To most of us, taking the bike out for a quick spin usually means a leisurely ride to the park or the beach
For avid mountain bikers however, no bike ride is complete without the thrills and spills of manoeuvring though rugged terrain and the adrenalin rush of conquering yet another trail.
What is mountain biking?
Mountain biking differs from road and recreational cycling as it typically takes place off-road, either on dirt trails or unpaved environments that are muddy and rocky.
In order to conquer the rugged terrain, mountain bikes are hardier than your typical bicycle and feature wide, grooved tyres which allow for better traction and stability. Most also come equipped with front wheel suspension which provide some shock absorption when going downhill and negotiating obstacles such as logs and rocks.
Origins of mountain biking
Although the first bicycle was invented in the early 1800s, the idea of mountain biking didn’t came till the late 1970s, when a group of avid cyclists in California hit upon the idea of modifying their cruiser bikes to adapt to off-road terrain.
Mountain biking was only introduced as an Olympic sport in 1996, about the same time the sport hit our shores. Though it is still a relatively young sport, it’s gaining popularity among cyclists here, as evidenced by the opening of new biking trails in Tampines recently.
I want to be a mountain biker
If the thought of taking the road—or trail—less travelled intrigues you, then mountain biking could be the sport for you.
For those who don’t have friends already engaged in the sport or do not own a mountain bike, the next best thing would be to sign up for a basic bike clinic. Here, you will learn the skills and techniques needed to negotiate the ups and downs of slope trails safely, as well as some traction and balancing tips.
“In a basic bike clinic, we bring new cyclists from being able to handle pavements and park connectors, to handling basic and intermediate off-road cycling safely,” said HM Lim of Dirtraction, a local company well-known in the industry for promoting cycling-related sports in Singapore and Malaysia.
“Once they are more comfortable with themselves and their bikes, we then bring them to the next level via various progressions into the sport, going much higher, faster and negotiating more trails,” said Lim.
What skills do I need?
Though beginners are most welcome to pick up the sport, prior knowledge and basics of cycling are definitely needed before once can progress in mountain biking.
“We do advocate that absolute beginners pick up mountain biking skills first before doing any other form of cycling (such as road cycling or stunt cycling), as it provides a good, safe and progressive platform to pick up the motor and coordination skills needed for cycling,” said Lim.
Another important factor that comes into play is safety, as mountain biking as trails can pose some dangers, even to the most experienced of bikers.
Apart from being kitted up safely, the most important thing is find the flow of enjoyment in the process, stay loose and nimble in the trail, advised mountain bike enthusiast Lim.
Where do I sign up?
Dirtraction holds regular bike clinics for beginners keen on trying out mountain biking. Bikes and equipment are also provided at these clinics so that one is able to sample the sport before committing to buying a mountain bikes and related equipment.
For more information on this rugged sport, log on to www.dirtraction.com.