Forget what you think you know about mountain biking. As an avid cyclist and spin fanatic, my first time mountain biking — in Moab, UT, no less! — was completely different than what I expected. The views are spectacular and can take you from an alpine forest to a dry desert within 10 miles. Most importantly, it's nothing like road cycling: you're more likely to fall, and everything (from the actual bike to riding technique) differs. If you love the outdoors, hiking, or cycling, mountain biking may be your new favorite pasttime. And while getting in the saddle for the first time is intimidating, these beginner tips will have you descending with ease.
- Size matters: Much like a road or spin bike, you want to make sure your mountain bike is the right size for your height and inseam length. In general, the seat should be set at a height that allows your knee to be bent ever so slightly when the pedal is in its lowest position. The handlebars should be positioned slightly lower than your seat so that your back is at a 45-degree angle.
- Safety first: A helmet is a must. More so than road cycling, you're bound to fall while mountain biking. You want to make sure your head is protected when you hit the rocky trail. It's also important to wear covered shoes that work well on the trail should you end up walking any part of the way.
- Pay attention to your body: Mountain bike terrain is notoriously uneven and bumpy. Prevent joint injury by keeping the knees and elbows soft to absorb any shock. Your arms, legs, and shoulders should be relaxed, and avoid gripping your handlebars too tightly. On occasion (and when necessary), pedal while standing up since this will help take some of the pressure off of your back.
To find out what else you'll need to know for mountain biking, read more.