Top 10 tips and techniques for Beginner Mountain Biking
Mountain Biking Tips, Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners, beginner mountain bike tips, whatever tips you are looking for, I have dug deep into the nity gritty detail to make the experience much easier for you. Have fun ! and be safe !
Every mountain biker remembers their first time: You’re on a bicycle, which makes sense. But you’re riding over rocks, across streams, and overall types of different terrain, which (at least at first) feels like it makes no sense at all. It’s fun and exciting, yet nerve-wracking and terrifying all at the same time. It gets easier—and more fun!—with time. But there are a few mountain bike tips every one of us wishes someone had shared when we were just starting out. Here are beginner mountain biking tips you should know when you’re first getting ready to shred.
Stay Loose on the goose!
Your bike’s job is to roll over technical terrain. Your job is to let your bike do its job. That means keeping your body loose, so it can move beneath you. Hover your butt off the saddle when riding over obstacles like roots and rocks. The more technical the terrain, the more room your bike needs to move. When ripping down a descent, think: “pushup arms” and “cowboy legs,” and flare out your elbows and knees so your body lets the bike to flow rather than fighting it.
It’s going to feel counterintuitive, but holding speed—and even speeding up—when the terrain gets challenging makes clearing tough sections of trail easier because your bike has the one thing it needs most to keep moving forward: momentum. Momentum is your best friend out there, maintain it whenever you can.
Shift Your Weight
You’re going to hit some extreme terrain, including steep inclines and declines. When climbing a tough pitch, shift your weight forward and lean forward to keep your centre of gravity over the rear wheel to maintain traction.
Go Easy on the Brakes
You will be tempted at some point to grab both brakes and pull ‘em to the bars with all you’ve got. Resist this temptation! Mountain bike brakes are powerful enough that you need just one (maybe two) finger(s) to modulate your speed. Adjust your speed before the tricky stuff, like rock gardens and corners, and then maintain your speed through them. If you do find yourself going into a turn too hot, stay off the front (left) brake. Stopping your front tire will send your front tire into a slide, which is likely to send you over the bars and onto the ground. Hit the rear (right) instead; you might skid, but you’re more likely to stay upright.
Use All the Gears
Mountain bike trail profiles tend to look like Jaws opening wide for his next snack. In other words, they cover undulating terrain that shoots up and down often. Anticipate changes in the terrain by shifting before you need to. It’ll help you keep your momentum, which as you already know, is your best friend.
Set Your Suspension
Most mountain bikes today have at least a front suspension fork, and most have a shock absorber in the rear as well. These are magical inventions that make big bumps nearly disappear as you roll over them. But they only work if you have them set to their active positions. You can take a little time learning the finer nuances of setting your sag (how much travel you use just sitting on the bike) and rebound. But take a moment to know how to lock out and/or open up your suspension, so you don’t accidentally roll out onto a crazy technical trail with a fully rigid bike (it happens!). You can learn more about how to set up your suspension here.
Look Where You Want to Go
Staring directly at that rock you don’t want to hit will nearly ensure that you’re going to smack right into it. It’s called “target fixation;” your bike goes where your eyes are directing it to go. Instead, look past obstacles to where you actually want to go. Keep your chin level to the ground, eyes forward, and try to look as far down the trail as possible, using your peripheral vision to avoid and negotiate obstacles immediately in front of you. Upgrading to a trail-specific helmet will protect your head if an obstacle does trip you up.
Brush Up on Basic Repairs
Because of the rugged nature of the terrain, mechanicals tends to happen more off-road than they do on the pavement. Tubeless tire technology has helped minimize—but not eliminate—flats. So brush up on some basic repairs to be sure you can get out of the woods when something breaks. At a minimum, you should know how to fix a flat. Other good skills to have include repairing a broken chain and replacing a bent or cracked derailleur hanger. Your local shop (or a good friend) can show you how.
Carry More Than a Credit Card
There aren’t many convenience stores in the forest or desert. Mountain bike rides will often take considerably longer than you anticipate, as you often run into rugged terrain, have a mechanical, or just get lost. Always pack more food and water than you think you need. Similarly, it’s sometimes impossible for someone to come pick you up if something goes wrong. You may not have cell service even if they could. Always carry the tools you need: a spare tube (or two), pump, and multi-tool. You’ll be more relaxed and have more fun with the peace of mind knowing you have everything you need.
Recovery is just as important as training—it’s when your body rebuilds itself. This starts the second you get off the bike: “Make sure to take in a recovery drink mix or healthy snack within 20 minutes of completing the ride, to jump-start recovery,” Gullickson says. “A lot of our riders use protein mix with almond milk, but any mix of protein and carbohydrate is fine.” Incorporate easy, unstructured rides between longer rides and shorter, higher-intensity rides. “It flushes blood through fatigued muscles and can speed up recovery,” Gullickson says. “Psychologically, it’s nice to get on your bike and know you’re not going out to suffer.” He recommends one or two days completely off the bike per week. “Maybe one of those days is a cross-training day, just to mix it up.”
Pedalling through technical sections
When you’re first starting out and speeds are slow, you may need to pedal through technical sections like rocky gardens or narrow rooty trails. This obviously increases the chance of a pedal stroke, and whilst sometimes it can’t be avoided, you can mitigate the risk by choosing the right gear.
A lighter gear with a higher cadence may seem natural, but try changing down into a slightly harder gear than you’re used to before hitting the technical section. This does put some more strain on your muscles, but it will also lower your cadence and lessen the risk of a pedal stroke.
Sitting down too much
Sitting down on that lovely comfy saddle may seem like a safe bet if the terrain gets tricky, but you will be missing out on the best shock absorbers on the planet, your legs.
Not only will your legs help you soak up all those lumps and bumps, they’ll also allow you to separate your body from your bike. This makes it easier to lean and shift your weight around, making you a faster, more confident mountain biker.
Check out any pro downhill or enduro race run and you’ll see a common theme throughout the riders hardly ever sit down, so it’s a skill well worth paying attention to.
Don’t wear underwear under your spandex mountain bike shorts.
I thought I was the only person who had ever done this. It turns out that several other people that I know tried the same thing. Nope. No undies. Just shorts. Trust me: you’ll be much more comfortable this way. The same thing goes if you’re wearing baggy shorts with a liner.
There’s this stuff called Chamois butter… and it’s awesome.
Get some. You can find it at any bike shop and probably even at your local pharmacy (although Vaseline will work too). Use this before long rides, or even short rides if you’re just starting out. Just use it around your nether-regions to prevent chafing. You will be very glad that you discovered this stuff.
Don’t try to get on the seat before you pedal, or try to rest with your butt on the seat.
This (above) is uncomfortable and looks like you don’t know what you’re doing. Plus, you’ll discover it’s very difficult to start pedalling like this or stop and rest like this for long.
I have pictures of me from my first ride standing like this. Soon though, the BF explained to me a better way to stand and get started pedalling.
This is much more comfortable. To get to this position when you’re coming to a stop: have your pedals at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. Slow down and put the foot at 6 on the ground. Step forward and down with the 12 foot once your other foot is secure. This way, you’ll step down in front of your seat.
When you get ready to start again, adjust your pedals so that one is at about 10 o’clock. Put your foot on the pedal and leave the other on the ground. Gently push off with the ground foot at the same time you push forward with the pedal foot and up onto your seat . You’ll get a little momentum and balance yourself this way. Then you can easily get your other foot on the pedal and start moving.
Keep your fingers on your handlebars–not your brake levers.
If you keep your fingers out like this (and I know it’s easy to do because we all get nervous and want to be able to slow down immediately), you’ll go over a tiny tiny drop and flinch. When you do, you’ll end up grabbing your front brake and fly right over your handlebars.
You don’t want that.
Keep your hands lightly on your handlebars. I can get my finger out and over my brake lever in a split second. I still feel secure, and I know I’m not going to endo from accidentally grabbing my front brake.
Nobody else is thinking about the fact that you’re: going slow, walking, or examining a drop.
I know it seems like everyone is. All those strangers riding that drop as you carefully walk around it? They don’t care that you’re walking it. Probably they all walked things at some point in their bike lives. We all have. I still do. There’s no shame in it.
One day you’ll get tired of walking it and you’ll have enough confidence to ride it. No one expects that to be right away.
On the same note, this is your ride. Go at your own pace.
I can remember going out on a mountain bike ride very early in my bike life with some guy friends from work. I wasn’t fast, I didn’t ride lots of technical features, and I was sure I’d slow them all down. In the end, it didn’t matter. I was riding for me. I rode at my own pace and caught up to them at certain rest stops. We all had a great time, and I learned that I didn’t have to try to keep up. I could ride and rest when I wanted. You can too.
Watch other people.
The easiest way to learn how to ride up or down a feature is to watch other people do it. You can follow a friend who is a better rider down a drop, follow them up a drop, or just watch them a few times. You can ask them to show you their line, or to ride it again so you can follow (at a safe distance). Many times this has been the way I learned to ride features, including this most recent one:
I got my friend to show me exactly where she went down the drop. Once she did and I was sure of the path I wanted to take, I rode it. For years, though, I applied tip #5 and walked it, without shame!
If you ever decide to get clipless pedals, know that the clips can be adjusted so that it’s easier or harder to get your feet out of the pedals.
If you think it’s too hard to get your feet out of clipless mountain bike pedals, have someone adjust them for you. If you think your feet are popping out too easily (like every time you go over a drop) tighten the clips a little to hold your feet in more securely.
Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement.
In the past 4 days of mountain biking, I’ve experienced rocks, wind, and the need to duck around tree limbs. Sunglasses double as eye protection when you’re out on the trails. In fact, mountain biking is what forced me to finally get prescription sunglasses. I had to have something to wear when I rode! They don’t just protect you from the sun, but also from scratched corneas.
Shift before the hill.
Look ahead and see the hill coming. Shift into an appropriate gear for the hill and start pedalling up. If you can still pedal comfortably, it’s ok to shift; if you are struggling to keep the pedals turning, don’t try to shift into an easier gear. If you do, you might break your chain.
These are the best tips I could think of! Be safe and happy travelling.