James from our Newcastle store started his cycling career 17 years ago doing jumps on his BMX and then moved onto MTB. He rode on a mtb race team as recently as 2019 and was awarded the local hero award in 2020. James has his own race team and is very active in building trails to encourage and progress riding on the local scene.
Who better to ask, than James, about mountain biking tips for new and experienced riders? Take it away James,
Speaking from experience there is no, one, specific model to follow for each rider as numerous factors come into play.
Pack for the day ahead
This means packing light but not so light it's a constant journey to the car wasting time that could be spent on the hill. Carry light snacks / gel to power through a long day after a good breakfast meaning you only need one stop for a lunch break or worst come to worst, a repair you can't fix on the hill. Small tools like Allen keys, tyre levers and a tube should be mandatory for any ride. I use the Evoc Hip Pack to keep the general load down whilst just carrying essentials. You don't necessarily need a huge backpack unless you're adventuring all day and even then, it will wear you down.
Wear the right gear
If its soaking wet a pair of jeans after a small amount of time are not going to work. A pair of waterproofs like Endura's MT500 make a big difference for a small investment. Always look at your cycling gear as an investment rather than a purchase because, if you do it right, they will last you a long time! Jeans may look good in the car park but are not practical on the trails.
Whether you like clipped in shoes or flat - having the right combination is key to pushing your riding offroad. I personally use flat as I like to take my foot off a lot in the air or move foot position. There are huge benefits to riding clipped also – more efficient hill climbing and keeping your feet in the correct position over rough tracks then clips come into their own. This is personal preference; many medals have been won with both flat pedals and with clips so choose what you prefer not what the industry forces you to choose.
Look after your bike
Keeping your bike clean is easy and pretty darn essential for longevity. Bikes have become so much more specialised and with an increase in cost, it only makes sense to protect your investment. Don't store the bike wet, even if it's been a long day taking that extra 5-10 minutes to dry and protect the bike makes all the difference for bearing and parts longevity. Also, please don't jet wash your bike! Jet washers can remove the grease out of bearings and hubs and can result in a hefty maintenance bill.
Respect the land
Respect the places you're riding and the people who have made them. Please don't just eat a pack lunch or energy gels or whatever and throw them on the ground. If you bring it with you, take it home with you. It’s surprising how much litter is on the trails, don't be one of those people!
Everyone is out on their bike to have fun! You will be surprised at the people you can meet if you just say hi.
Don't sweat the small stuff. Remember to enjoy yourself – whether that’s the rush of adrenaline of the downhills, the scenic views or the challenge of the climbs. Mountain biking is about getting out in the fresh air and appreciating your surroundings whether solo or with friends.