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Must-Know Mountain Biking Tips: How to Prepare and Start Mountain Biking

For any mountain biking beginner, this article gives you the must-know mountain biking tips of how to ride mountain bike, mountain bike maintenance techniques as well as the mountain biking mistake you should avoid.

By Niko | @mycoollife

Updated on Aug 28, 2019

If you are interested in exploring the outdoor, the mountain biking is an exciting option that you can consider. Quite different from the common cycling, mountain biking is a fun but tough sport, and it requires you to have some skills and dedicated equipment & gear. Here, we give you the beginner’s guide to mountain biking.

The guide includes the must-know mountain biking tips, and you will not only figure out how to ride and maintain mountain bike, but also learn the common mountain biking mistakes you should avoid.

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Must-Have Mountain Biking Gears

If you plan to go mountain biking, a mountain bike is essential. In addition to getting yourself a right-fit mountain bike, here are some must-have gears for mountain biking beginners. Let’s check it one by one.

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1. Cycle Helmet

There are many cases that people get head injuries because of riding without a helmet. So, a cycle helmet is one of the most important safety gears for mountain biking. Greatly, a cycle helmet cannot only protect you from rotational impact injuries or crashes, but also makes you more visible in the biking trails.

2. Mountain Biking Gloves

Mountain biking trails are rougher than standard roads, so a pair of gloves is much more demanding than you thought. It’s better to choose full-fingered gloves for reducing the fatigue and risk of injuries for your fingers and palms. Besides, mountain biking gloves help maintain the grip on the brake levers.

3. Padded Riding Shorts

You need to buy a pair of padded riding shorts with padding inside, as it will be more comfortable and protective for legs on long distances. If possible, you can also choose durable shoes for higher comfortability and pedaling efficiency.

4. Sunglasses

Instead of the ordinary sunglasses, the sunglasses you used for mountain biking should has a removable or interchangeable lens system to deal with variable lighting conditions. When go mountain biking, it not only protects your eyes from dust, debris or dirt, but also ensures you better vision in the sunlight and darkness.

5. Water Bottle or Hydration Pack

For beginners who are going to short rides and don’t expect extra weight, a water bottle that affixes the water bottle cage on the mountain bike is the best option. However, if you plan to go long-distance mountain biking trip, you can consider investing a hand-free hydration pack. It provides you with enough water supplies, without taking your hands off the handlebars of your mountain bike.

6. Repair Kit & First Aid Kit

Just in case you have any mechanical or physical issue when going mountain biking, you’d better attach a simple repair kit and first-aid kit to your bike or backpack. The repair kit can include some basics like an extra tube, mini pump, tire levers or etc. As for the first aid kit, you can prepare some antiseptic wipes, bandages, and medical & energy supplies.

7. GPS Tracker

The GPS tracker becomes increasingly popular among mountain biking riders. By making full use of the real-time location tracking, communication and other features, you can always know where your rider mates are. There is no need to worry about riding alone or separating from your mates in the mountains. Even better, many GPS tracking devices are small-sized and carried very conveniently.

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Of course, you can consider other mountain biking gears like pedals, saddle, bike chain, handlebars or kneelets, etc. based on your own specific needs.

How to Ride Mountain Bike

Mountain biking is different from the road cycling, and it requires some techniques and skills. As a mountain biking beginner, you should know the following basic mountain biking tips of how to ride your mountain bike.

The position is regarded as one of the most important tricks to successful mountain biking. Let’s put emphasis on it.

Body Position

·         Ready position (or attack position): this position is for dealing with the steep and tough trail, and you have to take techniques to control your mountain bike. How to move into the ready position:

1. Shift your weight to the pedals

2. Bend your knees and elbows largely

3. End your butt off the seat and move backward

4. Bend down, and try to make your back parallel to the ground

5. Remain your fingers (at least 2 fingers) on the brake levers all the time

6. Keep your eyes moving forward

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·         Neutral position: you can keep in the neutral position when you ride non-technical sections. No need to move your butt from the seat, and just bend knees and elbows slightly and make your riding comfortable.

Better Shifting

You will inevitably encounter various trails of ups and downs, when you go mountain biking. Better shifting cannot only help reduce the wear of your mountain bike, but also make you ride up or down in a labor saving way. The tip of better shifting is simple: shift early and shift often.

The shifter on your mountain bike hosts chain rings and cogs. You’d better shift gears before you start climbing or going downhill, because it’s hard to shifting when your bike is under power. And it may cause chain to pop off.

·         climb a hill: shift down

·         go downhill: shift up to keep the pedal cadence even

At first, you may not be able to master the best timing for proper shifting, and that’s why we say “shift often”. Just keep practicing for better shifting.

How to Braking

Many mountain biking beginners think little of the barking, while this part is important. Braking correctly and effectively can help you ride comfortably and securely. You should never constantly and solely use the rear brake to control the speed and stop your mountain bike. This generally results in losing the balance and fall. The right approach is to use both brakes equally and smoothly.

Note:It’s better to ride on the trails only open to mountain biking. Of course, the trails or roads are often shared with other riders or hikers. Remember, slow down when you meet other riders and yield the way to riders who are going uphill.

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Common Mountain Biking Mistakes

Even if you don’t really ever ride mountain bike, you definitely have an understanding of mountain biking from other riders or the Internet. Make sure you avoid the common mistakes of mountain biking in the following.

1. Seat Too High

It’s very dangerous to have the mountain bike seat too high, while this is one of the main common mistakes that many mountain biking beginners will make. Once your seat is too high, you cannot distribute your weight correctly, and easily lose the gravity and balance. You will have a serious fall, especially when you are riding downhill or on a steep rugged trail with rocks.

For those experienced mountain biking riders, they may handle this very well (while they’ll never do that). But for beginners, just drop the seat to a lower position.

2. Sit Down All the Time

One of the most attractive and interesting things of the mountain biking is to ride on different tough roads with some technical skills. If you want sit down on the bike all the time, we would suggest you to ride a regular bike.

In fact, it’s more effective to ride if you leave the seat. In that way, you will be able to shift your body positions and use your legs, the best built-in shock absorbers, to make your riding faster but easier.

3. Insufficient Supplies

Truth be told, some of you plan to go mountain biking for hours, but without water or food. Just like many other outdoor activities, the mountain biking will drain physical strength largely. You have to replenish the strength in time during the riding. It’s good to take some protein bars, which can provide energies, and also light the load in your backpacks gradually.

4. Wrong Shoes

We believe that wearing wrong shoes is one of the common mountain biking mistakes that beginners should avoid. In the above list of the must-have mountain biking gears, you were advised to prepare shorts and gloves. While a right pair of shoes plays an important role in the mountain biking as well.

You can pick yourself a pair of shoes for mountain biking, and you take advantages of them to keep your feet comfortable and secure for long time on the trail.

5. Wrong Feet Position on the Pedals

Many beginners firmly believe that pedaling is the easiest part of the mountain biking. Just the opposite actually, it requires some skills to pedal correctly. Many mountain biking incidents are caused by wrong feet position on the pedals. A common mistake among mountain biking beginners is to toes on the edge or the end of the pedals.

There are big risks of the feet slipped from the pedals and muscle strain, if you put wrong feet position (like toes on the edge or end) on the pedals. When you begin building up your mountain bike skills, it’s essential and necessary to find the right feet position on the pedals.

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6. Mountain Biking Blind

Of course, it doesn’t mean that you ride mountain bike with your eyes closed, but not looking ahead. Mountain biking trails always have many unexpected obstacles. You have to figure out your next move in advance, whether it needs to change your body position, adjust your mountain bike speed or shift the gear.

The mountain biking is an outdoor activity that requires riders to have some skills and experience. So, almost all mountain biking beginners cannot avoid this mistake. To deal with this, you have to practice more.

How to Deal with Mountain Biking Injuries

Injuries are the regular part of mountain biking, and both beginners and experienced riders cannot avoid completely, even if you guys are very careful. Since injuries are inevitable, you minimize the chance of getting mountain biking injuries.

 Mountain biking injuries can be basically divided into 2 types:

·         injuries caused by crashes when you go mountain biking

·         wear & tear injuries caused by long-time riding or poor preparation

 

How to deal with the mountain biking injuries?

1. Deal with the injuries caused by crashes

One of the main reasons why you are suggested to prepare the must-have gears and learn the skills and techniques of mountain biking is to avoid crashes as possible. If you are injured, let your rider mates know and make use of the first aid kit to deal with injures.  If the injures are severe, cancel the mountain biking plan and call an ambulance immediately. You should never leave untreated.

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2. Deal with wear & tear injuries

The wear and tear injuries happen to mountain biking beginners all the time. The trick to avoid this kind of injuries is to do some exercises and basic preparations before going mountain biking. 

·         Plan fitness routine

Make yourself fitness and strength training plan, practice the mountain biking positions and let your body and muscles get as fit and limber as possible. This preparation cannot only helps you avoid wear and tear injuries, but also makes you ride mountain bike better.

·         Warm up before riding

You are ready to go mountain biking. Hold on a second, your body is not ready actually. It’s easy to get wear and tear injured if your ride without warming up. Take 5 to 10 minutes to do some warm-up exercises before sitting on the saddle of your mountain bike.

·         Plan your riding time

The wear & tear injuries mainly caused by long-time riding. For mountain biking beginners, it’s enough to ride around 2 hours.

All the mountain biking tips in this article can help you get started with your first mountain biking experience. But do not forget to keep practicing and learning, because there is still a long way until you are good at it. 

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