Mountain biking is a great way to explore the outdoors, stay in shape, or just have fun. Racing down the side of a mountain is a lot of fun indeed, although it can also be quite dangerous. Even though it’s dangerous, if you ride with caution, it can be enjoyed by the entire family.
Styles of mountain biking Mountain biking can best be characterized into three different styles – downhill, free riding, and cross country. Even though the different styles are similar in some ways, they still require different skills. The style that you pick will determine the type of bike you get.
Locations for mountain biking The sport can best be thought of as biking on an unpaved surface. Many areas throughout North America have specific locations designed for mountain biking. Before you decide to go down a trail, you should always check with your local park to get the routes, regulations, and any rules that they may have.
You can also find groups that have mountain bike rides and competitions. You can look on the internet or even in a local paper and see exactly what’s available in your area. You may be able to find groups for the more advanced riders as well as beginners.
Becoming a great biker Endurance and stamina are a must for a great mountain biker. It will also take ambition and practice to succeed as well as conquer the course. Like all other sports, it takes time and practice. Those just beginning will have to get past the bumps and bruises from falling off the bike.
Selecting your mountain bike The bike you select is more of a personal choice, and a big determining factor on the type of riding you will be doing. Bikes come in all styles, shapes, and prices, which will make selecting one for yourself very difficult indeed.
You should use the internet to help you shop for a bike, even do some price comparisons online as well before you make a purchase. Before you buy a bike, always ask to try it out first. A great mountain biker will become one with his or her own bike. When buying, make sure you check for comfort, how it fits, even how it is geared.
Staying safe when riding Mountain bike riding on unpaved roads can be very dangerous, as mentioned earlier. Anytime you are riding, you should wear a helmet, along with knee and elbow pads. If you are following a group or riding in the woods you should strongly consider a pair of goggles as well. Safety should be your top priority and never taken lightly anytime you are mountain biking.
Beginner Mountain Biking Skills
Mountain biking is an exciting sport that can be enjoyed by anyone who knows how to ride a bike. Compared to the average bike ride, it does present some danger. Therefore, you should master these basic skills before you hit the trails or the dirt.
You can practice these beginning skills at a local park, school, bike path, or simply around your house. If you can, try to find a location with a steep hill.
Get a feel for your pedals Practice moving your foot away from the pedal, first while sitting on your bike with one foot on the ground. Next, move on to releasing and replacing your foot while pedaling around for a bit. Those with toe clip and clip less type foot pedals will want to spend a bit more time practicing.
Sit and spin for position Simply sit on your bike and pedal around. You should keep your arms slightly bent. You should also adjust your seat height so your leg is 70 to 90 percent extended at the bottom of every stroke on the pedal. Keep your body relaxed, as there will never be a position where you should have either your knees or your elbows locked.
Shifting gears Get a feel for shifting gears with your bike. The higher gears are harder to pedal and will go faster while the lower gears are easier to pedal and will help you ascend hills. As you get to steeper hills, its best to shift before you get to the hill rather than while your on it.
Coasting You should spend a bit of time coasting while standing on your pedals, without actually sitting on the seat. Keep your arms bent but don’t lock your knees. Now, try experimenting with shifting your body towards the rear end of the bike.
Pedal while standing You should get as comfortable as you can with pedaling while standing on your bike. Try lifting yourself off the seat while standing on the pedals, then crank them around. You should try this in higher gears on flat ground then again in lower gears while on a hill.
Dropping down a curb Try finding a curb where you can easily get to the upper portion of it. Practice at a moderate speed, standing and coasting right off the curb from the upper level to the lower level. Try this at different speeds until it becomes second nature.
Once you practice these techniques and get the hang of them, you’ll be able to hit the trails feeling comfortable on your mountain bike. Even though it may take some getting used to, it’ll become second nature before you know it.
Mountain Biking Safety Tips
There are numerous ways that you can improve your mountain bike safety. Many riders will tell you that wearing a helmet is the most important step to staying safe. The second most important step is that you should always ride in control of your mountain bike.
By riding in control you’ll not only prevent crashes, but keep others on the trail safe as well. When riding out of control you loose the ability to adjust to the terrain as you ride over it. This can and usually does result in serious injury to yourself and others.
Follow these helpful guidelines and you’ll remain safe when riding your mountain bike.
Mountain biking gear
Always make sure that you wear a helmet and other necessary safety gear for the conditions that you plan to ride in.
Never ride beyond your control
There is never any shame in walking the areas of the trail that you don’t feel comfortable in riding and you should never let anyone else tell you that there is.
Keep your speed under control
Always make sure you keep your speed at a level where you can quickly adjust to any obstacles or change in the trail.
Knowing your trail
You should never push the limits on trails that you aren’t familiar with. You should take trails you aren’t familiar with at slow speeds until you learn them better.
Slow down around blind corners
If you can’t see past a corner you should always slow down, as you never know who or what is around it.
Start small then go big
Work your way up to stunts or obstacles. Practice in less difficult or dangerous situations before you move up to something more dangerous.
Playing it smart
If you start to question what your doing, you probably shouldn’t be doing. Always think about what you are doing and go with your instincts.
Types Of Mountain Biking
As a sport or a hobby, mountain biking can be split into 9 different categories. These categories are very versed in what they offer. They are:
BMX is a style where the bikes offer 20 inch wheels. These bikes are commonly used at skate parks or with dirt jumps. Because of their smaller wheels and shorter wheel bases, BMX bikes are much easier to perform tricks and stunts with.
- Cross country
This type of mountain biking involves riding your bike up and down hills. Although it’s the least extreme form of mountain biking, most cross country riders are very fit and go on long rides.
- Cyclo cross
This is a cross between road and mountain biking. These riders have to go over obstacles, cross through rivers, and race on and off the course.
- Dirt jumping
Dirt jumping involves jumping the bike over large man made dirt jumps then doing tricks while they are in the air. These jumps are normally close together so riders can go over six or more jumps in one run, gaining a flow to give them more speed for bigger jumps.
Downhill mountain biking involves racing downhill as fast as possible. This type of riding is very intense and extreme, offering riders the chance for ultimate thrills and excitement.
Free riding involves finding the perfect line down the mountain using all of the terrain to express yourself. These competitions are very popular, as riders can express themselves any way they see fit.
- Single speed
No to be confused with fixed gears, this is a form of cross country biking that’s done using a bike with only one gear and fewer components. The idea with single speed is simplicity. The straight chain line will provide efficient pedaling, and the lack of components mean less mechanical problems and a lighter bike.
- Street and urban
This type of riding involves riding in urban areas, ledges, and other types of man made obstacles. Riders of street and urban biking will do tricks as well, such as stalls and grinds.
Trials are considered an aspect of mountain biking, although the bikes used look nothing like mountain bikes. They use 20 or 26 inch wheels and sport small, low frames. Trail riders will hop and jump their bikes over obstacles, which requires an extreme amount of balance and concentration.