Tips to help you become the best mountain rider

Mountain biking may seem very intimidating for cyclists who have never tried it before. Bike rails are not as smooth and plain as the pavement; they typically feature a lot of dirt, rocks and other obstacles. Which is one of the reasons why road riders may feel intimidated by mountain biking.

If you’ve been thinking about trying out the gravel roads but you’re feeling uncertain, think back to the day you took up road cycling. You probably felt that you were not up to it then, but you did it anyway and today, you’ve mastered road cycling.

What this tells you is that when you trust yourself and take the plunge, you will be successful. So, while mountain biking will be new territory, it’s not impossible to do. It will take a few tries to get it right. The more you do it, the more you will learn what you should and shouldn't do. You will make mistakes and that’s normal for anyone trying something new. 

It will be these mistakes that will motivate you to do better and become better at mountain biking. With that being said, we’ve put together a few tips on how to transition to mountain biking and where to get mountain bike clothing in South Africa

Start small 

Road cycling requires strong fitness levels, but when it comes to mountain biking, more strength will be needed to punch through those trail obstacles. And, we understand that transitioning doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that requires patience. 

So, start small, take short rides on the gravel road to help you get the feel of your bike on the dirt road. You will also get to learn how to control your bike on a trail and how to handle the obstacles. As a road rider, you’re used to remaining seated throughout a good portion of your bike ride. This is not the case with mountain biking; you won’t be seated much as you have to manoeuvre obstacles and difficult climbs or descents. 

Use your body to control bike movements  

You will need to learn how to position your body to control the movements of your bike on a gravel trail, For example, if you’re facing a steep incline, you need to position your body forward to allow your rear wheel to stay on the ground as you propel the bike forward. Alternatively, if you’re descending, you have to move your body backwards, loosen your grip on the bike’s bars and let the bike loose with just enough force to control it. 

Keep your eyes on the road ahead 

Keeping your eyes peeled on the road while riding on the pavement is important. But it is of the utmost importance to focus on the path ahead of you when you’re on a mountain biking trail. You miss one rock or a hole in front of you and you risk crashing and injuring yourself. This also raises the importance of mountain bike clothing. This attire is specifically designed to protect you during a crash. Mountain bike clothing is available at any online bike shop in South Africa. 

Trust your equipment 

Road riders are used to avoiding even the smallest obstacles on the road, such as potholes or trash. Of course, the goal is to be safe while riding, but mountain bike riders get used to riding over and into such obstacles. The biggest contributing factor to their success in this regard is the trust they put into their mountain bikes, shoes and other equipment. 

If your equipment is quality, you will trust that it can withstand minor knocks and bumps every now and again. The more confidence you have in your equipment, the more you will let it do what it needs to and the more you will be confident on the trail. Make sure that every equipment you buy is suitable for mountain biking. Starting with your bike, if you’re unsure of how to choose a mountain bike frame, browse through our online shop and find one that fits your needs. 

See, you can become a skilled mountain rider; you simply have to put in the effort and the trust in both yourself and your equipment. The important step to focus on is preparation. Get your mountain bike, equipment, clothing and shoes ready. And, no, your road riding shoes won’t do, you need specific mountain biking shoes. There are plenty of mountain biking shoes available in South Africa. Then you need to do research on the biking trails near you; start small, practise positioning yourself and controlling your bike. Take the time to learn what works and what doesn’t. Simply visit Chris Willemse Cycles and get everything you need ahead of time. Then hit the trail and become a pro at mountain biking.