Getting outside and on two-wheels is a great way to stay fit and enjoy the fresh air. But going for a simple bike ride around town is not as appealing to all of the thrill seekers out there. That’s where the wild world of mountain biking comes in. Fresh air becomes fresher when you are surrounded by pine trees, and the ride becomes more exciting as you pedal up muddy mountains.
But where do you start? If you’ve never been out on a wooded trail with your bike, the prospect might seem a bit intimidating. So, to find out all the things you should know before starting to mountain bike, we sat down with Brad Hines, a NORBA licensed cross country mountain biker who has been riding for decades. His advice to all the ‘newbies’ out there can help you get started and ride comfortably.
Before You Start
Before you start, you should figure out what type of mountain biking you will be doing. Will it be flat land and up and down hills? Will it be mostly downhill or in wintery places? “Knowing ahead of time can help you and the clerk in a good bike store figure out what type of bike is best suited for you, right down to the type of tires you should have,” adds Hines.
You Don’t Need to Overspend
As a beginner, you don’t need to overspend. “Dont let anyone, least of all a bike store clerk, tell you that a good mountain bike can’t be purchased at a place like Dick’s Sporting Goods for example, where a nice beginner bike can be had for $300,” explains Hines. “With a sport that easily has entry level bikes starting at $1,000, and expert bikes going north as high as $3,000, $4,000, etc., it is important to find out how you feel about the sport before spending that much on a bike.” A good mountain bike should have no kick stand, a disc brake, knobby tires, a riser handlebar and weigh under 30 pounds with little or no plastic parts on it.
Have the Proper Safety Equipment
Safety equipment is extremely important to mountain biking. Not only will you be safer in case of an accident, but you’ll feel a lot more comfortable taking risks.
First make sure that you have a properly fitted helmet. There are two types, full-face or regular. Go for the full-face only if you intend to do extremely aggressive riding, such as super high speed and downhill.
Invest in good eye protection. Along the trail, branches, rocks and other objects could come near your face. Hines advises, “I always tell people, instead of paying $40 to $150 for "mountain bike glasses", go on Amazon, and buy a pair of Dewalt brand contractor glasses, which are the same thing, for only $3. When you lose a pair on the trail, you laugh it off, unlike high priced MTB glasses.”
There are so many places you can go riding including state parks, ski resorts and most public property with woods and trails. A quick Google search will direct you to places close by. And the more you ride, the better you will get. “The more you go the quicker you can go to expert level,” explains Hines. “Mountain biking has a learning curve similar to skiing. You can jump right into the sport for $500 for all the equipment at entry level, spend a season learning, and then by the next season begin to move your way up to more advanced stuff.”
Take Care of Your Bike
Treat your bike well. Clean it after a ride, especially in the rain or mud. Riding in those conditions can be fun, but it can wear down the components of your bike. Also, make sure your chain is properly lubed, and always carry around gear to fix your bike in a jiff, including allen wrenches, spare tube and tire pump.