Before focusing on riding a mountain bike properly one should consider buying a perfect mountain bike. while buying a mountain bike you should check manufacturer’s website for detailed information about a bike like its design its strength, suspension system, gear setup and know what that bike is good for. some bikes also provide some options to manipulate bike geometry to set up a bike according to the requirement of uphill and downhill riding. Always look for big pedals because they will provide a good surface for foot grip.
Some essential basic skills:
1) Practice maintaining balance while doing slow cycling on the flat rocky road.
2) Know how to shift body weight around to maintain balance. You can do this by trying to lean the bike as far as possible without losing your balance while riding.
3) Work on turning radius. The front wheel of the bike needs larger turning radius than rear wheel, so you can work on turning the bike with smallest possible radius. This will help you on your real mountain riding while taking really awkward tight turns more quickly and easily. Once you get good at taking tight turns by keeping your wheels on the ground, you can try to take tight turns by picking up your wheels.
4) Ratcheting – In simple words, it is a process of partial pedal strokes. Ratcheting is useful when we couldn’t make full pedal strokes. This may occur during overcoming a big rock underground where there is a chance of hitting the pedal to rock. In such cases, we can’t continue to move further with full pedal strokes.
5) Front wheel lifting – Practice front wheel lifting to get up large objects.
6) Invest some time in learning how to apply brakes properly and most effectively without losing control of the bike. you can also use your body weight in combination with brakes by shifting your weight backward during downhill braking.
Get the right shoes to get a nice grip on pedals, shorts for comfortable pedaling, hand covering t-shirt, gloves, and last but not least helmet.
What to take in your backpack:
You must carry at least following items. Filled water bottle, mini pump, a pair of tire tube, some patches, multi tool, some cash, a mobile phone with an emergency contact number on top of the contact list, Energy bars/food, ID card.
So now you are totally prepared with all basic requirements needed to ride mountain bike properly. So let’s get started with some basic training instructions.
Proper body positioning:
Proper body positioning is one of the key things you should know before starting Mountain biking. It has a huge effect on how much grip you will get, you must know how to distribute body weight on a bike. Never hold handle too tight, it transfers a lot of impacts directly to hand.
Biking uphill can be achieved by strength, quick thinking, endurance. Right gear selection is the main key for bike climbing uphill. You should always use lower gear ratio this will help you for riding a bike uphill more efficiently. secondly, you need to lean forward as you climb a hill to avoid front wheel pulling up of the ground, also maintain enough weight on the rear wheel for better grip.You should avoid riding too fast while climbing a hill to avoid getting exhausted, you should maintain a constant speed to ensure smooth climbing of hill.
Always keep eye on the next obstacle so you can get prepared to overcome it. Short and steep climbs need extra concentration and extra power, most of the time you need to be seated on the seat and lean forward to distribute equal weight on both the wheels. Position your seat such as while seated on a seat your legs should be fully extended on pedals.
You have to look down the trail as far as possible during riding downhill. You don’t need to pedal during downhill but you should be good at choosing a right track and knowing possible obstacles. Maintaining proper momentum is very crucial in downhill riding. Don’t forget to lower your seat position during riding downhill, this will help you to lean back of the seat more quickly.
While riding downhill use your brakes effectively and wisely, it is very important because brakes can be your best friends or can turn out to be the worst enemy if not used wisely. Its never a good idea to apply brakes heavily you may get out off control, here what you have to do is apply brakes slightly then get back control of the bike and then apply brakes again. Never look to down, always keep eye way ahead on the road. Don’t loose your concentration.
To conclude all this, I can say you must have to do your homework before actually starting mountain bike riding. You have to master in basic skills which are mentioned above. Practice those skills on some easy track, gain confidence and move toward your dream of riding real world class mountains. All the best.