South Florida offers some wonderful places to trail and also a very inclusive and sophisticated bicycling culture where you can find from the youngest and newest newbies to the sport, to the most daring and experienced seasoned experts. No matter your skill level, you will find a place where to fit right in.
Here we have three steps to get you started the right way. Soon enough you will be on your way to discovering the wonderful experience that is mountain biking.
1. Get prepared.
The first thing you need is to get your bike. This may not be as simple as you think; since getting the right bike is the most important decision you must make to get into this sport. The bike should match your height, body type and leg length. If you aren’t comfortable, you will have a terrible experience and you will not be able to ride properly. A good bike shop will help you with this decision, and their trained personnel will give you sound advice on finding the fit you need. Mountain bikes come in all shapes and sizes and for all types of budgets, keep in mind that you may have to pay a little more for what you want, but think of it as investment for your well being.
Get a good helmet. This is your lifeline. A good helmet should fit you snuggly, but not obstruct your vision or press down on your ears. Never go mountain biking without a proper helmet.
Consider additional protective gear. Some people believe the helmet is enough, but you can’t ever be too careful. Having some gloves, shin guards, elbow and kneepads won’t hurt; especially if you fall down.
Be ready to take a beating. You are new at this and you will most-likely fall sometimes, but don’t be discouraged; it takes practice get good at anything and biking is not the exception. Be sure to bring a small first aid kit to mend bruises and abrasions, plenty of water and a fully charged cellphone. Don’t forget about rain gear and a light jacket in case it rains or you have to stay there longer than expected. Remember that if you fall, so does your bike, so keep with you a basic toolset and patches for your tires.
Get in shape and stay that way. Just because you are biking it doesn’t mean that you can forget about all other exercise. Just like giving your bike a good maintenance, your body needs upkeep as well. After all, you are the engine that keeps your bike moving forward. There is nothing more disappointing than finding that new trail and embarking on that journey to shortly realize that you aren’t up to par with the physical demands of the trip. Slowly build up your resistance and stamina and push yourself to get farther each time, you will be amazed by the results.
Start slowly. Get used to your bike. Get comfortable spending a lot of time in a position you probably aren’t used to. Make sure your saddle and handlebars are in a position you find easy to grasp and that gives you a good posture. Don’t start going down dangerous slopes or trails advanced paths yet, for now make sure you can ride the distance and start training in even-leveled ground. Stay away from pavement so you can get used to the feeling of trails and grass.
Look ahead. Don’t look down. You will be tempted because that’s just instinct, but make an effort to avoid looking down. You need to be able to see obstacles coming up ahead when you are moving fast through the trees and it will also be easier to maintain your balance when your eyes are on the road ahead of you.
Don’t ride alone. One of the best ways to develop skills for mountain biking is to ride with experienced bikers. They can help you improve your skills, correct your mistakes and show tips and advice to make your experience more enjoyable.
3. Find trails
Go out, read online, ask people and have a blast exploring. Make sure you talk to people who know the trails, learn the rules and be aware of any potential dangers you may encounter. There are many resources online to find local trails and read experiences of fellow bikers. Get started!