By Justin Fricke, aka the JustinTheWeekendWarrior.
I recently purchased a mountain bike and was lucky enough to have some friends who were already familiar sport and helped guide me along. I wanted to share with you some things to consider if you’re looking into purchasing a mountain bike and getting into the sport of singletrack mountain biking.
Can you ride a bike?
If you can’t ride a bike, that’s completely fine. It’s never too late to learn something new, but I wouldn’t start out with single track mountain biking. The best place to start out is in your drive way or on a road with little/no traffic. Start slow and work your way up to singletrack mountain biking.
Do you have the money saved up?
When you’re riding singletrack, you’re going to crash and beat up your bike. You’re going to want something durable, not a cheap bike from Wal-Mart. It’s tough to part with cash, but buying a nicer bike upfront will result in fewer problems when you’re riding and less money out of your pocket to fix things. You can usually get a discount for the previous year’s model, either way you’re looking at $375-$500 new.
Where do you live?
I realize there aren’t mountains everywhere, but typically you can find places to ride singletrack. However, you might have to drive far to get to those spots. If you’re not willing to make the commute, you may want to find something else to occupy your time.
How’s your physical condition?
Singletrack mountain biking takes a big toll on your body. You need to be in really good physical shape to be able to pedal up hills, keep your stamina up, etc. The last thing you want to do is end up walking your bike back…that’s no fun. If you’re trying to get back into shape, a road bike would probably be best…then get into singletrack mountain biking.
What about side trails?
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to stick to a trail and not go off it. That way, if you’re alone and you fall and hurt yourself, you have a better chance of being found, rather than if you were off the beaten path. Sometimes jumps are built off to the side, but don’t do anything above your skill-level.
A few last things to consider
- Always tell someone where you’re going
- Bring water and snacks
- Try to get a riding buddy
- First-Aid kits are always nice to have
- Check your bike’s cables, tire pressure, frame, etc. before heading out