Among the most popular outdoor pastimes is mountain biking on a trail or a bike course. Mountain biking can be a relaxing and uplifting experience because you get to experience wonderful sights and locations in the great outdoors. However, it can be physically demanding and mentally draining if you are not used to it, but much like anything, there are ways on how to get better at mountain biking without risking your safety.
How to Get Better at Mountain Biking
1. Maintain Your Mountain Bike
First and foremost, you have to learn to take care of your equipment, and in this case, it is your mountain bike. It is not just about cleaning the bike and making it look cool. It is also about maintaining the wheels, the spokes, the brakes, the hubs, and all other moving parts that make your bike function.
Bike maintenance also means oiling and making sure there are no broken, creaking or cracked parts. Learning about all the parts of the bike and how they work is an essential part of mountain biking.
As a mountain biker, one of the best things you can do to get better is to exercise; but not just any exercise. You should learn about the best kinds of exercises that can help you ride your bike better.
You can identify which of your muscles or muscle groups you use the most when you ride and then develop an exercise routine that can help in strengthening these areas. Not only will this help you become a better mountain biker, but this also helps in preventing injuries. Lower body and core exercises can help improve your leg strength and pedaling, but do not forget to work on your upper body.
3. Get Comfortable on the Saddle
It is also essential to make sure that your bike is set up to fit you and your preferences. You should feel comfortable on the saddle of your bike because you will be spending hours riding it. There is no right or wrong setup for a mountain bike.
It is still more important that you feel comfortable riding your bike. As such, feel free to make adjustments on your seat and your handlebars so that it feels the best for you. This way, you can ride more comfortably, which will lead to better mountain biking.
4. Learn Proper Cadence
Learning proper cadence is an important skill to master when mountain biking. Cadence in cycling is the pedaling rate or the number of times we crank the pedals per minute.
Learning proper cadence is figuring out when to pedal and when to spin (let the wheels turn without pedaling). This helps in maintaining speed, but it also helps in conserving your energy and keeping your legs fresh and rested.
Proper cadence can be applied to all kinds of terrain, and it would depend on the kinds of slopes and inclines that you will be riding on. For instance, you will have to pedal harder on uphill slopes and spin when riding downhill slopes.
5. Practice Balancing and Stopping
Learning to ride slow or while not moving is just as important as riding fast and hard. Hopping and balancing skills are important skills to have when riding across hard terrain and technical trails.
Learning how to stop and maneuver without putting your foot down helps in technique, but it also preserves your momentum as a rider. Learning to use your brakes and using your balance can also save time and energy. Improving your balancing skills while on brakes also helps in developing your overall riding skills.
6. Learn to Do Wheelies
Wheelies is when you ride your bike on one wheel, either the back wheel or the front wheel (also known as nose wheelies). Learning to do wheelies is an excellent skill to have in mountain biking. For unfamiliar riders, it seems a little bit like showing off, but more experienced mountain bikers will tell you that learning to do wheelies can help in riding across rough terrain.
Wheelies can assist in getting past obstacles in your path by going up and over them. It is an essential skill that can help make you a better mountain biker.
7. Ride With a Partner or a Group
Among the best ways to get better at mountain biking is to ride with a partner or a biking group. It is also important to ride with better mountain bikers. This way, we can learn from them by watching them.
We can see proper riding skills in action, and we can learn proper techniques from more experienced bikers. Riding with a group can also help your morale, as we can receive proper instruction and support from our fellow riders. Having a good mountain biking group can also mean getting encouragement from our peers.
One tip that you will often hear from other riders is to “Ride often and ride everywhere”. This means that the simple act of repeatedly riding your bike can help improve your biking skills. It is essentially the same as “Keep practicing”.
If you do something often, you will eventually get better at it. You also get to learn more about your bike, your body, and how they react to specific routes and terrain.
Learning to become a better mountain biker is more than just learning to ride fast and hard. It is also about setting up a good foundation with proper bike maintenance and getting in proper physical shape. When you have done these things, you can move on to fine-tuning your skills as a rider and learning about the essential techniques such as cadence, balancing, braking, and pulling off technical wheelies.
Biking can also be a kind of social sport. When you ride with other riders, you can receive the best advice and encouragement, and you learn together as a group. The best way, though, on how to get better at mountain biking is to keep practicing and riding. The more hours you spend on riding on your bike, the better you will be as a rider.