All gear in this video:
Any outdoor activity can be really fulfilling, but my activity of choice is mountain biking. A mountain bike can quickly cover any terrain, and take you amazing places inaccessible by many other vehicles. Plus, mountain biking is a great way to get in shape, push yourself, and even make lifelong friends.
The vast majority of mountain bikers went on their first ride with a friend, parent, or coworker who was already experienced. When your experienced friend takes you out on the trails, they can fix your mechanical problems, warn you about obstacles ahead, and even tell you when to shift gears. The thing is, not everyone has that guidance.
Meet Lisa. She’s not an actress and she’s never been mountain biking before, but she wants to learn. Follow along with Lisa as she learns how to ride, how to find trails, and how to perform basic maintenance on her bike. She’ll go through everything you will, and probably have a lot of the same questions. She’s going to have a lot of fun, and probably make a lot of friends, but she sure as hell won’t be doing it on this bike. This is a hybrid, or comfort bike. Surprisingly, it’s sometimes mistaken for a mountain bike. The shocks, the gears, and the fat tires make it look like it’s designed for riding off road, but this sticker states otherwise. So we’ll need to max out Lisa’s credit card and get her set up for the trails.
First she’ll need a bike, a helmet, and some gloves. She’ll also need a floor pump with a gauge, as tire pressure is really important in mountain biking. She’ll also need a hydration backpack, which holds lots of water, and other stuff like her cell phone, supplies, and car keys. Speaking of car keys, Lisa will need a bike rack, unless she’s okay with putting a filthy muddy bike in her back seat. I’d also recommend a multitool. Altogether, this will cost around $1000, but that’s just a guide. You may already have some of this stuff, and often times you can find it used.
Over the course of a year, many people spend over $1000 on coffee, and definitely more than that on ordering in lunch. Do the math. Chances are you could make your own coffee, pack your lunch, or scale back on something else to make room for mountain biking.
With the right beginner gear, Lisa has the headroom she needs to grow and improve without being limited. She has a bike that can be easily maintained, repaired, and upgraded, and gear that will last her many many rides. In the upcoming videos we’ll go over all this stuff, where to get it, and how to use it.
Now that she’s all set up I’m thinking we should shock Lisa’s system with a ride on Porcupine Rim, a 3000 foot descent along the edge of a mountain, followed by a bone jarring ride across miles of Jeep road. Then, a blistering descent along a big friggin cliff…or we could start on some dirt paths and teach Lisa the basics first. That’s the safest way to start mountain biking; getting used to your bike before you try anything crazy.
Lisa is riding through a beginner trail, which is usually just a dirt path with some loose terrain. This isn’t much different from riding in the street, but it does get you used to riding in narrow spaces with tight turns. To find mountain bike trails there are apps, and websites that show listings by area. This listing on singletracks.com shows the difficulty level of these trails. Green dots are for beginners.
Before we start turning Lisa into a mountain biker she’ll need to know some terminology. We’ll do a little of this in every video, but first we’ll start with the most basic terms you’ll hear the most. This is a hardtail, or a mountain bike with front suspension. Some bikes also have suspension in the rear. These are called “Full suspension mountain bikes”. Full suspension, hardtail. Most beginners get hardtails because they’re less costly and easier to maintain. This is singletrack, or a narrow trail designed for one rider at a time. Most mountain bike trails are singletrack, so you’ll hear this term a lot. It usually just means a trail. This is a trailhead, or the entrance to a trail system. This is where you’ll park your car, get set up, and meet with your riding buddies.
So before Lisa goes to the trailhead to ride some singletrack on her hardtail, she’ll need to learn how to use all this gear, install a bike rack, and master a few techniques that make riding singletrack different from riding pavement. If you’re an experienced mountain biker who follows this channel, now’s the time to get your friends started by turning them on to this series. We’ll still be doing the normal stuff in between, but every couple of weeks I’ll be releasing another episode with lessons for beginners. Try to be helpful and answer questions in the comment section.