Are you a beginner mountain biker looking to get into the thrill of riding in the bike park? Before you hit the trails, there are a few essential things you need to know. Mountain biking offers a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s different from your regular bike rides. From mastering bike control and adopting the right habits to understanding gear and prioritizing safety, here is what you need to know as a beginner bike park rider:
- Expect a difference. Riding a mountain bike is going to be different than your traditional bike. These bikes are much larger, they have suspension (which helps you absorb the rugged terrain for a smoother riding experience), and they have very powerful breaks. It may take some time to figure out how to control and maneuver this new bike if you’re used to riding leisurely or on the road.
- Your stance plays a BIG role in your experience. Mountain biking is a very physically engaging sport, and like any sport, you’ll need to take an athletic stance. For riders of all levels, this will look the same. To have the best experience on your mountain bike, you’ll want to be standing, not sitting, and remain out of the saddle. This will help you better absorb bumps and turns on the trails, reduce your likelihood of falling, and help you direct your bike with more precision.
- One thing you need to know as a beginner bike park rider that’s often overlooked, is that you should always put time into getting to know the gear you’re using. Be sure to get to know how to use the front and rear brakes (and when – it’s best to consult an expert to guide you through this process), and how to turn a bike that is bigger and heavier than normal, before taking it out onto a designated trail. You can do this in your neighborhood, on flat trails, or in a designated learning area.At Telluride ski resort, we have a secluded learning spot, separate from the park, called Gold Bug Loop, where you can safely practice your skills and familiarize yourself with your bike before going for a beginner-friendly trail like Tommy Knocker. Since we want everyone to have access to a safe and welcoming learning environment, we provide use of this area to all – no day pass or lift access needed.Other great trails in the area that we recommend learning on include the Boulevard Trail in Mountain Village, and the Valley Floor in Telluride.
- Although downhill mountain biking is similar to cross-country riding, it does come with a different set of challenges. Since safety is the first step to a successful day in the park, always ride with a helmet. Consider purchasing or renting a full face helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads for your bike park laps. This can seem like a lot at first, but you’ll be thankful if you tip over or have even a minor spill! Having this gear will only help you progress and set you up for success when you begin to take on tougher and bigger trails.
- Don’t push your progression – it’s natural to want to get into the action immediately, but it’s important to allow yourself to improve at a steady pace. Start by doing a few practice loops in a training area, and move to a beginner or intermediate trail once you’re feeling fully in control. It will take more than a week to go from beginner to intermediate, but the more you familiarize yourself with the trails and your gear, the more you will be able to learn and improve.
- One simple thing many beginner bike park riders can do is purchase a bike that fits your needs. There are many different mountain bikes out there, from Rigid and Hardtail bikes to downhill and high pivot bikes, so it’s easy to get lost in the sea of options. Consulting with a retail professional will best help you navigate this process. However, the three qualities any bike you pick will need are: full-suspension, disc brakes, and knobby tires. You don’t need the largest bike or the highest suspension at first. But over time as you improve and take on bigger features in the park, you can upgrade to a bike with more powerful brakes and higher suspension. To start, you can always rent a bike and figure out what kind of mountain bike you want to buy from there!
- Go with a pro! If you’re a beginner bike park rider, there is no shame in starting off by having an expert guide by your side. This is the best and fastest way to improve your skills and gain confidence in the park. If you don’t want to hire a private guide, Telluride Ski Resort offers Bike Park Essentials clinics where you can learn in a group of people who are at your skill level, but you’ll still get the personalized instruction you need. Not only will this person have expert knowledge of the technical side of biking, but they will also have expert knowledge of the area. They will help you better prepare for unexpected features or turns by giving prior advice on how to maneuver them, ensuring your utmost safety and success.
Above all else, beginner bike park riders should expect to have fun! While being introduced to the sport may seem overwhelming or intimidating at first, we can assure you that once you get the hang of things, you’ll be hooked on the thrill of cruising down trails and maneuvering through different features. We know that with the proper preparation and guidance, when you decide to take on the trails, you’ll never look back!