Every mountain biker remembers their first time: You’re on a bicycle, which makes sense. But you’re riding over rocks, across streams, and over all types of different terrain, which (at least at first) feels like it makes no sense at all. It’s fun and exciting, yet nerve-wracking and terrifying all at the same time. It gets easier – and more fun! – with time. But there are a few tips every mountain biker wishes someone had told them when they were just starting out. Here are nine beginner mountain biking tips you should know when you’re first learning to ride trails.
Your bike’s job is to roll over technical terrain. Your job is to let your bike do its job. That means keeping your body loose, so it can move beneath you. Hover your butt off the saddle when riding over obstacles like roots and rocks. The more technical the terrain, the more room your bike needs to move. When ripping down a descent, think: “pushup arms” and “cowboy legs,” and flare out your elbows and knees so your body lets the bike to flow rather than fighting it.
It’s going to feel counter-intuitive, but holding speed – and even speeding up – when the terrain gets challenging makes clearing tough sections of trail easier because your bike has the one thing it needs most to keep moving forward: momentum. Momentum is your best friend out there, maintain it whenever you can.
Shift Your Weight
You’re going to hit some extreme terrain, including steep inclines and declines. When climbing a tough pitch, shift your weight forward and lean forward to keep your center of gravity over the rear wheel to maintain traction.
When the trail tilts downward, go in the opposite direction, shifting your weight behind the saddle and over the rear wheel (dropper posts are a godsend for this) to avoid going over the bars.