A Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking…for anyone who needs convincing it IS the sport for you!
Throughout my twenties I chased snow, travelling the world from one ski season to the next. As I settled down into adult life and started a family there was a big snow sports shaped void left in my life. I no longer had the flexibility, time or funds to travel to the Alps…so I looked for an adventure sport closer to home. Something I could easily fit into a weekend, wouldn’t cost too much and possibly something the whole family could enjoy. Mountain Biking ticked all the boxes and I would encourage anyone to give this sport a try….especially those of us that fall outside of the MTB scene stereotype!
As a 40 year old woman I’m not your typical mountain biker…and I’m no expert either…but I enjoy getting out in the woods and whizzing around the courses to the best of my ability. To me, that’s what’s important. I think a lot of women, especially women over thirty are put off my the macho image of mountain biking but I’m here to let you know it’s accessible to us all. Take the course at your own pace and enjoy the ride!
Tips for Beginners
If you are new to the sport and are keen to give MTBing a bash there are a few things you could do to make sure your first experience is a positive one…so you’ll want to go again! Here are my top tips for any beginner considering mountain biking:
▪Go with a friend, or a group of friends. Trying a new sport can be intimidating but as a group of novices you can support and encourage (and even laugh at) each other.
▪Get the family involved. If kids are a big part of your life…bring them along. They can take the trails at their own pace and will love seeing their parents having fun.
▪Research your local MTB trails. There are numerous MTB forums and groups on social media and websites. Get involved with the groups in your area.
▪Speak to staff in local bike shops. Many are bikers themselves and will have endless tips on which bike to ride and where to go.
▪Read online beginner guides for comprehensive tips on both bikes and trails.
▪Don’t take it too seriously. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and have fun!
Where to ride – East Sussex
We live in East Sussex and are lucky to be surrounded by miles of countryside, including the South Downs so we have plenty of great places to ride. I’ve selected a few of my favourites ideal for all abilities:
Bedgebury Pinetum: Perfect for all abilities from beginner to advanced. They even have family friendly bike trails.
Stamner Park: Situated at the foot of the South Downs offers twisty wooded single track with jumps. Not high on the technical rating but a lot of fun.
Deers Leap Park: Just south of East Grinstead in Sussex, Deers Leap Park has 240 acres of dedicated mountain bike tracks of every grade from family-friendly trails to single track and north shore in the woods.
Mountain biking can a source of adventure, a reason to travel or a reason to rediscover places right on your doorstep. I’ve loved riding my bike in the Alps, on the Downs and even in my local woods. It’s accessible on whichever level you find suits you. So grab your helmet and your handle bars and go have yourself an adventure…
This is a collaborative post in conjunction with Halfords.