Remember when you were young and you got on a bicycle for the first time without training wheels?
You probably remember having a mix of emotions, and anxiously wondering if an adult was going to hold the back of your seat to make sure you wouldn’t fall?
Yeah, we’ve been there.
But even before we got there, we remember the preparation it took to get to the point of riding a bike without training wheels. There was the brake, the pep talk if you did happen to fall, the plan on where you were going, and the encouragement that you were ready to do it.
Mountain biking is the exact same just a little bit more extreme, but if you are thinking about taking up mountain biking as a beginner think back to the normal biking basics — we’re outlining them for you here.
Here are 5 things to help all mountain biking beginners.
1. Make a Plan and Ask Yourself — What are you wearing, Where Are you going, How Long Will You Be Gone For? So you’ve decided you want to start mountain biking?
Welcome to one of the coolest clubs there is. Well, in our opinion.
However, before you get on your bike you should make a plan. Regardless of if you go mountain biking with someone or by yourself make sure you have consciously chosen the proper shoes, pants, and overall attire.
Is it going to rain? You might want to bring a rain jacket.
Then, as you’re thinking about your mountain biking attire, think about where you’re going and how long you’ll be biking for. If you’re going on an all-day ride, you may want to pack food, a certain amount of water, and other essentials that will help contribute to making your ride the perfect adventure.
Mountain biking for beginners and experts alike need to take clothes, food, water, and other preparations into consideration — otherwise, you might be in for a rough ride.
2. Use All Your Gears & Make Sure They Engage
Now that you have the proper gear, you’re ready to get going.
One of the most important things in mountain biking for beginners is to understand that the gears on your bikes are your friends.
When you go up a hill, if you have a high gear in place it’s going to be significantly harder to pedal up the hill, so you’re going to want to be on a lower number when going uphill; however, if you find you’re pedaling really fast and nothing is happening don’t worry just shift into a higher gear.
It is important to understand that when the terrain is going up, you should anticipate the gear shift. Traditionally, going up should be in the lower gear numbers, and going down should be in the higher gear numbers but everyone’s style is a little different so a different gear uphill might be better for you than it is for your riding partner.
Whatever works for you, find it and remember it so you’ll be prepared to act when the terrain changes. When you sign up for a tour with us in Colorado Springs, our experienced guides will work to show you how to shift your gears and different gear shifting techniques to assist you on your mountain biking for beginners tour.
Just remember — use all your gears.
3. Go Easy on the Brakes
If you feel as if you’re going too fast you may have a tendency to be really aggressive with your brakes.
One of the most important tips for mountain biking beginners is understanding constant and over brake usage will not help. In fact, it’ll make it worse.
If you’re aggressively and quickly grabbing the breaks with your entire hand, you could cause your bike to slide out from under you or create a launching effect where you fly over the handlebars. Ultimately, over braking can cause you and your bike to be lying horizontally on the ground.
Instead, use two fingers on each brake and be gentle — go slower over rocks and bumps that you’re unsure of and don’t worry about reacting too quickly, your bike is made for the bumpy terrain.
4. Look Where You Want To Go
Right from the beginning, you’re on the bike and you’re ready to ride, but you keep staring straight down at the ground because you don’t want to hit a rock, what if you go down into a hole? There are all kinds of things that can get in your way.
Another important mountain biking tip for beginners is to look straight in front of you, even if you have an urge to look right down in front of you.
Your bike is going to go where you tell it to, and if you’re looking down at the ground you’re telling it to go on the ground — BAM (crash.)
Instead, look all the way down the trail and your eyes will use your peripheral vision to avoid obstacles that may not be right in front of you.
Book a tour with us in Colorado Springs and our experienced guides will help teach you how to fix your mountain biking vision and eliminate any target fixation you may have as a mountain biking beginner.
5. Stay Loose & Shift Your Weight
During any mountain biking trip, for beginners and experts alike, it is important to remember your bike was made to roll over rocks and terrain — don’t fight it.
As your bike moves from side to side and over the ground move with it. Let it move how it wants. Mountain bikes, and specifically the specialized mountain bikes we use on our tours, are lightweight to give you the most flexibility and movement possible.
As the terrain changes the way your bike moves changes, so if you’re going downhill you could be catching a lot of momentum, trust your bike and push your arms out, with your elbows out, to let the bike flow naturally down the hill without having to impact your body too much.
Also, as you trust your bike to flow naturally remember to shift your weight to accommodate that natural flow of your mountain bike.
For example, when you pedal uphill it is important to shift your weight to the front to shift your center of gravity and give your bike the most traction. This is the opposite of when you’re going downhill.
Hit the Trail!
If you keep these five mountain biking for beginners tips in mind during your next few rides, eventually they will act as fundamental mountain biking habits that will set you up for success every time.
So there you have it! Now, hopefully, you feel confident to become a mountain biker!
But, if you’re still a little unsure about the sport of mountain biking don’t worry. At Pikes Peak Bike Tours in Colorado Springs, we offer a variety of mountain biking tours that are equipped with expert guides, equipment, and more. All of which can help perfect all of the mountain biking for beginners tips you need to know.