One of the coolest and fastest growing outdoor sports is Mountain Biking. The first thing that comes to people’s minds is rugged, devil-may-care young 20-somethings who have no life insurance or family to mourn their death when they take a wrong turn off a mountainside. The truth is that mountain biking is for people of all ages. With the right gear, a bit of practice and prep, you can be on that trail in no time, testing your skills and pushing your limits.
Start with some off road trails, abandoned rail beds, or local hiking trails (check first to be sure you are allowed to share the trail with pedestrians). Mountain biking is a different beast than road biking.
Some basics before you start riding are to be sure your bike and all systems are in good working order.
- Be sure your seat height is right for you. Better yet, get fitted properly at a reputable bike shop
- When mounting your bike, lean it low to swing your leg over to avoid getting tripped up on the frame.
- Make sure your brakes are depressed before starting and position one pedal at the top of the rotation.
- Start in a stand up position, leaning forward as you release the brakes and start pedaling as you sit back on the seat.
- Practice good shifting as you anticipate turns and quickly changing grades. Learn to shift early to muscle yourself up the hills. You don’t want to be shifting after hitting the steep incline.
- Avoid dangerous cross chaining the can cause your chain to pop off in the middle of the hill and cause an accident.
- Continue to pedal as you shift for smoothness and safety
- Place your feet at thee 3 and 9 o’clock positions when riding downhill
- Tuck in your arms close to your body
- Your thighs should be pressed tightly (without over squeezing) to the sides of your bike seat to help maintain contact and ideal control
- Keep your chest close to the handlebars
- For the steepest downhills, your center of gravity needs to be back and down to prevent flipping over the handlebars. Your butt goes behind the seat for optimal safety.
- When on bumpy terrain, your arms and legs should absorb the shocks a you raise your butt off the seat slightly.
Notes on Falling well:
- When you do fall (and you will), check your body for breaks, strains, or tears, then check over your bike for possible mechanical issues
- Make sure the seat and handlebars have not twisted
- Check the chain, brakes, and gears (a multi-tool and a first aid kit are essential)
- Get back on and enjoy the rest of your ride.
As with all sports, be sure to warm up well, do some light stretching before your ride, and some stretching afterwards to prevent still muscles the next day. Pay close attention to your shoulders, back and legs, as they take of most of the impact. Start out easy as you build your confidence and balance.
This post covers more details on essential gear, comfortable clothing and detailed descriptions of riding techniques, check it out!
Featured photo source: Pixabay.com