Mountain biking is fun, exhilarating and adventurous. At the same time, it is also intimidating for those looking to get started. It is not unsafe, but there isn’t a lot of room for error when you are barreling down the side of a hill on a twisty turny path with trees and rocks everywhere.
It can be quite safe even, the trees and rocks notwithstanding, when you have some basics to go with when you start out as a novice.
In this article, we will cover the basics of what you need to keep in mind to get the most out of your mountain biking experience. So, pick a mountain biking destination, then when you feel like you have a good foundation of how to go about it, you can travel with bikes there and enjoy the adventure to the fullest!
1 – Keep your body loose
Your bike is there beneath you to absorb the shock of the banging and bouncing off of the rocks and roots. That’s what it was designed for. Especially the newest versions with high impact shock absorbers built into the frame.
When you keep yourself loose, you allow the bike to take the beating and not your body. You should only be seated when you are peddling on flat terrain. The rest of the time, hover over the saddle so your bike can make the maneuvers it needs.
Keeping your elbows and knees unlocked acts as shock absorbers for your body. If they are locked, you are asking for injuries and at best will just be uncomfortable to ride like that.
2 – Shift your weight
Maintaining traction is one of the most important aspects of mountain biking. Your rear wheel is what is going to keep you from wiping out most of the time. It’s important to keep your center of gravity over that wheel to keep it in contact with the ground.
When you are descending, hover over the rear wheel by extending your arms out without locking the elbows and hover your rear end over the rear wheel.
When you are hitting an ascent after a fast descent, then keep your butt over the rear wheel while leaning your upper body forward to keep your momentum going.
3 – Use your brakes sparingly
Use your speed to navigate through some rough patches. If you see you need to slow down, use your front brake very lightly with one or two fingers and also slightly on the back brake. This should be done before you actually need to slow down so you can avoid hitting the brakes hard when you react to the terrain.
If you brake too hard as a reaction, then you risk flying over the handlebars and could get yourself in trouble. If you have to react quickly then make sure you are using your back brake. You’ll skid but should be able to stay on the bike.
Mountain biking is like chess. You have to be thinking two moves ahead and make fast evaluations so you don’t have to react when it’s too late.