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How can I Prepare to Go Mountain Biking?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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When you prepare to go mountain biking, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first step to prepare to go mountain biking is to decide what sort of riding you plan to do — whether you plan on taking extreme trips far off the beaten path or riding on more standard trails, and whether you want to complete long-distance mountain treks or shorter sprints.

The next step to prepare to go mountain biking is to make sure you have a good understanding of the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Rules of the Trail, to make sure you get along with other mountain bikers you might meet along the way, and to look after your environment. First, make sure to only ride on open trails — this means staying away from private property, closed roads, and especially wilderness areas. Researching your route in advance is a good way to prepare to go mountain biking, and if your desired route crosses private areas, call ahead to get permission to use the land. Be considerate of others who are using the same paths as you, be they fellow mountain bikers, horseback riders, or hikers. If the path is narrow, slow your bike or walk it to give your fellow travelers room.

Be aware of animals on the path, and take care not to startle them — if you pass grazing cattle or horses, slow down and follow the directions of their owners. Perhaps most importantly, minimize your impact on the trail. This means not cutting new trails, sticking to established trails, being aware of soil conditions and whether you will tear up the path by riding on it, and of course, leaving no litter behind.

The next step to prepare to go mountain biking is to make sure you have a bike that is appropriate for the type of riding you plan to do. Test ride a number of bikes to find the one that is right for you, and don’t be afraid to shop around quite a bit — after all, this is something you’ll be spending quite some time on, and a bad fit can make for a lot of suffering down the trail. Full suspension bikes tend to be more comfortable and give a greater amount of control than hardtail mountain bikes, which are lighter and let you get more force out of your peddling. Some bikes are optimized for level mountain biking, others for racing, and others for tearing down rough trails and catching enormous air. The type of bike you choose is entirely dependent on the style of mountain biking you wish to pursue, so think it through carefully, and perhaps start by renting a couple of styles of bikes and trying out different types of biking.

Finally, prepare to go mountain biking by getting gear together for your trip and choosing some trails. Always make sure you are entirely self-sufficient on the trail, so that you don’t get yourself in trouble and burden other people. Make sure to carry enough water, any food you might need, a sturdy helmet, and any tools or supplies you’ll need to do quick repairs or changes if the weather turns.

When you prepare to go mountain biking for the first time, you’ll probably want to stick to easier trails, choosing short runs that can help you get used to the sport without overly straining yourself or exposing yourself to danger. As you become more confident and learn what you like, you can prepare to go mountain biking at a more advanced level, and to try out new trails and more difficult terrain. Just remember, this isn’t a competition — unless of course you’re racing! — so just stick to what you find fun, and take it all at your own pace. Happy trails!

Sports&Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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