Riding a mountain bike out on the open trail is both exhilarating and liberating. Connecting with nature while sailing over rough terrain, absorbing the roots and rocks of the trail, and sensing every undulating contour of the trail in your legs as you ascend and descend through winding turns and steep hill climbs. Mountain biking has grown in leaps and bounds as technology has created bikes for all different range of rider skills and terrains.
Mountain biking will develop a unique skillset that requires endurance and muscular strength to manage the trails. Perhaps more importantly, mountain biking will require technical skills that make use of opportune gear shifting and braking to maintain momentum. In addition, understanding the most efficient path through a rough terrain path, and being able to pilot through rocks and roots while maintaining speed is a key skillset to maximizing your ability.
You will want to build your endurance by riding longer distances and incorporating training techniques such as interval reps to build your anaerobic peak. Don’t expect everything to come at once. Riding can be a lifelong endeavour that sees slow but steady improvements over the years. Making mountain biking a part of your lifestyle will lead to a healthy body and mind. You will discover more energy throughout your day and an overall sense of well being. If you spend your days trapped in an office cubicle then you will be dreaming about getting on the trail after work.
The social aspect of mountain biking cannot be overlooked. Ride with a group of friends or join a club to expand your social circle. Meet like minded people that share your passions for outdoor activity and fitness. Group riding is a great way to stay motivated and prevent procrastinating on days that you may not feel like getting out on your own.
What mountain bike should you choose? Beginners should like for a quality bike that won’t break the bank but will provide a quality level that can be upgraded as skills improve. Typically bikes in the $1000-2000 range will suit most people. A bike in this price range will come with disc brakes and a proven groupset that will last years. Expect wheels to be of less quality but suitable for getting started. They can be upgraded down the road when the rider is more comfortable and is looking for something that is lighter in weight. The one downside of a bike in this price range is the overall weight. Expect a bike to be in the 30+ lb range and expect the cost of a bike to increase exponentially for every pound that is shed.
Pro riders will be looking for top end mountain bikes that can manage the terrain rapidly and with agility while also being lightweight for climbing. Suspension will be important to absorb the trail impacts and keep forward momentum. Gearing will be optimized for stronger riders capable of pushing bigger gears with higher power output. Look for lots of carbon components including the frame, wheels (rims), handlebars, and seatpost. All this carbon will make the bike light and strong. Power to the pedals will be noticed in firm forward momentum.
Key Skills to Work On:
- Bunny hopping obstacles like logs or curbs
- Riding curbs in a straight line without falling off
- Tight turns
Developing skills like anything in life requires practice. There is all kinds of ways to work on your skills. Riding through tight pilons setup on the road, riding on the curb without falling off, bunny hopping obstacles are all ways to quickly get the foundation skills up to speed. These skills will transfer to the trail when you are maneuvering around rocks and trees. The ability to ride over fallen logs and descend steep drop offs is a skillset that will increase your enjoyment when riding the trails.