Nothing quite gets your heart racing like mountain biking, hitting the trails, zipping along on two wheels through singletrack.
As a beginner it can be a challenge to navigate through wheel sizes, suspension set ups and handle bar length. I remember my first mountain biking adventure as a 10-year-old riding my ridged Raleigh bike from Halfords on a holiday to Slovakia with my Dad and Step Mum.
Sometimes the hills were so steep my Dad had to tie a rope to the front of my bike and ‘tow’ me up them! But I loved the singletrack and the exhilarating feeling of racing downhill, trees whooshing by as my mountain bike gripped the ground with its knobbly tyres.
I like to think my skill level on a mountain bike has improved since those early singletrack days! Here are my top tips for beginners looking to start mountain biking:
- Go to a bike demo! Before spending your hard earned pennies on a bike, it is worth riding a few to see what works for you. The best way to do this is at a bike demo day or hiring a bike so you can really test it. Riding around a shop car park is not going to help you know if that mountain bike is the right one for you, far better to go and get it muddy! Your local bike shop and trail centres are good places to start on finding demo days.
- A quality bike helmet is one of the most vital bits of kit you can buy. Making sure it fits properly is the next step, you should be able to get two fingers between the top of your helmet and your eye brows, the plastic pieces on the straps should be a cm under your ear lobes, this stops the helmet rolling back and the chin strap if you look down should be tight enough to keep the helmet in place but not so tight that you can’t breathe.
- So, Bike, check. Helmet, check. I would also recommend getting a good pair of biking gloves and safety glasses to protect your hands and eyes.
So you’re ready to hit the trails! Mountain biking is great fun and these next few tips will help you enjoy your time on the bike.
- Move around the bike – mountain bike tyres are knobbly so they grip the ground, don’t pump them up rock hard unless your planning on riding on the road or up steep hills, this will give you more grip and with it more confidence in your mountain bike. Practise leaning forward, backwards and side to side when you ride on non-technical ground to feel how the bike handles. Moving around your bike helps keep it flowing down the trails.
2. Cornering – When cornering your mountain bike do all your braking before the corner, enter the corner wide and exit on the inside. Look around the corner and use the banking (berms) to help carry your bike around the corner.
3. Look ahead – Riding through singletrack, obstacles will appear quickly as you glide through the trees, to be able to react and look for the smoothest line you need to look ahead down the trail.
I hope you found this helpful! For more mountain bike coaching advice please subscribe to my newsletter.