Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners

1) If you've never mountain biked before, you may be surprised at how much time you spend walking instead of riding. You'll walk your bike up steep grades, down steep grades, and in level places where the terrain is too rugged. Mountain bikers frequently have to deal with rocks, boulders, tree roots, sand traps, holes in the ground, stream crossings, eroded trails, and so on. Often the best way to deal with these obstacles is to walk and push your bike. Use this technique to your advantage. If something looks scary, dismount and walk. If you are unsure of your ability to stay in control while heading downhill, or your capacity to keep your balance on a rough surface, dismount and walk. It will save you plenty of band-aids.

2) Learn to shift gears before you need to. This takes some practice, but you'll soon find that it's easier to shift before you're halfway up the hill and the pedals and chain are under pressure. When you see a hill coming up ahead, downshift.

3) Play around with the height of your seat. When the seat is properly adjusted, you will have a slight bend in your knee while your leg is fully extended on the lower of the two pedals.

4) Take it easy on the handlebar grips. Many beginners squeeze the daylights out of their handlebars, which leads to hand, arm, shoulder, and upper back discomfort. Grip the handlebars loosely and keep a little bend in your elbows.

5) Learn to read the trail ahead of you, especially on downhills. Keep your eyes open for rocks or ruts which can take you by surprise and upset your balance.

6) Go slow. As long as you never exceed the speed at which you feel comfortable and in control, you'll be fine. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't take a few chances, but it's unwise to take chances until you are ready.