A mountain biking beginner may feel totally overwhelmed when introduced to bikes, maintenance basics, and all the trails and tribulations of riding!
However, introducing some basic skills will quickly give a mountain biking beginner the ability to start enjoying the sport, and to tackle obstacles with confidence. It doesn't have to take years to reach this point!
The first and most important step in beginner mountain biking is to make sure that you have a well-fitted helmet. No biker, beginner or otherwise, should ever be on the road without this vital piece of equipment. Buy the best you can afford - your life may depend on it!
When you are learning the ropes as a mountain biking beginner, you are less confident, and more likely to make contact with the road at some point! Protect your hands with a good pair of gloves. This will also be more comfortable than gripping the handlebars with bare hands.
For a mountain biking beginner, Lycra cycling shorts is still a good choice, especially if you are planning a long ride. Padded mountain biking shorts is another good option, gaining in popularity. It is a matter of personal choice. Try both, and decide which one you prefer.
Clipless pedals necessitates special mountain biking shoes, designed to clip into the cleat. A good pair of sunglasses will help to protect beginner mountain biking eyes from flying insects and other strange objects! Also make sure that you have a full water bottle, and something to eat.
Beginner mountain biking can be daunting, but if you make contact with knowledgeable personnel in a specialized shop, talk with experienced bikers, and do some reading, you will soon get the hang of it.
To buy a bike suitable for a mountain biking beginner, find someone you can trust to give you the best advice. Your budget, and the terrain on which you will use the bike, will determine your choice. Go for full suspension if at all possible. Make sure that the saddle is adjusted according to your height.
A long list of accessories are available. Not all of these are necessary for mountain biking beginners! Use your common sense, and buy according to your needs. One must-have is a repair kit for use on the trail. This will contain the basics for fixing a flat, and a multi-tool for bike repairs.
As a mountain biking beginner you have to be ear-to-the-ground for valuable tips from experienced riders, who know how to take care of small mishaps.
Make sure that the store where you buy your bike, offer a repair service. Make a note of maintenance advice, such as cables needing to be wiped and relubed. As a mountain biking beginner, a good habit to get into, is washing your bike immediately after any ride. Some sticky stuff becomes a permanent part of your riding kit if you don't do this!
Beginner mountain biking skills will quickly progress from the basics, such as getting to know your pedals. Practice will soon give you the confidence to start taking your foot on and off the pedals while pedaling. Remember that your body weight needs to be to the rear of the bike on a steep descent.
Shifting gears is an important skill to master as a mountain biking beginner. Lower gears will help you up a hill, but you need to shift gear before you actually get to the hill. It is a question of timing, which will become second nature with experience.
To stop your bike, use the front brake more than the back. Use a series of quick, tiny micro-braking actions called "feathering". If you feel your brakes are getting less effective, one common problem is pad residue on your rims. It is easy to fix this, by cleaning the rims with steel wool.
As a mountain biking beginner, you will find that learning specialized techniques is a confidence-builder. Perfecting your bunny hopping will help you to get over all those obstacles, and will impress your riding companions no end!
Keep in mind that a common mistake mountain biking beginners make, is trying to avoid an obstacle. This is the surest way to crash! Always focus on where you want to go, not on the obstacle itself.
Most importantly, learn to relax and enjoy yourself. When you finish that first trail ride, you will forget all about the hard work that preceded it.
Riding like a pro, is just around the corner! Soon you will no longer be a mountain biking beginner, but the one other novices approach for advice...