13 Tips That Will Have You Mountain Biking Like a Pro

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The trail ahead is slippery, and I am afraid I will kiss dirt more often than I should.

That is going through my mind as I plan to dust off the bike this summer, and ride the mountain biking trails of Canmore with my seven-year old son.

Recently, we started biking on unpaved trails so I could start feeling the gravel and rocks under my tires. I will confess… this was much more fun than the paved option, with the odd roots showing up on my way, making me look ahead and think on what to do next.

I am not new to challenges. 25 years ago, I started rock climbing, which developed to mountaineering and, very sporadically, ice climbing. Although the fear of heights never abandoned me, rock climbing is still my favorite activity.

Just three years ago I started downhill skiing, and finally – after the last season – I can finally say that I know how to ski. The fear of speed down steep terrain is now behind me most of the time, and I can enjoy that sensation you feel when you mastered something.

So, I feel up to the challenge to experience – and enjoy! – a trail on top of my mountain bike. To help me with this transition to the dirt, I asked a mountain biking instructor, Audrey Duval, to give me some tips. Below, there are 13 specific tips she shared:

Get prepared:

1.Make sure you have a proper size mountain bike. My first decent bike was way too big for me. I could ride it, but I am happy I never did it on a trail, or I would certainly suffer.

2. Make sure you have a healthy body! Getting on a mountain bike is a great way to get in shape, but make sure to stretch before and after riding. A bit of cardio and maybe yoga in the off-months do wonders.

Things to bring:

1. Spare tube – even thought you don't know how to use it; there is always someone nice enough to help you with it,

2. Multi tools – not necessary for small ride but they could come handy and you’ll get used to have it around,

3. Small pump or CO2 cartridge,

4. Water (a bottle or camel bag),

5. A basic first-aid kit – it is always good to have.

What to wear:

1. 3/4 pants or shorts,

2. Helmet – make sure you have one that fits you properly,

3. Padded shorts – These are like a gift from God. Take good care of your bum… J

4. Long finger gloves to save your hand from the dirt,

5. Some people would consider shin guards and arm braces but these are totally up to you,

6. Dress in layers, depending the length of your ride and the weather/season... 

Next week we will talk about tips and techniques and how to choose your trails. Stay tunned!




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