If you’re looking to try out a new, outdoorsy, fitness-related hobby, allow me to introduce…MOUNTAIN BIKING!
In my (totally unbiased) opinion, mountain biking is the most fun outdoor activity ever created; and I have evidence to prove it! Below, I’ll cover 10 reasons you should give mountain biking a try.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Something for Everyone
There are so many different mountain biking disciplines that literally anyone can find a riding style they like. Whether you want to shred down a mountain and send huge jumps like a World Cup rider, or would prefer a more leisurely pace (with both wheels firmly planted on the ground), mountain biking has something to offer you.
Cross-country, trail, enduro, or downhill–each one appeals to different types of people. Or try them all and see which one you prefer! Trails are also rated based on their difficulty–Green for Easy; Blue for Intermediate; Black for Advanced; and Double Black for Expert–so you can always make sure you’re riding within your current abilities!
Each trail network is composed of many different trails, so no matter your preferred discipline or experience level, you’ll be able to find trails to suit you wherever you go. And because there are so many, you won’t have to worry about getting bored!
2. Bike Parks!
If you’ve ever wondered what ski resorts do in the summer when all the snow is gone…they turn into bike parks!
Bike parks are awesome because they offer maximum fun and speed on the downhills, while getting rid of all that pesky climbing nonsense. Just hop on a chairlift and let it drop you off on top of the mountain so you can save all your energy for the way back down!
If riding down the side of a mountain sounds a little scary to you, don’t worry: I went to a bike park after only two months of riding experience and though I stuck to the green trails, I had a blast!
Bike parks have trails for people of all skill levels, and usually have designated beginner areas where you can practice your skills before tackling more difficult terrain.
3. Learn New Tricks
To fully enjoy the sport safely–and add some style to your riding–you’ll need to learn some tricks and techniques along the way.
Things like manuals, bunny hops, and how to hit drops and jumps safely will seriously improve your riding skills. They’re also really fun to learn!
These techniques can be challenging at first, but once you get them down, you’ll find they unlock new trails for you to hit–kinda like leveling up in a video game! They can even make the trails you already ride more fun. You’ll learn to spot little trail features you can use to get some air, or new technical lines to add some extra challenge.
When you actively seek out ways to make your ride more difficult, you know you’re getting better!
4. Accomplish Something Cool
There are few better feelings in mountain biking than finally mastering a technique, skill or trail that’s been giving you trouble. It validates all the hard work you’ve put into becoming a better rider.
I can think of countless examples from my own riding: completing my first intermediate trail without having to get off the bike and walk; making it to the top of this super technical rock garden climb that had been getting the better of me; or getting both wheels off the ground (and landing safely!) for the first time after weeks of practicing jumps.
Sometimes, you achieve something through deliberate practice, like improving your jumps. Other times, you have a huge breakthrough without even realizing it: like a time when I had been working on my drop technique for weeks and then hit a trail with two drops back to back, clearing both without even thinking about it!
Achieving a goal is always a tremendous feeling, and with mountain biking, there are so many potential goals to crush! Each one only motivates you to ride harder and improve your skills that much more.
5. Get the Adrenaline Pumping
I’m not gonna lie: some of the trails and features you’ll come across while mountain biking are downright terrifying! While this may keep some away from the more difficult trails, if you’re an adrenaline junkie, this is music to your ears!
Any time I come across a challenging, scary trail feature, my heart rate goes through the roof. Though I always make sure to avoid anything that’s beyond my abilities until I work on the skills needed to clear it safely, there’s still that anxious feeling that creeps into my stomach, even on features I feel confident about.
So here’s my approach: I get off the bike and take a look at the feature I want to hit, watch other people do it (if possible), have a good talk with myself to see if I have the skills necessary to do it safely, and if I do, I take a few deep breaths, and then go for it!
Sometimes it doesn’t go well (bumps, bruises and scars come with the territory); but most of the time it does! And when it does, you can’t beat that adrenaline rush you get from cheating death…ok, so maybe the trails I ride aren’t that extreme, but you get what I’m saying!
6. Learn a New Language
Huck. Boost. Roost. Schralp. Scrub. Session. Whip.
These words–and yes, they’re real words–are all things you can do on a mountain bike to get steezy (yep, that’s a word too).
Don’t know what any of these mean, but want to? Hang around people from the mountain bike community! After all, the best way to learn a new language is to fully immerse yourself in the culture. Get out on a bike and you’re sure to hear some of these terms on every ride. Eventually you’ll start to figure out what they mean by watching and listening.
Or you could just ask someone…it’s a great way to make friends. Mountain bikers love to talk about mountain biking. Getting them to stop talking about it is the difficult part…
7. Become a Bike Nerd
This is 100% me. I love technical stuff, so I want to learn everything I can about bikes, components and gear. If you also love geeking out about your hobbies, mountain biking will provide endless content for you to research to your heart’s content.
Oh, you want some examples of super detailed topics I’ve spent hours reading about? Well here ya go:
- How will moving from a 10mm to a 30mm rise handlebar affect my riding position? (2 hours)
- Which rear tire is best for a 130mm travel trail bike? (3 hours)
- How to compare Fox and Rockshox components (5+ hours)
- New bike reviews (too many hours to count…actually checking out the new Santa Cruz Bronson as I write this!)
If you just read this and thought to yourself, “this sounds incredible! I have too much free time during the day and would LOVE to fill it with researching obscure mountain biking topics,” then this is the hobby for you!
There are endless ways to customize your bike and your riding gear to make it a reflection of your own personality, and this self-expression is one of the best things about meeting new people in the mountain biking community.
If you’re a tech nerd like me, you’ll always have something to talk about with other riders!
Speaking of other riders…
8. The Mountain Bike Community
This is by far one of the coolest parts of getting into mountain biking.
The people I’ve met since I started riding are absolutely incredible! Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming (and why wouldn’t they be: they’re spending time outside in the fresh air riding bikes and having fun!) and are always willing to share knowledge.
Mountain bikers tend to be very outdoorsy, love nature, and are very passionate about preserving the environment and leaving it better than they found it. That’s why you’ll see so many mountain bikers involved with environmental conservation organizations to help protect their local trails and natural resources.
If you also care about these causes, then you have found your people! Mountain bikers also tend to know where to find the best food and craft beer, so you’d be wise to stick with them.
9. Mountain Bike-Specific Travel
Talk to any mountain biker, and they’ve either just gotten back from a mountain bike trip somewhere awesome, or are currently planning a trip somewhere awesome…or both.
Some people take trips to stay in fancy hotels, eat good food, and just relax. Other people take trips specifically for mountain biking! There are mountain biking meccas all over the world, where people flock from around the globe just to ride some great singletrack.
I’ve done this myself, with trips to Highland Mountain Bike Park in New Hampshire and Dupont State Forest in North Carolina last year. And I’m currently planning a trip to Moab, Utah this summer.
Are these places I would go if I didn’t mountain bike? Not necessarily. But that’s the best part!
Mountain biking has opened up a whole new world of travel to me that I otherwise would have missed out on. It’s allowed me to see beautiful places that would have gone unnoticed, and meet people I never would have met.
And once you’re part of the mountain bike community, no matter where you travel, you’ll always have riding buddies!
10. Breathtaking Scenery
Mountain biking takes you off the beaten path. You’ll be able to reach places hikers and road cyclists can’t, and experience views they can only imagine. Make sure to take plenty of pictures to make them jealous.
Of all the great things about mountain biking, this one leaves a lasting impression. Witnessing the incredible beauty of the natural world from a unique perspective is something I can’t describe; you have to experience it for yourself.
This is probably why mountain bikers are so passionate about environmental conservation. Once you see these wild, unspoiled places, you too will want to work hard to make sure they stay that way.
Try It…I Think You’ll Like It!
There you have it; my Top 10 reasons to get out on a mountain bike this weekend! I could go on and on about how great mountain biking is, but rather than hear me blabber on for another few pages, why don’t you experience it for yourself?
So go find your local bike shop, rent yourself a mountain bike, then get out and ride! New experiences, new friends and amazing views are out there waiting for you.