Is Mountain Biking For You?

By: Sebastian Marders

Since the beginning of time, the human race has been inventing new games and sports. In ancient times, games were invented to test endurance and train warriors for acts of war. Some of the newest sports to develop are snowboarding, rollerblading, skateboarding and mountain biking. While none of these sports would be able to assist in a warfare type situation, they are pretty extreme sports and will definitely keep you fit and your "fight or flight" responses working at peak conditions.

Mountain biking has transformed the traditional bicycle, first available in the late 1800's, into a well oiled piece of machinery. The knock-on effect of this has created one of the most exciting and popular new sports of the 21st Century.

Regardless of the fact that the sport is referred to as "mountain biking" it is actually suitable for everyone, regardless of background biking proficiency and age. Although I wouldn't recommend that my ninety-year-old grandmother participate, she might disagree with me as she is always up for a new challenge. Some of the most appealing things about this sport is that you can participate at relatively low cost, and that you can start off slowly. Just because you're mountain biking, it doesn't mean that you have to pedal at breakneck speed down Everest.

A mountain bike is not your average bicycle, and the extreme end of the sport may be quite simply described as "bicycling on steroids". Mountain biking will always demand more of you than just pedaling along a flat road on a sunny afternoon. Even the bike itself is built with this in mind. It's more streamlined and muscular in appearance than the good, old fashioned, racing bike. Characteristically, the frame is built from chunky, rounded tubing suspended above shock absorbers and the tires are also chunky and knobby.

The terrain that mountain biking takes place in is very different from the more traditional form of biking. Mountain bikes are made to go up and down rocky trails and descend into muddy streambeds and sandbanks. This is normally all the fun of the activity.

The mountain biker does have to be an adrenaline junkie to some extent. It is more physically demanding than other more passive forms of biking, and requires razor sharp reflexes and quick thinking in the face of hazards or danger. These skills can be learned, but don't think that on your first ride you are going to be able to accomplish the same result as a seasoned master of the trails. You need to take your time and develop first-rate mountain biking legs.

But if you think you are going to like this sport and are determined to take part in mountain biking, it is helpful to have a basic knowledge of the different categories available to you. Here are the five different popular categories of mountain biking.

1.The most popular is "Cross Country," which is normally undertaken on rough, woodland paths.
2."Downhill Mountain Biking" entails racing downhill and includes large jumps.
3."Dirt Jumping" is about exhibiting the biggest and most amazing stunts.
4."Free Riding" is riding out without any particular style.
5."Urban Riding" involves grinding ledges and can be done anywhere.

Each category needs a different bike that suits the terrain, and possibly a slightly different personality type as well. Once you have chosen your desired category and your preferred bike, all that will be left for you to do is start pedaling.

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