Mountain Biking 101 For Health And Fitness
Do you enjoy the great outdoors? Then we’ve got just the thing for you- a good old dose of mountain biking.
Not sure what mountain biking is?
It is the sport of using a specialized designed bike, aptly known as a mountain bike to ride on off-road conditions, laden with obstacles or incline surfaces.
Before you get discouraged or scared for that matter, just know that mountain bikes are fitted with special gears, which make your ascent easier than it would be in a normal bike.
How Do I Get Started With Mountain Biking?
Of course, you need the bike. Go down, speak with your local bike specialist, and get the best one that you can afford. There are many choices. Before you start riding, there are also a few other essentials you will need.
Mountain biking is one of the few sports where accessories actually become “necessities” or you may be in for a world of discomfort, so be sure to invest in these:
- Spandex Shorts – yes, spandex shorts aren’t just a fashion statement, but are essential if you plan to ride and sort of distance. Spandex shorts fix snugly around the legs and groin area, limiting the amount of friction your legs produce from coming into contact with each other, or the seat. This in turn significantly reduces the severity of chafing, a painful condition known very well by those who have ever experienced it. By the way, you do not wear underwear with the shorts!
- A Well Fitting Helmet – safety is important in any sport, but especially mountain biking where you can take a nasty head injury if you fall over an obstacle. A good helmet needs to fit well, not move around much and not obscure your vision.
- Puncture Repair Kit And Tire Pump – nothing is worse than heading miles out into deep country and suffer a puncture. Chances are you won’t have cell phone service, so unless you want to spend hours walking back out, ensure you prepare for emergencies. These kits are usually small, and will not add any measurable weight to your trip.
- Water Bottle – this should go without saying, but just in case you forgot… take enough water to last the distance you are riding. A sports drink can also be added to the mix for rehydration of electrolytes.
Master The Technique
These techniques will help make your experience much more enjoyable and less likely to result in injury:
- Keep Your Hands on the Bars and Not the Brakes – this is especially important on descending, since many new riders are pitched over the front of the bike by having a false handle grip. You can’t grip the brake levers for support, and this is a leading cause of injury to new riders.
- Shift Often – this is best learned by experience, but as a general rule when ascending use a low-tension gear, and the opposite when going down an incline.
- Use Positional Movements – ever wonder why some people stand at certain points? It’s for shock absorption and to effectively shift your center of gravity.
Start Simple And Progress
If there is one thing that discourages new mountain bikers from truly enjoying the wonders of mountain biking, it is going too far, too soon. If your start trekking over rough, unfamiliar terrain your first go, the sheer exhaustion and trauma of a likely few falls will discourage you.
Want To Ensure You’re In For The Long Term? Try These Tips:
- Start By Getting A Feel For Your Bike – there’s no better teacher than experience’ learning the best time to shift gears, and when to prop yourself up as opposed to sitting are learned habits.
- Keep The Journey Short – it is unrealistic to ride a 50-mile journey your first try. It’s best to start slow, and experience the nearby terrain. Couple it with your recovery ability, and you will soon be able to judge how much you are capable of undertaking as you grow in this sport.
- Take Rides On Weekends – we all have day jobs (most of us at least), so unless you want to be burned out all the time, start by riding on weekends. This provides some much-needed recovery after a tough ride, and functions as a good outlet for stress.
Why Should I Start Mountain Biking?
If you’re looking for an exercise system that can dramatically improve your health, and is also enjoyable, mountain biking is your cup of tea. Consider these reasons to begin with this sport today.
Mountain biking is different from conventional flat surface road cycling in the sense that the requirements for stability are different on the muscles, offering a very good resistance workout.
Have you ever noticed the muscular leg development of some extreme mountain biking athletes? Now compare that to a basic road racer. The difference is astounding.
This is due in large part to the recruitment of both Type 1 and 2 muscle fibers, helping develop mass, strength and stamina at the same time.
Perfect Tool For Incinerating Fat
Fat burning occurs preferentially when your heart rate enters a certain “zone,” which happens to be at 65-75 percent of your max heart rate. The intensity of mountain biking keeps your heartrate elevated in that zone most of the time, ensuring you’ll get leaner every time you ride.
Know what else is amazing about its fat burning potential? The staggering caloric expenditure. A light 145lb individual burns a decent 500 calories per hour, when performed on moderately difficult terrain. This amount can quickly increase as the difficulty of the terrain is enhanced.
A two-hour ride can easily amount to more than 25% of daily caloric intake.
Build Up Cardio-Pulmonary Efficiency
One of the most important elements of good health and fitness is how efficiently your lungs can supply oxygen to your hard working heart, which in turn increases the speed at which oxygen is delivered to the muscles and other organs. Better oxygen flow decreases your fatigue rate, and improves your performance over time.
There’s nothing that can improve your mood as fast or effectively as something you enjoy. For many, mountain biking is their drug of choice. The feeling of experiencing nature in all its true glory, and the endorphin rush associated with exercise will leave you feeling on top of the world.
In addition, who says mountain biking has to be a solitary exercise pastime? Many of the happiest and most resolute mountain bikers ride in a small group of friends, who keep each other accountable and motivated.
Having a safety net is never a bad thing either, in the event something goes wrong.
Mountain biking is an excellent pastime activity, whether you’re looking for a way to shed a few pounds, improve the health of your heart or need an escape from hectic city life.
Whatever your reason, once common sense is employed, safety procedures adhered to and you ride consistently, you will fall in love with it.