Learning to ride a mountain bike is an exhilarating and challenging experience, but it might be more complex than it initially seems. However, there are specific strategies you can use to make Michigan mountain biking simpler, safer, and more fun.
When riding a mountain bike, it is undeniably true that practice makes perfect. But besides practicing, reading up on the necessary methods and gaining confidence while riding the bike are the quickest ways to learn how to ride a mountain bike. You will reach the point where you are entirely at ease on the bike and can even perform simple bike tricks equipped with the knowledge in this article.
Here is an essential guide for newbies exploring mountain biking for the first time.
How To Ride A Mountain Bike For Newbies
Your body position is one of the most significant aspects of Michigan mountain biking. Body position directly impacts the bike’s interaction with the ground through the wheels. You can maneuver the bike more accurately and avoid obstructions when you have the proper body position. However, as the terrain becomes more complex and bumpy, you should:
- Stand on the pedals with your weight equally distributed over both wheels.
- Keep both feet at the same level when not pedaling to avoid snagging on anything.
- Slightly bend your arms and legs at the elbow and knees to absorb bumps.
- Look as far ahead as you can.
- Protect your brakes.
Off-road riding is more complex than braking whenever you want. Everyone knows how to use the brakes, but the skill is putting that knowledge to use. The simplest way to perfect this and other mountain biking tactics is to practice on a popular route so you can become acquainted with how your brakes operate. Here are some important considerations to bear in mind:
- Recognize the differences between the front and rear brakes and how they affect the bike’s handling.
- Apply the brakes gently at first, and avoid using them forcibly.
- Discover how the bike reacts to various surfaces when the brakes are engaged.
Your weight is placed over the bike’s center in the attack position, increasing traction on both the front and back wheels. You must shift your body position to maintain your weight centered while ascending.
Here are some things you should remember:
- You will need to move forward as you mount your bicycle to keep your weight over the front wheel and maintain traction.
- The degree to which you lean forward when ascending depends on the slope’s steepness. You need to lean forward more if you notice a tiny lift in the front wheel when ascending.
- It’s also essential to be in lower gear before starting to climb.
When the course begins to descend, make the following physical adjustments to ensure a safe descent:
- You must keep your weight back when riding a mountain bike downhill.
- You must place your weight on the back of the saddle with your arms outstretched, level pedals, brake fingers on the handles, and your eyes facing forward.
- Remember to apply the brakes gradually if you need to slow down.
Mountain Biking Tips for Newbies
Mountain bikes are developed primarily for traversing rugged terrain. As a beginner mountain biker, you must learn to maintain a flexible body so the bike may move beneath you. Keep your rear end clear of the saddle when navigating obstacles such as roots and pebbles.
2. Maintain your speed.
Maintaining or increasing speed as the terrain becomes more tough makes traversing difficult track portions easier since your bike has the momentum necessary to continue moving forward.
3. Adjust your weight.
25+ Best Michigan Ski Resorts for Families, Beginners, & Experts
Based on the experience of the expert staff from New Denver Lodge, you’ll face rugged terrain, including steep ascents and descents. When climbing a steep incline, shift your weight and lean forward to keep your center of gravity over the back wheel and maintain traction.
4. Use the brakes less frequently.
Mountain bike brakes are so effective that you only need one or two fingers to control your pace. As a newbie mountain biker, you may be tempted to grab both brakes and pull them as hard as possible. Defy this impulse!
5. Use your body weight to steer your bike.
Just looking straight at a rock you don’t want to hit will make you more likely to run into it. Keep in mind that your eyes guide your bike’s direction.
top Michigan mountain biking trails
Michigan is no stranger to mountain biking. With over 1,000 miles of singletrack, it’s one of America’s top states for mountain biking. The best places in Michigan for riders looking to explore new trails are Marquette (especially during summer), southeast Michigan near Detroit, and Traverse City/Northern Michigan.
Here are four trials highlighted by the mountain biking website Singletracks.
Copper Harbor Trails
For serious singletrack thrills, head to the Copper Harbor Trails. Located in the scenic Keweenaw Peninsula overlooking Lake Superior, the Copper Harbor trails offer a variety of terrain for all levels. The system features over 50 miles of trails open year-round and are regularly groomed. Trails range from easy cruisers to steep and technical. The best time to ride is mid-June through mid-October.
Noquemanon Trails Network
Not just fat bikes make Marquette a hot spot for four-season bike riding. In addition to the Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN), which features nearly 50 miles of fat biking trails, the Marquette area has many front-country bike trails popular with mountain bikers. These summer singletrack trails include South Marquette Community Forest & Big Bay Pathway, Dead River Trails at Marquette Mountain, and Presque Isle Park mountain bike trails.
DTE Energy Foundation Trail
The DTE Energy Foundation Trail is another great option for mountain biking in metro Detroit. This challenging trail features six miles of twisting singletrack through woodlands near downtown Dearborn. The terrain ranges from gently rolling hills to steep, technical climbs and descents. Along with some fun downhill trails, you’ll also get a bit of climbing on this ride!
The Potawatomi Trail is well known among mountain bikers in southwestern Michigan as one of their favorite places to ride. A work in progress since 1995, this trail system now boasts more than 40 miles of flowy single track in Verona Township along the Kalamazoo River off I-94 between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.
Key Takeaway About Michigan Moutain Biking
Choosing a sport or pastime that allows you to spend your free time productively is a wonderful idea. However, deciding which sport is ideal for you can take time and effort. If you enjoyed riding a bike as a child, you could attempt to try it as an adult. With the appropriate methods and tips mentioned above, mountain biking as a newbie would be a piece of cake.