Head to the Mountains, on your Bike! March 02 2017, 0 Comments
Are you a triathlete, road cyclist or runner who is curious about mountain biking? Want to learn but need some basic tips? I was in your shoes a few years ago when I got a little burnt out on road cycling. I have since switched over to mountain biking exclusively and while I am no expert, here are a few things you may want to know about mountain biking:
Start slow, go short and pick easy trails. Get comfortable on your bike and find some beginner trails. 20 miles on a mountain bike is MUCH different than 20 miles on a road bike. So don't start off planning a huge ride right out of the starting gates! Miles to miles, it is NOT the same.
Adjust your body on the downhills. Move your body to the far edge of your seat when going downhill. Keep your center of balance low and stable and your butt off the saddle. If you have a dropper post on your bike: stand and use it. By standing you are allowing your body to absorb the shock from obstacles on the trail. Another trick I've learned was to keep my pedals parallel to the ground when going downhill. I try and keep them at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. This way they are high enough that you won't gash them into a rock at high speeds. It’s not fun, trust me.
Get your bike dirty, stop treating it like a baby. Remind yourself this is NOT your road or triathlon bike. Get it dirty and it's ok if it gets scratched. Mountain bikes are much better at taking a beating than our precious tri bikes. But to keep your mountain bike in top shape always clean after every ride.
It's ok to walk! Mountain biking terrain can be steep, loose and rocky. It's ok to get off and walk. It's more important to have fun rather than to end up in the emergency room.
Look way ahead of you. Always, always, always look at least 10 feet ahead of you. This way you have more time to react if something is on the trail. Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. For example, do not fixate on that large rock on the edge of the trail that you are worried about crashing into. If you are focusing on the rock, your body will naturally draw itself to that rock and before you know it, you'll be crashing into it!
Practice shifting gears. You shift gears a lot when you mountain bike. I can recall the first couple times that it drove me crazy to be shifting around that much. It was so different from road biking but that is normal so shift away. You will also want to get into the habit of shifting before you reach the hill. Again this is where you always want to be looking ahead and make sure you are prepared for the hill by shifting early.
Take a lesson or join a group. Keep your elbows loose and don't clench your hands. Use your elbows to absorb the shock. Just relax, have fun, enjoy the scenery and give mountain biking chance. These are all tips I learned from my local bike shop: Soul Ride in Prescott, Arizona. They cater to beginner mountain bikers and frequently hold lessons and retreats. It’s a great way to improve your skills and be a part of the mountain bike community. Please look them up or join one of their group Wednesday rides that I help lead each week.
Are you an experienced mountain biker? What tips do you have for beginners? Leave your comment below.
Soul Ride: https://soulride.bike