So you’re about to buy your first mountain bike and join thousands of other biking enthusiasts? It can be confusing to know what bike to buy, how to break, and how to approach drops. The good news is that it’s okay to not know these things right away. Remember, everyone was a newbie like you at one time. I certainly was not an expert the first time I rode, and fell off, my mountain bike! Keep on reading and you’ll learn the top tips I wish I had known when I started out.
Best Tips for The Newbies Excellent Mountain Biking
Ride the right bike
To make your ride more comfortable and safe be sure to pick a bike that fits your body. If you are buying a new bike or borrowing someone else’s, you should first try to adjust the seat and handle bars. Try riding it for a few feet to double check its overall comfort and adjust if needed. Your knee should have a slight bend while pedaling. Ideally, you’ll want somewhere between 80-90% full leg extension at the bottom of your pedal stroke.
No shame in safety
Anytime you start a new athletic hobby it is important to consider your own safety. Falling is going to happen at some point in your mountain biking life. By wearing a bike helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads you can avoid getting a serious injury. Sunglasses can also protect your eyes from not just the sun, but also any debris or rocks that may get kicked up from riding. If you’re going for a long ride be sure to pack a water bottle and energy snacks such as energy bars.
Check your gear following the ABC’s
Before you take to the trail it is important to make that your gear is in good working order. This safety check tips will make sure that you don’t suffer any dangerous falls. The ABC safety check stands for air, brakes, and chain. Most tires should have a psi (pounds per square inch) between 25 and 45. The best way to know the psi for your tires is to talk to your tire salesperson. You should also check your rear and front brakes by giving them a slight squeeze to ensure they are working properly. Lastly, check your chain to make sure it is clean and properly lubed (dry or wet lube depending on your riding conditions).
Keep your finger tips on the handles, not the brake levers
When riding for the first time it can be tempting to hover your fingers over the brake levers, especially if the speed scares you. This is a mistake. If you accidentally squeeze your brakes you risk flying over your handle bars. Instead, keep your grip firmly on your handle bars until you’re certain you want to brake. Also, you should think of your brakes as dimmers rather than switches. If you slam on your brakes you also risk flying over the handle bars. Light touches can help you control your speed much better.
Go at your own pace
Just like every other sport, nobody is an expert on day one. Go at the pace you’re comfortable. This may mean that you dismount and walk down drops or hills that you aren’t yet comfortable riding. If you are riding with a group and you fall behind, you can always meet them at the next rest stop. Ultimately, this is your ride and you should go at the pace you are comfortable. Everyone starts out going slower and walking harder drops.
Keep your eyes forward
When you’re riding it is important to look ahead to where you’re going. You should map out where you want to ride on the trail before you get there. Are you going to go down that drop or around it? Which path are you going to aim for? It can be dangerous to only look a couple of feet in front of where you’re riding. After all, you don’t want to approach a large drop going too quickly just because you didn’t look ahead.