24 October 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Getting started – Mountain Biking

February 18, 2011
Getting-started-mtb

With mountain biking becoming ever more popular with female riders, coach Ally Campbell gives us the lowdown for those who want to give it a go.

Getting-started-mtbWhat’s it all about?

Just imagine riding along a wonderful piece of singletrack, your senses tuned to every input from the bike and trail. The sound of the tires whizzing along the trail fills your ears while the smells of the forest flood your nostrils.

The euphoric feel of flowing along, really working with the ground beneath your wheels, brings a wide grin to your face. You get to the next climb, knock it down a couple of gears and work hard to get to the top ready for the next flowing decent. You provide the power and nature provides some gravity, wonderful scenery and a challenge.

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Mountain biking aka MTB keeps you fit, it‘s great fun, sociable and is fantastic cross training if you do other sports. The stress and strains of modern life get left behind as you get on your bike!

Not many years ago mountain biking was the preserve of a few Lycra clad blokes flying about the hills with maps and compasses. But now, with the evolution of modern bikes, gear and importantly trail centres, modern mountain biking is accessible to anyone.

What gear do I need?

Wicking, breathable layers are best to help regulate your temperature. Take a spare top and a waterproof layer too for when it’s wet. Padded shorts are also a great idea but some people do ride without them for years. Full fingered gloves will also keep hands warm and dry and a helmet is essential.

While you don’t need a top of the range bike, one with some off road features is required. Wider knobby tires will help your grip whilst some form of front suspension will take the rattle and vibration out of the trail.

Getting-started-mountain-bi

But will I fall off?

Yes, sometimes you will. But the best way to prevent silly crashes and injuries is to get a lesson from a suitably qualified skills instructor first. Having a good grasp of the basics makes it more fun, safer and lets you progress faster. The first three things to learn are:

  • Footwork: This will dictate where your weight is on the bike and can also reduce those over the handlebars moments we’ve all had as kids!
  • Energy management: Learning to pump (create energy) and soak up (absorb energy) from those bumps and humps on the trail.
  • Vision: You will end up where you look, that’s a fact. Stare at the ditch or rock and that’s where you’ll soon be! So look up and along the trail to where you want to be and trust your instincts to deal with the trail under the bike.

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Win! A day of mountain biking with Campbell Coaching

Sportsister has teamed up with Campbell Coaching to offer one lucky reader a full day of mountain bike coaching in North Wales worth £180! Live video coaching will be used as well as a terrain that suits your level and ability. With drop offs ranging from 3 inches to 6ft you’ll be coached within your confidence and ability to help you keep it all on track! After-course feedback will also be available for the winner, who will receive a CD with all the video footage and demos from the day – what a keepsake! Deadline for entries is February 28, 2011. Click here to enter

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How fit do I need to be?

It can be as physically challenging as you want, so it’s up to you. For your first couple of rides go out for an hour or so and just get used to it. Then, when you have some experience of riding, get out for a bit of a challenge.

You could work hard at your local pump track (think mini BMX track, great for improving your riding skills) or just have a chilled out ride with a friend around your local trail, it’s really your choice.

Where can I try it?

Speak to your local bike shop or MTB club and they will be able to tell you about local rides and trail centres. You can join a club ride in your area or just find some local bridalways (it’s not legal to ride on footpaths, so make sure you know which is which) and just get out on your bike.

If you fancy a bit of an adventure, get a couple of friends together and have a weekend away at a MTB trail centre. There are centres across the UK and most offer bike hire too.

Trail Centers also grade their trails just like ski resorts, so it’s easy to find a suitable trail:

  • Green: family and beginner trails
  • Blue: easy, fun trails
  • Red: real singletrack, faster descents and harder climbs
  • Black: just think steeper, longer, harder with jumps and drops too

Wales (www.mbwales.com) has some of the classic trails like the Marin and Coed Y Brenin if you’re feeling adventurous. Coed Llandegla in North Wales is just 20 minutes from Chester – think shopping one day and mud and fun the next!

In Scotland (www.7stanes.gov.uk) head to Glentress just outside Peebles for another fantastic facility with a warm welcome to females while in England (www.forestry.gov.uk/england-cycling) Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire has some really good trails in a stunning setting.

Ally Campbell, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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