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Six Common Questions Asked by New Mountain Bikers

Posted on December 8, 2021 @ 3:24 PM

As we've mentioned in previous blogs over the past 18 months, mountain biking in Northern Ireland has seen a surge in popularity. With that in mind, we've asked new mountain bikers what their biggest questions were and tried to answer them!

 

Q1. How likely am I to get injured?

This is a big one and not something to immediately brush over with assurances that mountain biking is a completely safe sport. It isn't, which  is also part of the reason so many of us love it. Not only will telling a new rider that they won't get hurt be disinegenous - they'll probably just not believe you.

The best thing you can do here is to manage expectations and advise on the best way to minimise injury. Yes, it is possible you'll come off your mountain bike in the early days, but you can reduce the odds of this happening substantially by doing a few things. Firstly, only riding on trails of appropriate ability.

So, not this one then.

Stick to green trails until you get use to your bike, then to blue trails until you get used to trying obstacles on the bike. Don't be in any rush to progress - mountain bikers are incredibly supportive of new riders and everyone started out on these trails at some stage. Another tip to ensure you minimise injury if you do happen to come off, is to ensure you have the right gear. Helmets are a non negotiable and ideally a good, well reviewed helmet at that. Gloves, knee and elbow pads also help to minimise the sting.

 

2. How can I find the nearest mountain bike trails? 

Time for a little self promotion! MountainBikeNI.com lists all of the official trail centres in Northern Ireland. Each trail centre has it's own profile page with information about the trail and the difficulty levels you can expect, as well as other information like trailhead providers and outlines of the route.

 

3. Are there any local clubs to join?

Starting out can be a little intimdiating, so joining a MTB club (or a road cycling club with a MTB contingent within it) can be a good way to get out with a few experienced heads. You can find a map outlining the list of official clubs in Northern Ireland here*. Clubs often will be able to direct you to an appropriate trail and specific section of trail, will pair you up with other riders and encourage you to have a laugh while you pick up the basics.

Learning the ropes at Castlewellan MTB Trails


*If your club isn't mentioned, get in touch by emailing info@mountainbikeni.com and we'll ensure you get put on!

 

4.  Is mountain biking expensive?

This answer unfortunately is 'it depends'. Bikes aren't exactly cheap but a basic one can be purchased relatively cheaply. We're biased obviously but Chain Reaction Cycles, who sponsor the national mountain bike trails, have some great entry level bikes at good prices.

Once you get into mountain biking you'll not believe the number of variations you can source for your bikes 

After that, the sport is as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. In fact, most of the trail centres are free to ride which often surprises people. The risk comes if you get into into it, then you won't be satisfied with just the one bike. Some people aren't even satisfied with two bikes. You may laugh, but you too may become that person.

Of course if purchasing a bike isn't an option, you can also hire bikes from local trailhead providers such as Belfast Activity Centre for Barnett Demesne MTB Trails; Sperrin Bike Hire for Davagh Forest; Campbase Adventures for Gortin Glen Forest Park MTB Trails and Life Adventure Centre for Castlewellan and Rostrevor MTB Trails. This can be helpful in deciding which bike you like the feel of before actually making a purchase.

 

5. What is the best time to go mountain biking?

Mountain biking is a year round sport, which is great for us here in Northern Ireland where 85% of the time the weather is cold and wet. It also means from a riders point of view that it's perfect for getting people out and active the year round, where as sports like road cycling  often can only be done when the days are longer and the weather less inclined to blow you into oncoming traffic.

Rain actually can add to the ride

  

6. What should I wear?

This was a surprising point of angst for many new riders. Our main tip - don't panic. Mountain bikers are not particularly concerned with fashion on the trails. A pair of shorts, rough trainers you don't mind getting bogged and a jacket are usually a good starting point. Knee and elbow pads are a good plus, and having a waterproof jacket with you never hurts.

Missing from image: Fashion


We hope this helps address some of the worries for new riders. If you have any questions about starting mountain biking, don't be afraid to email us to info@mountainbikeni.com or PM us on Facebook. You can also follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Read more and/or leave comments at the official Northern Ireland Outdoor Adventure Blog >

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