You can ride a bike in ANY comfy exercise gear to start with.
Padded knicks/ chamois are great to wear under shorts on longer rides if your butt is adjusting to increased time on the bike, but they are not essential for skills sessions or short rides.
Most MTB specific riding clothes are designed to be comfortable when riding, durable in case of blackberries, mud splatters and crashes. Stretch fabrics are great as they don’t restrict movement, fabrics which wick sweat are also helpful for staying comfortable on longer rides.
MTB specific shoes have flat, stiff soles for great connection with flat pedals. Flat, rubber-soled skate shoes are also a good option when starting out, heavy-soled sneakers or hiking shoes with aggressive treads can actually reduce your ‘feel’ and connection with the pedals.
Like any sport or recreational pursuit, there’s can be an interesting history, a bit of tribal rivalry between different styles of participation and a whole new language.
The video below is a funny introduction to the ‘tribes of MTB’, but nobody needs to take things this seriously!
- Nikki Lawn’s Mountain Biking Ladies Australia is an inclusive community on both Facebook & Instagram where you can ask questions about gear and riding in general. Nikki is based in Mt Beauty so can be considered a local too.
- Ladies All Ride is a great instagram account which often posts interesting skills-based videos & analysis of technical features which can help you visualise how to do things ‘the right way’ when out on your bike.
- Global Mountain Biking Network is a You Tube channel which posts loads of Mountain biking content. You can search for gear reviews, skills videos etc. This beginner skills video is a great place to start if you’re new to MTB. You can practice a lot of drills just in your driveway too!
- MTB Fitness is a UK based fitness program developed specifically for mountain biking, their Facebook group has lots of tips and tricks for getting and staying motivated to ride and be active.
- Mountain Bike Magazines like Flow MTB and Australian Mountain Bike (AMB) have lots of information about gear, places to ride and skills.
- This article from AMB about Getting into MTBing in your 40’s is a good overview of the different aspects of getting involved.
Facebook Marketplace Groups:
- MTB Buy Swap Sell Victoria Facebook Group
- MTB Buy, Swap, Sell (Victoria, Aus) Facebook Group
- Mountain Biking Ladies Australia Gear Buy / Sell Facebook Group
Of course, buyer beware on Facebook marketplace, and if you’re not sure about what you’re seeing make sure you check with someone who does!
Mountain biking is awesome for building fitness, but getting used to ‘moving around’ on your bike can take a while so there are some great exercises you can do to help speed this up & get you feeling stable and balanced when on ‘single track’ trails.
Simply getting used to standing up on your pedals while riding, moving your body backwards & forwards & side to side, leaning your bike from side to side (away from your body), these will all help to build strength in your legs and increase your ability to be ‘loose’ on the bike. This helps you absorb bumps and you’re more likely to ‘go with your bike’ and not get jolted out of position/ lose your balance.
You can also put your seat down a little bit so you can move your body and bike around more without your seat hitting your legs. This can feel really weird to start with, but the more you practise the less weird it will feel. If you have a tendency to hold on with your thighs, practice riding with your knees wider, especially in corners, even think about pointing around the corner with your inside knee (like a motorbike rider).
Riding on ‘machine built’ single track (like the Indigo Epic) will help you build confidence so you can ride more bumpy and technical trails like the Beechworth mountain bike park.
If you struggle to stay up on the pedals (off the seat) for long, it can help to work on your leg strength and general fitness a little. It’s much easier to learn new skills and build confidence on the MTB trails, if you have a little bit of fitness.
We’re blessed with lots of fire road hills around the north east which are great for catching up with friends while building some hill-climbing fitness.
For specific leg strength (which helps you push over obstacles as well as staying up on your pedals for longer), try doing little sessions of lunges and squats to work on your leg strength. There are tonnes of online video workouts around these. You can also try short hill interval sessions of riding up a steep hill hard for a minute or two, then a minute or two’s rest riding back down slowly before riding up again. For intervals your rest period should be at least as long as the ‘effort’ period. Do as many as you can, but if you’re working hard, usually around 5-10 efforts is plenty to have some improvement over time.
Most of our local trails have big maps at the trail head which you may want to take a photograph of to refer to while riding.
Apps like Trailforks are useful if you ride by yourself and want to be able to tell exactly where you are on a trail, you can also view trail conditions and ratings of trail features and elevation which is super handy if you’re riding at new trail heads and aren’t sure whether to ‘go down that one’.
Google maps doesn’t always work when you’re deep in a gully with no phone reception, but if you’re going for long fireroad rides it might be worth saving the local area map offline.
If you have a GPS device it will track where you are and can probably even plot the route for you.
The best App you can have on your phone is Emergency Plus. You can connect directly with emergency services through the app, it will even tell them your exact location.
Accidents do happen so it is recommended to have some basic first aid training and to carry some first aid supplies such as wound dressings, a snake bandage, and saline solution for cleaning cuts and abrasions.