This article is part of a series on how-to skills for mountain biking:
Most guys seem to instinctively know the benefits of getting physical (bedroom activities not withstanding). Since they were kids, guys have understood the value that comes with rough housing, climbing, shouting, shoving and doing all sorts of in-the-body kind of fun. Us ladies could learn a thing or two from them when it comes to blowing off steam and engaging in physical challenges. That's where mountain biking comes in.
But let's face it, women learn differently than men. We like to have things broken down for us, explained clearly, and more than once if necessary. Good news! While this post (and subsequent articles in this series) will give you some good foundational tips that will allow you to get on a mountain bike for the first time and feel fairly comfortable, if you really want to experience the challenge, joy (okay and a little bit of pain), join us for one of our mountain biking clinics. We'll be there, happily breaking down everything you need to know about getting started in the sport. We'll allow you to practice and learn. To get you ready, here are some tips and reminders that will help you enjoy and even be pretty good at mountain biking, first time out.
Essentially, there are two things you need to know about mountain biking before anything else.
Braking is a surprisingly cerebral activityYour braking brains will determine how much you enjoy mountain biking — plus they'll reduce the amount of blood you'll shed. The most important tip to remember is to stop overbraking. For newer bikes, one finger is all you need on your brake lever. More than that will toss yourself over the handlebars. (Older bikes, however, will likely require more fingers — you’ll have to experiment if you’re unsure about where your bike falls.) I've read that ninety percent of accidents are the result of bikers overbraking; the rest come from other bikers who suddenly make a brake adjustment and then come crashing into you.
Now the second, and probably most important thing you need to know about mountain biking and women:
Put your heart and hate into itMountain biking is a uniquely physical activity, one that let's you leave it all on the trail. Chuck all the frustration from the office, ditch the crappy way you feel after a fight with your BFF or partner and just have fun. Or maybe you're the type who's generally pretty happy, but just enjoys the challenge of navigating through the woods and mountains on a bike. Here's the thing: you don't have to be perfect or fast or crazy to enjoy mountain biking. But it could be your only chance that week to channel your inner Katniss.
So go a little faster. Get a little dirty. And for pete's sake bring some frineds! Having a group of fun, supportive women (and dudes) to ride the trails adds a really great social aspect to the sport. Afterwards you can grab a glass of wine on the patio in your muddy-ass gear, happy and exhausted while everyone stares.
Tune in later this week for tutorials on how to go downhill, uphill and over obstacles. And don't forget to sign up for our mountain biking clinic if you really want to master the trail.
Jill Hinton Wolfe