Tips (Wildly Useful) to Start Mountain Biking This Summer

Mountain Biking

We will tell you everything from the type of bicycle that suits you best, through the essential accessories to how you should plan your first routes. Keep them in mind and enjoy!

Bicycles are in fashion. The pandemic has intensified our interest in practicing sports outdoors. We see more and more cyclists pedaling along the roads and paths of Spain on any given weekend morning. Men and, above all, women. One of the big effects that are being felt in the cycling sector and the bicycle industry is the increasing number of women who buy and use a bicycle. 

Which Bike to Choose?

The first recommendation to get started in mountain biking is to choose the right bike. And this not only has to do with the size, the range of components, or the accessories that equip the bicycle but especially with the geometry of the frame. Within mountain biking there are different modalities, a bicycle is not the same to make quiet routes through forest tracks than to go up and down technical paths in the middle of the forest avoiding stones, roots, and obstacles. That is why we must be clear about what type of use is going to be made to choose the bicycle that best suits our needs and objectives. In this sense, it would be like choosing the type of car based on its use: urban, family, sports, convertible, etc. There are five main modes of mountain biking :

  • Cross country: they are bicycles designed to ride fast, it is the primary modality to participate in mountain bike tests and marches. It is the equivalent of a sports car.
  • Trail: these are bikes with ample suspension for riding on technical trails. Priority comfort over agility. They would be the equivalent of a sedan-type car.
  • Enduro: Enduro is a modality that combines fast climbs and descents through technical terrain full of obstacles. Following the comparison with the cars would be the 4×4.
  • Downhill: Downhill is a sports modality that consists of launching yourself down a hill at full speed.
  • Sport: These are bicycles designed to ride quietly in off-road areas but without great technical difficulties, such as forest tracks, cattle trails, agricultural paths, and gravel paths. These types of bikes would be the equivalent of a mid-range compact car.

New or Second-hand Bike?

A frequent question among those who want to start mountain biking is whether it is worth buying a new bicycle or going to the second-hand market. There is currently an overdemand in the sector which means that in some brands and models of bicycles there is a waiting list of up to one year to get a new bicycle. That is why more and more cyclists go to the second-hand market.

It is important to buy from sites that offer a guarantee on used bicycles, both in terms of the mechanical review that has been carried out and the documentary verification to avoid the sale of stolen bicycles, replicas, and fakes, which are very common in this sector. A tip that can come in handy: buy a bike that you can resell, if after a while you stop liking mountain biking or if you need to buy a bike from a higher range because it has fallen short. Given this, it is best to always ask for advice.

Essential Accessories to Start Cycling

One aspect to keep in mind when starting mountain biking is that the bicycle is just one more accessory, but not the only one. When you buy your first bike is when you realize that more accessories are needed. The essentials are an approved helmet, sports sunglasses, shorts, a jersey, and cycling shoes to ride with automatic pedals.

In the same way that we don’t wear a swimsuit to play basketball, we shouldn’t wear a tracksuit or running pants to ride a bike. The breathability of the fabric or the seams rubbing against the skin when wearing an inappropriate garment can lead to discomfort and injuries, especially in the groin and perianal area. Spending two hours pedaling and sitting on the saddle of the bicycle with pants that are not designed for this purpose irritates.

How to Plan the First Routes?

For those who are new to this sport, it is important to follow a series of guidelines for the first bike routes and outings. Some people buy their first bike and want to ride 100 kilometers at once. Wouldn’t you do a marathon the first time you go running? The same thing happens with cycling.

Factors to Consider When Planning A Route

  • The length of it, because it is not the same to do a route of 10 kilometers than one of 60 kilometers.
  • The unevenness, it is better to always start by going out on flat roads than doing routes with positive unevenness of 1,000 meters.
  • The profile of the terrain, it is always better that they are forest tracks or wide paths than narrow paths with great technical demands.
  • Finally, another important detail is to take into account whether the route is circular or linear because sometimes we only count the kilometers one way and we forget that we have to return.
  • Another aspect that should not be forgotten is that cycling is a physical activity. If you haven’t played sports in a long time or you’re not in good physical shape, you run the risk of overestimating your abilities and ending up in the middle of the road with cramps and muscle pain, as well as fatigue. It is best to go little by little and always start with short routes, with gentle slopes and in the company of people who are used to cycling.

My Recommendation:

Don’t sign up for a 50-mile walk on technical trails for your first ride. Better something short, 20 or 30 kilometers as much as you can do at an easy pace and enjoy the road. It is preferable to return home having enjoyed than suffering and wishing never to get on a bicycle again.

Hydration and Sun Protection

One of the essential elements to practice mountain biking in summer is sunscreen. Even if the day is cloudy, it is advisable to apply the cream before going out, because if we spend 2, 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the mountain, the weather may change and we can suffer sunstroke or burn our arms and legs. Don’t forget to bring enough water, either. It is very common to run out of liquid for not having planned well and drinking water is not always found in the middle of the mountain. The recommendation is to drink 500 ml of water per hour at intervals of 15 to 20 minutes.

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