Mountain Biking for Beginners.
So you’re new to mountain biking and need a few tips to give you the confidence to take on some off road trails. You can ride a bike, so you are well on the way to be able to handle a mountain bike
Your safety is an issue when riding any bicycle. Mountain bikes require the same attention you would give checking a road bike but because of the rough terrain en counted, they are subject to more wear and tear. Know your capabilities and don’t take on a trail that is too difficult for your level of riding. With time and experience you will be able to take on more difficult courses.
If you are buying a mountain bike get someone experienced to suggest a suitable bike. Some bikes are designed for certain types of terrain. You want one that is suitable for the type of terrain you will be riding on.
Learn basic bike maintenance so you can check your bike yourself and make any small adjustments before each ride. Get an experienced bike mechanic to regularly check your bike. Due to the nature of some of the terrain you will encounter, your bike will be in regular need of a good clean. Mud and dirt will quickly build up and cause problems if not removed.
Mountain biking is more physical than road cycling. You need stronger arm, shoulder and core muscles. If you are starting out, you will be riding easier tracks until you have become more experienced. As you get better you will find working on these muscles with exercises will help you become a stronger rider which will give you more enjoyment. You can check out some core muscle exercises here.
This is an important part of your mountain biking skills. You need to keep your eye on the course ahead of the bike so you can decide the best line to take. This skill will develop with time but a quick scan ahead should register obstacles to avoid and you will find a suitable track or line to follow.
As more weight is on the front tire when descending, use your front brakes to give you control when going downhill. Feather the brakes and don’t suddenly engage them as this might send you flying over the handlebars. Use your rear brakes as well. keeping your weight back on the bike will put more pressure on the back wheels giving you better braking control. Good braking is a balance and something that gets better with more experience.
Engage a low gear before you tackle an uphill section. Stay seated, this will give you more traction and prevent the back wheel from loosing grip. Move your weight forward on the bike to put more weight over the handlebars. This will give you more stability and prevent the front wheel from bouncing.
Stay seated up hill. When going downhill lift your body off the seat, this will help absorb shocks from going over rough terrain. Keep your pedals in the 9o’clock’ three o’clock position. This will lower the risk of hitting obstacles with your feet. If you are going to tackle a very steep decent you could try dropping your saddle a few cm. This will give you a lower center of gravity thus making you more stable.
Choose the big chain ring.
When going downhill put he chain in the big chain ring. This will stop the chain from jumping around and will be less likely to result in a dropped chain.
Don’t over steer.
Don’t over steer with the handlebars. Your bike will follow your line of sight. Turn your shoulders in the direction you are turning and the bike will follow.
Keeping up a good cadence will keep you moving and make it easier to ride over obstacles. The slower you are riding the tougher it will be.
Don’t concentrate on the front of your wheel. Look ahead and find a suitable path to follow, let the bike follow your line of sight.
Don’t fight with the bike. Relax your shoulders, arms and grip. As you become more experienced you will be more relaxed giving you more enjoyment from the sport.
Mountain biking for beginners starts with knowing your bike and your capabilities. Skills will develop with time spent riding. Anticipation of what lies ahead and developing an eye for a line of travel are two of the fundamentals skills that will ensure you have an enjoyable mountain bike experience. To watch a video on Mountain biking for beginners and general info on mountain biking look here.