Are you thinking of getting your butt in a saddle and putting your feet to the pedals? Do you desire to get active or are maybe seeking a new adventure? Mountain biking may be able to fulfill your yearnings to get outside and experience a new workout, a new destination or discover a new passion! There are bikes to fit any kind of riding desired. Road cyclist looking to get off the pavement? Looking to test yourself against nature's roots, rocks, and climbs on some singletrack? Maybe you might like to go faster through the banked corners and send it off bigger jumps, the following below details how I got started and insight to hopefully help you get peddling in the right direction!
I was reminded recently about my upbringing in the sport of cycling from a brutal riding session at Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Park in Eagan, MN. I had to haul my bike out of the dense tree lines because I tweaked my axle and didn’t prepare enough to bring tools. I was upset that I came out here and did not have a good time. It Just wasn’t my day, anyone can have those days in this sport. I came out of the woods and looked out at the skills park and saw a father teaching his little girls how to ride over some technical features of the course. One of them had just successfully maneuvered over a small log with the biggest grin on her face and it instantly made my day.
Getting started in this sport can be an intimidating endeavor in of itself. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a group of buddies who loved riding what we called the “Dirt Jumps” which was a half-acre of woods just outside of our neighborhood. That was my beginning, my “Genesis.” I learned how to fly there and definitely how to crash. Just like that little girl at the skills park everyone has to start somewhere and the evolution of mountain biking has expanded to suit a multitude of riding styles.
Where do you fit in?
Just recently I built my first mountain bike, one of the major things you should consider when purchasing at mountain bike is your location and the type of riding it has to offer. Ideally, you should go for the top of the line products, however, being a recent College Grad price was a major consideration of mine. I love mountain biking but you still have to pay the bills! In my beloved state of Minnesota, we go hard for single track with rocky terrain, step downs, fun flowy turn with big banks and recently CX or Cyclocross has taken off. Through this mental checklist I made for myself, I chose to build up a Surly Karate Monkey which is a hardtail mountain bike. I built this kind of bike because it was affordable, versatile, dependable with very low maintenance. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the money to build a full suspension bike I would in a heartbeat. Those bikes are as cool as they come and once I get more comfortable with bigger jumps and wider gaps I may consider, but for now I love my Karate Monkey.
As to where a hardtail can help you become a more disciplined rider, it also demands more physically. If you looking to fly over any rock or root and not have to worry about which line to take, a cushy Full Suspension bike is your answer. With refinements in the suspension and frame design, these bikes can really take a beating and push your riding to its very limits. If you are fortunate enough to have your butt in this kind of saddle you will find that you can conquer more gnarly terrain without rattling every bone in your body.
Does that not intrigue you? Maybe you are looking to get off the pavement and onto roads less traveled. Cyclocross is a type of riding that takes design cues from its road cycling counterparts and marries it with knobby tires and a relaxed road geometry. This type of riding will want to take you into the forest, up the mountains and down into the valleys without even thinking about the pavement. This is great for cyclists, who commute or enjoy sitting in the saddle for longer periods of time looking for new routes.
What are you waiting for?
There is a steed out there waiting for a rider of any caliber to grip it, rip it and run it through the gauntlet. This is just the tip of the iceberg that will hopefully help you on your way to choosing your next adventure in the saddle. Don't be intimidated by all the options and styles, the best thing you can do is visit your local bike shop and ask as many questions as possible. If they are actually passionate about their love for biking they would be more than happy to point you in the right direction. Another tip is to ask if they do any mountain bike demos so that you can try the bikes out for yourself and get a real genuine feel of how you like to ride.
Take the step and find out what you are made of! I have found that through my years of biking there has been nothing more rewarding in exercise than pushing yourself in the saddle out in natures landscapes. You are the sole power source, the driving force, there is nothing pushing you forward other than your own strength and whether or not you crush your goals is completely up to you. Just keep in mind, just like that little girl conquering the log for the first time, we all start somewhere!