Add Mountain Biking To Your Fitness Routine
Is it time to add mountain biking to your fitness routine? You love being outside, you want to mix up your current workout routine, and you’re ready for an activity that will give you a rush. It’s time to try mountain biking! Maybe you haven’t been on a bike since you were a kid, only ride the one in spin class, or always stick to paved cycling trails. Well, get ready to go off-roading, hit the dirt and interact with a whole new group of friendly, adrenaline-seekers.
Choosing a bike
Mountain bikes range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000+ so before you invest, get a good idea of what type of bike you’ll need.
If you have an old bike in the garage or condo storage, get it out, dust it off and have a look. You may need to tighten the wheels, pump up the tires, and grease the chain. If it’s been idle for years, take it into your local bike shop for a tune-up. You don’t want to be out on the trail for the first time and have something break; make sure it’s trail-ready.
If you don’t have a bike, look into renting one for a few hours or a weekend. Renting is an easy way to get started and see if this is something you’d enjoy before you invest a lot of time and money. You can usually rent helmets and other gear; think of it like your trial trail run. Say that a few times fast!
If you’re in the market to purchase a new bike, ask the expert at your local bike shop what will work best. Keep in mind bike supply has been low because of the pandemic, and demand is way up. It might take time to get the bike you want.
Lightweight cross country bikes are, as the name suggests, super lightweight and, because of that feature, are expensive and typically used for mountain bike races. As a newbie, this most likely will not be the bike you choose but something to keep in mind if you develop a passion for the sport.
The same goes for downhill bikes; they are a specialized style of mountain bike. These are heavy-duty and used in places where you take a gondola or lift to the mountain top and only ride downhill. A bonus if you live in Western Canada, but for those in the prairies and eastern provinces, you won’t get a lot of use out of this style of bike.
As a beginner, it’s best to start with a trail bike, and with this, you have two options. Full-suspension bikes have front and rear suspension, which helps keep traction on the trail, absorbs some of the bumps, and if you’re doing more advanced trail features like jumps, it will better support the landing. A hard-tail bike is more entry-level and has suspension at the front of the bike only. It’s an excellent option for your first mountain bike; cost-wise, it’s a lot lower and requires less maintenance.
Take a tour of your local bike shops and talk to the experts that work there. They will be your best bet to determine the bike that is best suited for you.
Like any sport, it can be safer, more fun and easier with the correct equipment. You don’t need much for biking, but to start, you’ll need a few essentials.
A helmet is non-negotiable. Always wear a helmet on the trails. You may not have worn one leisurely riding throughout the city on pavement, but this is different. There are obstacles, the path can be narrow, and there are lots of trees – if you end up taking a tumble, you want to protect your noggin. Also, wearing a helmet gives you more confidence to pedal faster and try the jumps because your head is covered.
Gloves are helpful for grip, especially if your hands start to sweat. It’s your personal preference for full gloves or fingerless.
Hydration pack or water bottle
You’re going to get thirsty on the trail. Always bring water with you.
There are special mountain bike shoes, but these are not something you need to buy right away. It’s best if you wear shoes with flat bottoms so they have more contact with the pedal and your feet are less likely to lose grip. These are similar to skateboarding shoes.
Glasses or goggles
Many pros and more seasoned riders wear clear or tinted glasses to keep mud and stones out of your eyes, depending on how fast you’re ripping the turns. In the forest, it can sometimes be too dark for sunglasses, so they wear glasses with a lighter colour lens.
If you’re heading out for a longer ride, it can be a good idea to bring a small repair kit that includes a multi-tool (a series of adjustable hex wrenches to tighten bolts etc.), travel-size bike pump, an extra tube (in case, you blow a tire) and a tire lever to change the tube.
Besides the fresh air and exercise, one of the perks of mountain biking is that it’s a very friendly and supportive community. You’ll quickly learn there is a lot of trail etiquette, like saying how many people are in your group as you pass by other riders. Some cities have mountain biking clubs that take responsibility for the care and maintenance of trail systems, such as cutting fallen trees, removing invasive plant species and collecting garbage. If you are looking to expand your circle of friends, you can’t go wrong by becoming a part of this community.
Mountain biking is also a family-friendly sport. You’ll see kids of all ages on the trails with their parents.
Find your local mountain biking community and go riding with someone that knows the trails. It helps to go out with a more experienced rider so they can give you tips on navigating obstacles and spotting you as you attempt them those first few times. It’s also fun to watch a skilled rider; it gives you an idea of what you’re getting into before trying your first jump or narrow boardwalk.
Do an online search for trail apps that includes maps and reviews. The trail system is colour coordinated, like snow skiing; green for beginners, blue for intermediate and black for advanced.
Like trying any new sport, you might be using muscles you haven’t in a while. It’s always important to stretch after, so bust out that foam roller.
If you’re up for learning new skills, spending lots of time in nature, and getting that adrenaline rush, mountain biking is for you. It’s a great way to explore places off the beaten path and not easily seen from the road.
This sport is all about building confidence. You encounter an obstacle and practice it many times until you feel good about it. By starting small, you work up to more challenging wins as you gain confidence. What is a better metaphor there for life? Building confidence on your mountain bike is a great way to gain courage in life.
Need help with choosing the right supplement and cycling snacks before you hit the trails?Visit us in store, have a chat with one of our experts, and learn about our favourite supplements! We can also be reached on Facebook and Instagram. Now it’s your turn to tell us, how do you keep your exercise routine going? Be sure to tag us! We are #ReflexNation.