The enjoyment of cycling is such a great experience to humankind. It reminds us of how great life can be out in the open with the elements. Here are some beginner tips on how to make a transition from road cycling to mountain biking.
STEP 1 Get a Mountain Bike
Of course without a mountain bike you can’t expect to ride in the trails. So head to your preferred bicycle shop to look around. Don’t be too hasty on buying the first bike you see. There are many types of mountain bikes in the market, from cross country, trail riding, enduro, and downhill, so do explore until you’ve decided on what kind of off-road riding you’d want to do. Secondly and most important is to get a bike that fits you correctly. Always consult with your biking buddies who might know more or you can always message me personally. I do bring my own clients around for shopping and guidance. Be thoroughly sure you are buying what fits you best and the type of riding you’d like to do.
STEP 2 Skill Up
Riding a mountain bike isn’t as easy as taking a stroll in the park. What’s exciting and fun are the challenges of maneuvering the bike through rough terrains like rocks, roots, drops, and other obstacles faced during the trails.
Firstly you would need to learn how to stand up while coasting with your feet parallel to the ground. Why do we do that is because you want to counter all the bouncing when you go through rough terrains, if not the saddle might hit you and send you over the bars. Plus its very uncomfortable being seated bouncing around.
Secondly, learn how to slide your body forwards or backwards when the terrain gradient changes. The reason for doing so is to adjust our body’s Center Of Gravity (CoG) towards the changing steepness. Whether you’re going downhill or uphill, you have to adapt. During steep climbs it’s essential to move your weight forwards, for downhills moving backwards while having the pedals parallel to the ground will help keep your CoG in the right place. It’s all about keeping aligned with your Center of Gravity.
Lastly, riding in the trails means you’ll need every ounce of your focus. That means scanning the trails 15ft ahead until where your front wheel is continuously back and forth. Why do we do that? So that you’ll be able to scan and choose the best and most efficient line on the trail to keep you moving without riding into a rut or any other obstacles.
STEP 3 The Ride
The best ride are always shared with good buddies, so try to join a group or you could influence some of your friends into joining you at the wilder side. The difference between road cycling and mountain biking is that you are in the wilderness with no one around. Make safety your priority as there won’t be shops to stop for drinks. Have the right equipment when you’re riding. Helmet, elbow and knee pads, hydration pack, multi-tool kit, spare tube, cable ties, mini air pump, money, mosquito repellent, snacks and gel and a whistle. Those are some of the essentials to bring along riding.
The most rewarding feeling coming from mountain biking varies so much from road cycling. The pure excitement, conquering obstacles, suffering and frustrations makes mountain biking so dynamic and ever changing just like the undulating terrains. Enjoy every bit of the ride!
Cycling & Fitness Coach
Jessen Lee is a Level 2 Sports Science Coach, specializing in cycling skills and performance, triathlon and general physical fitness. Certified by Majlis Sukan Negara, PMBIA, and ITU, he also conducts group and personal coaching sessions under The Ride School for road, off-road cycling, and triathlon for all levels. With 20 years of training, racing, and coaching experience, he passionately shares his love for sports with the community.