So, you’ve made the decision to be a mountain biker?! Here are some basic tips and tricks to get you started;
Jump in head to toe! Go on an expedition so that you can capture the awesomeness that IS mountain biking.
Go On A Training Expedition Such As This;
Why Mount Baker over Mount Rainier? They’re both among the top training peaks in the world for beginner mountaineers, given their high-but-not-insane elevations, glaciers, and manageable distances from starting point to summit. But Rainier can be jam-packed with climbers on any given summer day, while desolate Mount Baker feels more like a solitary walk in the (national) forest. Its 10,781-foot volcanic summit is encased by 12 glaciers that cover a larger surface area with more ice than on any other glaciated peak in the Cascades besides Rainier.
Skills Required: Almost none. The guide services that organize trips on the mountain provide a two-day training course before you embark for the summit.
Days it Takes to Climb: One, but you’ll be starting at around 2 A.M.
Guide Service: American Alpine Institute, $590
2. What to Know Before You Ride
Shift into a low gear. Before shifting, ease up on your pedaling to decrease pressure on the chain. Find the gear best for you that matches the terrain and steepness of each climb.
Stay seated. Standing out of the saddle often helps when climbing steep hills with a road bike, but you may find that on dirt, standing causes your rear tire to lose its grip and spin out. Climbing requires traction, especially in loose terrain. Stay seated as long as you can.
Lean forward. On very steep hills, the front end may feel unweighted and suddenly pop up. Slide forward on the saddle, and lean over the handlebars. This adds more weight to the front wheel and should help keep you grounded.
Shift into the big chainring. Shifting into the big ring before a bumpy descent will help keep the chain from bouncing off. And should you crash or disengage your leg from the pedal, the chain will cover the teeth of the big ring so they don’t bite into your leg.
Relax. Stay loose on the bike, and don’t lock your elbows or clench your grip. Your elbows need to bend with the bumps and absorb the shock, while your hands should have a firm but controlled grip on the bars to keep things steady. Steer with your body, allowing your shoulders to guide you through each turn and around each obstacle.
Don’t oversteer or lose control. Mountain biking is much like downhill skiing, since you must shift your weight from side-to-side down narrow, bumpy descents. Your bike will have the tendency to track in the direction you look and follow the slight shifts and leans of your body. You should not think so much about steering but the direction in which you wish to go.
Rise above the saddle. When racing down bumpy, technical descents, you should not be sitting on the saddle but instead standing on the pedals and straddling the seat, allowing your legs and knees to absorb the rocky trail instead of your rear.
Drop your saddle. For super steep, technical descents, you may want to drop your saddle 2 or 3 inches. This lowers your center of gravity, giving you more room to bounce around.
Keep your pedals parallel to the ground. The front pedal should be slightly higher so that it doesn’t catch on small rocks or logs.
Stay focused. Many descents require your utmost concentration and focus just to reach the bottom. You must notice every groove, root, rock, hole and bump. You, the bike and the trail should all become one as you seek singletrack nirvana on your way down the mountain. If your thoughts wander, then so may your bike, and into those trees you will go!
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy as you coast, cut, dig, thrash, glide, bump and grind through nature.