Most road cyclists can come up with a quick list of reasons why mountain biking isn't an option. Whether it's money or time, the barriers always seem too high to overcome.
The truth is, making the switch to mountain biking isn't as difficult as you might think. With an open mind and a little creativity, you can begin mountain biking this winter without too much of a hassle. And who knows—you just might enjoy a break from all the traffic and chaos out on the road.
Use these four tips from pro cyclist Ted King to dispel any myths you may have about getting started in the sport of mountain biking.
I Don't Ride Because It's Dangerous
It's far less dangerous than you might think. Most non-cyclists have the impression that mountain biking is a bunch of yahoos hell bent on going down hills as fast as possible, zooming through trees and risking life and limb to get there. Sure, downhill mountain bike racing can offer that thrill; the activity also includes cross-country style riding and racing, which is an incredible cardio workout.
Mountain Biking Costs Too Much
Rent or borrow a bike before you jump headlong into it. The barrier of entry is basically cost. So before you buy a bike, see if you like it first. Borrow one from a friend or go to a mountain bike resort (often at a ski mountain in the summer) and try it out. Shops will often let you demo a bike before you buy.
You Have to Buy a Lot of Extra Gear
Sure, when you start riding you'll need more than just a bike. A helmet is a must. Cycling-specific clothing will make your time on the trail much more enjoyable—a chamois so that you don't complain of a sore butt after an hour of riding. Spare tubes and a pump will help you in a pinch so you're not calling your wife for a ride home. Cycling specific shoes and cleats will likely be your next purchase. But if you're a road cyclist already, then use what you have and buy mountain biking-specific gear once you've decided that you like the sport. It's a common misconception that you need buy everything at once. What's the rush?
It Will Take Too Long to Master
Ride, ride, ride! The more you ride, the better your skill level and fitness will be, and the more you'll enjoy riding. You'll improve quickly and learn trail sense intuitively. Stick with it and you'll be an expert in no time.
Ready to ride? Search for a cycling event.
Ted King is an American professional road cyclist who rides for the UCI Pro Team Cannondale. You can follow him on Twitter @iamtedking.