At Westbrook Cycles, during the Covid lockdown we are supplying a massive array of road bikes and mountain bikes to beginner cyclists, or cyclists who have not ridden in a long time - and are looking to get outside more, enjoy the fresh air and get fitter in the process.
There’s no doubt that mountain biking, and cycling in general is fantastic for your health and wellbeing - but there are a number of beginner mistakes which can be made which can turn an enjoyable and pleasant ride into a very difficult experience.
As we are operated and run by mountain bike addicts, we thought we would share some of the hints and tips, as well as mistakes which are easy to make when you begin your mountain biking journey.
Below, we share some of the easy mistakes which you should avoid:
Although all Mountain Bikes have a seat/saddle which should be used - that does not mean that you should spend 100% of your time sitting in it. By standing up off the saddle, you allow your legs to act as an extra suspension component - meaning rough terrain is not immediately passed through your body. Keeping up on your pedals is particularly important on downhill terrain and tricky sections, where it’s incredibly difficult to remain in the saddle.
Standing up on your pedals also helps you ride uphill, allowing you to make quicker progress with more intensive pedaling.
Not investing in the right clothing & equipment
Mountain Bikes can be used to travel massive distances, meaning it’s important to equip yourself with the clothes and equipment needed to keep you both safe and comfortable. It’s vital that you pack correctly, and wear the right protective equipment. A helmet is a must for any mountain biker, as are padded shorts - taking care of the two most important ends of the body!
Waterproof and technical cycle clothing also makes a big difference in how enjoyable and comfortable a mountain bike ride is.
Pedalling with your Toes
Small things in mountain biking can make a massive difference, such as the positioning of your feet in the pedals. Often, riders ride with their toes on the pedal axle - which in turn uses an imbalance of muscles in the legs when pedalling. Try moving your full foot forward, which places the ball of your foot in line with the pedal axle, which then draws on power from the full range of leg muscles.
Only using the Back Brake
New Mountain Bikers can have an irrational fear of the front brake, fearing that they will be thrown off over the handlebars if they use it. An over reliance on the back brake, not only wears out the back tyre quicker, but is also a less effective way of coming to a stop.
Avoiding Tricky Terrain
The reality is, that mountain bikes are hugely capable pieces of equipment - especially full suspension mountain bikes. These bikes have been designed to be ridden down some incredibly testing routes and conditions - and as a new mountain bike rider, although you should take care and ride sensibly - you should push yourself to ride tricky terrain in a safe manner, taking your time and looking ahead. In doing so, you can improve and become better, if you avoid intimidating terrain - you will never improve. In trying new terrain, you will realise you and your bikes full capability.
One of the most important things to remember about mountain biking, is that it is meant to be enjoyable. It is only enjoyable however if you are able to relax on the bike, allowing the bike to be ridden and enjoyed. If you are too tense, and begin gripping onto the bike for dear life - you will ride poorly and will risk injury and discomfort.