As kids, there’s nothing more magical than racing through the neighborhood on a bicycle with the wind in your hair and the freedom that can only be found on two wheels. While some people embrace their love of cycling throughout adulthood, more often than not responsibilities get in the way and that feeling of freedom and magic is forgotten over the years.
Luckily, for those who want to return to biking, the skills are never truly lost and, as the saying goes, it’s just like riding a bike. Although it can be intimidating to learn a new sport or hobby, it’s a great way to meet new people, make lifelong friends, and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. If you’re considering trying out mountain biking, check out some of these top tips for beginners to get you out on the trails in no time.
Find a Bike That’s Right for You
When selecting a mountain bike that’s right for you, it’s always a good idea to seek out the help of your local bike shop for advice. These experts can help beginners choose a new bike that’s appropriately sized based on a number of different determining factors. When selecting a new mountain bike, the type of bike will generally depend on the type of terrain where you will be riding. These specialty bikes come with a variety of different types of suspension and wheel sizes to make riding a breeze no matter what level of experience the rider has.
Make Safety a Top Priority
One of the most important things to remember when learning how to mountain bike is to make sure safety is a top priority. Beginner mountain bikers should invest in a high quality helmet made specifically for this activity. Mountain biking helmets are a bit different from regular bicycling helmets and generally provide more protection. But just investing in a good helmet isn’t enough to keep riders safe, the helmet should be appropriately sized and worn correctly on every ride.
Additionally, beginner mountain bikers should ensure they learn the rules of the trail to avoid collisions and other accidents. When riding, always practice courteous and responsible practices like yielding to cyclists traveling uphill, slowing down when approaching hikers or horses, and communicating clearly when passing others on the trail.
Learn the Basics
Before getting started, it’s a good idea to learn the basics of mountain biking before even setting foot on a new bike. There are plenty of reputable online forums and websites that provide detailed background information on techniques like proper riding position, braking, shifting gears, picking a line, and knowing when to hike the bike. After reading up on skills and techniques, look for a training company in your area to learn from professionals on how to put these techniques into practice.
Try Out a Tour
If you’re new to mountain biking and not quite sure what the best places are for beginners, start out with taking guided tours where you can focus on your skills without having to keep track of where you’re going. “When led by an expert guide on mountain bike tours, there is no need to waste time looking down at a map and risk taking a wrong turn and missing the unforgettable scenery,” says Wild Bunch Desert Guides, a mountain biking tours and adventure company in Arizona. Experienced tour guides can help beginners learn the ropes while making sure they don’t miss a minute of the fun.
Take it Slow
While mountain biking can be a fast-paced and exhilarating sport, you can still reap all the benefits of biking while starting off slow. For beginner mountain bikers, maintaining a slow and steady pace can reduce the risk of injury while getting used to new trails. In addition to maintaining a safe pace, bikers should only choose trails that align with their skill levels. Before heading out for a ride, check out trail maps, rider reviews, and other information to help make an informed decision about whether or not you are able to handle the terrain of each trail.
Cycle with Friends
As with most sports, mountain biking is always more fun with friends. In addition to creating memorable experiences on the trail, riders of varying experience levels may help critique their friends’ form to reduce the risk of injury and help each other fine-tune their skills. Additionally, mountain biking with friends provides added safety in the event of an accident or injury. Always be prepared for an emergency with a charged cell phone or radio device in areas with poor reception, a first aid kit, any necessary emergency medications, and a list of emergency contacts.