Where to Begin with Mountain Biking Part 4

Picking the right trail can make a big difference in the beginning. Pick one that is too hard, and you’ll feel like it is not worth it and give up quickly. Pick something too easy, and you’ll be bored, and even reluctant to progress. One of the first obstacles to progress that beginners need to overcome is their fear of falling off the bike. The self preservation instinct kicks in at the sight of even the smallest incline. However, with the right trail and some encouragement, this won’t be a problem for long. Falling off the bike in an urban commute is unlikely and embarrassing, not to mention painful as you’re hitting hard pavement every time. Mountain biking rewires that mindset as falling is not only OK, but an inevitable part of learning.

Beginners should look for what are known as flowy trails. A flowy trail is a trail that has gentle winds and turns and no sharp changes in elevation or incline. In other words, a flowy trail is one you can go through at a high rate of speed. This makes the trail fun, which is essential for beginners, but it will still have challenging features. Obstacles in the trail are normally referred to as features. Features can be a myriad of things, from a pile of rocks, a narrow man-made path, a ramp, and so on. Anything that interrupts your speed and demands you pay attention can be loosely considered a feature. You want to look for a biking trail with lots of features to make it fun. You’re likely to return to the trail and tackle new features with each visit, provided the train is designed for that.

On beginner level trails the features, especially the mode difficult ones, will likely have a bypass. A bypass is an easy route that you can take around a feature. A true beginner trails will have a bypass for every feature. As trail difficulty goes up, the number of bypasses on the trail goes down, until the trail will have no bypasses at all. Trails with no bypasses are likely to be technical trails. A technical trail is one where features are frequent and highly demanding, testing your ability to control your bike, make quick decisions, and maintain momentum even in the sharpest of maneuvers.

Luckily, a trail location isn’t just one trail, it is usually a trail system that combines a number of trails you can take. Each location will have a map of all the trails it has in the system at the entrance. To make things even simpler, there is a marking system that is common to almost all trail system. White circle, Green circle, blue square, and a black diamond are easiest, easy, moderately difficult and very difficult respectively. Nevertheless, getting a bit more details about the location is important as these labels are relatives to the trails in the system, not so much to some rigorous international standard.