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Two-wheel Traveling on a Mountain Bike

Aug 25, 2008
If you're considering an SUV or truck to explore the countryside, you're thinking two wheels too many. To get really close to nature, have a blast and stay in shape, head for the hills on a mountain bike.

Today's popular "mountain bike" style was developed, as the name suggests, from bicycles that were designed for cruising up and down mountains. Obviously, racing down a mountainside can be a serious adrenaline rush, but it can also be quite dangerous. If you're actually considering taking on a mountain pass, you must invest in a bike designed to accomplish such a task. Using the right equipment and some common sense, mountain biking can be a fun sport for the entire family.

Choose Your Style

There are three basic styles of mountain biking: cross-country, freestyle, and downhill. Although the styles vary in many ways, each demands a great deal of skill. Choosing your personal riding style will determine the type of mountain bike you should buy. In other words, don't buy a heavy downhill bike if you plan on busting moves with your buddies. A lighter freestyle model is better suited for trick riding.

Perfect Your Skills

To be a great mountain biker you need stamina and endurance. Conquering nature's courses also requires ambition and, sometimes, courage. Like all sports, mountain biking also involves time and practice. A lot of practice. Just because you've been riding your bike, you may not be ready for scaling rocky hills and maneuvering through winding trails. You'll have to suffer a few bumps and bruises before you're ready to ride with the big kids.

Location, Location, Location

Mountain biking and paved surfaces rarely go hand in hand. A good mountain bike is built to take you beyond the blacktop and carry you virtually anywhere you want to be. Many North American parks offer designated biking locations, but check the rules and regulations before hitting the trails in a park or conservatory. You might find trail maps that are available to bring along on your trek. Look into joining a local mountain biking club or group trail ride, or taking part in a competition. This information should be available from local bike shops, and you can search online or check your local papers. Biking clubs and groups range from beginner to advanced, so make sure you're joining a club that matches your skill level.

Choose your Ride

Once you've determined whether your mountain biking style is cross-country, freestyle or downhill, the bike you choose basically comes down to personal choice. Today's market is flooded with a huge variety of makes and models. Take the time to compare styles, sizes and price.

Don't forget to consider the quality of the bike and the reliability of the manufacturer, and don't be fooled into thinking that the most expensive model is necessarily the best bike. The Internet provides an awesome tool in shopping for a bike, as some sites will compare quality, features and prices for you.

Ask for a test drive when you find a bike that you like. You should feel as though the mountain bike is an extension of your body. Make sure that your body position is just right, the seat is comfortable and the gears and brakes meet your personal preferences.

Good quality mountain bike can be very expensive, so ask around and do your homework before you buy.

Stay Safe

Mountain biking on unpaved roads and through unexplored territories can be very dangerous. You literally do not know what's lying around the corner. Always wear a helmet, wherever you ride. Elbow and kneepads and riding gloves are also good choices to help keep you safe and comfortable, and goggles should be worn if you're riding in the woods or following a group. Finally, keep a few band-aids in your pack -- just in case.

Whether you're riding across the county, or across the country, mountain biking is a great way to see the sights and stay in shape. Wear a helmet, proceed with caution and have fun!
About the Author
Author Colette Thyman is an essayist for several Internet sites, on sports gear and fitness products issues.
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