Hit the Trails: Mountain Biking for Beginners

Man mountain biking

Have you mastered grueling spin classes? Are you looking for a cycling route more exciting than your regular bike commute? Maybe it’s time you hit the trails. Last week’s 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships left us eager to explore new terrain, but learning to mountain bike can seem intimidating. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Find your Set of Wheels

It is important to note that there are many differences between road and mountain bikes. If you already have a road bike, consider renting a mountain bike or borrowing one from a friend before splurging on a new ride. Make sure the bike is clean, in tip-top shape, and fits your body. Adjust your seat so that your knees are just slightly bent when the pedal is in the lowest position, and set your handlebars just below the height of your seat. Already have a mountain bike? Check out the benefits of getting fit to your bike. But your bike isn’t the only thing you’ll need up on the mountain. Professional mountain bike racer Joy McCulloch lists everything you’ll need, from a helmet to tire levers.

Learn the Rules of the Trail

“Be loud, visible and polite” is the mountain biker code. You’ll share trails with hikers and other cyclists, so it’s important to respect the safety of yourself and others. The International Mountain Biking Association developed trail etiquette rules to encourage safe riding, friendliness among cyclists and consideration of the environment. Download a flyer from the IMBA website and familiarize yourself with these tips before your first ride.

Choose a Trail to Fit Your Skill Level

You’ll feel the most confident on a trail matched to your ability. If there’s a ride you’re dying to conquer but it looks intimidating, set it as a goal to work up to. To practice your technique, use an online resource such as Trails.com or Single Tracks for easy and intermediate route recommendations. To be fully prepared, read expert reviews or consult a friend about the trail you choose to make sure there’s nothing too tricky.

Don’t forget to use your Runtastic App. Download it on iOS and Android for offline maps and to track your route, altitude, distance and more!

Do you have any tips for beginning mountain bikers? Share them in the comments or Tweet them to @runtasticUS (for users in theUS) or @runtastic (for international users). Have a great ride!

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