The Bike Shoppe

The Bike Shoppe
Your Ogden Utah bike expert since 1976!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Six Do's and Don'ts of Your First Mountain Bike Ride

Mountain biking is an amazing sport because it combines the enduring thrill of cycling with the beauty and harshness of natural landscapes and terrain. There are many breathtaking trails all over the world, which is why more and more people decide to take up this activity.
If you’ve decided to do so as well, you need to remember that you also need to prepare for the experience thoroughly and consider all the variables that are involved. Here are the do’s and don’ts you need to consider before going on your first mountain bike ride. 

The Do’s

1.   Adequate Riding Techniques

At the end of the day, mountain biking is an extreme sport of sorts, even when it isn’t performed at a professional level. Therefore, when you’re out on the trail for the first time, there are two main positions that you will need to alternate between so that your ride is a successful one, namely the neutral position and the ready position.
The former is best used on non-technical segments of the path so that you roll along smoothly and comfortably. To achieve it, slightly bend your knees and elbows, keep your eyes straight ahead and always have your index fingers on the brake. This not only ensures that you stay safe, but it also facilitates the transition for more difficult portions of terrain.
The latter intervenes in such situations. To quickly switch to it, bend your knees and elbows more, lift your rear off the seat and shift your hips back for added balance. Ensure that your back is flat, keeping it almost parallel to the ground below. The rest stays the same. Always look in the direction you want to follow to keep course and be ready to hit the brakes anytime.


2.   Proper Gear and Equipment

As any good gear guide will tell you, the most important thing to have on hand for your first ride is a reliable mountain bike that will provide you with safety, comfort, and performance at the same time. For beginners, the best choice is an aluminum-frame one because it is more malleable and lighter on its wheels.
For a heftier frame lover, steel is always the classic choice. But if you’re willing to invest in something a bit more high-end and modern, carbon frames are all the rage now. They provide amazing durability combining the sturdiness of steel with the lightness of aluminum. The price will be one to match, but you will see visible results right off the bat.
However, not everyone will want to go out and buy a bicycle for their first ride, and that’s perfectly understandable. If you’re just testing the sport out and don’t want to invest in one just yet, using a bike rental service is also an option to consider. After all, proper safety equipment is equally important, so you might want to save some money for that as well.
And speaking of which, forgetting or refusing to wear a helmet is a potentially fatal mountain biking mistake that many beginners tend to commit. Although it might seem like an extra weight that you have to carry, your helmet is essential on your first ride because they will safeguard you in the face of any potential accidents.

3.   Respecting Trail Etiquette

An aspect that is seldom discussed in the community is that of proper trail etiquette. Although there are plenty of areas that can be approached via MTB only and few dare to do so, if you’re a beginner, chances are you are going to share the road with hikers, horses, and other fellow riders, of course.
When you encounter another person or an animal along the way, you need to follow a certain set of rules so that everything unfolds smoothly. First of all, horses always have priority because they are unpredictable. If you come across one, let it carry on unbothered and then you can also proceed. When it comes to other hikers or riders, things are bit more complex.
Remember that you have more mobility on your bike, which means that you should yield the way to those who are on foot if the need for it arises. Even though most hikers will be the ones to yield once they see you coming at a great speed, you should never expect them to do so. Always be prepared to clear the path for them before you continue your journey.
Finally, both hikers and riders who are going uphill have the right of way. It is harder to travel in this direction, and you need to keep this in mind no matter in what position you are in. However, not everyone sticks to the etiquette, so ensure that you are responsible enough to prevent an accident. Always practice caution above all else.


The Don’ts

1.   Too Little Food and Water

The most common mistake beginner mountain bikers make is not bringing enough food and water out of a desire to travel light. While this might be done with the right idea in mind, giving up on necessary nutrients and hydration is not the way to go. You should always have at least one bottle of water on hand, and one containing your electrolyte sports drink of choice.
As for on the go snacks, energy bars are the best choice. And if you’re looking for some variety, a small bag of trail mix is the perfect nutrient boost. As for all the sandwich lovers out there, the classic peanut butter and jelly is an ideal bring-along that is both tasty and energizing. Mix and match between these for the perfect MTB lunch.


2.   Dressing Inappropriately

When you’re out on a trail for the entire trail, coordinating your choice of clothing with the weather and terrain conditions you are going to face is essential. And even if the forecast is an optimistic one, things can go south all the time, especially if you live in an area characterized by unpredictable storms.
Thus, layering is your best friend if you want to ensure that you are always warm and dry. Remember, it’s better to have something to take off when you get hot than nothing to put on when it’s cold. And seeing as how most trails will have you pass through varying altitude levels, this means that temperatures might vary a lot along the same stretch of road.


3.   Not Bringing Spares and Tools

Unfortunately, many beginner riders learn how inconvenient not bringing a portable repair kit can be the hard way, a.k.a. being left stranded on a remote trail for a couple of hours with a flat tire or something of the sort. For this reason, having a few tools and maybe even a spare on hand is a true life-saver.
The simplest array of items can help get you back on track in no time. All you need to carry with you is a multi-tool, tube, tire lever, and a pump.  While this isn't a complete list, it will at least get you home where you can then bring your bike in for some professional service. Don’t ruin your first ride by not being able to get home.



Being a beginner mountain bike rider is going to be a challenge, but the results will be worth it if you prepare for the experience accordingly. Invest in a reliable MTB and remember to use it correctly. Bring enough food and water to last you through the trip, wear your helmet and dress appropriately for the terrain and weather conditions outside. Have fun!

Author Bio: Amanda Wilks is a writer, contributing author for Mountain Bike Reviewed and veteran MTB rider. Her passion for mountain biking dates back to her childhood, when she would join her dad every weekend for a quick ride uphill. She is now addicted to the sport and she never misses a trail. Learn more about Amanda on Twitter.


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