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Apart from being a sports activity, mountain biking is also one of the most effective exercises for keeping fit. A better mountain biker not only cycles to win a race but also knows how to make their cycling experience a breeze. Improving your biking skills also adds value to your health benefits of cycling. For example, as with any other cardiovascular heavy activity, cycling can help you to keep heart diseases and cancer at bay. Heck, some people even take their mountain bikes with them on a hike.
Whatever your mountain biking goals are, you want to improve your cycling experience and become better day after day. This post will guide you through five of the best practices for becoming a better cyclist. Following the instructions and practicing each step will help you to improve your skills and become the dream mountain biker you have always wanted to be.
Some of these mountain biking skills are simple aspects you may have been ignoring all the time. Others need progressive learning to do better on each cycling session. You, therefore, need to have patience while training yourself to become better at mountain biking.
Here are five things you need to do to become better at your mountain biking endeavors.
1. Get the Right Bike
Whether you are starting or you have been biking for some time, you want to do better with the right bike. When you are going to buy a new mountain bike, you should ensure that it will suffice your cycling needs.
You first need to know your cycling goals and your current cycling experience before you choose the correct bike. In your ambitions, you need to understand if you will be riding the bicycle on your local tracks or you want to advance and explore more mountain biking adventures on other roads.
You can also choose a bicycle with full suspension or hardtail depending on your cycling style. The hardtail bikes have a suspension fitted on the front wheel fork while the full suspension has a shock absorber on the rear wheel. Full suspension bikes give you better jumps and a smooth maneuver through a rugged road.
Your body size also determines what bike you will need for your mountain biking exercises. For beginners, you may want to start with a rental bike as you try to find the appropriate size you can race with comfortably. You can then buy the bike you can use for biking over a long time with ease.
In short, a good bike should help you to train your muscles and comfortably hold you as you progress in your biking skills. Cycling on paved roads is not as messy as the rough roads. Choose a light bike for smooth riding experience.
2. Ride Along with Experienced Bikers
It is common for beginners to shy off from going on a biking race with experts. But the reality is that if you accompany experienced mountain bikers, you will become a better cyclist faster. They also were beginners at one point, and there is nothing to fear. If you wish, however, you can inform them that you are not experienced in mountain biking so that they can adapt the exercise for you.
The experienced cyclists know the best routes for mountain bike training. They can help you to become a better biker without having to strain much. As you go out often, you will learn to ride on various tracks.
Another advantage of following experienced mountain bikers on their exercises is that you will learn to keep up with speed. Balancing your bicycle while riding fast may be a challenge at the beginning. But the more you exercise, the easier it becomes. It will reach a point you will realize that you have been too slow all along.
But the training also helps your muscles grow stronger so that you can go faster and farther without experiencing fatigue. The training is a progressive advancement. You get to improve as you practice more and more. But you need a challenge if you want to keep up with the process.
Did you know that you can make massive progress by observations? Riding alongside or behind expert mountain bikers helps you to become a better rider. You can simply watch as others stay on the bicycle, how they dodge obstacles, and how to do various tricks and jumps on the bike. Consistent observations and practices will help you to improve your moves.
3. Train Your Legs to Pedal Smoothly
I have been watching cyclists of various types of sport, and I discovered something. They are always consistent in their pedaling. Whether they are going up the hill or on a flat track, they are always pedaling consistently, until when they have to apply the brakes to slow or stop. It makes the bike move smoothly and effectively. But you may wonder how it seems easy to stay consistent to rotate your crank up the hill on a rough road.
The aspect of pedaling is where cycling experience lies. First of all, you should not panic in any way. Even if you are new to mountain biking, you should try to ensure that you spin smoothly. For mountain bikers, the gears play a role in how steady you can be on a bike to facilitate faster and easier cycling.
As a beginner, try to change the gears until you get riding comfortably. The bike should be moving consistently without causing you fatigue. Ideally, making between 70 and 100 rotations every minute is sufficient for better cycling. Trying to do it much faster can make you lose balance. And slower rotations can make it difficult for you to manage the bike on a rough track with obstacles.
Try various trails, including muddy ones, to learn how to handle the bike and manage it. That is why you should try mountain biking trips in various parts of the world. For instance, Australia has a wide range of climate and weather conditions around the year. That’s why me and my girlfriend have decided to have our vacation here this year.
A trip to Australia will give you an opportunity to learn to balance on your bicycle while maintaining smooth crank spinning. Because of the long distances in Australia, you’re going to need roof rack accessories to properly fix and carry your mountain bike on the roof rack to the destination where you want to practice and improve your mountain biking skills.
Many people think a rack is all they need and then forget about the accessories. Happened to us, too! Turns out we required a fork mount bike carrier to properly mount our bikes. You can get accessories such as these and others at a webshop such as Front Runner, which is where we got ours.
4. Relax and Stay Flexible on the Bike
Do you want to learn the tactics mountain bikers use faster? Then you must not be rigid on your bike. While you are cycling, you should relax your body and keep going. The nature of the trail should not scare you to lose balance or make you slow down – except for sharp bends and when you are dodging obstacles. The aim is to fully control your bike and maintaining your movement.
You already know that various bicycles have suspensions and others do not. Regardless of whether yours has a full suspension or it is the rigid one, remember that your legs and hands make the best suspension for you to balance on the bike. There is a need for you to be flexible and adjust your weight when necessary to maintain the balance.
On a track with a rough surface that has obstacles, you should raise from your saddle, bend a little at the knees and the elbows. Also, hold the handles firmly so that the bike does not slip off your hands. But you should not make your hands stiff or too tight or you will find yourself crashing into obstacles.
5. Maintain Your Mountain Bike
The worst experience any mountain biker can encounter is a faulty bike. And you do not want yours to develop problems when you are on the trail. But even the slightest glitches can distort your biking and make the experience really bad.
Nobody, even the experts, can stand the noise from some faulty bike parts when they are cycling. The noise can cause too much distortion that you will forget to concentrate on the trail. Since the mind is sensitive, you will always be thinking that the noisy part might come off, break, or stop moving abruptly. And you will want to be cautious as you cycle. This means you will start riding slowly and your efficiency will go down.
In the worst cases, your bicycle may break down if you do not maintain it well. Some of the mountain bikes are easy to maintain at home. Greasing the moving parts is the common maintenance practice you should be doing at home. You also have to clean the chain and lube it to avoid it from drying up and making your riding experience a tough one.
In case you notice any problem that needs an expert’s knowledge, take it to the nearest repair shop before you hit the trail. Some of the things to look out for include the ease of changing gears and is there are any loose parts – including the spokes.
It is easy to progress in your mountain biking experience. You need to work on your confidence and stability. And when talking about stability, start with your mind because you cannot balance your body if your mind is telling you that you will wobble and fall off your bike. A suitable bike with working parts is essential for a successful trip.