All mountain bikers remember their first time. Riding across different types of terrains, rocks and across rivers can be exciting and fun. However, it can also be daunting and terrifying. With practice it gets easier and a lot more fun.
There are a few tips that every mountain biker wished they knew when starting out. Here at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews we have put together a few tips to help a mountain biking enthusiast take their skills to the next level.
A mountain bike is designed for tackling technical terrain. The best thing to do, is let the mountain bike do its job. Staying relaxed and staying loose will help the mountain bike move beneath the rider. The more complex the terrain, the more room the mountain bike needs. When riding downhill, a rider should think about pushing up arms while pushing out their legs.
Learning to allow the bike to move beneath them will allow the rider to float over most obstacles. Having a relaxed grip of the handle bars will help the relaxation of the elbows and forearms.
Momentum can be a mountain bikers’ best friend. Maintaining momentum or holding speed can be beneficial for a rider to cover technical terrain with more ease. Reducing the speed can sometimes make certain types of terrain much trickier. A rider should try and maintain speed whenever they can. However, only as long as they feel safe and in control of the bike.
Do not forget to switch your body weight. When climbing, a rider should lean forward, and try to keep the centre of gravity over the back wheel. On a downward trail, the rider should go in the opposite direction. Positioning the body in the correct way will allow the rider to move through the climb or descent much easier.
A common mistake by mountain bikers is to pull on the brakes. Mountain bike brakes are designed to modulate the speed with one or two fingers. Change the pace of the mountain bike before the turn, rocks or technical will allow the rider to have a better control of the bike.
If the rider feels like they are going too fast, use the right brake for the back brake. The bike may skid, but at least there is less chance of the rider going over the handle bars. Spending some time becoming familiar with the brakes will allow the rider to learn how to control the bike and how it responds.
The majority of entry level mountain bikers think that they have only two settings. Locked and not using the brake. When the brake is locked, the rider gets less control. The most power comes from the front brake. The rider should be careful not to use too much braking power. When a rider is descending, learning to feather the brake will help the rider control the bike.
Now that a rider has got familiar with the brakes. The rider should spend time getting to know the gears on the bike, so they can change the pace of the bike to the riding conditions they are faced with.
Mountain bike trails have a wide combination of terrain, combined with climbs and descents. Learning, how to shift comfortably between gears will help the rider maintain momentum- a mountain biker's best friend.
The majority of mountain bikes have some sort of front suspension, allowing the rider to role over bumps unnoticed. They only work if the rider has them set on an active position. A rider should take a minute to learn how to set their suspension. Be careful, a rider does not want to totally lock their suspension to fully rigid on the trail.
Entry level mountain bikers tend to stare directly on the obstacle or rock they are trying to avoid. The bike tends to go in the direction that the eyes are fixed on. Looking past the obstacle, to the direction the rider wants to go, far down the trail and keeping their head straight will help the rider move with more ease down the trail.
Riding with better riders not only helps push oneself, but it also helps the rider pick up some of the more experienced mountain bikers' riding habits. For example, how they handle themselves on the trail, the mountain bike and prepare for a day out on the trail. These valuables skills can be picked up by watching more experienced riders.
Learning to perform a wheelie or a nose wheelie can be very beneficial for a rider while out on the trail. Pulling a wheelie to get over an object, or a nose wheelie so the rear of a mountain bike misses the object.
Even if a mountain biking enthusiast can’t perform a wheelie, knowing how to take the weight off the bike, will make parts of the trail much smoother and easier to control. Pulling wheelies is much easier with clipless pedals.
Once a rider has explored their local trails, exploring new trails will help the rider sharpen their mountain biking skills and allow the rider to challenge themselves. This will eventually allow the rider to become a better all-rounder mountain biker.
No one becomes a better mountain biker overnight. It takes time and practice. Spending more time on the bike, riding to the local shops, to work or to the local park will improve a rider's riding skills. There may be no need for a monthly gym subscription.
Mountain Bike Groups
Throughout the country there many mountain biking groups that cycling enthusiasts can join. There is nothing more rewarding than spending time with people who share your passion. It is an ideal way of building up a cycling enthusiast's knowledge of mountain biking. A wide range of mountain biking groups are also available online.
Sitting in the saddle
Mountain bikes are equipped with a saddle. However, that doesn’t mean you have to use it all the time. More experienced mountain bikers refrain from sitting in the saddle as much as possible as the riders legs act as the perfect shock absorbers. There’s a lot to absorb. A second benefit of being off the saddle, is that the rider can easily and quickly switch their body weight to help control the bike.
Mountain Biking Attire
Mountain biking attire can vary considerably depending on weather, time of the day and locations. Checking the weather forecast can allow the rider to find out how many layers they should wear.
The rider should refrain from going out in their best clothing and wear comfortable clothing that the rider doesn’t mind getting dirty or damaged. Investing in a pair of padded shorts can be beneficial, with a pair of good quality mountain biking shoes. The rider should not forget about wearing a good quality trail helmet. Studies have shown, wearing a bike helmet can reduce serious head injury by seventy percent.
If a rider is thinking about spending the day out at the trail it’s definitely worth them taking more than their credit card. Having some small snacks and a drink to keep away any dehydration and hunger pains is always a good idea.
Mountain biking can be no fun if a rider is riding on any empty stomach or a dry mouth. Packing an extra tube in case of a puncture can definitely come in handy. Learning how to change a flat will definitely come in handy if a rider is thinking about biking on a regular basis.
Opportunities to Improve
All mountain bike trails are different with a wide range of climbs, descents, terrains and technical parts. Entry level mountain bikers can find it daunting. Taking the plunge on every ride to try something different will improve a rider's mountain biking skills. Always skipping the opportunity over fear will cause the rider not to improve. However, a rider should only take on a new challenge if they feel it is safe to do so.
Exploring a new trail is no fun if you're hearing funny noises as you pedal. Mountain bikes require regular maintenance. One of the best ways of maintaining a bike is getting into a good habit of cleaning it on a regular basis. Cleaning the bike on a regular basis will allow the rider to spot any wear and tear before it turns into a more serious issue.
Taking a few minutes to check over the bike can save the rider from a long walk home. Checking the air in the tires is at the required PSI level as flat tires can cause
the bike to work a lot harder. The required PSI level can be found in the instruction manual.
Testing the brakes by rolling the bike back and forth by gently applying the brake lever. Check that the brake pads have not worn out. Make sure the chain is working efficiently with the relevant lubricant applied.
We hope you have enjoyed our article on Sharpening Up Your Mountain Biking Skills and found it helpful and informative. A guest blog from Mike Murray at Road and Mountain Bike Reviews
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.