When I was debating if I should start mountain biking or not, the greatest fear I had was that mountain biking will be too hard to learn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good answer to this question and I decided to go with my instinct and bought my first mountain bike.
As a general rule mountain biking is easy to learn and hard to master. As a beginner you should focus on the essential skills first and be patient, it takes at least one or two years of riding to master the basic skills needed on trails. The key is to be consistent.
In this article we will discourse about how hard mountain biking really is, how should a total beginner start to learn so that he will avoid injuries and I will share my personal experience on how I started mountain biking. At the end of this article, you will feel less intimidated by this sport and you will have basic knowledge on how to dip your toe in mountain biking. So keep riding!
How Hard Is Really Mountain Biking to Learn?
As a general rule mountain biking is very hard if you push yourself beyond your riding comfort limits but if you take it slow and always what to improve, with time you will be more skillful and mountain biking will become easier and easier.
After deciding to start mountain biking and ordering my first bike, I was really nervous because I was a total noob and I didn’t have even the basic bicycle riding skills. My mind was full of doubt, after I got my hands on my first mountain bike and started to ride I feelth released because it wasn’t that hard.
In the first weeks, I have ridden my mountain bike on uncirculated roads and then upgraded to unpaved forest roads for two or three months. At this time I was focusing to develop the basic skills needed for the more technical terrain. The more I had ridden my mountain bike the more confident I become and the more enjoyable the rides become.
I know that my progress was slow but I didn’t wish to push myself too hard so I will not expose myself to unnecessary risk of injury. My more experienced friend Ovidiu Blajan gave me what I consider the most useful advice: “Don’t push yourself beyond your riding confidence, you risk injuring yourself. In time you will get better and your confidence levels will increase, it just takes a little bit of time.”
You know what? He was right, I become better and better with time and now when I see a new trail the only thing that is in my mind is the sentence: “I need to ride this!” As at the beginning of my journey I would say: “If I ride this will a day?”
After I accumulated more experience I started to contact all my friends with mountain bikes and started to ride with them. I said to myself: “Now I have the skills to ride with them!” After a couple of rides, I was mad that I didn’t ride with them earlier, mountain bikers are very understanding of new riders and are always eager to help.
The lesson here is: Always ride in your comfort levels and you will avoid most of the injuries and start riding with friends or local mountain biking groups as early as possible, learning to mountain bike will be a piece of cake.
Is It Easy to Ride a Mountain Bike?
As a general rule mountain bikes are easier to ride than other types of bikes due to their knobby tires and suspension systems that offer great stability. Mountain bikes come with wider handlebars and a bike geometry designed to offer great maneuverability.
Because of their stability and capability to thrive on any type of terrain, mountain bikes are a reliable choice for people who desire a bike for general use. If you what to tackle the more technical trails you need to spend a little money to get at least a mid-level mountain bike, the bike needs to be your friend and not the enemy.
For a total beginner in biking who is just at the beginning of his journey, it’s recommended to start learning on a mountain bike and develop your needs from there. A mountain bike will be well suited for any situation and the increased stability and maneuverability will give them the boost of confidence that beginners need.
How Should a Beginner Start Mountain Biking?
When you are at the beginning of your mountain biking journey start riding the forest unpaved roads near you or the easier trails you can find and focusing on developing the basic skills you need to move forward will allow you to learn the more advanced stuff. As I said before that was what I did and it worked fine for me, now I what to ride every trail I see.
Now let’s see what are the basic skills mentioned before:
- Reading the trail: The most common mistake beginners make is to look too close to the bike, this is bad because you don’t see what comes next on the trail (and you won’t have time to repair the next move). At any ride try to look in front of you, the more of the trail you see the better. Focus all your attention at the beginning on this skill because this is the most important one, practice it until it becomes instinct and you never see the front wheel of your mountain bike when riding.
- Balance: To be able to tackle any obstacle you need to know how to shift your weight on the bike, at first focus on shifting your weight backwards on descents and forward on climbs. This will be a starting point but be aware that this topic is more complex and you need to do more research on it to fully understand how to repair for the different situation you will encounter on trails.
- Pedal stroke efficiency: A lot of new riders pedal the hardest at the beginning of the ride and end up fatigue too quickly. Try to maintain a steady cadence by using the correct speed when climbing descending or to maintain the desired speed.
- Jumping: This takes more time, watch Youtube videos to understand the principle (this skill is important because sometimes you need to overcome big obstacles on trails)
Now that you know the basic skills you need to improve, the only thing that will make you better is riding a lot. Don’t be impatient, it takes time but nothing beats experience. The longer you ride the better you become.
If you what to know what is the best type of mountain bike if you are just starting out, I have written an article that compares hardtails to full suspension mountain bikes from a beginner standpoint, check it out!
How Dangerous Is Mountain Biking?
As a general rule, if you ride inside your comfort level mountain biking is not dangerous, the majority of injuries that are a result of crashing are minor. When you become more experienced and are taking more and more risks you will be exposed to more severe injuries.
Common mountain biking injuries include bruises, scrapes, broken collar bones, and wrist injuries,” says sports medicine physician Stuart Willick, MD. “More serious injuries can also occur.Stuart Willick, MD at healthcare.utah.edu
In the beginning, every mountain biker is afraid of all kinds of crashes, but the reality is that all these scenarios are in his head. If you rite inside your comfort levels, have a decent mountain bike and are riding slower on descents (until you have the necessary skills) you will be fine.
If you what to know how dangerous is mountain biking is compared to other outdoor activities, we have written an article that compares the injury rate of mountain biking with other popular outdoor sports, check it out.
Mountain biking is a skill that takes time to learn, if you have the patience and are riding inside your comfort level your skills will grow over time and you will be able to ride almost any trail.
If I did it, you can do it too!
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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.