to hard trails such as rock gardens if ready for the test.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of potential hazards. You should also carry some bike spare parts, such as a spare inner tube, in case of a puncture.
And finally, don’t forget to have fun! Mountain biking is a great outdoor sport for both beginners and expert riders. So, get out there and explore—you might surprise yourself with what you’re capable of.
Mountain biking provides a perfect opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery, but it can be intimidating for beginners. Luckily, anyone can start mountain biking with a little preparation and the right gear. Before hitting the trails, research the local area to find trails that fit your skill level. Once you’re out on the trail, take it slow and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t try to rush through the trail or try to go too fast. You’ll only end up making mistakes that could hurt you.