Updated: Oct 28
You have heard about it around the office, seen magazines about it on the stands in the local newsagency and thought you’d like to give mountain biking go. But where do you start? Let me show you how…
You roll over to your alarm screaming yet again to get up.
You are awoken (mid dream) from that unforgettable Big Day out in 1994…what a day! Only to remember its Wendesday morning…hump day again.
You get up, shower have breakfast, make lunches for the family.
Now running late for that meeting first thing this morning you jump in the car but are quickly brought to a halt in the endless queue of traffic.
You start to think…about your life.
Feeling tired, going stale, never getting in front.
Where are you really going?
What about you?
Some time for yourself, to rebuild, to repair and re-live.
So you decide to give mountain biking a go.
Looks like a heap of fun, but where do I start?
Theres that old rattler underneath all that junk in the back of the shed
But does it still go? Does it need work?
I’ve never been that handy fixing things.
That last ride a few years ago didn’t go so well and now I’ve put on a few more kilos as well.
All sound’s too hard doesn’t it….just bear with me. Don’t give up just yet
Remember this is your “Me Time”
This is for you, this is your escape, this is Your Time.
And you will thank yourself for it.
After all my years of riding mountain bikes I’ve learn’t a bit along the way. And so have assembled my A-Z guide of how to start mountain biking.
Over the next 10 weeks or so I will outline how you can move from an absolute beginner (don’t worry we all had to start somewhere) to becoming a great rider embracing the sport and everything it has to offer!
Assess your health
How is your health and fitness? No really how is it?
Yeah you could just launch into a ride, just pick up where you left of all those long years ago, but a few things (on you) have changed…so it may not quite end up as you had planned.
All those easy take-away dinners and beers after work may now come back to haunt you.
If this sounds like you it is essential to visit your doctor for a health check before you even begin.
Sounds like a drag doesn’t it
Well believe me it’s worth getting yourself checked out before launching into any physical activity particularly mountain biking. You don’t want do anything that may sideline your mountain biking plans or anything else you have planned with your family in future.
According to ABS National Health Survey 2007–08 –
5% eat sufficient serves of fruit and vegetables (18+ years)
42% do sufficient physical activity (18+ years)
68% are overweight or obese (18+ years)
Take on board your doc’s advice and if all ok start slowly and build.
Best Gear To Start – How To Choose Your Kit
I have a mate, an “A” grade roadie, who always says for him cycling was 50% riding and 50% about the bikes and gear and I have to agree.
There is so much great stuff out there, but what do you really need to start?
Instead of bamboozling you with all the detailed specs of your gear (will leave that to the manufacturers) I will give you my thoughts of –
what to look for and
what to look out for
what has worked for me and what hasn’t and why
And all for a realistic price…because like most of you I’m an average guy who loves mountain biking on a budget and without a limitless supply of top end high priced sponsors products.
Here’s a few short cuts to get you going –
When you are starting out always remember always dress for the conditions – sun, wind or rain can all mean the difference between a good or great ride.
1 Helmet –
Cool designs and big brands are great but what do you really need to look for?
Key points at a glance
Must comply with Australian Standards and have a sticker on the inside with this – AS/NZS 2063:2008—Bicycle helmets. I have heard of cheap oversea imports that don’t have this and are a really poor quality.
Good snug fit – When the chin strap is done up the helmet doesn’t wobble when you shake or nod your head.
Good ventilation – For those hot summer rides.
Light weight – Generally the more you pay the lighter the gear.
Comfortable adjustable chin straps – To ensure the snug fit.
Good padding – Removable to wash after a hot sweaty ride if possible
Try on a few different brands and sizes first. They all are slightly different shape and feel. Make sure it is comfortable and firm when the chin strap is done up.
Most helmets come in a range of colours – maybe important if you are keen match your helmet to clothing or bike.
Some have a built in visor or as a separate attachment – Great to keep a bit more sun off your head.
Important Note –
If you have a big crash and hit your head you will need to throw away your helmet, don’t risk it. It cannot be repaired.
2. Gloves –
If you come off, most times the first thing that hits the ground is your hands. So serious damage to your hands (from a small crash) can be avoided with good pair of mountain biking gloves.
Key points at a glance
Comfortable snug fit – Not to tight and not too loose.
Full length fingers – Added protection in a crash or from passing branches in the bush.
Synthetic leather palm – Added protection in a crash.
Adjustable velcro wrist strap – To make sure your gloves stay on your hands if (when) you have a crash.
Try on a few gloves first. They all are slightly different shape and feel. Make sure they are comfortable and snug when the wrist velcro is done up.
Keep in mind they will stretch slightly.
Good cycling clothing is made light, with fabric that breathes really well, is hard wearing, and packs really small. Some jerseys I’ve had for 15 years, wearing every week…they just keep on backing up. But it’s not cheap.
So when you are starting out comfortable shorts, t-shirt, joggers, sunglasses, sunscreen and bottle of water will get you going.
Keep in mind riding off-road can be dirty…real dirty, so don’t wear your best gear. It may never look the same.
If it’s a bit cooler out a spray jacket and sloppy joe and tracksuit pants maybe more suitable.
Remember though, once you start riding off-road, you’ll soon warm up and carrying a heap of jumpers on a ride can be a real nuisance.
So tuned for future posts on “How to Start Mountain Biking” and I look forward to seeing you on the trails.
About The Author
Like any sport, bicycling involves risk of injury and damage. By choosing to ride a bicycle, you assume the responsibility for that risk, so you need to know — and to practice — the rules of safe and responsible riding and of proper use and maintenance. Proper use and maintenance of your bicycle reduces risk of injury.