I’m picking a line to navigate babyheads, boulder gardens, and rude drop-offs; cycling to avoid death cookies and mantraps; executing a bunnyhop to bag a peak and not bail only to bring home the Christmas tree. In short, I’m achieving Nirvana.
Learning to mountain bike, like learning its language, involved breaking down full rides into digestible pieces and using that knowledge to build exciting, endurance-testing rides. These are just some of the tools I used to learn the language of mountain biking.
Gear and Bikes
I added Twenty Nine Inches to my RSS feed while researching my first mountain bike. Twenty Nine Inches isn’t as fancy as some other site, but they conduct extremely detailed tests on 29ers and supply Bike Porn when I need a break.
I initially felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of bike reviews. I backtracked to search for a cross-manufacturer comparison tool. Bicycling Magazine’s Gear and Bike Review Finder came close but wouldn’t allow lining up two or more bikes of my choosing side by side. The best solution I’ve found so far has been to use Google docs to compare information from Gary Fisher, Specialized, Kona, Mongoose, and Trek.
After completing my first adventure race, I realized carrying two pairs of shoes was a waste. Asking anonymous strangers for advice online was preferable than being sold at the bike shop. The definitive mountain bike forum, mtbr, pointed me to the expert advice on REI’s website, a comprehensive guide to selecting cycling shoes.
I thought I knew how to ride a bike. I quickly learned that mere pedaling would get me up the hill, but proper gear selection and improved technique would let me do it with energy to spare. I used a set of free mountain biking technique videos from eHow to improve my technique. Danny Macaskill’s videos are purely for inspiration.
Currently my local community is struggling to open a new multi-use trail. Working with local leaders is similar to climbing the Hill of Life exit on the Barton Creek Greenbelt (a gnarly 150-foot climb in a quarter-mile). It’s challenging, but not impossible.
I was astonished to find tons of advice for working with local and federal policymakers, including on the Single Tracks blog.
I also took some inspiration from Pedal Driven, a bikeumentary recounting the struggle between mountain bikers and the federal government as the former tried to to set up new trails.. The trailer video ends with a quote: “When we get together and talk, we realize we’re on the same side”.
Check out our resources for road cyclists.