Mountain biking is a favourite pastime for many Australians. It is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. It’s important for first-time mountain bikers to understand the rules of the trail, and how to ride a mountain bike properly. People enjoy mountain biking for the thrill of the open trail, adventure, and challenge, but with a little bit of information and preparation, you can enjoy yourself that much more.
Rather than sharing the road with other vehicles, mountain bikers share the trail with other bikers, and it’s important to understand your responsibilities when using multi-rider trails. Don’t overtake another rider without warning: always signal to anyone on the trail that you are approaching by using your voice. This will help others prepare for your approach without startling them and causing them to become unbalanced. It’s important that you identify which trails you want to ride on and learn about the specific rules of those trails before heading out. Always control your bike while you are on the trail and avoid behaviours that could cause you or others harm.
Choosing a mountain bike should be a very personal thing. You want to make sure you get the right size bike, with the right size wheels and properly positioned handlebars. If you can’t find a bike that fits you exactly, opt for a bike that is slightly too big, rather than too small because most handlebars and seats can be adjusted to make the big easier to ride. Small bikes will be taxing on your joints and make it difficult to sustain the impacts associated with mountain biking. Based on the typical type of terrain you will be enjoying, make sure you get tyres that are suitable for the trails. Larger, thicker wheels will allow you to grip surfaces easier than small, thinner tyres.
When you start out mountain biking, you might be overwhelmed with excitement about hitting the trail, but you need to do a bit of preparation before heading out to explore the wide open spaces. First, you’ll need a properly fitting helmet that is not too loose or too tight. Next, you’ll need to ensure you wear properly fitted pants and shirts so that your clothing doesn’t become caught on parts of the bike or in the terrain you are riding in. What’s more, you’ll want to invest in a tyre repair kit so you can fix blow-outs on the go, and always travel with a first aid kit, water, and sunscreen to avoid getting sun exposure.
When mounting the bike, always use your dominant leg to stabilize yourself, so you don’t become unbalanced. Make sure you are wearing proper footwear and clothing. Your handlebars and seat should be adjusted so that you don’t have to hunch over to ride the bike. They should not be so high that you are perfectly straight in your seat, but being hunched over too much can cause problems for your back, buttocks, and legs. You should become familiar with the brakes and gears of your bike before you hit the trail, so you understand how they work. Always brace yourself when you use the brakes to avoid sudden stops and jarring movements. Most of all, take advantage of downhill rides to help you gain speed but proceed with caution, so you don’t lose control of your bike.
In reality, the best time of year to go mountain biking depends on the person going. If you don’t like rain or colder weather, save your mountain biking for the summer months. If you want to invest in special equipment and tyres, you can go mountain biking at any time of the year.
As with any form of cycling, safety should be your number one priority at all times. Ensuring your safety is easy: scope the trail you want to travel before you head out. Thankfully, you can do a lot of research on the internet these days, and some people even record their adventures on trails so you can watch videos of what the actual terrain is like before you ever put 'tread to trail'. Be sure to pack your first aid kit and any tools you need to repair busted tyres and fix chains. You’ll also want to make sure you keep your eye on the trail - many experienced trail riders will tell you to keep your head down and focused on the immediate area in front of you. While being able to see your surroundings at a glance, you should keep your eyes in front of you. Use techniques like shouting to oncoming bikers around corners. If you find you are becoming unstable, put one foot on the ground, especially when going around corners to avoid falling over or losing balance.
If you are interested in getting started with mountain biking or if you are looking for some ways to up your adventures, check out the wide selection of products for mountain bikers from Yakima. We have everything you need to start or step-up your mountain biking experience.
Last updated: December 19, 2017