1. DO I NEED TO WEAR THOSE ‘GEEKY’ PADDED SHORTS?
In short, you don’t NEED to wear the shorts. BUT – you will definitely appreciate padded shorts (also called a chamois or a ‘chammy’). Padded shorts protect you against saddle sores and protect your buttocks! If you’re just starting to ride, it will also take time to build up your butt muscles and get used to the feeling of your bike saddle. Some bike seats are more comfortable than others and you may wish to test a few seats at your local bike shop.
A FEW IMPORTANT TIPS FOR WEARING PADDED SHORTS…
- Do not wear underwear with your chamois – This increases friction between your legs and can trap bacteria. Let loose and go commando.
- Ensure your chamois fits properly. Wearing shorts that are too big or small can increase the likelihood of rubbing in the wrong places which can result in saddle sores.
- Doubling your chamois, will not double your comfort. One wear one at a time!
- Wash your chammy after each use .
2. WHAT IS “CHOOSING A LINE”?
‘Choosing your line’ means picking your desired route based on the level of challenge you’re looking for and/or the most efficient way through a section of trail. Not every rider will choose the same line (which is part of the fun)! – Do you go left or right of a big rock? Do you do a front-wheel lift over the log or avoid it all together? Watch the video below for great pointers on how to choose a line. Which brings us to the next point…
3. IS WALKING A PART OF MOUNTAIN BIKING?
Yes! When you’re exploring new trails, progressing your skills and diving into the sport for the first time – it’s important to get off your bike and become familiar with trails on two feet. Don’t feel ashamed to walk sections or trail features (skinnies, log bridges) that look intimidating. Walking or ‘scouting’ a section of trail before riding will set you up for success. You’ll know what to expect, be able to determine your line choices and make an informed decision on the best route to take for your skill level.
4. HOW COME I’M HAVING TROUBLE CLIPPING OUT OF MY PEDALS?
If you decide to ride clipless it’s important to understand that you can adjust your pedals so they are easier or more difficult to release. Adjustments can vary depending on the type of pedals and cleats you use. (ie. SPD vs. Crankbrothers). If needed, ask your local bike shop for a quick tutorial on setting up your pedals and cleats.
5. HOW COME MY GEARS ARE GRINDING?
Look ahead to determine what gear you’ll need to shift into in anticipation of the trail changing in elevation and difficulty. When you see a climb up ahead, shift into an easier gear at the bottom of the hill. If you try to change gears in the middle of a climb, it’s hard on your chain and it may break. You don’t want to be known as a ‘gear grinder’!
6. HOW MUCH SPACE SHOULD I LEAVE BETWEEN ME AND THE RIDER AHEAD OF ME?
On more technical trails, I’d suggest leaving at least 2-3 bike lengths (more if you’re super speedy) between you and the person in front of you. No one likes having someone ride your back tire, especially when you’re learning. Leaving adequate space gives you more reaction time if there was a crash up ahead or if the person in front of you struggles to clear an obstacle. If someone is following too close for comfort, let them know nicely to give you more space.
7. HOW DO I FIND OUT WHERE TO RIDE?
The best part of mountain biking is the people you meet and the community you build. From enjoying post-ride beers to trailside chats don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with other bikers at the trailhead to get recommendations on where to ride.
FIND OUT WHERE TO RIDE…
- Ask your local bike shop
- Join your local mountain bike club
- Download the Trailforks app
- Follow friends on Strava to see where they’re riding
- Strike up a conversation with other mountain bikers at the trailhead
Entering any sport for the first time can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. From my experience, the mountain bike community is a friendly group of eclectic, awesome folks ready and willing to share their knowledge.