If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of Downhill biking, but this article is not downhill specific. As I write this, I want to make sure all these mountain biking tips can be applied to all mountain bike types of cycling. I also believe that most of these are the first steps to real enjoyable, fun and safe mountain bike rides.
Clothing & Protection Gear
Over the years, I’ve learned that fun mountain bike rides start with the right gear. It doesn’t really matter what you wear, as long as you are comfortable. And comfortable isn’t the same for everyone. What I do suggest though is that you grab the right protective gears for the job, sort of speak. If you want to ride cross-country, you might want to look at gear such as these helmets and these mountain bike gloves. If you’re adventuring yourself into downhill mountain biking, you might want to make sure you don’t hit the trails without a full face helmet and protective gears such as gloves and knee pads. And depending on your level and ability–or comfort–elbow pads, chin guard and body armors.
Whichever protection you choose, it’s important for it to be the right size. Otherwise, when time comes, the protection won’t be there. Furthermore, make sure you feel comfortable with the amount of protection you wear. I’ve seen the mistake more than once. It’s not because your friend doesn’t wear a body armor that you shouldn’t.
Ok, let’s dig right into it. There’s this thing called Chamois butt’r and believe me when I say it will become handy. Get some! You can find it at your local bike shop and probably at your local pharmacy too. I’m sure that just like me you’ll find this a very useful tips about mountain biking. Indeed, use it before long rides, or even short rides, if you’re just starting out. Likewise, on hot days or humid days. Simply use it on your inner thigh to prevent chafing. Indeed, it’s been a regular issue for me since I’ve been riding a bicycle. And I know it’s an issue for a lot of people. I’m so glad I discovered this stuff and hopefully you’ll be too.
This is a really important one. Mountain biking is often done on trails or roads shared with other users, such as hikers, runners and horses. It is then important to always be in control of your bike, and only ride on trails marked for mountain bikes. Also, remember to always be a courteous and responsible rider. As you’re often arriving fast, and in the woods, it’s not always easy to see what’s coming. Always stay aware of your surroundings.
Here’s a few important rules to remember about the trail etiquette:
The right-of-way is to cyclists traveling uphill. Don’t be an ass and yield.
Always slow down when approaching hikers or horses and give them space. When dealing with horses always look for direction from the horseback riders, they’re your best allied.
Let other trail users know you’re coming. That’s to say, do what you can to not spook anyone (neither humans nor animals). Be cordial — give them a friendly greeting.
Mountain Bikes Maintenance
Bicycle maintenance is vital to the performance and preservation of your ride. And this is even more true with mountain bikes. Without proper maintenance, mountain bikes will quickly go from a lean, mean, two-wheeled machine, to a squeaky, rusty, pant leg munching mess. Keeping your bicycle in top condition requires regular protective and preventive maintenance, some of which you can do yourself. Other jobs may need the skills of a professional bike mechanic. Either way, doing regular maintenance will help improve your mountain biking experience. This is even truer if you’re using your mountain bike only during the nice season. Indeed, when spring is coming you should do a quick tune up of your bike. Even better, would be a complete thorough one.
Ride with Better Riders Than Yourself
I find this one to be one of the very good tips about mountain biking. It will help your riding skills to evolve much faster. But make sure you don’t over push it. Indeed, this works well, as long as you stay in control of your bike. You don’t need to follow everything the front rider is doing. But rather, use him/her to progress at a comfortable pace.
What I mean by that is, imagine there’s an obstacle (wood bridge, rock garden or anything else), you can take some momentum by following your riding pal. You will navigate your way to the obstacles as he/she opens the road before you. You can then concentrate on your technique without worrying about your speed or line. After all, you’re following someone who knows the obstacle and how to overcome it.
Focus on Where You Want to Go
This tip is pretty important. And also, a basic in mountain riding. If you drive a car, you understand what I mean when I say: “look where you want to go, and you will go there”. In fact, with mountain biking it’s exactly the same. It’s very important to look where you want to go because that’s precisely where you’ll go.
Yes, the concept can seem simple, but it’s not always the case. That’s why, wearing goggles will help you accomplish this. Indeed, it will help you keep your eyes open in the rain, the mud, the sun… In addition to looking where you want to go, also look as far as you can to improve stability. I know it’s much easier said than done. But trust me it will at the minimum save you a few bruises. Look where you want to go. Keep a minimum of 4 or more feet upfront vision and everything should be good.
Use Both Brakes
If you ask most mountain bikers out there, they will probably say you should use both brakes 50/50. I say, yes you should use both brakes of course. I mean, you’re coming down a hill, right? However, use them as needed, there’s no right or wrong here. STAY IN CONTROL.
For that reason, I think using your brakes is your own decision. However, using your brakes at that ratio will make it a safe, fun and challenging ride. Still, as long as you keep control of your mountain bike at all times, you can explore deeper braking techniques. But make sure not to use your front brake abruptly and suddenly when going down. Because, yes, that’s how ODB (over the bar) happens! And trust me, you don’t want that.
Progression is King
When you’re just getting started with mountain bikes, progression is everything. And, one great tips about mountain biking is that baby steps will make for big progress. Above all, the idea is not to be able to face all obstacles at once. But rather to find a balance between YOUR skill level, skill evolution and safe riding. Therefore, practice every achievement a few times before moving on to more complex obstacles. Likewise, make sure you start small, to warm up, and work your way to higher speed and obstacles. The key word here is to go at your own pace. Always make sure you’re comfortable with a feature before moving to a bigger one. And don’t attempt something if it doesn’t feel right to you. You’ll get there, at your own pace.
Remember your success
Every little achievement in mountain biking is worth celebrating. Indeed, mountain biking in general, and especially downhill, is a constant battle against yourself. So, every new feature mastered, every speed gained, every cornering nicely completed is worth remembering. And what better way to remember your accomplishments than having them on video. I really think it’s worth investing in a GoPro or other action camera of the same type. You’ll enjoy watching your progress and remembering your achievements years later. Also, sometimes we’re looking at other riders and get the impression we’re not that good. However, just look back at where you were a few months before and remember your success. You’ll see that in fact, you’re probably way better than you think. And remembering your mountain bike’s success will help you achieve new ones.
ENJOY, ENJOY, and ENJOY
Mountain biking has so much to offer. You’ll see some great mountain views, fun and scary wild animals, and so many other things. I’ve learned over time to always find some time to stop on the trail side and enjoy nature. To discover more, you can check out Why We Love Mountain Biking. You’ll see why I like to take a minute and a few deep breaths. It helps refocus my concentration and refresh my mind. It makes the ride that much more enjoyable. The idea is simply to take a minute and enjoy the nature and the outdoor moment with your riding buddies.
Here you go, those were some good quick tips about mountain biking worth applying on every ride. Have fun out there!
How useful do you think these tips are?
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