ED NOTE: HOW TO START MOUNTAIN BIKING AND SUBSEQUENTLY KEEP THAT FIRE BURNING
A (REALLY SERIOUS) BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO GETTING INTO ANY SPORT (MOUNTAIN BIKING IN THIS INSTANCE) AND NOT LOSING STEAM WHILE TRYING
You've seen those shiny toys hanging inside bicycles shops, with prices ranging from under S$1,000 to whopping 5-figure sums. You'd probably have seen as well, from the internet to magazines, the breath-taking videos and photos of those factory pros captured in maximum glory. Seems fun. What's more, you can improve your physical fitness and look RAD in front of your friends/girl/boy friend. Looks like you are all ready to embark on a new sport … no … a new lifestyle!
WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT MOUNTAIN BIKING?
There's a hundred and one good things to say about mountain biking. From keeping yourself physically fit, to getting to enjoy nature, developing good reflexes, cultivating an active mind and the list goes on and on …
From our point of view – as a group of people who are definitely more mountain bikers than "cyclists" – we'd like to say this simply; "Mountain biking is a very addictive and wholesome sport!" And it is almost certain that this activity you allow yourself to indulge in would soon lose its label as a "sport". It would quickly become a lifestyle. Something that would very likely change the way you live your life.
GETTING INTO IT
Getting into the sport is easy. Just visit a local bike shop, check some online reviews if you want to be more convinced, buy your first mountain bike, grab some sick apparels and armor and you are ready to go! Congratulations on choosing your first moutain bike! We assure you that there would be no regrets on your purchase.
Let us help you feel better with your purchase decision. Mountain bikes are built to be strong and versatile, allowing you to go both on and off roads. The bike also adopts a comfortable riding posture which translates to more enjoyment throughout the ride. They look really good too.
With this simple first step cleared, it time to ride.
HOW TO PREPARE YOURSELF
The basic information needed to get you mentally and physically prepared for your first trail ride is not difficult to gather. Advices online are easily acquired. But the big question is: "How do you maintain your mountain biking passion?" Or better still, "How do you grow with this new lifestyle"?
To allow yourself into this life changing "sport", you would first need to possess (or cultivate) a few pre-requisites.
(1) You would first have to like cycling.
(2) Find it extremely fun to tackle obstacles.
(3) Able and willing to make time for your first step into the sport.
That sounded simple didn't it? Actually, there's more to it. Read on.
(Which is more fun: Shopping for a new bike or riding one?)
BUYING IS EASY, KEEPING THE FIRE BURNING IS TOUGH
We have seen a lot of examples of new entrants to the sport talking about how much they love riding, their favorite trails, their favorite me-time ride routes and so on and so forth. Such speak from these over-zealous enthusiasts also dwindle as quickly as when we first saw that spark of passion in them.
That's right. You could have all the above pre-requisites to take on those first baby steps into the sport, but it is useless if you cannot maintain the interest in it. Often, it is not due to the fact that you have finally discovered that the sport is not suitable for you. You would love to ride more often, spend more time talking to folks that share the same interest. But none of your friends seem interested. Your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't share your enthusiasm in this dirty sport and they certainly thought that you were talking about a certain Dwayne Johnson's movie when you mentioned "Rampage". In some other cases, your parents/guardians may think you are dabbling in some life threatening extreme sport.
On the social front, your friends are starting to think you are not as hip as you used to be.
Time to throw in the towel?
YOU NEED FRIENDS!
No man is an island. Even Tom Hanks in "Castaway" had Wilson, the muted volleyball. You definitely have a choice when it comes to mountain biking. The craving and urge to keep on riding is what we call the "fire" or the "passion" for the sport.
Some days. it is extremely fun to ride alone. Those are times when you wish to do some quick training or indulge in some Me-Time. On other days, you may find that it's more fun to have some riding buddies who can motivate, race or simply jest with you. And the after-ride exchange of ideas, banters and news are also important in satisfying your mind's need to think and talk about mountain biking.
You may have a wide range of information source regarding mountain biking inside your computer. But nothing beats a good ride with like-minded folks! It's this sharing and exchanging of your enthusiasm that keeps the fire for mountain biking alive.
No mountain biking buddies yet? Go find some.
With modern connectivity, satisfying your real social need is no longer difficult. Start with a search on social media. Identify the local public groups on Facebook or any other social media that your region is popular with. Introduce yourself. Join a ride. Exchange phone numbers and get added into your bikers' group chat on messenger apps. Now you ARE connected with you local biking community 24/7!
SHARE THE LOVE
With your enhanced involvement in the mountain biking community, you would feel more inspired and more motivated to ride. There would also be more variety in riding routes and programs as there would be more suggestions generated when everyone pool their ideas and knowledge together.
Shared knowledge and expertise means you get to learn new stuff, get help when it's needed. And in time to come, share your experience and offer help to younger riders.
This is how a niche community grows, and the mountain biking community is no different.
ED'S REAL EXPERIENCE: LOOKING OUT FOR EACH OTHER
It was already 11 pm on the night before a Jamboree ride in Malaysia. I took my bike out to the living room to check the tyre pressure, and to make sure everything is in tip-top working condition. That's when I noticed that my bike's chain had a broken link and was dangling by only one pin! No bike shops would be opened at this time and I hate to admit that I should have learned to solve more bike technical problems beyond changing tyres. Panic struck. I quickly sent out an SOS call for help with my regular Whatapps biking group. One of the boys was still awake and asked me to send the bike over to him. I racked the bike onto my car and drove over to his place. He fixed the chain link and re-tuned my deraileur within half an hour.
It feels blessed to have friends that could help you when you needed it. If not for his help, I would have to miss the next morning's Malaysian Jamboree ride.
The above is an example of the many occasions on how a social group of like-minded people could help each other in times of emergencies, and that's excluding the news and ideas you would get from chatting with these "biking friends".
(What if you were riding alone and this happened?)
KEEP IT BURNING
Have an interest in mountain biking? Love challenging yourself on picking up some fancy cycling skills? Able and willing to do some adjustments to your routine? Grab a bike and make some biker friends. Things just seem sweeter when you have friends to share them with. Here's to true friendship! See you at the trails.
Opinions in this article are from our Editor and may not represent that from Bikezilla.