Whether you are a beginner or could do with a refresher on the tips and tricks of mountain biking you are on the right track! As a beginner you may have recently bought a mountain bike or just be in the process of choosing one. Once you have it the first thing to do is get to know your bike. Mountain bikes such as Saracen, Commencal, Norco, Raleigh and other manufacturers will be made up of the same basic components but as a beginner it is good to familiarise yourself at the outset.

The anatomy of a mountain bike has the frame materials which will differ depending on which conditions you are choosing your mountain bike to ride in, the bike brakes, handlebars, bike shifters, pedals, wheels and saddles. These parts are self explanatory. The mountain bike also has a bike crank and derailleur; the crank is the part of the bike which is attached to the chain rings and makes the bike move, whereas the derailleur is what shifts the chain from one to the other. Finally it has the bike suspension system which is what helps keep you and your bike in decent condition after your adventurous trip in the elements and through interesting terrain.

Next you need to understand about mounting and dismounting your mountain bike. One of your pedals should be in the 2 o clock position. You need to check that the size of the gear is not too low or large. If this does need changing you can lift up the back wheel and shift gear as you turn the pedals with one foot. When you are ready to mount hold onto the handlebar with two hands, lift your right leg over the back part of the saddle and put your right foot onto the pedal which you can flick around to engage with the cleat mechanism or toe-clip. Next push off with your left foot and lower your rear end into the saddle. When the left pedal comes round to the top centre you can put your left foot there and continue to pedal.

All the time that you are mountain biking you should be in the mindset of thinking a couple of moves ahead. It will help to expand your vision so as not to have a narrow focus on one single obstacle. In the same way do not focus your vision on the rider ahead of you either, as you will not be taking in the expansive view.

When holding the bike’s handle bars do not grip them too tightly as this will cause tension in your upper body making you feel tired faster and not so fluid. Be loose but not too loose. Do not put your thumb on the top part of the handlebar as you will lose your grip quicker if you do hit something. Keep your elbows slightly bent and your shoulders loose but not hunched.

At all times commit yourself to one particular track in advance. Do not hesitate as this can cause problems. Be careful of letting your mind become overactive with thoughts or fear as this can have a knock on effect on your body making your posture change and tension increase. Try to be at one with your bike and the environment; practice being fluid.

Saracen bikes make a good alternative for beginners but have also models that will please intermediate as well as advanced downhill adventurers.

Jackie De Burca is a co-owner of CWA Europe, an International search marketing agency and writes articles for Single Track Bikes, a UK provider of bikes and bike components & accessories from a variety of brand names such as Raleigh, Kona and Shimano just to name a few. Find information and pictures of Saracen bikes; Saracen Amplitude and Saracen Zen. The company also provides arrange of clothing, helmets and shoes.

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