Mountain Biking - How to start

You love adventure, you're always saying yes to a hike or a trail run or exploring new places on foot but you've always been halfway between fear and excitement about the prospect of giving mountain biking a go...

Where do you start?

Mountain biking is next level preparation in more ways than the obvious. You need a bike and a helmet and just when was the last time you rode? You need to know where to go, to feel safe and yet have fun exploring.

Its also very handy to know how to fix a flat or trouble shoot mechanical issues with your bike.

Finally you might not know anyone who is keen to join you or actually able to because they don’t own a bike...and then you have to pack it in the car, maybe take the front wheel off and drive to some place that has no water or shops or maybe even mobile coverage!

Arghhh, too many barriers, let’s just hike and run instead!
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. Simple. Too often when we have an idea, actioning it can be paralysing. Far too much time planning and getting everything perfect.

Here is the truth, you could plan forever and still not be ready, the best way of getting started is to JUST DO. You will learn more from turning up to your first mountain bike ride than you will be researching 100 articles on the internet.

Let us start with ATTITUDE.

Are you ready to learn new things? Are you ready to face some fears?
Do you want to be challenged and stretched, to grow and be amazed at what is possible?

If you answered yes, then read on!

Equipment you will need to get started.

  • A basic mountain bike that has gears and brakes that work properly and a helmet.
  • Nobby tyres that still have grip and are not bald and threadbare.
  • Some basic tools to fix things and a tube is a great idea but knowing how to use is too!

Clothing.

  • On your first few rides, sneakers and traditional active wear will get you through.
  • As you ride longer, invest in a pair of cycling shorts with the chamois in them will help you backside cope better, oh and you do not wear undies with these either.
  • Gloves are great too for some hand protection. Gym gloves will do.

Where to ride.

  • Start by riding gravel roads, or 4x4 tracks, just to get a feel for being on the dirt and away from civilisation.
  • Google is your friend for finding local mountain bike trails. Stick to green or easy trails to start with and enjoy these. Blue trails often have logs and rocks to get over in them, and black trails...well these are best left alone for a while.
  • Hop on Facebook too, search for women’s mountain bike groups, there are hundreds and you will find one locally, and if you don’t then start your own.

What next? Bike Upgrades.

You went on your first ride, you loved it, you’re hooked. No one giggled and made fun of you on your old bike.

As capable as it is, the old bike is not the new bike you are now checking out.

A new bike whether 2nd hand or brand new should fit you. Going for your brothers uncles best friends old bike that he doesn’t use anymore might work out if you are six foot tall but you won’t be having fun or feeling confident unless the bike fits you. You should feel that you can reach the brakes and that you arms are not stretched out to reach the handlebars. When you pedal, your hips should be stable on the saddle and not rocking from side to side as the seat is too high.  Speaking of saddles, this is the number one issue with all female cyclists, go and get a new one that is female specific if it’s the only thing you upgrade.

I always suggest when people ask me what they should buy, to go for the top end of your budget, get the best you can afford so you don’t have to upgrade again in a short period of time.  If you were like me, you will be hooked and ride as often as you can!

Knowledge is Confidence.

Get skilled up. Learn. Find a skills course, ride with slightly better riders. Listen and learn and apply.

Glean from people you trust, hand over some hurt money to a skills coach. Set yourself up for success which will create confidence which in turn allows you to have more fun and ride more often.

Now go for a ride, keep learning and if you are not comfortable on the bike get assistance with your fit.

Be inspiring to those around you, create your own movement and before you know it, you will have 5 or so regular girlfriends riding bikes with you and planning weekends away in search of more amazing trails.