It’s officially Autumn and our thoughts tend to turn to dark nights and chilly winter evenings, but there’s so much you can do to get out and about at this time of year. So, if you’re up for an adventurous new hobby, why not try mountain biking?
We spoke to Raleigh’s Michelle Jakeway and asked for some top tips on getting into mountain biking this autumn to raise our spirits as the nights draw in and the leaves prepare to fall.
“So many of us love the excitement of a new challenge and would welcome a chance to boost our fitness levels in the process. Leisure cycling is great, an amazing experience, especially a little further down the line as we watch the autumn leaves turning from green to copper and gold but it’s also exhilarating to move up a step from leisure cycling to mountain biking – as long as you’re up for the challenge.
“Of course you need decent fitness levels to fully master mountain biking, but it’s true to say that you certainly don’t have to be a serious, super-fit athlete- just a proficient cyclist who is on a mission to get moving - on a mountain bike!
A sensible move in my opinion, If you’ve never ridden off- road, is to take a little time out and attend a skills course. There are lots of suitable courses on offer, so just put mtb tuition into your search engine and you’ll find courses near you or organisations you can contact to obtain this information.
Choosing the right mountain bike is also important as without the right bike you won’t be able to truly master mountain biking. An ordinary leisure bike, whilst good for country lanes,just isn’t going to hack it on the mountain bike trails.
Take on board what your mtb course tutors recommend regarding building your mastery of mountain biking. Attending a Mtb skills course will help identify your competence from the start and from that you should be aware of your limits with regard to your choice of cycling terrain – flat, rocky or hilly.
Generally speaking It’s advisable to start with some short rides on the flat say about a couple of miles or so for starters on flat ground such as canal paths and the gradually build up distance and speed, graduating to more challenging routes. This will depend on your confidence levels on a mountain bike and of course your fitness levels and personal pedal power.
Choosing a Mountain Bike for Beginners
Mountain bike frames come in many sizes so I would recommend visiting a specialist bike shop to get the best bike for you. If you’re starting out mountain biking I’d recommend that you really need to invest in a good bike that’s fit for purpose.
If you get a chance, take a look at the Diamondback MTB range. I know these bikes well because
Diamondback is distributed and marketed in Europe by Raleigh. One of the great things about Diamondback is that they offer mountain bikes that are suited to beginners but also offer more aggressive bikes for more seasoned rider.
DIAMONDBACK’s SYNC 1.0 model takes some beating and offers excellent specification for the money. It’s available in both men’s & women’s designs and 5 frame sizes.
Some bike shops now offer the facilities to ‘demo’ a bike so remember to ask your local dealer if this is possible.
If you’re a mountain biking newbie it’s advisable to cycle with another person for safety.There are some fabulous trail centres across the UK which are suited to differing levels of capability. Trails are often colour coded and graded according to their degree of difficulty. Green tends to be flat terrain then blue and red trails are increasingly challenging. Black mountain bike trails are designed for the experienced and proficient mountain biker as they often include features such as drop offs and jumps which simply aren’t suitable for the novices. We‘d suggest you opt for established trails rather than seeking out your own routes and straying into unknown territory.
Another good starting point for information on mountain bike trails is to have a word at your local bike shop, as this can be an amazing fount of knowledge for you to tap in to.
We’d definitely suggest that websites such as www.sustrans.org.uk or www.forestry.gov.uk/england-mountainbiking are well worth a look for more information too! Joining British Cycling has many benefits too www.britishcycling.org.uk
As far as accessories are concerned for mountain biking, a well-fitting helmet is an imperative and, gloves, cycling shorts, a breathable jersey & a hydration backpack will also help make the ride more enjoyable. Now we’re in Autumn remember some high vis accessories and great bike lights too!
Depending on your vehicle there will be several options of bike carrier available to fit it. Again, your local bike shop is likely to stock a selection of carriers and will be able to advise you and test fit a carrier to your vehicle.
Mountain Bike Maintenance
Mountain bike maintenance is also important as is keeping your mountain bike clean; always wash down the mountain bike after a muddy ride and lubricate the chain with a Teflon based oil to help achieve optimal performance.”