As a fan of the outdoors and cycling, I think mountain biking is awesome! There’s mud, new lingo (which I’ll explain below), and you ride in the great outdoors. Most importantly, mountain biking is an excellent aerobic activity that caters to adrenaline seekers and those wanting to spin while in the forest.
Health benefits: Like road cycling, mountain biking is a superb aerobic activity that builds stamina, strengthens your heart, and minimizes your risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes. It keeps your arms and core muscles strong as you need a good (but not overly tight) grip on the handle bars and you need to balance.
Choosing a trail: For beginners, start with gravel roads. Progress to double tracks, like ATV trails that still have lots of space and are fairly flat. Then move on to single tracks which are narrow, single file paths. Look for trails here. Once you’ve tried a few, you can start riding more technical trails that require more skill. Here’s an example of the trail rating system that helps riders see the difficulty levels.
Choosing a bike: It all depends on the level of riding you intend to do. Consider renting or borrowing one from a friend for a few rides before purchasing. When you are ready, visit a few bike shops, discuss your goals with the staff to see what your options are, and try a few bikes.
Mountain biking equipment: You’ll need a helmet, eye protection (sunglasses), and gloves. Padded bicycle shorts, a breathable shirt, and bike shoes significantly increase comfort, but are not mandatory. Likewise, carrying a bike multi-tool, mini-pump, and spare tube for mechanical problems will keep you rolling. If you plan on tackling more challenging terrain, a full face helmet and armor (hip guards, shin, knee and elbow pads) will help protect you when you fall; an inevitable reality (but don’t worry, everyone has plenty of wipeouts!) Keeping a first aid kit in your car is a good precaution.
Fit in at the trailhead! Get to know the lingo:
- Dialed-in: When everything on your bike is running smoothly
- Knobbies: Wide all-terrain tires
- Shred: Completing trails with a high level confidence (e.g., I was shredding the trail!).
- Wipeout: A crash
- Yard sale: When your equipment is spattered everywhere during a fall, giving the impression of a yard sale.
- Lid: Helmet
- Granny Gear: The easiest gears on your bike.
Take the fun to the mountains this summer on a mountain bike. You’ll be surprised at how fast an hour goes by, and be itching for more. Which trails will you shred?!