If you've been wanting to take the leap into the world of Mountain Biking but haven't quite mustered the confidence to start, now is your chance. It's not all heart-stopping jumps and drops at high speeds (save that for when you're experienced!).
We've come up with 7 tips for beginners to help get you geared up to Mountain bike. (so no more excuses!).
1. Invest in a decent bike
Trying to figure out which mountain bike is best for you might seem daunting, but really it depends on the type of riding you are going to do as to what bike will be suitable. Fat bikes are great for beginners because of the wide tires which make it easier when biking through new terrain or unique conditions. While a rigid bike is designed with no suspension which will help track your comfort and control over rocks or bumps. If you're feeling confident go for a Hardtail bike that will help you tackle more technical sections. If you're unsure on what bike will work for you, then we'd recommend taking a trip to your local bike shop first and ask for their advice before jumping into any quick decisions.
2. Practise, practise, practise!
Ride to the local coffee shop, to work or even around go for a quick spin around the block on your mountain bike. The more you ride your mountain bike, the better you will get. Plus you'll improve your fitness while you're at it. By spending more time on your bike you'll get used to small obstacles and looking ahead. Try to practise hill climbs where possible, as they are also super important, as you'll be spending a lot of time climbing hills so you can go down the other side!
3. Dress for the occasion
Unlike road cycling, lycra isn't recommended. Shorts for Mountain bikers can range from form-fitting styles to more baggy casual styles which offer more coverage, inbuilt padded lining and help reduce any trail impact. When it comes to tops, you can also choose again from loose or form fitted t-shirts or jerseys. Get yourself a decent t-shirt or jersey that is breathable and dries quickly as you'll be burning a few calories on your climbs! Also investing in a good pair of gloves otherwise you may get some blisters from the vibrations of the bike when starting out.
4. Find a Mountain-Bike specific trail
When starting out in Mountain biking, make sure the track you are riding is at your comfort level. Google popular trails, ask friends for recommendations or follow a club to find the best trails. Mountain-bike specific trails will often be marketed with a skill level such as beginner to expert or a colour system such as green, blue, red and black. If you end up on trail that is too challenging or technical, stop, dismount and walk that part of the section. Don't go signing up for a double expert trail unless you've done your time practising. It could end up nasty!
5. Learn some basic skills
The key to great Mountain Biking is being able to master a few basic skills before hitting the trails. It's not as easy as a road bike. Mountain biking requires good balance, confidence and the ability to be ready to move backwards, forwards or off the side. Start by riding on the flat, and build up to more complex skills such as descents or climbs as you gain more confidence. Learn how to wheelie (youtube is good for this), use your brakes and practise rolling over small obstacles such as rocks or roots before you head off-road.
6. Give your bike the once-over
Give your bike a good check before you head out for a ride. If you find any funny noises, cracks or anything worn, get it fixed as this could really impact the safety of your ride. Also make sure your bike is setup correctly for you. Ensure the seat is at the right height and the bars are level or you might find your bike harder to control on the trails. Failing to maintain your mountain bike could potentially result in an unplanned trip to the emergency room.
7. Gear up!
So you've got yourself a decent bike, but you want to look like a real mountain biker. You're going to need a decent helmet, some protective glasses, a water bottle and a decent repair kit handy incase of any unforeseen punctures or problems you might run into off-road. We recommend that you don't buy a second hand helmet, as you can never be sure of the previous damage it has taken.
If you like to see where you're going by following maps or want to record your ride for fun, get yourself a Quad Lock Out Front Mount and attach an Action Cam and your smartphone, so you can show your friends how far you've come.
Last of all... have fun! Mountain Biking shouldn't be scary, relax, challenge yourself and enjoy it.