Dear Beginner Mountain Bikers!

Mountain biking can be an extreme, adventurous, and exhilarating sport.  If you are looking for a challenge, this is the sport for you.  Many people have picked up the hobby and created biking groups to join for fun or for learning.  I started mountain biking last summer, I bought my first mountain bike and have been actively riding ever since.  I joined a womens club called the “Mountain Biker Betties.”  We met up once a week and rode different biking trails.  It was the perfect way to get out there, meet new people, and learn how to ride effectively and safely.  There are many rules to riding that any beginner should know before taking your first ride, beginning with proper etiquette, safety rules, the proper bike, and important tools needed.  My favorite thing that I learned about mountain biking is the awesome and welcoming atmosphere and no matter what your skill level, you are always welcome.

 

  • How to join the community. I found the “Mountain Biker Betties” on meetup.com.  There are several groups for mountain biking specifically on this site, whether you are looking for a skills session, or just looking to meet new people to ride with.  It is a fantastic way to get started.

group photo

 

  • What type of bike to choose. There are several models of bikes to choose from, but it is important to learn which type of bike will be appropriate for you. The first question to ask is would you like to start with a hard tail or a full suspension?  A hard tail bike has one suspension fork attached to the front wheel only.  A full suspension has two, one on both wheels.  Full suspension bikes are typically more expensive but can be more comfortable and allow more control.  Although, some people will argue that starting with a hard tail is the best way to learn because you will learn proper techniques and skills with out getting “spoiled” with a full suspension.  Many people upgrade to a full suspension when they become more advanced.   The best way to decide which bike to choose is test ride them!  Many biking companies host events where you can ride any bike available to see which best fits you.  These can be found online.

 

  • The tools you need.  It is important to have a helmet, gloves, a camel back, a small portable bike pump, an extra tube for your tire in case of a flat, small first aid kit, and protein! Always bring some type of snack with you.  Mountain biking can be very difficult and if you allow your body to fatigue, you run more risk of injuries.

Camelback Mulehelmet

 

  • Share the trail and learn the proper riding etiquette.  There are a few simple rules you should know before heading to the trails.  Mountain bikers are usually a very friendly group of people and love to see other riders on the trail so we all want to practice these common courtesy tips.  Stay on the trails! Show respect for our land and animals.  This will also prevent flat tires from thorns, or running into large rocks or trees.   Next is “yielding.” Any time you are riding in a group, the leader should always stop at a split in the trail, to insure that all riders have seen which direction to ride.   When you stop on a trail it is important for not only your safety but for other riders or hikers, that you pull off to the side as much as possible.  You never know when a downhiller might be headed right for you.  When riding it is important that you stop for any hikers or uphill bikers, they always have the right of away.   And lastly, be courteous to the other people on the trails, we all deserve the right to enjoy the nature.

 

  • Bike signals. Unfortunately bikes do not have blinkers so it is important to learn the hand signals.  If someone waves their hand up and down starting from their head to their front bike tire, this means to slow down, something may be ahead.  A flat palm down toward your left leg means stop.  To make a left turn, just point to the left with a straight arm.  And lastly, for a right turn,  put your left hand up in the air by your head with a flat palm.
  • Learn your bike.  Before hitting the trails you should test your bike on the road or a flat area.  It is important to learn how to shift, know the proper height for your seat, and  the proper form when riding.   For instance, when riding uphill, you want to keep your weight forward and always looking up.  The last thing you want is to fall backwards.  When riding downhill you always want to lean back, and have your butt off of the seat.   Your hands should be at the end of the handlebars and elbows and knees should be slightly bent. This will prevent you from flipping over the handlebars.

body-position-for-descending-downhill-mountain-biking

 

  • How to find trails for your skill level.  It is always best to talk to someone who has experience riding in your area.  If you do not know any fellow riders, you can always talk to your local bike shop.  They may even know of some beginner groups you can join.  Not all trails allow bicycles, and some may be very advanced and not ideal for a beginner.

 

There is so much to learn about mountain biking so start slow, learn your bike before hitting the trails, and ride with a friend.  Keep your eyes and attention on the trail and stay well hydrated.  Now go out, meet new people, and fall in love with this awesome sport.

 

3 Responses to Dear Beginner Mountain Bikers!

  • Lixinting2012 says:

    Jess! What a superb article! I learned so much from reading it. I want to jump up and find a biking group. How fun! It incorporates terrific exercise, meeting new people and exploring trails. I learned how to take care of my bike and I really like the fact that you included the gear needed. This was a very valuable article. Thank you for sharing all this information with us.

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  • richardcolby says:

    Overall, the information here was very good. They way you integrated images works well to support your argument–nice touch and way to take advantage of the medium. You integrate communication here in talking about how you found a group to learn from and in specific communication of riding. I would have liked a bit more about further resources to learn from.

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