1) If you've never mountain biked before, you may be surprised at how
much time you spend walking instead of riding. You'll walk your bike up
steep grades, down steep grades, and in level places where the terrain
is too rugged. Mountain bikers frequently have to deal with rocks,
boulders, tree roots, sand traps, holes in the ground, stream crossings,
eroded trails, and so on. Often the best way to deal with these
obstacles is to walk and push your bike. Use this technique to your
advantage. If something looks scary, dismount and walk. If you are
unsure of your ability to stay in control while heading downhill, or
your capacity to keep your balance on a rough surface, dismount and
walk. It will save you plenty of band-aids.
2) Learn to shift gears before you need to. This takes some practice,
but you'll soon find that it's easier to shift before you're halfway up
the hill and the pedals and chain are under pressure. When you see a
hill coming up ahead, downshift.
3) Play around with the height of your seat. When the seat is properly
adjusted, you will have a slight bend in your knee while your leg is
fully extended on the lower of the two pedals.
4) Take it easy on the handlebar grips. Many beginners squeeze the
daylights out of their handlebars, which leads to hand, arm, shoulder,
and upper back discomfort. Grip the handlebars loosely and keep a little
bend in your elbows.
5) Learn to read the trail ahead of you, especially on downhills. Keep
your eyes open for rocks or ruts which can take you by surprise and
upset your balance.
6) Go slow. As long as you never exceed the speed at which you feel
comfortable and in control, you'll be fine. This doesn't mean that you
shouldn't take a few chances, but it's unwise to take chances until you