Mountain Biking

Toning muscles and burning calories while enjoying nature and mountain scenery is possible and can be a lot of fun, thanks to mountain biking. Let’s go!

Mountain biking is a relatively new sport that emerged in the United States in the late 1970s and is practiced in mountainous or similar terrain with inclines, obstacles, and winding routes.

It is practiced with a mountain bike (MTB), also called all-terrain (MTB), which has a very different structure than a road bike and is ideal for moving in nature, that can offer us impressive views but is also demanding and changeable. It is subject to bad weather.

Although this activity requires some physical effort at moderate intensity, it is suitable for almost everyone, except for those who suffer from severe respiratory and cardiovascular problems, as it can cause a sharp increase in blood pressure, especially in competitive tests.

Health on two wheels: Benefits of mountain biking

With a correct posture on the saddle, mountain biking is an excellent activity to prevent back pain because it stabilizes the trunk and strengthens the muscles, protecting the spine from shocks and jolts.

Also, for the knees, because the pressure they support during the cyclic movement of pedaling is infinitely less than in other sports such as jogging, cushioning favors the diffusion of nutrients through the cartilage, which translates into healthier joints and resistance.

Despite this, riding is not recommended for people with spinal abnormalities or those suffering from knee injuries such as chondromalacia patellar, patellar tendinitis, or IT band syndrome, some of the most common in mountain biking.

In any case, it is advisable to undergo a physical examination before and periodically to check the training for this activity.

Among the benefits of mountain biking, the following are worth highlighting:

  • Muscles are toned, and calories are burned, controlling weight and shaping the figure.
  • Improve coordination and balance skills.
  • Significantly increases lung capacity.
  • It promotes respect for nature and provides the opportunity to view unique landscapes while exercising.
  • Physical obstacles become challenges that increase problem-solving and overcoming capacity, even in professional and personal life.
  • It can be exercised in a group, improving teamwork and finding people with the same interests.
  • Improves the immune system.
  • Endorphins are released, which act at the level of the brain and provide a sense of well-being.

Mountain bike equipment

Since mountain biking is practiced outdoors, when buying equipment, it is necessary to consider one’s size and physical condition, as well as the weather conditions and the terrain in which one will practice it. This way, the risk of accidents or unforeseen events can be minimized.

Of course, you should also consider your level and frequency of use since prices can vary greatly between the most basic and professional models.

The essential mountain bike equipment consists of the following:

Mountain bike

If you are buying a bike for the first time, you should consult an expert because there are numerous types, among which most stand out:

  • Hardtails, most of which have suspension.
  • The double-suspension ones have a frame with rear suspension and a fork with front suspension, whose track varies according to the type of use (all-mountain, enduro, freeride, downhill).
  • The dirt jump bikes are small, light, and resistant and with which you can do all kinds of jumps and pirouettes.
  • The electric models. They are all the rage and usually have a range that goes from 30 to 90 kilometers.

Culotte

The typical cycling pants are padded in the crotch to avoid the discomfort that the saddle can cause in this area.

Helmet

Indispensable to avoid serious consequences in the event of spectacular injuries, as well as blows from Chinese, branches, or other objects that may hit the head while pedaling. It must comply with safety standards, have ventilation slots, and fit snugly against the skull without being too tight.

Glasses

It protects from the sun and dust and, like the helmet, is necessary to prevent mud, stones, or insects from getting into the eyes. The lenses must be unbreakable and have UV protection to prevent burns.

Water and food

In a sport practiced off-road, it is essential to carry water or isotonic drinks for hydration since you need to know where and when you will cool down. We can carry them in a bottle attached to the bike frame or in a backpack, including fruit and energy bars.

Emergency equipment

A puncture kit (with tubes, patches, air pump, and chain riveter) and front and rear lights for riding at night are necessary for the backpack. A GPS or compass and a small first aid kit are also recommended.

Documentation and mobile phone

Especially useful for emergencies.

Special footwear

It is usually made of synthetic materials, so it will hardly work. Therefore, you need to choose the right size without it being too tight because the feet swell easily after pedaling. Depending on our discipline, different closures, brands, and models exist.

Garments

For the upper body, you can use a comfortable jersey, although jerseys fit better to the body and promote sweating. Gloves prevent chafing on the hands and provide grip on the handlebars, and light raincoats made of plastic or synthetic materials can save us from catching a cold in the rain. Sports bras or tops are best for women, as they facilitate mobility and reduce shock.

Mountain Bike Training

When starting mountain bike training, it’s best to enlist the help of experienced friends or a trainer who can create a personalized plan to progress quickly. Nowadays, it is common to contact groups of mountain bikers through online communities to prepare for or go on a tour with them.

If the weather (real and climatic) does not allow it, you can opt for the roller for cyclists and the treadmill for athletes. In other words, a great way to pedal indoors without leaving the house.

The duration, distance, and intensity of mountain bike training should be increased gradually, depending on the individual’s age, experience, time available, and physical condition, without forgetting the rest periods necessary for recovery and avoiding injuries.

It is advisable to eat three hours before training (especially foods rich in carbohydrates and minerals) and to stretch before and after training.

Already on the bike, it is most normal to pedal gently on flat terrain at the beginning and the end, and in between to do rhythm changes, ascents, and descents, or other exercises that improve our technique or increase our resistance level, climbing ability, or explosiveness. Of course, we always adjust the speed to our experience on two wheels.

It is important to vary the exercises not to accustom the body to a single type of effort and to be consistent in achieving the goals.

Typical mountain bike injuries

Although it is not a dangerous sport, mountain biking is not free of injuries.

These are the most common problems that can occur while mountain biking:

  • When hitting the ground, depending on the severity, burns, scratches, fractures, and ligament injuries such as sprains or dislocations can occur, especially in the upper extremities (shoulder, elbow, wrist, and especially collarbone), lower extremities, and skull.
  • Other common pathologies are knee injuries (patellar chondromalacia, tendinitis …), almost always due to the repetitive stress of pedaling, and perineal and spinal injuries resulting from the inappropriate position on the bike and long sessions on the saddle.
  • Foot and wrist complaints are also common in MTB riders, with ulnar nerve compression being one of the most common.

However, we must take into account that in mountain biking, there are modalities with very different degrees of danger and that, in general, the risk decreases significantly if we choose the right equipment for our physical characteristics, carry out the appropriate mechanical maintenance, know the terrain in which we are riding and listen to training advice and common sense.