The idea of extreme biking can seem intimidating for many people, yet it’s exciting and, at the same time, nerve-wracking. Riding over rocks, jumping over obstacles, and tackling different types of terrain is not an easy task, so you must ensure your safety before you start it. There’s plenty of tips and tricks you can learn before jumping on your bike. The following tips will help you extreme biking safely.
1. Buy the Right Bike and Gear
Mountain bikes are different from regular ones. The riding technique is mainly different as you sit closer to the bar and more upright than a regular bike. It goes without saying, always wear a helmet as you’ll fall off your bike many times; even experienced bikers do. Mountain bikers usually wear two layers of shorts – the first one is padded and fitted shorts called chamois, while the second layer is thin cargo-like shorts with looser fitting. Invest in shoes appropriate for mountain biking to protect your toes from injuries and prevent the laces from getting caught in the chain. A pair of glasses protect your eyes from flying debris or glaring sunshine, and depending on the terrain you’re going to ride, a set of elbow and knee pads will make your falls less painful.
2. Ride on Your First Terrain
Getting overly ambitious can result in many accidents or falls, which can demotivate you from riding again. There’s no shame in choosing beginner-friendly terrain with few obstacles for your first few rides, then move on to more difficult terrain. It’s important to walk the terrain before riding it to familiarize yourself with the corners, rough sections, and other surprises you might encounter during your ride. The golden tip that you’ll hear from almost all bikers is to always look far down the trail and don’t fixate on near obstacles. It helps you anticipate rocks or roots ahead of you and plan beforehand to avoid or overcome them, reducing the crash risk.
3. Keep Your Balance
Balancing your weight allows you to maneuver your bike through different terrain obstacles and steep declines and inclines. You should lean forward while climbing the trail to keep your center of gravity over the rear wheel, and when the trail tilts downwards, you do the opposite. The balance will assist you in learning advanced skills or even how to perform a wheelie, which is essential to take your riding experience to the next step. Some of the balance techniques are intuitive, while other techniques develop after some scrapes or bruises. The point is to learn from your mistakes and to ask others for advice.
4. Keep Your Body Loose
Your arms and legs are the shock absorbers you need for a smooth and enjoyable ride. If you sit on the saddle, your hips are locked to it, making it hard to freely move the bike. When riding through obstacles, let the bike move freely while your legs act like a car suspension.
It’s important to note that your pedal levels should be at 3 and 9 o’clock positions when you’re standing on them. Considering the 6 o’clock position can collide with the terrain and puts more pressure on one knee than the other.
5. Keep the Momentum
There’s a difference between a casual biker mentality and a mountain biker, which is, simply, whether to avoid the obstacle or tackle it right away. Therefore, it’s recommended to choose a beginner-friendly terrain to practice on, as it will give you the confidence to ride through small rocks and roots. As a result, your pedal strokes will improve, saving your energy throughout the ride. However, at blind corners, it’s safer to slow down a little.
6. When Crashes Happen
Everyone crashes, whether a beginner or a professional. The difference lies in how you handle the crash. Your bike will get damaged, whether from crashes or rough terrains, so you have to learn basic repairs so you won’t get stuck in the woods. Knowing how to fix a flat tire is the minimum basic repair to learn, while other useful skills include repairing a broken chain. Pack up a repair kit and a first aid kit; you never know when you might need them.
Extreme biking is great fun and keeps you in shape, which is a big bonus. Biking with friends is always fun and safer, but if you decide to go biking alone, inform anyone you know where you’re going. Don’t pressure yourself to become better and faster. Instead, enjoy yourself and feel the thrill of riding that will keep you going back for more.