It’s the best time of the year to get your mountain bike out of the garage or – if you don’t have one yet – it might be worth considering buying one. Many triathletes enjoy their MTB rides in the winter. It is a perfect replacement for the cold and wet rides on the road bike or the sometimes boring indoor training and it definitely will make you a stronger cyclist. With these eight tips you will be well prepared:
- Don’t sit still, but move!
While on the time trial bike you prefer to sit as still as possible and hold one position for as long as possible, but on the mountain bike it is actually important to move. Lean into corners, stand on your pedals to turn on and slide backwards on your saddle on a descent. This makes you more agile and better able to anticipate the rougher trails. Something that isn’t necessary on a straight downhill, but certainly is on wild forest trails.
- Let your bike find its way
Don’t hold your handlebars too tight and dare to let your bike find its way. Especially on trails with loose sand, it is important not to force the wheel in the opposite direction, but to let the bike find its own track.
- Sharp turns
Good technique is even more important on a mountain bike than on the road. Use your whole body when you take a turn and shift gears properly. The more often you ride, the better your technique will become, and with mountain biking, sharper turns immediately mean faster cycling.
- Shifting gears
On the road you can get away with shifting gears too late, but on a mountain bike you can come to a complete stop if you don’t anticipate properly. So shift down in good time when you see a hill coming up, after a sharp bend and make sure you can pick up speed on the descent by shifting to a heavy gear.
- Look ahead
Since a mountain bike course is generally very varied – especially in the woods – it is important that you look ahead to what is coming. This way you can react to it, for example, by changing gears or thinking about how best to avoid a tree stump. When taking a turn, it also helps to look well through the curve.
- Get to know your brakes
The brakes on a mountain bike are often more sensitive than on a road bike. It is therefore important that you get used to braking and keep in mind that you could come to a quick stop if you squeeze them hard.
- Bike with “normal” shoes and without ‘click pedals’
As a beginning mountain biker, it may be wise to first ride a few times without bike shoes. Should you still make a shifting error or underestimate the loose sand, you can quickly jump off your bike. Of course, cycling with click pedals is ultimately recommended, as this ensures that you also take advantage of your traction.
- Find a mountain bike route for beginners
Think about where you want to go cycling in advance and find out what kind of trail you will be dealing with. On difficult routes you may even encounter some small or big ramps and if you are not prepared for that, it can be a bit of a shock. So as a beginner, make sure to pick the right routes.