A Beginner's Guide to Mountain Biking: Your Next Outdoor Obsession
If you think biking is only for kids or people who want to get from A to B as quickly as possible, think again! Mountain biking is an outdoor activity that has something for everyone – it's a great workout, a fun way to explore nature, and a great way to meet new people.
From wearing a Head Lamp to keeping yourself safe, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get your outdoor adventure started!
What does mountain biking involve?
Mountain biking is set apart from regular biking by the terrain it is done on – off-road, on trails full of obstacles like roots, rocks, and mud. Sometimes, you might even find yourself biking uphill!
This is why mountain bikes are designed differently from regular bikes, with sophisticated features. The bikes could have sturdier frames and tires, or sometimes even suspension systems to help absorb the impact of riding over rough terrain.
Mountain biking can be done during the day or at night – some people even prefer to bike at night! There are also different types of mountain biking, such as cross-country biking and downhill biking.
Cross-country biking is the most common type of mountain biking, and it involves riding on relatively flat trails with some hills. This is a good option if you want to get a workout without worrying about steep drops or other dangerous obstacles.
For beginners, cross-country biking is a great way to ease your way into mountain biking.
Compared to cross-country biking, downhill biking is more advanced, and it involves riding down steep trails – sometimes even cliffs! This type of mountain biking is for experienced riders looking for an adrenaline rush.
Why do people bike at night?
Some people prefer to bike at night because it's cooler and fewer people are on the trails. Others enjoy the challenge of riding in the dark.
Biking also has its dangers at night, so it's important to be prepared. You'll need a headlight and taillight, and you should wear bright clothing so that other people can see you.
It's also necessary to know the trail well before biking at night – you don't want to get lost in the dark!
Getting started: Essential mountain biking gear
If you're interested in trying mountain biking, there are a couple of things you need apart from a mountain bike. Here are some of the essential pieces of mountain biking gear:
This is non-negotiable, no matter how experienced a rider you are. A helmet protects your head in case of a fall, which is required by law in some states. Get a helmet that fits snugly and is comfortable to wear.
Mountain biking gloves
Gloves specifically designed for mountain biking will help you grip the handlebars better, and they will also protect your hands in case of a fall. Choose gloves that are breathable and comfortable.
The right clothing
Beginners interested in taking up this sport should invest in comfortable, breathable clothing.
You might want to start with a long-sleeved shirt and pants to protect your skin from the sun and scratches, and then graduate to shorts and a jersey once you're more comfortable with the sport.
If you're planning on biking at night, wear reflective clothing so that drivers can see you.
A map or GPS
Don't rely on your memory or your phone's battery life – always bring a map or GPS with you so you can find your way back home.
A headlight and taillight
If you're going to be mountain biking at night, you need a headlight to see where you're going and a taillight to make sure drivers can see you.
Get a bright headlamp to light up the trail ahead of you but not so bright that it blinds other riders. HeadlampPRO’s Rechargeable HeadLamp is perfect for this particular outdoor sport.
A bike lock
Invest in a good bike lock to secure your bike when taking a break. Unfortunately, bike theft is common, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
You will be riding in weather conditions when mountain biking, including on sunny days. Sunglasses or clear lenses that block out UV rays will help keep your eyes safe from the sun's harmful rays.
A water bottle or hydration pack
Keep yourself hydrated on your ride! Depending on how long your ride is, you might want to bring a water bottle or a hydration pack. Put your water bottle in a cage on your bike, or wear your hydration pack so you can drink hands-free.
Bring along some snacks to keep your energy up while you're riding. Protein bars, trail mix, and fruit are all excellent options.
Mountain biking shoes
While you can bike in regular sneakers, it's best to invest in shoes specifically designed for mountain biking. Good shoes will have special features like reinforced toes and good traction.
Safety is always a priority, especially when you're in the wilderness. Pack a small first-aid kit with band-aids, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and anything else you might need in case of an emergency.
Before you hit the trails: safety tips for mountain biking
Now that you have all the gear you need, it's time to hit the trails! But before you go, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
Be aware of your surroundings and ride accordingly
This means being aware of weather conditions, the terrain, and other riders on the trail. If it's a particularly hot day, drink plenty of water and take breaks in the shade.
If you're riding on a rocky trail, be extra careful not to fall. And if you see another rider coming towards you, be sure to yield to them – they have the right of way.
Don't ride beyond your abilities.
This is especially important for beginners. Don't try to take on a trail that's too difficult for your skill level. Start with an easy trail and work your way up.
Ride with a friend.
It's always safer to ride with someone else in case one of you gets injured or lost. Plus, it's also a lot more fun! Encourage your friends and family to join you on your next mountain biking adventure.
Make sure your bike is in good working condition before you start riding.
Caution is always better than regret. Before you set out on your ride, do a quick inspection of your bike to ensure everything is in working order. This includes things like the brakes, tires, and chain.
Beginner tips and guidelines
For anyone new to the mountain biking scene, biking at night can be challenging. But don't worry – with the right gear and some common sense, you'll be just fine. Here are a few things to consider when starting on this journey:
Invest in having two lights.
Beginners often make the mistake of only bringing one light, which is usually mounted on the handlebars.
While this might work for short rides, it's not ideal for longer ones. For a more enjoyable experience, invest in having two lights – one on your handlebars and one on your head (headlamp or helmet light). This will help you see as you move your head around.
Keep distance from other bikers.
Always be aware of other bikers on the trail, and give them plenty of space. Mountain biking can be unpredictable, so it's always better to err on the side of caution.
Ride at a comfortable pace.
You're not racing anyone, so there's no need to go as fast as possible. The temptation to speed up, especially at night, can be great, but remember to take it easy and enjoy the ride.
Be prepared for obstacles.
Rocks, roots, branches, and other obstacles are part of the mountain biking experience. Be prepared for them by staying aware of your surroundings and keeping your bike in good working condition.
Mountain biking is a great way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get some exercise. With the right gear and some safety tips in mind, anyone can enjoy this outdoor activity. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start pedaling!