Our new hobby: mountain biking!
Riding a bike is not as easy as it seems – even if you already know how to and have been doing it pretty much all your life.
My sister taught me to ride a bike when I was around 8 or 9. Relatively late in life as far as bike learning goes, probably. I don’t even know why she did it, since we didn’t generally get along at that age.
But ever since then, I’ve always owned a bike. I’ve never ridden a bike as a sport or as a hobby, though, until recently.
Some things I have come to realize about biking, or tips from a newbie to other newbies:
1. Trails are pretty scary and intimidating the first time you try it out. Rocks (big and small) can be pretty daunting, but according to M (my invisible blogging partner), your wheels will just ride over them, so don’t be scared!
Mud and shallow puddles are also pretty scary. You might think that your wheels will get stuck in the mud and you will lose your balance if you ride over it. You are right! Sometimes, depending on how fast you’re going or on the consistency of the mud/puddle, you will fall. Sometimes you will be able to go over it without incident. The key is, don’t be afraid to fall and get dirty. Falling (on mud, water, etc.) is part of biking outdoors. As long as you don’t get seriously hurt, it’s ok. If you fall, just laugh it off and try again.
The more you bike on trails, the more used to it you will become. And the more you get used to it, then the faster you can progress to more challenging trails.
2. Have courage and be confident! You won’t fall off your bike even if you’re going downhill. When going downhill, try not to brake abruptly, even if you are very tempted to do so. And most importantly, don’t take your feet off the pedals and put your foot down. You will only succeed in crashing.
If you have to break going downhill, wait until you reach the foot of the slope to slow down, or wait until you reach the flat part of the road/trail.
3. When you decide on an action or move on your bike, make sure you see it through. Don’t decide on a certain maneuver, then change your mind in the middle of it. Not only will you not be able to accomplish what you set out to do, but depending on what it is, it could also be dangerous to you and other bikers around you.
4. You need to concentrate when biking. It’s easy for your mind to wander and for you to space out when riding a bike, but it’s important to stay concentrated. It’s easy for your bike to also wander all over the place as your mind does. Concentrate and stay on the path (or on the bike lane).
5. As much as you would love to listen to music on your mp3 player while riding your bike, try not to. It’s important to hear what is going on around you, like the sound of traffic instructions from other bikers with you.
It’s fine if you don’t mind listening to music with one ear bud, but if not, just leave the mp3 player at home and enjoy the sounds of nature on your ride.
And most importantly: Practice what you preach! I listed 5 items on here, but I have yet to master #1, #2 and #3. I’ve tried one, relatively easy, trail, but I wasn’t able to do it successfully. I finished it, but I was scared of going downhill on small hills due to rocks. I also fell while attempting to ride over a muddy puddle.
Practice makes perfect, right?
I think the most important thing is to not be scared to ride your bike. Over rocks, mud, water, paved road, whatever. It takes courage – courage that you may not have right now, but as you keep riding, you will develop not only an iron will, but also the skills you need to truly enjoy your new hobby!