Introduction To Mountain Biking: What is it and how do you get started?
Mountain biking in all of its forms is a great way to explore the outdoors, keep fit, or spend a great day with friends. Racing across open fields, flying through trees and across creeks and gullies is a lot of fun indeed. However, it can be a bit dangerous. Even with the danger that is ever present, if you ride cautiously and within your ability, it can be a safe and wonderful activity for the whole family.
Mountain Biking Styles
Mountain biking has three very distinct and vastly different styles – Cross Country, Downhill and Freeride, plus several subsets within this such as Dirt Jumping, 4x and more. Despite all being somewhat similar in the overall activity, each of the different styles absolutely requires a different set of skills. The style of mountain biking that you pick will also determine what bike you choose to ride.
Where To Go Mountain Biking
Mountain Biking can be done just about anywhere, the only real restriction is that it can’t be a paved surface. You must choose an off-road area. This could mean that you bike in a forest, a field, or down the side of a towering mountain. North America has many places across the continent that have specific locations designed to be a mountain biking paradise. But, before you choose a trail to ride, you should always check with the local administration, parks department or land owner to ensure that you are allowed to ride on their land. It’s also a good idea to search online for more information about a trail before visiting it. Sites like this one often give great information about the conditions, rules and location of trails you may want to ride.
You will also be able to find local groups that hold their own mountain bike rides or competitions. Check around on the internet by searching for city name mountain biking. It will often uncover a local advocacy group that will be happy to fill you in on upcoming mountain bike events.
How To Become A Better Mountain Biker
The two keys for a good mountain biker are Endurance and power. Mountain biking is a very intense sport, especially when you get into the competitive side of riding. Endurance is a must as most trails range from 2 miles up to 50+ miles in more rural locations. Power is a mountain bikers best friend as they climb the side of a steep hill or mountain. Like every other sport that you can participate in, mountain biking will require you to invest plenty of time and practice for you to excel in it. You will fall down, that is all a part of learning as you ride.
How To Select a Good Mountain Bike
The bike you select is a very personal thing. It will depend highly on your own riding style and also your personal tastes. Bikes will come in all shapes, sizes and price tags. The first step would be to determine the style of mountain biking you will participate in. This is a really good resource on how to figure out which style is best for you.
You can also use the internet as a tool for choosing the best type of bike, but please visit your local bike shop (LBS) when it comes time to buy a bike. These local shops help to keep the trails maintained, promote races and will also provide support, fitting and maintenance as you ride. An online bike retailer while saving you a small bit of money up front will not be able to maintain or fix problems with the bike as they come along and they do not support your local mountain bike community. Give back to your MTB community by shopping local.
How To Stay Safe when Mountain Biking
Mountain bike riding is not for the weak willed and feint of heart. Riding on unpaved roads and singletrack paths is full of unique challenges and can be very dangerous. When you do go out riding, always wear a helmet. If you are participating in freeride or downhill mountain biking, it is a good idea to also consider a quality set of knee and elbow pads. Glasses or goggles are another very important peice of safety gear and should always be worn. This will protect your eyes from low hanging branches and dust kicked up off of the trail. Safety should always be a top concern and should not be ignored by any rider regardless of age, skill or experience level.
Another consideration would be to pack tools that will be needed as you ride in case of repairs. Things like flat tires, dropped chains or loose parts happen as you mountain bike. Here is a great video on 4 tools you should have with you on every ride.