In the first part of this series, we looked at a list of crucial equipment required for MTB riding. Now that you have gotten your gear sorted out, it’s time to build your skills. Please understand that MTB riding is a rewarding but challenging experience. It takes professionals years to hone their skills so don’t expect to learn everything in one day. You have to start slow and learn the basics first in order to show progress. In this section, we will be looking at tips to help you get started with MTB riding.
Get Comfortable with your bike
Now that you have your Mountain Bike, it’s crucial that you get comfortable with it. Adjust the seat and handle-bars so that you are perched comfortably on the saddle. Your feet should be able to touch the ground when you come to a stop. Play with the gears on your MTB on normal roads and observe the difference it makes to your ride. This will improve your judgement on the trail. Also, practice braking on paved roads without fully squeezing the front or rear brake lever. This will come in handy while going downhill. We will elaborate on this later.
Pick your Locations wisely
Like we said before, it takes many years to build the skills necessary for tackling some of the most challenging trails on the planet. As you are just starting out, do not go looking for world class trails. You can start out on small, unpaved roads to get comfortable with your bicycle. This will help you get a feel for less-than-smooth roads. Uphill riding can also be practiced by simply riding on roads that slope upwards.
Practice looking ahead
During trail riding, it’s crucial to look ahead and not down. Keep your eyes focussed on the path ahead as any distraction can possibly cause a loss of balance. Your eyes should constantly scan about 15 metres in front to watch out for branches, rocks, steep drops etc. Professional MTB riders often say “Anticipation is crucial for trail riding”, especially the challenging ones. This can only be honed with practice.
Try to ride with company
You can develop skills rapidly by learning from other skilful and experienced riders. However, do not go all out to keep up with them. Stick to your own comfortable pace and enjoy the ride. The experienced ones will also be able to provide you with useful tips to correct your form, approach, braking, shifting etc.
These tips will help you start your journey into the world of trail riding. In the next article, we will look at MTB shifting and braking techniques in detail..