8 Things you Should Know Before you Head Out Mountain Biking

Posted: March 21, 2014 by kirisyko in Bike, Mountain Biking
Tags: ,

Some handy tips to take on board before you hit the trails

 
mtb 2

If you love adrenaline, getting a bit muddy and wondering if there was more to cycling then dodging death on your commute then there’s a strong possibility that mountain biking is the sport for you. With trail centres dotted around the globe there is a high chance there is one right near you, so there really is no excuse to get out there and give it a go.

And when you become a more accomplished rider there are no end of possibilities. From steep downhill trails to heading off with a map and compass into the back of beyond, the world is your oyster. Beware though, there is a very high chance that once you give this epic sport a go, you will be totally addicted. In fact you’ll be wondering how you ever got through life without it.

2. Choosing your route

 
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The last thing you want to do on your first ride is scare the shit out of yourself. You’ll have a miserable time and ruin what has the potential to be a love affair with a sport that offers a lot of fun. Choose your route carefully.

Britain has a universal colour grading system to show which trails are suitable for beginners. The system is similar to that used in ski resorts: Green runs are easiest, then blue, red, and finally black being the most difficult.

Start out with nice gentle trails to give yourself a chance to get acquainted with the bike and the feeling of riding off road. There’s plenty of time for the gnarly trails once you improve.

3. The bike

 

bike

Getting accustomed to your bike can be one of the biggest challenges when you first start mountain biking. Take some time on some flatter ground to get used to the bike before you hit the trails. Make sure your saddle is set to comfortable height, get acquainted with your gears and get used to the brakes.

Mountain bikes are equipped with a different breaking system (disc brakes) to commuter or road bikes and are harsher and more sensitive to your touch. You should refrain from pulling the break in one hard swift movement and instead pulse the breaks lightly. While the front breaks will prevent skidding, if pulled too hard you will find yourself face down on the trail having been catapulted over the handlebars in a rather dramatic fashion.

4. Trust your equipment

 

tips

Those who are used to riding road bikes will know that anything but a smooth surface is the devil. Even a shallow pot hole can result in a flat. But you must remember that road bikes and mountain bikes are very different beasts and the latter is built to take punishment.

The mountain bike is designed to roll over tree roots and rocks and bounce down step sections. So trust the equipment and instead of attempting to swerve every obstacle (which is impossible on technical sections) trust that your bike will be able to deal with it.

 

5. Riding tips

 

riding tips

There are a couple of things that will help out enormously when you’re starting out. While you won’t encounter too many technical ascents on your first couple of rides, you may come across one or two. The trick to nailing these is to keep your cadence (the rate at which you peddle) high and steady. Lean forward on the bike to keep the front wheel solid and to prevent it from hopping on steeper sections.

When it comes to technical descents your riding position is crucial if you want to stay on the bike and avoid face planting. The key is to drop your saddle a little bit before you start to descend. You then want to push your arse up in the air like you just don’t care. Well not really, but you do want to push your backside out towards the back of the saddle, hovering just above it. This will give you stability going downhill. Practice this position on gentle descents before heading to the tougher stuff.

As you progress and start to increase your speed a little bit, be sure to look ahead. You need to try and pre-empt the line you want to take, it also gives you the opportunity to spot others that look fun to try!

Planning ahead will also give you the opportunity to ensure you are in the right gear. It is important to try to do your gear changes in advance of a climb or technical descent as changes mid-section can prove tricky and often result in that dreaded crunching sound that’s never good.

 

6. Ride with the hot shots

 

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If you want to progress quickly, it is best to learn from someone who knows what they’re doing. Try to convince friends who are accomplished riders to take you out and show you the basics – it’s the least they could do having got you into mountain biking in the first place.

Riding behind people who are better than you will also give you the opportunity to improve. Watch how they position their bodies when going up or downhill. You can also witness first-hand how they handle rough, rocky sections and follow their lines through technical sections.

 

7. Riding Etiquette

 

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Fear not, trail centres are generally pretty friendly places, more experienced riders are usually happy to lend a hand, show off their pride and joys and offer to advice to newcomers. There aren’t pages and pages of rules and customs to be learnt but a bit of trail etiquette will help endear you to the regulars.

The main thing you do need to know is that you must yield to faster riders coming up behind you. You will often hear the expression “Rider Up” being used, this simply means that somebody is coming down the trail behind you, generally this will be followed by a direction so you know which side to expect the overtake. On a single track trail just find a safe spot to pull in and let them pass.

 

8. Be prepared for a fall

 

fall

You will fall off your mountain bike at some stage, it’s a fact of life. But don’t let this put you off. You won’t be speeding down the trails on your first couple of rides so at least your falls be comedic rather than spectacular and all you’ll hurt is your ego.

If you do take a fall try to put it out of your mind as soon as you get get back on the bike. Trepidation and over compensating is only more likely to lead to more crashes. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to take a spill. A rigid body will result in jerky movements on the bike which never end well. So think happy thoughts and off you go!

Comments
  1. lem207 says:

    Reblogged this on Unstable MTB and commented:
    A really Excellent blog here for beginners i think.

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