If you’re thinking about taking up mountain biking then the UK is a magical place to do it. With so many trails all around the country, you will have plenty of places to hone your skills. Before you hit the trails, it’s worth knowing a few things that can give you an easier ride. At The Insurance Emporium, we’ve put together these tips on how to have the best first mountain biking adventure.
1. Get the right bike
Having a bicycle that’s fit for the job is key – don’t cheap out on what enthusiasts call a ‘bike-shaped object’. Many people start out on a hardtail mountain bike, which has a front suspension fork. A full suspension bike, with a rear-wheel shock, might handle bumps easier but will cost more for a decent spec. If you can’t afford a new bike, some trail centres have shops nearby where you can hire one.
2. Come equipped
There are some essentials that you’ll need with you on your mountain biking adventure. A helmet is a must. Bring water and snacks so you can stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up. Appropriate clothing can make things easier and protect you if you take a tumble. Also, maps or some knowledge of where you are going could save you an overly long or treacherous ride.
3. Get the right stance
Once you’re fully equipped and on the bike, get into the best riding stance. You need to be out of your seat and keeping fairly loose so that your body can absorb the bumps you’ll be riding over. Keep your knees and elbows bent to allow your bike to flow beneath you while you maintain your balance.
4. Shift your weight
It’s important to get your weight in the right place to maintain control over your bike. For example, when you’re going downhill, you need to balance your bike by shifting your body backwards, so that it’s over the back wheel. Similarly, you should lean forward when going uphill. When going around corners, move your weight to the pedal on the outside of the curve in order to keep your balance.
5. Speed is your friend
While you may want to tackle the trails slowly and cautiously when riding for the first time, there will be plenty of occasions when you’ll actually need to pedal faster to get over tricky terrain. Having good momentum will help you scale obstacles like rocks and roots. That’s why you need to speed up and not become too apprehensive about it. This brings us to our next point…
6. Have no fear
Sometimes, the most irritating spills can happen because you overthought something and reacted in panic. That’s why you need to mentally shrug off the feeling of fear where possible. To do this, try to focus your mind on the next movement you need to perform, such as where to shift your weight and which direction you need to look.
7. Brake free
Hopefully you’ve got a decent set of brakes on your bike! In which case, you’ll only need to pull the levers with one or two fingers to slow down. Knowing when to use your brakes is vital. You won’t need the front brake if you’re travelling fast – unless you want to go sailing over the handlebars! However, your back brake will be handy for regulating your speed every now and then.
8. Look where you’re going
Keeping your eye on where you want to go will help to guide your bike in the right direction. So, if you’re cornering, make sure you look towards the exit. If you see some sort of obstacle that you want to avoid, whatever you do, don’t just stare at it. This is called target fixation and might cause you to ride straight into the hazard – face, meet tree!
9. Get in gear
Hopefully you’ll be on a bike with plenty of gears because you will be shifting between them often. Getting the right gear is all about planning for what’s ahead of you. Change down as you’re coming up to a climb, a corner or some technical features. Then, when you see a fast descent ahead, change up.
10. Prepare to repair
Having a repair kit handy could be useful if something were to go wrong while you’re out riding. You don’t want to have to push your bike a long way back due to a snapped chain or a puncture! At the very least, it’s worth bringing a puncture repair kit and chain tool and knowing how to deal with a bent derailleur hanger.
Mountain biking is an exciting sport to get into and, with these tips, you’ll hopefully get off to a great start. However, just in case things do go wrong, it might be worth looking at bicycle insurance. The Insurance Emporium’s Cycle Insurance includes cover for Theft, Loss or Accidental Damage as standard and you could tailor your policy with Elective Benefits such as Cycling Clothes and Personal Accident. New customers could also get up to 25% discount* in their first year. Put the brakes on your worries and stop by The Insurance Emporium today!
*The 25% discount is available on lunar and calendar monthly policies and policies where the premium is paid annually. It is made up of 15% Introductory Discount plus 5% Age Related Discount (if applicable) and 5% Security Discount (if applicable). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies or one premium payment on annual policies.
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