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Mountain Biking Tips

Arjun Kulkarni
Very few things can beat the thrill of the sport that is mountain biking. If you're someone who just started out or wants to do so, then there are a number of things for you to look out for. Here they are...
Mountain biking is a tough sport, albeit an adventurous one. There is great joy in rolling down the mountains on that amazing sport bike, beating the terrain, and cycling on forward. But make no bones about it, mountain cycling can be really tough and you need to be in the right shape to be able to survive the tough terrains.
Mountain biking comes well to those who've been at it for a period of time. It is really the beginners who have trouble with it. So here are some of tips and tricks for beginners.

The Bike

Let's start with the very basics of mountain cycling. It requires a different bike, as it is not the same as road cycling. Mountain bikes are sturdier and stronger, but that aside, a mountain bike needs to be light enough to let the driver handle some of the tough ascents.
Mountain cycling also demands a better suspension to facilitate a smoother ride. Last but not the least, mountain bikes come with a good number of gears, for the rider's convenience.

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Don't Ride Alone

Especially if you're a beginner, you need to ride with a more experienced lot, who can help you become a better rider.
Riding alone or along with other novices, will be tougher and potentially dangerous as you really do not have a feel for the sport.
You may be an accomplished road cyclist, but mountain cycling isn't quite the same thing. So find a bunch of people who have been riding for sometime (a lot of clubs exist around town), and ride with them. The stuff you'll learn while riding with experienced people will be the best training you'll get.

The Grip

A lot of first time riders tend to grip the handles rigidly, thus locking the elbow and wrist joints. The grip on the handle is supposed to be flexible, and only tight enough to ensure that you don't fall down.
Loosen up your body and don't take a tight grip, otherwise all the shocks on the road will have to be fended by your bike.

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The main posture of the rider is the 'attack' position. In this position, the cyclist is off the seat, pretty much standing, but with the legs heavily bent. You are supposed to work the legs like a spring, gently going up and down on the pedals.
Don't lock your feet and your hands, as it will make the motion more rigid and your joints will absorb all the ensuing pressure. Rocking backwards and forwards gently will also help you pedal faster.

Work the Gears Well

The gears are your best friends on the trails. By learning to work the gears well, you'll be able to ride longer and stronger. The gears help absorb a lot of pressure on the ride and hence make it easier to overcome a lot of difficult ascents.

The Descent

If there is one aspect which petrifies most riders, it is the decent. A long, rocky slope can be intimidating for most. Downhill mountain cycling revolves around braking.
Make sure that on the descent, you don't grip the brakes so hard, that the bike skids. Make sure that you brake, but softly, and on 2 second intervals. The point of braking on the descent is not to stop the bike, but to ensure that you are in control of the bike.

Riding Safety

Mountain biking is tough and even the most seasoned cyclists are not immune to injury on their trails. So it is important that you follow the basic riding safety norms. Make sure you have the proper gear on, the helmet, the knee and elbow pads.