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June 24, 2021
Your Instagram is full of Strava screenshots and pictures of the back of your handlebars. As you very well know, biking often becomes more than a hobby...it becomes an identity. It's no surprise that after you report on yesterday's ride to a co-worker or friend, they might ask “Can you help me get into mountain biking?” Looking for another riding buddy, you answer with a big YES! But where to start? What trail? Where to get gear? What gear to get? Will they get hurt? What tips can I offer?
Luckily, this Thread + Spoke guide will give everything you need to help those friends get out on the trail and return home in one piece.
We love mountain biking and think everyone should have the opportunity to ride. Unfortunately, it still has a high barrier of entry because of expensive bikes and gear. Before setting out with your friend, we recommend you lay out the potential costs associated with the sport. They might think twice after hearing how much they’d have to spend on a full setup. From our experience, plan to spend at least $2,000 or more on a bike and an extra $400 on gear. This price range should afford them a great starter bike, hopefully avoiding the maintenance and repairs that come with purchasing an inexpensive bike. If they’re still interested, have them check out our How to Buy a New Bicycle Guide. If that’s a bit out of their budget, recommend looking at the used market or renting for a few rides and building up credit with a local bike shop.
No one wants to be that person asking to borrow someone’s $6,000 mountain bike for their friend whose last time biking was four years ago. To forgo the stress and repair cost of borrowing someone’s bike we recommend renting a bike. A tip we have is to look into your local university or college to see if they have an outdoor rental center. Universities often have cheaper prices and most of them don’t require you to be a student to rent from them. The majority of local bike shops will have a demo fleet of bikes as well. Check out the bike shops around you and get daily pricing. If you’re in the Utah area, we put together a list of the Best Bike Shops in Utah. Check out their selections of bicycles and let them know we sent you!
We don’t need any heroes on the first day of riding. This might not be the best time to try out a new trail. Pick something easy with no committal features and your new rider should be fine. If you live next to a trail network with shorter loops this could be a good option where your rider could try out a green trail and then work their way up to a blue or black as they get more comfortable. Using an app like “Trailforks” will help you plan out a route to take. Showing them how to navigate this app would be beneficial for both parties to ensure no one gets lost in the mountains. For more information on apps, routes, and trails head over to the journal to learn How to Find the Best Local Routes Wherever Your Travel.
The long nights on the trainer have paid off and you’re feeling in great shape. Keep in mind your friend might not be in as good of riding shape. Set a slow pace on trail for the first lap to gauge your friend's commitment and level of fitness. You want them to have a memorable experience so they’ll want to get on the trails again. Make sure to take breaks often and maybe bring extra food and water in case they need any. No KOM’s need to be set today. Safety is key, be sure to equip your buddy with a good helmet and necessary pads depending on the terrain. We don’t want to start any bad habits. This will make the experience mutually enjoyable.
Feeling dialed on a mountain bike, especially in the beginning stages, takes time. Do your best to build up a general level of fitness and endurance beforehand. You might be surprised that mountain biking is a high-intensity sport that demands a great amount of athletic ability. Ride consistently and at a low intensity before adding speed. Try to get out three or four times a week for one to two hours at a time. Try to slowly practice technical skills like holding energy and momentum through turns, floating over rocks and obstacles, and keeping your weight back in the saddle. Try loading, exploding, and lifting your front wheel and fork over small to medium obstacles if you feel like taking on something new.
You’re back in the parking lot after having a great day on the bikes. If you followed this guide the stoke level is high and your friend keeps talking about wanting to come to ride again. Take them to lunch, get a beer, and talk about all the trips and trails you could do together if they had a bike of their own. Hopefully, they buy a bike of their own, but at a minimum, you’re now the person they’ll talk about anytime mountain biking is brought up.
Let’s make sure to be great stewards of the sport and to be patient with all the new riders getting on bikes this year. Just remember we’ve all pedaled up a downhill only trail before (or just me). For more biking tips and tricks, explore the Thread + Spoke Journal or shop our MTB collection today. See you on the trail!
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