Skills For The Beginning Mountain Biker
Written by EditorChoice
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Mountain biking is a fun sport but it is also dangerous. However, participants can lesson their chances of injury by taking a few precautions. First off, of course, they should have the necessary skills before even getting on the mountain.
Practically anyone can get on a bike and ride around their neighborhood, go across flat countryside or ride up and down hills, but when it comes to mountain biking, the rider should have certain skills before giving it a try.
Depending on how long you've ridden your bike, it's quite possible that you do have these skills - so let's just run through them.
1) Feel the pedals
Are you used to keeping your feet on your pedals at all times? Of course you are. But when you're mountain biking (or doing stunts), feet come off the pedals... and have to be able to find them again without hesitation.
So practice taking your feet off the pedals and replacing them...this will instill "muscle memory" so your feet always will know where the pedals should be at any given time.
2) Shift the gears
If you live in a flat area, you probably don't do a lot of gear shifting. This will change when you get on the slopes, so find yourself a hill near your home and practicing shifting as you go both up and down. Also, if you get tired just biking up a regular-sized hill, you'll want to do some wind sprints up that same hill for a couple of weeks before you decide to take on a mountain.
3) Stand up for yourself
Most people sit on their bikes while they ride, but again, on a mountain bike you don't have that luxury. You'll be off your seat more often than not. So practice coasting along while standing, and then pedaling while standing....and don't do it for just a few yards and then stop.
4) Before you go hurtling down
Mountain biking is a dangerous sport, and you should always wear a helmet, and knee and elbow pads. And when you're practicing going over curbs - the same should apply.
You want to practice going up and over curbs to get the feel of doing it on a hill. You know your own bike best - exactly how high can an obstruction be before you can't go over it with your bike? Probably about six inches.
Going off a curb is another thing entirely. As long as you have good balance and strong hands to keep your front tire straight, you can get quite a bit of "air" before hitting the ground again - but you need to know the ground you'll be landing on to ensure that there's no obstructions that will get in your way. So always ride a downhill trail relatively slowly the first time, before you go full out.
But back to practicing. Check out the curbs in your neighborhood, and - while wearing your safety gear and making sure there's no traffic in the area - practice going over them at different speeds. If all the curbs are of the same height, you'll have to increase them using man-made objects such as ramps. However... you learned to crawl before you could walk, and by the same token, become very comfortable on those short curbs before you try to increase the height and air of your jumps, and always wear your safety gear while you do it.
There's no need to be impatient. Work on your skills first, then tackle a beginners mountain biking trail or two to perfect your skills even more. Once you've got the skills, mountain biking will be a breeze!
Alastair Hamilton is the author of more resources published at http://www.bikecyclingreviews.com . You can find more information and resources on mountain bike reviews at his website.