MOUNTAIN BIKING BASICS
There are plenty of places to really enjoy a great bike ride around Australia, many of them don’t have to be far from home. Mountain biking is a great way to get a cardio workout into your life without the boredom of the treadmill. The array of bikes available on the market is astounding, to say the least. This is one activity that doesn’t take a lot of investment. But before taking your newly acquired machine on your next camping trip, here are some basics that are worth being aware of.
Braking is one area of mountain biking that requires careful thought because tyres carrying more weight have more braking power. That means when you are going downhill, your front wheel has more weight than the rear. You can add more weight to your rear wheel by leaning backwards. As your skill improves, you will learn to balance the amount of pressure you apply as well as using your body to brake better. It’s not uncommon to see beginners go head first over the handlebars.
GET TO KNOW YOUR GEARS
You will need your gears to help you out in all kinds of situations. Getting to know them and getting better at changing them is best practised on flat ground first. Every bike is a little different and it is worth getting used to your first bike on easier trails because if you have any experience riding bikes, you will get used to the nuances of your mountain bike quite quickly.
Unlike with road bikes, standing up on a mountain bike is not always the best way to move forward when going uphill. Standing up can cause you to lose traction on loose ground. In a lower gear, try to stay seated for as long as possible. Leaning forward over the handlebars is recommended when you are climbing very steep sections. This will help to keep the front wheel on the ground – the last thing you want is for it to pop into the air – something else you will often see happen with beginners.
Going downhill often requires staying very focused while staying relaxed and loose on your bike. The last thing you want to do is lock your elbows or hold your grips too tight. You can think of mountain biking downhill much like skiing. Your body weight is used more than steering. Instead of steering which way you want to go, focus on shifting your bodyweight to guide your direction. When the going gets bumpy, standing off the seat is critical. At this time, make sure you keep your pedals parallel to the ground while you straddle your seat.
Going downhill often requires a lot more skill than going uphill.
TAKE IT SLOW
There is nothing the rush of a newly found activity and it is common for most mountain biking beginners to go faster than they are skilled enough for. If you want to avoid nasty accidents, the best way is to talk it slowly from the very beginning, even if it does feel as if you should be going faster.
Does anyone else out there have some tips to those just getting started in mountain biking?