Like any sport, there are always some risks to consider, but with precautions, practice, and awareness, many of these risks associated with mountain biking can be mitigated. Our first tip is not getting in over your head on the trail and to find a good fitting bike in safe working order to ride. Fit is crucial, as effective geometry is specific to your body type and riding style. A good experience means picking the right trails, going the right speeds, and wearing adequate protection combined with a solid baseline of training and good old fashioned practice. Keep reading to learn more. 

How to Get into Mountain Biking?

Understanding the different types of bikes, various terrain, specific gear, and general techniques involved is a great place to start when learning something new including mountain biking (MTB). The popularity of MTB means resources for the sport are plentiful, including online articles, tutorials, public forums, and community bike shops dedicated to the sport enabling you to learn from experienced riders firsthand. Set realistic goals for your MTB journey and be patient. Whether conquering a challenging trail, improving technical skills, participating in a local race, or just learning the ropes, having goals can keep you motivated and focused.

Perhaps the most important part of MTB is the bike itself. Local bike shops are great resources often offering free size fitting stations and numerous models onhand to try. A properly fitting bike designed for your anticipated style of riding is critical for safety, comfort, and overall pleasure. A versatile hardtail with front suspension is a great choice for beginners, combining affordability with simpler maintenance (less bells and whistles). A full-suspension cross country bike is another great option offering uphill/downhill versatility in a relatively light package. Consider factors like bike size, frame material, suspension type, and wheel size based on your body type and intended riding style. Lastly, you’ll need adequate shoes and safety gear, including a helmet, gloves, padded shorts, and eye protection. Knee and elbow pads are also great for additional protection.

Practice makes perfect and if you’re learning how to ride a mountain bike for the first time, start on flat surfaces off-trail, slowly progressing over time to more challenging terrain. Get comfortable with your bike’s balance and geometry, starting on trails with smooth terrain and gentle slopes to build your confidence and skills gradually. Focus on mastering fundamentals such as braking, shifting gears, body position while ascending, descending, and navigating obstacles like rocks and roots. Practice in safe environments and test out different terrains like rocks or sand before attempting more challenging trails.

What Should I Bring Mountain Biking?

The gear and attire you use for mountain biking depends on the weather, style of riding, and region you plan to ride. Ensure your bike is in good working condition, including properly inflated tires, functioning brakes, and adjusted components. Consider a hydration bladder and bag with basic essentials easy to pack, including a multifunction bike tool, mini-pump/CO2 inflator, spare inner tubes, patch repair kit, and chain lube along with basic first aid. A long ride can turn into a defeating hike with a flat tire, so be prepared. Wear easily removable wicking layers that breathe and work well with sweat, allowing you to adjust for warm climbs and cooler descents. Keep in mind, you create your own wind while biking, so consider a wind-breaker, too. 

Trail navigation has come a long way since paper maps, including dedicated mountain biking apps that work with phone GPS. The popularity of MTB offers another benefit: well-marked trails with dedicated maps, including color-coded trails indicating difficulty similar to ski resorts. Depending on your location, technology may not work so it’s always best to carry a paper trail or take a photo before you head out. Note any topographical considerations and landmarks, including elevation change, water features, cliffs and roads. Some mixed-use trails may include periodic vehicle traffic and dedicated trail directions that change depending on days of the week. Adhering to this is critical for safety, including that of other riders and hikers.

For the same reasons MTB is exhilarating, it can also be tiring on the mind and body. It’s important to fuel yourself and stay hydrated. Wind and sun exposure while sweating adds to the exertion, so it’s important to stay hydrated and well fed before and during rides. Fatigue, hunger, and dehydration exasperate potential risks (like falls) while impacting decision making and navigation. Packing energy-rich snacks with adequate nutrition mitigates energy loss, including fats, carbs and protein. Energy bars, trail mix, dried fruit, and electrolyte-rich snacks are great options. You’ll get tired, so frequent breaks are a great excuse to snack and drink water. 

Want to learn more about mountain biking? Whether you’re just starting out or want to further  hone your skills, we offer skills clinics and guided trips to help get you out on the trails with confidence and ease. Give us a call at 720-242-9828 or contact us to learn more. 

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