So you bought a mountain bike. That’s just the first step to opening up a whole new world. Buying a bike is a big commitment, and to get the most out of it you need to get out there and ride it. Here’s what to do on your first outing to set yourself up for success later on.
Try a Trail Center
While there are many places to ride, a trail center is one of the best options for your first time. The trails are usually exclusively for bikers, so you don’t have to worry about sharing with hikers or horses. This makes things more straightforward because you don’t have to worry about yielding the right away or wondering who or what is around the next corner. Going to a trail center can also help you make sure you get on the right level trail the first time and that there are people around to help you if you need it.
Choose the Right Route
Most trail centers label their routes by color. Each color represents a different level of difficulty. Look over the possible trails online before you go so you know what you want to do when you get there. If you’ve never biked before, choose an easy trail for your first tie. Even if you are athletic and have done a bunch of other sports, this will help give you a solid experience for your first time. There’s not much worse than getting stuck on a trail that’s too difficult for you and feeling like you never want to go again.
Know the Rules
Different trail centers will have different rules, so you’ll want to be familiar with the ones particular to your trail center before you go. Make sure you know which trails are for going up and which ones for going down, or what the rules are surrounding the bike lift. You’ll also want to know if there is any gear you’re required to have or anything that is prohibited. Set yourself up for success by bringing only what is allowed and all of what is essential.
Bring More Food and Water Than You Think You’ll Need
Most people underestimate how much food and water they will need when they’re out biking. If possible, bring a backpack with a water bladder. You can also put an extra bottle in your water bottle holder and another in the car. Trust me, you’ll probably want them all before the day is over, especially if it’s hot outside. It’s the same with food. Make sure you have some energy-rich snacks, like gels, peanut butter, or similar food on the bike with you. Pack a cooler in your car with food for lunch…or maybe for two lunches! You don’t want to get stuck out there with nothing to eat!!
Watch Other Mountain Bikers
If you’re ever not sure what to do, look and see what others are doing. This can give you a good idea of how to attach your bike to a lift, navigate a difficult route, and more. Other people can be a great resource, and you don’t even have to talk to them if you’re not comfortable doing that. Make sure you’re not trying to do everything by yourself, though. Watch and learn so you don’t end up trying to recreate the wheel.
Take Some Friends
Whether your friends are experienced MTBers or newbies like you, it’s always better to have companions along your way. Bring your friends along so you can learn together, or bring someone more experienced so you have someone to learn from. If you don’t know anyone who wants to go or you’re new to an area, look for a group online. Your local outdoors store may know of some groups, or you can look on Meetup.com. This can be a great way to meet people who know and love your new hobby.
Expect to Have Fun
Even if you’re nervous, go into this experience expecting to have a great time. This presets your brain to enjoy the experience and it makes it easier for you to enjoy yourself. You can also expect that everything won’t go perfectly, because it probably won’t, but you can expect to overcome any obstacles that come your way and still enjoy yourself.
Pretty soon, you’ll be one of the experienced bikers out there that everyone else is looking to for advice and help. It doesn’t take long to get used to mountain biking and to realize that you love your new sport!