If you’re looking to get away from all the city noise, explore beautiful landscapes and intact portions of nature, all the while challenging yourself both physically and mentally, then mountain biking might just be the thing for you.
Well, the more appropriate term would be off-road cycling, because that’s what makes it unique. The unpredictability of the terrain, full of scattered obstacles like rocks and holes will get your adrenaline going and add a whole new meaning to the words ‘reaction-time’.
Mountain biking includes different categories, ranging from basic disciplines like cross-country riding to more extreme ones like downhill mountain biking or freeride. It’s important to take things slow, especially if you’ve never experienced anything other than the smoothness of a city bicycle lane. Since mountain biking falls into the category of more challenging and in some cases extreme sports, there are two things to consider in terms of precaution – equipment and training.
You need to make sure that you have adequate equipment. It will be your safety net, and in some scenarios, everything you’ll have to rely on since you will probably be miles away from civilization at any given time.
Picking out the right bike is the first step, and different bikes work best for different scenarios. While online shopping is convenient for most things, but when getting the right mountain bike, you need to make time to go to the shop. People working there will definitely be able to answer all of your questions, hand in a couple of tips and help you make the right decision.
While you’re down there, get the rest of your essentials. A Helmet is a must, eyewear and gloves will go a long way and you should never even consider going anywhere without a full water bottle and a first aid kit. Lastly, you will need a fully stacked repair kit. Get familiar with all of your tools and learn how to use them, because it will be crucial for getting yourself out of a sticky situation.
Now that you’re fully equipped, you’ll need to work on the athletic and skill side of things. Past experience in cycling is useful, but mountain biking demands different levels of endurance, balance and reaction time. You will need time to get acquainted with your bike and practice the basics like breaking and shifting.
The key is to start off slow and pick a short patch of terrain that you’re confident you can take on. Try to choose a spot a little closer to the city, because it will save you a lot of headaches in case you get into some trouble. Finally, consider asking a friend to join you. It’s always good to have a companion or two the first couple of times you go off-road.
After the first couple of rides, your confidence will start kicking in, and you’ll probably be yearning to challenge yourself further. This is an absolutely natural part of the process, just try to remember to take things gradually and don’t get disheartened in case of early mishaps. It takes time.