Even if there are no mountains where you live, it can make sense to buy a mountain bike, just because of the security they provide, even in urban areas. And there’s always the chance of a weekend ride in the country.
If you’re a bicycle enthusiast but have only tried cycling on the road, it’s time you gave mountain biking a try. By mountain biking, I mean more than heading down an actual mountain – although that what most people think about when they hear the phrase “Mountain biking.”
However, mountain bikes – light bikes with fat tires and front suspension – make it easy to go cross-country riding as well.
So even if you live in an area that has no mountains – get yourself a mountain bike anyway! Those fat tires make for a nice ride – and as long as they’re properly inflated they can go almost as fast as the thinner tires of road bikes, but you don’t need to worry about going up curbs or down curbs.
There are three styles of mountain biking – the one everyone thinks of which is downhill riding, free riding, and cross-country. If you’re a professional cyclist or a dedicated amateur you’ll want to buy a bike specifically designed for each style, but if you’re a casual cyclist who’ll want to try one style one weekend and a different style the next, any good mountain bike will do.
Most people will buy a brand-new tool whenever they take up a brand-new hobby. This is a mistake. Examine yourself. Have you done this in the past – decided on a hobby, bought all the equipment, used it once – then stored it in your garage and never used it again?
So, if possible, rent a bike first – indeed, in so doing you’ll be able to try out quite a few bikes and decide on which one you’d like to buy. Make sure that the people renting you the bikes have taken proper care of them, of course, and that they’re not just “beaters.”
Are you a beginner?
If there’s any mountain biking in your area, chances are there’ll be a club or two, which will cater to beginners. The best thing to do is seek out your local bike shop. Anyone there can tell you what goes on in your area. In addition, most bike shops will have racks featuring the brochures of local clubs, and bike maps of the local trails, for free.
Practice makes perfect
If you’re not in shape – you can get in shape with mountain biking… if you make a concentrated effort to do so. Set yourself goals of miles to ride each day. If you don’t have the time to ride an hour or so every day, but if you have a steep hill near your home, you can always spend ten minutes or so doing wind sprints up and down that hill. This will increase your stamina and strengthen your leg muscles no end. (Make sure you check with your doctor to make sure you have no health problems that would limit vigorous exercise.)
Don’t get on a bike and then find the toughest trail and through yourself down it. Start with beginning trails and work on your skills for a while.
Riders fall. Face it – it’s going to happen. So the most important piece of equipment you have, after a good bike – is a good helmet. Never buy a used helmet – you don’t know what’s happened to it. Also, of use to the mountain biker are goggles or other eye protection, elbow and knee pads, and good shoes. Always carry a few dollars and some change in a pocket so you can call for help if need be, and make sure you have identification on you at all times. (That last bit of advice is good for any type of biking, or jogging, come to that!) Always be prepared for the worst to happen, and then it [probably] never will.
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