8 Easy Tips for an MTB Newbie
There's a lot of buzz around Mountain Biking. This sport has gained interest, and you see more riders joining in. Bikes and accessories for this sport are now also widely available, and accessibility is no longer an issue.
There are no defined rules and training on this sports activity. You have to let go, focus, and ride. You may have a mentor who has more experience and can share the ropes about this sport with you. But in the end, you're literally on your own in the untamed and unpaved trails.
We have put together a few tips for beginners to make their experience with mountain biking easier and delightful.
1) Be Bicycle Ready
Ensure the tyre pressure is as per the recommended value, typically from 22psi to 35psi and mostly with more air in the rear tyre to support the rider's weight. Make adjustments based on your personal preference, the terrain, riding style. Generally, rougher, steeper, and technical terrain ideally require lower pressure. But take care - If the pressure is too low, you could land up damaging your wheel rims and risk damaging the inner tubes as well. Experiment so make sure you carry a pump and a pressure gauge when you hit the trail. Getting your tire pressure right goes a long way in having fun.
Also, ensure that the seat height is appropriate, neither too high nor too low. A too-high seat can put a strain on your lower back, and a too-high seat would affect your knees and make pedaling harder. A perfect seat height is when your knees are slightly bent when the pedal is the closest to the ground.
2) Sit Loose and Relaxed
It's normal to get a bit stressed in the initial days of mountain biking. Unfortunately, that reflects in your body. It becomes stiff, and you will tend to grip the bike very tightly. Holding your bike with a tight and stiff grip will make riding harder, especially when going over trail obstacles and downhill slopes.
In the beginning, you will have to make a conscious effort and pay attention to your knees and elbows to keep them loose. You may choose to lower your chest towards the handlebars- this action drops your center of gravity and makes steering easier. Ensure your knees are not so stiff that they cannot move independently of the bike. Loose knees are better to maneuver around turns and to manage in a better way to clear trail obstacles.
3) Welcome the momentum
Speed and momentum are your friends when you ride a mountain bike. Stopping by braking suddenly or even going too slow are the leading causes of crashes. Picking up speed and maintaining momentum is what will get you through rough patches, small jumps, and obstacles. It may seem scarier at first, but when you get used to it, you will see merit in speed and momentum in Mountain Biking.
4) Expect to gear shift a lot
The bicycle gears for MTB riding are going to be used a lot and quickly. Additionally, you must anticipate the terrain and shift well before the change. Also, MTB terrain is more likely to change rapidly. Pre-empt the quick changing topography and move the gears as early on and as often as you need to.
5) Eyes Up Ahead
This advice is for all biking and not just MTB riding. But we need to say this since MTB riding can be distracting, and new riders tend to concentrate on the terrain their wheels are traversing rather than what's coming up. The change in terrain can be rapid, and you need to know the fast-approaching shift.
6) Don't be afraid of falls
If you choose to mountain bike, expect to fall a few times. And that's okay. But what you can do is learn to fall in a way that causes you the least amount of injury to yourself. Instinctively you would put your hands in front of you to brace yourself. But in doing so, when your hand hits the ground with force and with the weight of your body, you could suffer from broken wrists and/ or collarbones. Train yourself when you fall to take your arms in. You will get an impact, no doubt, but you could save yourself from a broken bone.
7) Ride at your own pace
Don't worry about speed; it's not a race. Even if you are riding with friends, ride at a pace that's comfortable for you. You can always catch them at the rest stop. Mountain biking is more about skill and less about reaching a destination. And don't be shy of walking along with your bike in tow for those sudden drops, etc. You will get around to riding those obstacles in time.
8) Learn to get off sitting in the saddle
It would help if you were ready to lift yourself from continuously being planted in your saddle, especially on downhill slopes. Your legs act as the best shock absorbers you can have. You also enable yourself to shift your weight around by standing and cycling, making mountain biking easier and faster.
If you are like most newbie mountain bikers, you would have watched numerous Mountain bike videos of pros hitting the trail. Well, that's it they're pros, don't get intimidated. Remember to take deep breaths- great for calming nerves, and feeling jittery is expected for the initial days of mountain biking.
In the end, Mountain biking is meant to be enjoyable even if it challenges you. Keep in mind the thrill, delight, and a wow feeling you will experience on completing a challenge. And like anything new, it may seem scary, but with repetitions, that fearsome slope that seemed daunting at first will soon become child's play.
What has been your experience that you would like to share or add to our tips? Please share by adding your thoughts in our comments section.
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