HOW TO CYCLE
Let’s begin with assuming you already know how to ride a bike. Are you interested in learning about long distance cycling or about Mountain Biking? Either way be sure to research the different types of bikes before making your choice/purchase: Mountain and road bikes each have over five different styles/varieties:
NOTE: Simplified abbreviations of certain bikes will appear next to the name in parenthesis.
MOUNTAIN BIKE CATEGORIES:
- Cross Country (XC) is biking for extensive periods of time through a variety of diverse terrain that ranges from sharp inclines through loose dirt and mud to a graceful yet accelerated descent on a one bike trail. Regular XC bikes usually have two to four inches of suspension in the front with steep head tube angles (around 75 degrees) which generally provide faster, more accurate and responsive handling. So if your preference is the reward of a smooth speedy descent earned by a steady gradual incline then I would definitely recommend Cross Country for your biking adventures. bikes are usually lightweight with 2″-4″ of front suspension and steep head-tube angles for easier handling.
- Cross Country Racing Bikes (XCR) have been developed to maintain speed, agile control, and a prompt increase in acceleration. These bikes (like most XC bikes) are most commonly built with a lightweight frame usually constructed of carbon graphite (carbon-fiber) or some sort of aluminum alloy. Most Cross Country racing bikes in full suspension keep the suspension close to 100 mm yet in another category we have what is referred to as a “hardtail” which typically means that suspension is only present in the front of the bike.
- Four Cross (FX) would be defined as BMX racing in the mountains. The idea would be to race on a smoothed-over dirt track usually with four or more racers. If you like riding downhill, but don’t feel up to the task of handling obstacles then this might be a good choice. FX bikes have the most suspension out of all the bikes due to the high drops and hard landings it has to cope with. Having a slightly steeper head-tube angle than DH bikes gives FX bikes better control.
- Dirt Jumping (DJ) This bike is a lot like the BMX in that you go maneuver big jumps. This category of bikes is also useful when it comes to urban/street biking; it allows you to maneuver down steps as well as jumping off of high drop ledges. DJ bikes are typically built with a low frame and small front suspension making the response a bit stiff. So to wrap up; if messing around on your bike (dirt or urban) then this would most likely be the right bike for you.
- Down Hill (DH) riding is basically one hundred percent about speed. DH bikes most commonly come equipped with disk breaks (hydraulic or not), suspension ranging from eight to ten inches and a really slack head tube angle. DH biking is dangerous and difficult to master due to sudden slope increases, sheer speed (over sixty miles per hour!) and not to mention how often you’re likely to come across increasingly narrow single track trails that could likely end in a large jump or sudden drop at its end.
- Free Ride (FR) is basically a mix of Down Hill and Dirt Jumping. Many FR places/tracks are typically located at downhill courses. FR consists of butis not limited to; maneuvering over/around man-made obstacles and dropping off of high ledges/cliffs. (Food for thought: professionals ride jumps off of cliffs eighty feet or higher!) So if your fun is labeled dangerous then you might find this style suitable to you.
- All Mountain (AM) is a mountain bike model crossed between the Cross Country, Dirt Jumping and Downhill bikes. Essentially it’s designed to combine ascending/descending abilities yet emphasizing more on the dexterity of your descent. Suspension for these bikes is usually around four to six inches (having been built for more aggressive terrain) with slack head tube angles and usually includes a pair of hydraulic disk brakes.The most common terrain preferred for this type of bike is near limitless, ranging from uphill to downhill over both smooth and rough trails (or no trail at all!) that might include but are not limited to: jumps, drop offs and powerslides. If your interests lie with the thrill of descent while still wishing to maintain climbing capability then AM is most likely what you’re looking for.
WORKING OUT A PROGRAMME
Keep your training sessions varied, alternating hard and easy days. Some trails, especially those at mountain bike centers, are graded for difficulty which means you can ensure you don’t take on too much when you go out for a ride. Try to find trails that offer a variety of terrain – flat, undulating and hilly, both on – and off-road – as on a long trip you may encounter any of these conditions. When training on hills, vary the length and gradients of the slopes you attempt. Train in wet and windy weather, not just on fine days, so that you are fully prepared for all conditions.
Practice riding at a steady pace over different surfaces and concentrate on developing endurance rather than speed. When travelling you will want to appreciate your surroundings. You need to find a pace that you can maintain comfortable without feeling breathless and exhausting yourself.
Advance your conditioning by participating in spinning classes. This is excellent preparation.
Thank you for reading, I hope this has been of help to you. Written by Randy Cromar