Mountain biking is a fun and rewarding sport, and a lot of that fun comes from the challenges it can face you with. For a beginner, there’s a lot of stupid mistakes someone can make that could get you hurt, or at the very least ruin your weekend. You can make sure your first biking experience is a good one if you follow these tips that every beginner should know about mountain biking.
1. Come Dressed Correctly
Dressing correctly and wearing the proper protection is the first step towards having a good mountain biking experience. It seems straight forward enough, but there’s a lot of mistakes people commonly make here that can totally ruin the experience.
Naturally you don’t want to skimp on things like the appropriate helmets and safety gear. Sunglasses are highly advisable both for sun protection and for keeping branches out of your eyes. Spandex bike shorts can be great for riding in too, but don’t make the mistake of putting on underwear under them. It may also be wise to invest in some decent socks to prevent chafing.
2. Learn How to Brake
This one is huge, and failing to learn this could get you hurt. A lot of people get scared and want to hold onto the brakes when they’re new to mountain biking, but this is practically the one of the most dangerous things you could do. One bump or flinch on the front wheel’s brake and instead of learning to bike, you’ll be learning to fly.
Regulate your speed with a passive touch on your brakes, and keep your fingers on the handle bars, not the brakes. When you need to slow down faster, use the right brake (rear wheel) instead of the left as this will be less likely to tip you over.
3. Get Some Anti-Chafe Cream
Biking can get pretty tough on your legs, and that friction of your thighs sliding back and forth for hours is going to cause chaffing for sure. Don’t ignore the products they make for this very purpose, and put on some anti-chafe cream. These are cheap and common to bike shops but also sometimes sold at less specialized stores like pharmacies.
4. Get the Hang of Using Your Gears
This one can take some real learning, but the key to having the right amount of momentum for tackling hills, crossing rocks and making tight corners is mastering the usage of your gears. Pay attention to the terrain ahead of you and set your gear appropriately so you can trek that terrain with more speed and momentum.
5. Check Your Suspension
Almost all modern mountain bikes on the market now will feature a suspension fork or a shock absorber in the rear wheel. Many new bikers will fail to properly use these as their active position has to be manually adjusted by the rider. If you take a few moments to set this correctly or read a guide on doing so, a lot of the harsh bumps and rocks you’ll cross won’t feel like so much.
6. Learn Where to Look
When riding on a trail, keep your eyes forward, look where you want to go and keep your chin level with the ground. Another huge and dangerous mistake that a new biker could make is looking down at nearby obstacles. Instead, you should always be looking ahead to see where you’re going. Only use your peripheral vision to anticipate small obstacles. Look at where you want to go instead of what you want to go around to prevent target fixation.
7. Go at Your Own Pace
After all is said and done, what’s the most important thing? Having fun and taking your time learning the sport. Everyone starts as beginner and no one starts perfect, so learn how to bike the right way and don’t focus on keeping the pace with veteran enthusiasts who have way more experience than you do.