Cycling trails vary and it is not rare to find the odd mountain trails intertwined with them. Mountain biking trails have gained a lot of popularity alongside cycle trails.
Just because you are off to mountain biking does not make it necessary to go look for a mountain to cycle. Biking along cycling trails with one or two hills and slopes can cut off as mountain biking already.
While you might be imagining going down a 45 degrees slope overlooking the sea or cycling up hills full of rocks, stones and tree roots by pushing the pedals as strong as possible, you will not be facing such advanced trails for starters.
In fact, there are several things you need to learn theoretically about mountain biking before jumping in.
Finding a Trail
Many online sites give free services when it comes to looking for the nearest yccling trails around you, including their classifications. Make sure your online research about the trails showcases information on whether it is suitable for beginners or not.
There are five categories of mountain biking that you need to understand before looking for your trails, according to Hix:
- Cross Country, usually a long trip of going up and down mountains or hills and it requires the highest level of endurance from bikers. The trails are a wide variety from mud to rocky routes that are generally easier compared to other type of disciplines.
- Downhill, just as the name implies, bikers go down the trails from a mountain and only focus on going as fast as they can to the bottom of the mountain. The purpose of this is: speed.
- Freeride, a type of discipline that will be different for each biker. You can go up or down, jump or avoid, and make use of anything provided throughout the trails such as bridges or ladders. Obstacles are common.
- Dirt jumping, even though under the name mountain biking, dirt jumpers go to dirt parks full of dirt. Similar to a skateboard park, lots of obstacles and piled dirt that makes up little hills are available to for bikers to do tricks and stunts for fun.
- Enduro (all mountain), sometimes you see trails, sometimes you don’t. All mountain biking is all about going through real mountain with minimal trails and require more bravery and knack to overcome.
Generally, starters can start with short cross country, freeride or dirt jumping if you like more stunts.
Choosing your bike
If you are worried about spending a fortune just to start on the hobby, fear not as you can rent bikes. They usually come with complete set of equipment and helmet. Try it out before deciding if you are into the activity and ready to get your own bike.
For beginners, the recommended bike to take is hardtail type, according to mountainbikesapart. Hardtail bikes are general cheaper and getting an expensive bike around now will just be a waste of money, especially if your determination dies out in the middle of the fight.
Hardtail bikes are not bikes that you will stash in the warehouse once you’re getting good because you’ll understand that even for advanced players, hardtail is still a choice.
Once you get out of the beginner pit, you can start looking for the type of discipline you want to do mainly. Or if you want to try doing all of them. Bike specifications change according to the type of trails and riders.
A longer or shorter bike, full-suspension or rigid, the range of rear suspension, width of wheels down to the weight of the bike are things you will slowly learn about as you train your mountain riding skills.
Skills > Bike
Relying on your bike is not going to make it ride itself up the mountain; it is you. So, no matter how shiny, expensive and fancy your mountain bike is, not even that small hill behind your park can be hiked if you do not start training yourself.
Skills determine the bike and its usefulness which is why reading others blogs and reviews on a bike may become a devil’s whisper to spend more on something you cannot use.
As time goes by and more bikes wear out on you, your skills will show and demand the kind of bike you should be getting.
Do not buy a bike impulsively just because that new Olympic Athletes bought it or if the weight got cut down as much as the price goes up.
Though mountain biking can be an extreme sport, it does not make life not worth protecting.
Always wear complete protective equipment from gloves, helmets, knee pads to protect yourself from falling and breaking a few bones and even, as HuffingtonPost puts it, cheats death. Also wear comfortable, biking designed clothes to make yourself comfortable.