Share Your Adventure image by Bob Kayser
"Let it rip." - Gary Fisher
I started mountain biking back in the early 1990s, and I've been an on-again, off-again rider ever since. There is nothing else quite like it, and come springtime, my thoughts usually begin to wander toward singletrack. The sport and the technology have come a long way over the years, and this fantastic outdoor pastime is even more accessible than ever to new riders. If you like spending time outdoors, and you enjoy riding a bike, there's a very good chance you'll love mountain biking.
Today, you can get a pretty solid mountain bike for a reasonable investment, often less than $500 if you wait for a good sale at a local shop. You could also buy a pre-owned bike, although I don't recommend this for beginners. It can often be difficult to tell how much wear and tear a bike has been through until you're out on the trail and it suddenly breaks. Best case scenario, you might just snap a spoke. Worst case, the frame could be cracked or bent, and you're stuck with a lemon. You could always ask the seller to meet you at a bike shop, and have it inspected prior to making a purchase. Once you have a bike, the only other piece of equipment you really need is a helmet, although gloves and cycling shorts are also a good idea.
If you've never given it a try, this could be your season to start hitting the trails! Concerned about the learning curve? Seek out a local bike shop in your area, and ask them about a beginner's course or if there are any local cycling clubs that will take new riders out for their first time. The cycling community in most areas is very open to helping new riders. At the very least, the bike shop where you purchase your new wheels will likely have plenty of helpful advice and recommend a few local trails that will be a good starting point.
Some Pointers for Beginners:
- Take it slow when you're starting out or if you're on a new trail for the first time.
- Watch your speed around curves and when you have a limited view of the trail ahead.
- Always be aware of your pedal positions when going around or over rocks and other obstacles.
- Be wary of sand, mud or loose dirt.
- Keep your weight shifted back farther toward the rear wheel during descents.
- Always watch out for hikers and other cyclists on the trail.
- Carry a spare innertube and pump, and know how to change a flat before your first trail ride, especially if you plan on riding far from your home or vehicle. Otherwise, you'll be walking your bike all the way back.
Just in case you needed some motivation, check out this great video from Filme von Draussen. It was nominated as a finalist at the Banff Mountain Film Festival last year.
Need help finding good trails in your area? Check out a Trails.com or SingleTracks.com for locations, trail descriptions and more.
Already a rider? What do you love most about mountain biking? We'd love to hear your thoughts.