Mountain biking provides you with an intense physical and mental challenge. Unlike road cycling, where your challenges are distance and hills, mountain biking presents you with rough terrain and all kinds of obstacles. Whether you are a seasoned biker or just getting started, there are always ways in which you can improve your experience on the course.
Get the Right Gear
First and foremost, before you even hop on your bike, outfit yourself for safety. Mountain bike courses are full of rough paths and potentially dangerous obstacles. Bike helmets are useful as safety gear.
Other gear you should strongly consider:
- Chest armor. While you may be thinking of some heavy material that will weigh you down and hinder your performance, chest armor for biking is durable enough to keep you protected while being light enough to allow complete freedom of movement.
- Gloves. Keep your hands protected in the event of a fall. Gloves can also serve to minimize the amount of vibration you feel as you tear down a course.
- Padded shorts. In case of a fall, you have some sort of cushioning.
- Elbow, knee and shin pads. These serve as extra protection from falls and crashes.
- Cycle clothing. Specifically designed cycle clothing is lightweight, keeping you cool and helps wick away moisture, keeping you comfortable. Much of it is fitted to keep out the elements.
While special gear and clothing help keep you safe there are other things you can do as well. Follow these tips to stay safe while MTB biking.
Fit Your Bike
You can’t just jump on any old mountain bike, take off and expect to perform like a pro. How your bike fits you is quite important for optimal performance. If necessary and possible, try out several bikes before settling on one.
You should also make sure you have a seat that suits you. If you can, try a few different seats to find one that is comfortable. It also won’t hurt to have it professionally fitted, so it can be placed properly. Mounting it at the right height and the right angle will allow you some comfort while you ride as well as prevent lower back and bottom pain.
Keep The Positive Energy Flowing
Your mindset once you hit the dirt can play a big role in your performance. If you think you are going to fail, you set yourself up for failure. Negativity leads to a lack of confidence in yourself, and therefore you second guess everything you do. You are more prone to falls and crashes thinking you won’t conquer an obstacle. Negativity also leads to a greater likelihood of quitting.
Instead, relax and keep positive thoughts in your mind, even if you do have an accident. Relaxing loosens your muscles, so bumps in the course don’t cause you as much pain, whereas tension magnifies the bumps. Positive energy allows you to be more confident in your actions. Even if you fall, just pick yourself back up and tell yourself you’ll get it next time. Keeping a positive outlook leads to greater successes.
One Small Step
This is especially important if you are a beginner. When attempting a new obstacle, take it one step at a time. Study the obstacle. Learn the best ways to approach it. Practice the movements it takes to complete it. After you master the movements, approach the obstacle. When you are able to successfully complete it, you can move on to something more difficult.
Momentum is Key
There are times when you should take things slow. Mountain biking is not one of those times. Speed is important, especially when going through a rocky terrain. Braking just before or in the middle of the obstacle could cause a crash. Instead, build up speed and ride it through the area. The momentum will carry you through. Brake after you get past the rough patch and into a safer area.
Know Where You’re Going
Keep your eyes up. Don’t just look ahead, look around you as well. Evaluate your surroundings. When you know what direction you want to go, don’t simply look there. Point your whole body in your chosen direction. Doing so will help get you there safely.
Reflect, But Don’t Dwell
Finally, reflect on your rides. Looking back on all that you have accomplished and how far you have progressed will give you inspiration to continue. At the same time, don’t dwell on any failures you may have experienced. Lingering too long on them will bring negative energy, and a greater chance of giving up. Remember failures, but use them as a building block. Look for ways to fix any mistakes you may have made, and try again the next time.
Heading out on the mountain bike course is an excellent physical and mental challenge. Outfit yourself for safety and keep a positive attitude and you are well on your way to improving your riding experience.