The popularity of mountain biking has exploded over the last two decades. Riders love the freedom that comes with being able to explore off road areas and getting away from pollution and city congestion. Beginning mountain bikers need to take care in getting the proper training to maintain energy and prevent injury.
-- It is essential to be in good physical condition before taking to the trails. If you don't exercise much at all, visit with a doctor first to make sure you are able to take on more strenuous sports. Then, consult with a trainer to get more information on what kind of regimen might be best for you to get started. Once you have been actively getting into shape for four to six weeks, you should be ready to start cycling training.
-- Mountain biking means riding over rough and uneven terrain. Leg cramps are common complaints for both novices and experienced riders, and they are often caused by their own negligence with warming up properly. A warmed up muscle is more elastic and able to withstand the ups and downs and other demands on the trail. A warm up also increases blood flow throughout the body and into the musculature. Take the time before your ride to stretch and warm up properly.
-- Once your muscles are stretched, take it easy for the first 15 or 20 minutes of your ride as part of your warm up routine. Your route should not be too steep either going up or down, and your pace should be fast enough to cause you to break a sweat but not cramp up or get winded.
-- Assess your body temperature at this point: are you too warm or is the air temperature still cool enough to require a jacket? Dressing in layers will allow you to accommodate your warmth needs properly. It is important never to overheat: stay hydrated, even during the warm up phase.
-- Keep your rides short at first in order to get your body used to utilizing the new muscles cycling demands. Overdoing it can be the kiss of death for a beginner since successful mountain biking is as mentally challenging as it is physically demanding. Your brain is constantly at work guiding your bicycle to avoid obstacles. Give yourself time to learn how to properly marry the mental with the physical as it is probably a novel experience.
-- It is best to learn how to mountain bike under the guidance of an expert who can help you pace yourself and develop the right warm up and training techniques and routines to meet your needs. It is truly great exercise, but it should be fun and relaxing too!
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