By Thomas van der Ploeg
The tentative beginner’s guide to starting mountain biking.
So you want to try something new? Something outdoorsy, social, fun, and energetic?
Or maybe you didn’t…
Either way, here’s why you should give mountain biking a go – and how to get into it.
This will be written as a series, each part explaining a different aspect of getting into the sport with the end goal being that you will know everything you need to know to go out and enjoy yourself on a bike. It is a series written by an enthusiast, not a pro, and certainly not a writer. That said, I love it and want as many people as possible to enjoy this rewarding sport!
- Why Mountain Biking?
- The Gear (What you need) & Basic Skills
- Your First Ride
- Talking The Talk – Jargon You NEED To Know
- Do I have To Race?
- Taking It To The Next Level (Advanced Skills)
Why Mountain Biking?
Cyclists (in the loosest sense of the term) have done nothing for the image of cycling, and persist on driving the image of the sport to the ground. Ask any non-cyclist what they think of cycling and you will get something like this 90%* of the time. (*made up, but probably true)
Ask the same person about mountain biking and you’re either going to get something like this,
or you’re going to hear about their uncle’s 5 Cape Epics (he’s told everyone, at every opportunity). This lot are hardly the best ambassadors for the sport, but it’s not all skinny arms, tight clothes, and doping – you don’t even need to shave your legs! These pictures represent the 0.01% at each end of the spectrum, with the vast majority of mountain biking planting itself square in the middle.
‘Mountain biking’ will obviously mean different things to different people, but for most people it is a way of getting away from city chaos for an hour or two after work, or a coffee ride on a Sunday morning (defined as any ride where the coffee is AT LEAST as important as the riding itself). Just ask anyone who rides if they can think of a better noise than the sound as the gravel starts crunching under rubber as
you leave the tar and the highway racket behind.
But why you, and why mountain biking?
Well if any of the above has appealed to you in the slightest, then mountain biking is for you. Remember, racing isn’t compulsory – stage racing less so, even lycra isn’t a requirement anymore! What you aren’t going to get away from is the fact that you are going to be seeing new places, breathing fresher air, pumping blood faster, scraping your knees, telling more stories, fighting with tubes, posing your bike against sunsets, getting fit, getting lost…… and enjoying every second of it. Mountain biking is not just for adrenalin junkies, ‘active people’, or bankers – it’s for you…
Hopefully this will have caught your attention on mountain biking; if so, and you are now itching to give it a try I would highly recommend waiting for the next 2 articles before heading out. A lot of people are scared off on their first ride because a friend, in their excitement of having a new riding buddy, takes them up the steepest up and the hairiest down, without so much as a briefing on which brake is which! I have a LONG list of people that have cycled with me once; so I have (slowly) been working on my method of getting people hooked, so stay tuned!
By Thomas van der Ploeg