Are you looking for an exciting challenge that requires physical endurance, mental focus, and a thirst for adventure? Do you want to try something new that could, potentially, become one of the most rewarding things in your life? Mountain biking could be the answer.
Mountain biking is like a real-life, high-stakes puzzle that requires every muscle and tendon in your body to solve. Every rock, turn, path, hill, and trail is unique. You have to constantly look ahead to prepare for what’s coming, while simultaneously navigating the terrain that’s directly in front of your tire.
Mountain biking also immerses you in nature and takes you to some truly beautiful places that you otherwise might not see if you stayed on the road well-traveled. It’s a healthy escape that keeps you mentally strong and physically fit.
4 Helpful Mountain Biking Tips
If you’re just getting started with mountain biking, there are a few things you need to know. Let’s take a look at a few tips:
1. Make Sure You’re (Kind of) Fit
Like any other sport or athletic activity, you can’t just go from Level 0 to Level 10 overnight. This is very much an endurance sport that requires you to work your way up. Even if you’re already fairly fit, mountain biking engages a whole different group of muscles than any other form of exercise (even if you’re accustomed to street cycling).
Start slowly and work on strengthening your legs and core. Then, once you’re fairly fit, you can focus on speed and intensity. Start with a one-mile ride, then go for two miles the next time, etc. The objective is to build up so that you’re fit enough for longer and more demanding rides.
2. Choose the Right Bike
Choosing the right bike is a very important element that can’t be overlooked. If you have the wrong bike, you’re going to get frustrated. But if you have the right one, it’ll work with your strengths to make riding more enjoyable.
Not sure what kind of bike to buy? Try renting a mountain bike on your first few rides. This will give you a feel for what you like.
3. Get Your Bike Set Up Properly
Once you do buy a bike, you need to set it up properly. This is often the difference between being uncomfortable and timid on your bike and feeling like you’re in total control. Pay especially close attention to suspension and seat height.
When it comes to suspension, the front fork and rear shock work in tandem. They use air pressure to function properly (driven by your weight). This is called “sag.” In order to properly set your sag, you’ll want to add the right amount of air to your shocks. This video shows you how to do it.
As far as seat height (also known as saddle height) goes, you need to spend some time dialing this in as well. You shouldn’t feel like you have to reach to get to the bottom of your pedal stroke. However, you also don’t want to feel like you’re squatting. When your foot is in this six o’clock position, you should have a very slight bend in the knee.
4. Find Your Crew
While there’s certainly a technical part to mountain biking that you have to get right in order to have fun and be safe, there’s more to this sport than learning how to jump and turn.
As enthusiast Julie Hughey puts it, “Mountain biking isn’t all about biking. Sometimes it’s about camaraderie. It’s about being out with your friends and then after the ride is over, sharing some beers in a gravel parking lot with your flip flops on. It’s a sense of belonging.”
With that being said, find your crew. Find a group of people who are passionate about mountain biking and who are always looking to have a good time. Not only will they help you become a better mountain biker, but they’ll give you a group of people to belong to.
Get Ready to Ride
Mountain biking is supposed to be fun – challenging, but fun. If you’re interested in giving it a try, the best thing you can do is dive right in. You don’t have to be a master to get started. You simply need to understand some of the basics and be willing to push yourself. The experience will come.