Mountain bikers are the antithesis of road racers. Not for them the garish figure hugging vests and wraparound shades, or the need for speed on those slim tyres and sleek frames.
No, they prefer their rubber a lot chunkier, their clothing more functional than flash, and their terrain a lot rougher. In fact getting down and dirty is the name of the sport.
The origins of mountain biking can be traced back to the United States in the 1970s, since when it has become a worldwide phenomenon as a sport, boasting its own world cup as well as a host of national and international events.
Not surprisingly mountain biking devotees have spawned websites, magazines, and even their own language: if you don’t know your Aunt Bee from your bunny hop, or the difference between a death cookie and a gutter bunny, it may be wise to keep quiet.
What’s the attraction of mountain biking? Well, road racers may get their kicks on straight roads and steep gradients, but they don’t face the almost infinite variety of challenges that off-roaders do. Indeed, even a relatively short ride can test their mettle because Mother Nature always likes to keep a surprise up her sleeve.
Physical Challenges Of Mountain Biking
These physical challenges mean that the skills required for successful mountain biking are very different from those required to steer a steady course on more conventional Tarmac and concrete.
For one, man and bike are going to have to take the rough with the smooth, riding the humps and bumps and splashes, and even getting used to the occasional spill. Buying the best mountain bike you can afford will help, but the rider has to be up for the challenge, too.
Observation is a big part of the sport, too. It’s not just a case of looking into the distance and preparing for the approach of a testing hill climb; mountain bikers often have to take in a great deal of information at once, not only ensuring they are looking at potential hazards ahead of them but not be distracted by stream, trees, and other natural features that venture into their peripheral vision.
You’re not going to find much in the way of mountain biking kicks in your local park, however wild or overgrown it is. Indeed, anywhere which can bring you into contact with pedestrians is definitely not recommended.
So where is? Well, the expansion of the sport in the United Kingdom has seen a great number of trails spring up to satisfy mountain bikers of all abilities.
Hair Raising Locations For Mountain Biking
A good place to begin searching into mountain bike locations is the website of the Forestry Commission, which not only includes information on the more hair-raising locations to bike but also ones that cater for the more sedate pastime of family cycling.
Joining a mountain bike club is a great way of getting into the sport and honing your skills through some healthy competition. Again the British Cycling site carries contact information on clubs in your local area.
You never know, you might develop to the stage where you reach nirvana. Confused? Well, ask a friendly neighbourhood mountain biker to translate for you.