you are most likely aware, biking can take on many forms,
from the sleek and thin lined racing bikes, touring bikes,
fat tired beach cruisers, hybrid cross designs, trickster
bikes, to your stout mountain bikes equipped with shocks.
There's a certain feeling with biking that's unlike any
other sport. Wind rushing through your hair, zipping around
the neighborhood. For most, biking also holds a strong image
of childhood, innocence, family and going for a ride in
the neighborhood. Even as adults, going for a bike ride
still brings out that mischievous child in us. And for the
truly mischievous child, there is mountain biking.
The beauty of the sport,
as one rider put it, was that your whole body is riding.
Your mind is alert ready for sudden changes in the trial
requiring quick adjustments. Mountain biking is more aggressive
than off roading, which is more like a stroll in the woods.
It is also the sport that
will leave you totally spent. It is a great work out.
Eat a good meal before you go. Bring lots of water, drinking
it often throughout the ride. Take eye and head protection
very seriously. There can be flying rocks as well as bodies.
After your first day out, you'll wonder why they make
24 speed mountain bikes. You'll only use the two lowest
speeds, and you'll be wishing for an even lower speed.
You obviously need a bike
to go mountain biking. If you don't have a bike to use,
you should start off by renting a bike. There are a lot
of styles and the price tags vary greatly. You can spend
from 300 to 5,000+ U.S. dollars on a bike. If you're only
a casual rider, you may be perfectly happy with a low-end
Even for the first day out,
you must have your helmet and eye protection. Gloves are
also very useful. You also must bring water. Depending
on how long you're going for you may need to bring two
bottles of water. If you haven't already seen them, bike
shops carry special water bottles and bottle holders for
your bike. Regular tennis shoes should be fine in the
beginning. Bring a change of clothes. Even for short rides
you'll work up a sweat.
Three miles is a short ride
and around 20 miles is a long ride. Of course the intensity
of the terrain will have a big impact on how far you actually
ride. If its steep and difficult terrain even a 3-mile
ride can be "long". It takes an incredible amount
of physical strength and endurance, so build up to it
The key to this sport is
being prepared. That means food, water, first aid kit,
and equipment to make repairs on the trail. It's not uncommon
to get a flat. You'll need to know how to change the tire,
have a spare tube, tools, and a pump. All of which can
easily be carried on the bike. This stuff should be standard
If you fall for the sport,
it's hard not to become a gear junkie. It won't take long
before you'll be eyeing shocks for the front tire. They
take a little getting used to, but you'll find they're
worth it. Your next equipment purchase will be clip-less
pedals. These pedals make all the difference, maximizing
your power and control. All clip-less pedals require cycling
shoes that attach to the pedals.
As you're investing in new
gear, you should also be familiarizing yourself with your
new equipment. Regular maintenance and daily adjustments
to your bike are necessary. You should know how to take
the entire bike apart, and be able to replace any worn
parts. Being a bike mechanic goes along with the territory,
and is truly part of the biking culture. Most bike shops
will offer courses.
Once you've mastered the
basics techniques, it may be time for a riding clinic
or camp. These clinics focus on technical skills and difficult
maneuvers. They're usually offered as a weekend or weeklong
event, and can make for a healthy and fun vacation.
Flying By The Seat Of Your
When you really start pushing
the limits of mountain biking, top of the line equipment
will make a big difference. You'll want the best equipment
available. Because this is still a young sport, the advances
to equipment and material are frequent. Rear suspension
systems, disc brakes, and space age materials are now
being used. Especially at this level, it's imperative
to keep your equipment is the best possible condition.
- Don't ride alone. You
can get hurt, lost, or just have an equipment break
down. If you're unable to ride or walk back, you'll
need your partner to go for help.
- Be careful of your front
break going down hill. This is lesson number one. After
the front tire leaves the ground, if you have the front
break on when you touch down, the stopped tire will
cause the back of the bike to lift off the ground and
flip the bike.
- There is such a thing
as path or trail etiquette for mountain bikers. Don't
ride full speed past anyone. Pull over when you see
someone coming. If there is a horseback rider or hiker,
stop and let them pass. Don't try to ride or edge by.
Practicing trial etiquette will ensure that mountain
bikers can share trails.
- When riding keep your
arms shoulder length apart so that your chest area is
open and breathing isn't constricted.
- Mix your water with some
fruit juice like apple, nothing too acidic. The sugar
will help maintain your energy level.
- Bring quick energy bars.
This is the sport for PowerBars.
- Make sure you drink and
eat before you feel thirsty or tired. If you start to
feel thirsty, your body may already be dehydrated.
- Bring a small bike kit
with a spare tire tub and tools to change the tire.
- Your helmet must fit
well and not slide around.
- Wear non-shattering eye
- Bring a first aid kit.
- Be careful of hunting
season. If you're riding during the hunting season wear
bright clothing and make sure you aren't riding in a
designated hunting area.