Some say you never forget how to ride a bike. That being true, it still requires a lot of bike-riding skills and fitness to tackle the challenge of mountain biking. Mountain biking for beginners is way more demandable than road riding in terms of strength, cardio, and balance. Most of a road ride is spent within the aerobic zone, while mountain biking requires additional exertion to overcome demanding trials. Most of the stages are on varied terrain and you have to step on the pedals real hard in some areas. Another very important aspect of mountain ride is having strong technical skills. That feature can save you a lot of energy and compensate for eventual inferior fitness. The combination of solid endurance and technical skill usually equals the most efficient riding. There are many ways you can enjoy mountain biking, but also so many ways you can look like a total scrub or even worse, hurt yourself. In this article, we’ll try to review the basics of mountain biking, so you can enjoy your first ride without looking too noobish.
It is advisable to start your mountain biking career on the with smooth and flat stages, for obvious reasons. As you gain experience your ability to overcome the obstacles will develop and you will be able to try on more difficult trails. Tracks are typically labeled by skill level, and there are four of them: Beginner, intermediate, expert and double expert.
The most common trail type is single-track, which is usually reserved for only one biker at the time. The width of a single-track trail range from the shoulder width to just enough for two bikes to pass. Most of the singletrack trails go through the best terrain in a landscape.
Double-track trails are basically typical single track trails, just wide enough for two bikes to pass simultaneously. Those trails usually follow former logging, fire or power line roads, in which vehicle tires created two single tracks. However, double-tracks usually feature lighter technical features than single-tracks.
The most complex trails are mountain bike terrain parks, which recently started appearing rapidly everywhere. Those parks are stacked to the rafters with complex technical elements. such as tilted bridges, halfpipes, various sized jumps, berms, banked corners, and steep downhill switchbacks.
Types of Bike
Choosing the right bike is very important for mountain biking for beginners. The type of mountain bike you’re gonna use is usually determined by the location where are you planning on riding. Two crucial features that define what type of terrain your bike is capable of tackling are suspension type and wheel diameter. When it comes to types of suspension wheel diameter you have plenty of options. Now let’s say a few words about suspension types.
Although it is not the most common type of mountain bike, rigid mountain bikes don’t have any suspension, quite suggestive by name. Those bikes are less expensive and easier to maintain, but the majority of bikers prefer any type of suspension instead. Fat bikes are usually rigid because the combination of wide tires and low tire pressure provides enough cushion to absorb bumps on the road.
Hardtail bikes have a suspension on the front wheel, to help absorb impact. The rear side of the bike has no suspension at all, thus the name hardtail. These bikes are less expensive than full-suspension bikes and they have less moving parts, which equals less maintenance.
Hardtail bikes can also lock out the front suspension and convert into a fully rigid bike. Cross-country bike racers prefer hardtails because they allow more power transfer from the pedals to the back wheel. Those bikes are also good for all-mountain trails, and their low price and versatility make them a good choice for every trail except lift-serviced downhills, which would require the next type of suspension.
Full suspension bikes have many variations, but the general idea is that they have devices to absorb the collision shock on both wheels. As a result, the rider feels way less impact, and the ride is more enjoyable. The downside of this type of bike is that you will lose some of the energy transfer on the uphill. That’s why most of the full-suspension bikes have the ability to lock out the rear suspension. Downhill bike setups usually have a bigger amount of movement in the suspension compared to cross country and all-mountain rigs.
Considering the wheel size, 26ers are pretty popular for dexterity and responsiveness. Not too far ago, every mountain bike had 26-inch wheels. If you look for the middle ground between standard 26 and 29-inch wheels, there are 27.5 ones. They are more maneuverable than 29rs but get over terrain easier than 26ers. The giant mountain bikes featuring 29rs are heavier and slower to gain speed, but they supremely conquer the terrain once they gather up acceleration. There are also 20 and 24 inches wheels, and they are generally made for children bikes.
Mountain bikes are often categorized based on the biking styles. You can also easier decide which type of bike you’re gonna use.
The most common mountain biking style is Trail. The main reason for that is is because that category isn’t based on any specific type of racing. You pick trail bikes if you’re interested in mixing climbs and descents in semi-casual fashion. The bikes that belong in the Trail category are balanced between fun, efficiency and reasonable weight.
Cross-country style usually includes riding fast with a lot of climbing. The distances in the cross-country category range from a couple to 25+ miles and bikes in these categories emphasize lightweight frame and efficiency. This category is more competitive than Trial, so if you are considering racing against other people this would be a great choice for you.
Downhill/park types of the ride usually take place at parks with lift service. Sometimes a ski resort during warmer months can easily serve as a downhill park ride. The bikes belong in this category are big and tough, and the driver wears a full-face helmet and body armor. They are made with more durable components, having fewer gears, and suspension allows for more movement. The terrain is very rich with obstacles, although you are on the perpetual downhill so you don’t have to pedal match. Nevertheless, these stages are very challenging because they require you to react to the fast-approaching elements.
All-mountain/Enduro category is basically a very hard difficulty variant of Trail riding. There are all elements of a Trail ride, just amped up to eleven for more challenge. Bikes for this category are light and nimble, but also durable enough to handle the neck-breaking downhill ride. By the way, The enduro race is the name for a competition that has both downhill and uphill stages, but only downhill stages are timed. The winner is the racer with the best-combined downhill time.
The most fun bike category is the so-called Fat biking. The fat in the name refers to tires, which are at least 3.7 inches wide (some measure whole 5 inches or even more). Tires this wide naturally provide excellent traction on sparse terrains such as snow or sand, although they aren’t limited to those. Fat bikes are a great option for amateur mountain bikers since they are very forgiving on bumpy ground.
Driving Tips and tricks for mountain biking for beginners is very important to understand and follow. To get the most out of your mountain biking session it’s crucial to be relaxed and flexible on your bike. Be ready to move in every possible direction to adapt to extremely uneven terrain. The first thing you should do is to protect yourself while driving your bike. So having something to protect your head is essential. Head injuries with mountain biking are very common, and can sometimes even be fatal. If you fall with a helmet on, you’ll only suffer a few bruises. Without one, you could even end up having a concussion or splitting your head open. Make sure to research the best mountain bike helmets before you make your purchase so as to ensure you’re going with the right option.
The second thing you should do is to look ahead and concentrate your awareness further than your front wheel. Doing so you will see trail elements coming and you will have time to prepare for them accordingly. When descending, keep yourself standing on the pedals with both arms and legs flexed, so they can act as shock absorbers. During climbing, make sure to drop into lower gear on time, so you can climb uphill at a steady pace rather than pedal hard and lose traction. Cornering is a very sublime skill and one you learn constantly. Although every rider has his own cornering style, it’s generally accepted that you have to lean the bike over (but not your body) so the bike can attack the curve more efficiently. Concerning rolling over small obstacles, mountain bikes are designed to do it. For psychological advance, don’t look at the obstacle while tackling it, but ahead of it. Finally, don’t neglect your body a good recovery, as it’s equally important as training. To jumpstart the rest process, you could take a recovery mix drink (any mix of proteins and carbs will do). Ride your bike casually so you won’t associate biking with suffering and rest completely for a day or two per week.
I hope you found these tips and tricks for Mountain biking for beginners interesting. Mountain biking is one of the most entertaining but also most physically challenging activities. The surge of adrenaline as you connect with nature while maneuvering through the trail obstacles is the feeling that is very hard to resist. However, it takes a lot of preparation and knowledge to successfully rise to the challenge of mountain biking. There are a lot of ways to embarrass yourself on a mountain trail, but don’t let that discourage you. In time you will build enough skill and confidence and growing to a true mountain biker.