What is mountain biking?
The sport of riding bicycles often over rough terrain and unpaved surfaces is called mountain biking. Specially designed mountain bikes are used for this adventurous sport. Through the years, there has been an increase in the number of people who are getting enthusiastic about mountain biking.
Types of mountain biking disciplines
- Cross country
It is basically riding bike up and down hills and is one of the most popular mountain biking discipline. It is the least extreme form of mountain biking. It basically involves competitors racing from point to point through trail sections in fastest time. The trails range from narrow single tracks to open fire roads. This tests the rider’s technical handling skills and endurance.
- All mountain / enduro
Enduro tracks involve bigger drops and jump sections. This is for people who are looking for more adventurous type of mountain biking. Enduro competitions involve steep climbs and times descents.
- Downhill biking
Downhill biking is a very intense discipline basically designed for extreme riders who love adventure and who can ride down roughest single tracks through massive drops, rock gardens, gnarly root sections etc.
- Four cross
Four riders compete either on separate tracks or short slalom tracks on a specially designed highly challenging course. The races are usually fast and frenzied and the course is a mix of manmade and natural obstacles covering a descent.
- Free ride biking
Free ride biking is a ‘do anything’ discipline which involves finding a path down the side of the mountain. The whole terrain can be used to do stunts, tricks etc. the riders get a chance to express themselves hence it is very popular.
- Dirt jumping
It involves riding bikes over manmade dirt hills. Tricks and stunts are done when the bike is in the air.
It basically involves jumping and hoping bikes over obstacles without keeping or touching your foot on to the ground. This kind of biking involves patience, balance and focus.
- Street and urban biking – it involves performing tricks by riding on or over manmade obstacles, ledges, grinds and stalls.
Mountain biking skills
- Get loose – always prepare to ride over obstacles like roots and rocks by keeping your elbows and knees bent, standing on your pedal and lifting your butt slightly above the seat.
- Keep momentum – try to keep a fast pace then speed up instead of slowing down before challenging move and this momentum will make everything easier.
- Move your body – on descents, level your pedals and move your elbows out to get stability. Before steep climb, lower your chin over handlebar and drop your elbow towards your hips to get more balance.
- Support yourself – since there are no convenience stores in forests, carry at least a spare pump, tube, multi tool, food and water.
- Heads up – looking at least 20 feet up the trial as you ride will give you time to choose the best path over hazards. Always keep your body in right position to face any obstacle.
Mountain bikes and types
- Cross country mountain bikes – they are designed for off road trails with minimal obstacles. They are made of most lightweight materials and are used for climbs and descents. Suspension comes in the form of air shocks and is more rigid than other mountain bikes. According to suspension, they are of 2 types – hardtail mountain bikes which are without rear suspension and full suspension mountain bikes with both front and rear fork suspension.
- Trail mountain bikes – these bikes are basically for riders who ride on downward sloping trails. This bike provides the efficiency of downhill bike and the comfort of cross country bikes.
- Downhill mountain bikes – this is for those who ride on downhill tracks a slope. They have bigger tires and heavier weights and they also have disc brakes and chain guide to protect accidental chain derailment.
- Free ride mountain bikes – they are built for power and can do anything from jumping to racing. They are much heavier due to suspension and have the climbing ability. Free-ride bikes weigh from 14-20kgs.
- Dirt jump mountain bikes – fast rolling tires, over-sized handlebars, extended rear cables, 4-6 inches on front suspension and no rear suspension are some of the features of dirt jump mountain bikes.
- Biking helmet – modern helmets are comfortable and stylish and prevent head injuries
- Bike gloves – they are needed to give comfort and safety to your hands
- Mountain shoes – to be comfortable and peddle more efficiently
- Glasses –to protect your vision from dirt, wind and insects.
- Water – to keep yourself hydrated for health and energy
- Lights – LED lights for night biking
- Pump and bike tools – to inflate flat tires.
Tips for becoming a better mountain biker
- Be flexible and strong
- Tune your balance
- Use both the brakes
- Choose the right bike
- Look ahead
- Think positive
If you are still having some nervous collywobbles, just read some adventure bike stories and it would give you some motivation. So be ready! Get, set, go…