Posted on May 29 2014
I was reading an article recently on ‘hot tips’ for women getting into mountain biking. While I thought it was a great idea, I also thought it was a bit lacking.
So I decided to make my own list of advice for the band-spanking-new mountain bike lady.
Of course wearing undies is fine if you’re just kitted out in your regular clothes, but once you hit up the lycra shorts, or a ‘baggy’ short with lycra insert type of situation, ditch the undies. The extra layer can cause friction, doesn’t deal well with sweat, and is all in all a bad idea. Cycling shorts are designed to go free and naked in.
Your brake levers aren’t for leverage…
Brakes are awesome, they can be your get out of jail free card, but one finger only, ladies! Disc brake technology means this is all you need. Ride the four-finger death knuckle grip and you’ll be going nowhere in a hurry…and if you do go somewhere it is likely over the bars!
Ride with people better than you
Watch their lines, body position, technique over the rough stuff. If they can do it, it’s likely you can too!
Noone cares if you are riding slowly/falling off/walking and obstacle
Well, hopefully someone will care enough to ask if you’re okay if you’re on the ground, but the main point is; every experienced rider has gotten to where they are now by riding slowly/falling off/walking around trail features. No one minds if you’re walking an obstacle or the like. The point is that getting out there and giving it a go give you huge kudos from me, and most of my riding buddies will agree!
Get comfy with your gears/brakes/suspension
If you get a new bike, or start out riding, a good way to understand how your bike works before you hit the trails is to just go for a cruise along a bike path near home. Explore your gears; how many front chain rings do you have and how do they shift? What about gears at the back? Figure out which brake is front and rear and practice applying them (with one finger…). Check if your suspension has lockout or different platforms and have a play with them to see what they feel like.
Practice in this environment so you have a good grasp on this stuff and when you get to the trails you can focus on trail riding rather than demystifying your bike!
Even experienced racers can get the fatigue-front-tyre-fixation at the end of a particularly taxing race. This is something to be avoided; looking up, into and through the corner (and not at the tree you’re trying to avoid) does wonders for your riding. If you’re wondering if you’re looking up far enough, you’re probably not; look up the trail!
Tyre Pressure can be a deal-breaker
I once took a women’s beginner ride and one lady fell off about 4 times in about half an hour. It took me that entire time for me to click that perhaps her tyre pressure was too high, and alas the 40kg pocket rocket was riding with 65psi in her tyres. Keep the pressure as low as you comfortably can (without flatting…), it can take a little time to find your perfect pressure. This allows for better rolling resistance over the tough stuff on mountain bike trails, contrary to the super high pressures that make road riding faster! Pressure needs will differ for rider weights, whether you’re a ‘smooth’ rider or a ‘basher’ and if you are running ‘tubeless’ or ‘tubes’.
55kg female, tubeless set-up: F:22psi, R:24psi
70kg female, tubeless set-up: F:26psi, R: 28psi
55kg female, tube set-up: F:26psi, R:28psi
70kg female, tube set-up: F:30psi, R: 33psi
Challenge yourself, but be aware sometimes you will just need to take the backseat and cruise
Without struggle there is no growth. Mountain biking involves challenges, and making it through them is what can give such great satisfaction! I urge you all to try new and challenging things, the payoff is massive. But don’t feel you have to conquer a new mountain every ride, sometimes it’s nice to ‘just ride’. That’s okay too.
Clipless Pedals are your friend!
It may seem counterintuitive, but being connected to your bike is often a safer, and more efficient way to ride. It’s hard to explain all the benefits here and have them make sense when it’s so obvious that flat pedals enable you to bail out easier, but technical riding, getting airtime, riding up and down drops and cornering with a good amount of weight in the right spot are all easier when clipped in. It may take a few rides to get there, but when you do the payoff is huge!
You’re already part of the way there because you’re riding mountain bikes, but general awesomeness includes; sharing the trail, picking up your rubbish, not creating new lines, and sharing the love. When you’re been riding for long enough to be happy on your local trails, I implore you to share the love with a non-mountain biker. It will give you warm and fuzzies, and let’s face it, the more people riding bikes the better!