Whether you’re new to biking or need to refresh your technique, you’ll likely fall into some bad habits on the trail. It is important to start mountain biking with the correct form and equipment for maintain skill and handling throughout your time as a biker. Redding is full of passionate, experienced bikers, and if you have a question on the trail, don’t be afraid to ask the person taking a break at the next turn. Similarly, do what you can to research mistakes to avoid. Here’s our roundup of beginner errors you’ll want to understand before stepping foot on the mountain.
Not using your front breaks. You should use your front breaks. It’s often the more important of the two brakes you have on your bike. Of course, the wrong situation can flip you over the handlebars. Use the front brakes to keep control of the bike and drastically shorten your braking distance where necessary. The front break will account for up to 90% of your downhill stopping power. Remember that.
Don’t hold any tension in your body. You’ve probably heard that statistic about drunk drivers surviving car crashes more often than sober drivers. This is because they’re less likely to hold tension in their bodies, which allows them to react more naturally to the impact. The same logic applies to riding. If you have a stiff neck and shoulders, you’ll end up hurting yourself. It’ll also be pretty dang uncomfortable. If you catch yourself hunching your shoulders, remember to relax.
Get the right type of bike for what you’re doing. We’ve already covered the types of bikes that apply to the types of biking disciplines. If you’re not sure which bike works best, talk to a sales associate or visit one of Redding’s dozens of bike shops to pick up a rental. We don’t recommend making a bike purchase until you’ve figured out which discipline you like best.
You’re wearing the wrong clothes. Cotton can really hold you back when you’re out on the trail. It’ll leave you soaked with sweat, which can make you catch a chill, cause an injury, or—in the most extreme cases—get hypothermia. Wear mountain biking-appropriate clothing, which will include moisture-wicking fabrics and zipped pockets.
Keep your butt off the seat. Keeping your rear a few inches above your seat is an excellent way to absorb the shock of rough terrain. However, if you have to stand up to pedal through an easy part of the trail, your cadence level is probably too high. Switch down a gear so your legs can more easily pedal through an area. Generally speaking, you should be looking for 75-100 foot rotations per minute.