So you’re interested in mountain biking? Awesome! Join me for my new Intro to Mountain Biking series and see how you can get started.
WHY MOUNTAIN BIKING?
Well, if you’re reading this, I shouldn’t need to even fill this part should out 🙂 Mountain biking is great for many, many reasons but I love it because it allows for all the awesome benefits of road biking but with nature and then dashes of adrenaline mixed in. Flying down a trail and nailing every section is always a rush for me even if I have done it 100 times. Combine this with the great workout you get and its a win win, fun and exercise!
But I’m sure there are many other reasons that you might want to start mountain biking and that’s cool too! Whatever your reason, there are a lot of questions that come when first starting out. Here are some very basic preliminary things to consider:
1 – Deciding on a bike.
This is a question that unfortunately has no easy answer. It depends on many factors but the main ones being trail style you plan to ride and your aggressiveness as a rider. If you are bombing down a sick trail that has 25′ jumps you probably don’t want to be cruising it on a 100mm trail bike. And vice versa, if you are just having a casual ride down a mellow trail you don’t need a downhill monster.
For a more detailed, in-depth look at the different types of bikes available, I recommend checking out this post from REI about how the terrain and mountain biking style will inform which bike type might be right for you.
In general though, I would recommend shooting for something that is pretty good with the drive train (I would recommend a 1x setup) and about 130-150mm of travel. This will give you a nice base to setup your skills and find out what you like.
The reality is you can ride any bike on any trail, your skills are what will get you through the bike is just a tool that can add to that. But first…
2 – Safety!
For additional gear, I would recommend getting a nice set of knee pads since that seems to be an area that gets beat up the most. From there, any other gear you can add as you see fit. Always remember that just like with bikes, your skills are going to get you through way more than any pads or equipment so practice and use common sense when riding!
Also, making sure you understand trail etiquette and best practices can be just as important as gear and skills. You can find a quick overview of trail guidelines here.
3 – Start with small rides
It’s always super exciting to get out there and ride for hours but when you first start off this may be a bad idea. You want to pace yourself, not only so you don’t burn out but because as you get tired, you are more likely to do something careless and injure yourself. And guess what, injuries will set you back more than taking that last hour to rest.
When it comes down to it this is mostly a common sense thing. Push yourself but know when to call it quits.
4 – Practice skills and form
Have I mentioned skills and practice yet?? Do this! It may not be glamorous but the better you build up your fundamentals and skills it will pay dividends on the trails. It will open up all new possibilities for how to ride stuff that you may not have though possible.
It is super helpful to ride with a buddy that you can bounce skills off each other with (try looking for Facebook groups of local mountain biking groups in your area.) If you don’t have someone to ride with you can always rely on YouTube. There are a TON of useful channels to learn from. A few of my favorites include Global Mountain Bike Network, Skills With Phil & Seth’s Bike Hacks (and just for fun, check out Fabio Wibmer.)
5 – Stay in shape
This will happen to a degree just from riding but you want to make sure to keep everything balanced and strong. The more in shape you are, the better chance that when you take that inevitable fall (trust me, it will happen) you wont hurt yourself as badly. Try to focus on “antagonist” exercises or things that you don’t work while biking to balance stuff out. It will help you feel more confident on your bike and give you time to practice your core skills.
DO YOU MOUNTAIN BIKE?
Make sure to comment with your own beginners tips or questions!
& look out for more posts in the Intro to Mountain Biking series!