[splitpost intro="true"]

Decided to take up mountain biking? Hitting the trails this weekend? Hopefully you've read our guide on what you need to bring and what skills you need.

Never mind all that - here's the info you need to convince everyone on the trail you are a REAL mountain biker! (Whatever that means).

[part title="Have Fun!"]


You are mountain biking. It is supposed to be fun. You'll want to chat to the other riders - this is part of mountain biking. Acceptable places to stop and chat include; the top of a climb, a junction in the trail, a fireroad climb.

You may also encounter the occasional road cyclist (or 'roadies' as they are often termed) as you ride to and from the trail. Do smile and wave at them. Many will ignore you, but it's only because they know you are having more than them on your mountain bike.

[part title="Relax"]

Aoife post climb1

It's not all about the riding - take time to relax and enjoy the experience too! Chances are you're riding somewhere with spectacular views or beautiful scenery, because lots of trails are located in woodland, national parks and other similarly beautiful places, with mountains. The mountains are important (the clue's in the name).

Stopping to enjoy the view is also a convenient excuse to stop and get your breath back if you've just busted a lung on a climb. For extra credibility, take some photos.

[part title="Do you Enduro?"]

Enduro is the new black. Everyone's doing it. To be a mountain biker today, you need to use the word enduro frequently and regularly to describe your bike, your kit, your style of riding, your food, etc.

What is it? Er...perhaps this video will explain?

[part title="Tea and Cake: Essential Fuel Source"]

Aoife hot chocolate

The post-ride tea and cake is a critical part of the ride experience. It is fundamental that you take time to sit in the trail centre and defrost (or let the mud dry off) and talk about how amazing your riding/the trail/your bike/the kit was. Planning the next ride trip is also best done here.

The quality of a trail centre can be judged on its cake. The very best will not only have an excellent home-made confections, they may even have gluten-free and vegan options.

To make your survey of trails centres more scientific, pick one type of cake to trial. I find the chocolate brownie is a good choice.

Although tea (or a 'brew' as it is often known) is the beverage of choice, feel free to switch to hot chocolate, ideally with marshmallows, if the ride has been particularly hard or cold. Or if you fancy it.

NOTE: Coffee is usually the preserve of road cyclists.

[part title="Sustenance"]

Poland Forest Bialowieza

Out for a one hour jaunt? Or is the 8-hour epic more your style? Either way, make sure you bring plenty of food and water - you'll get through a surprising amount of the latter even on cold, wet and miserable days.

Filling your water bottle or bladder from a stream is to be discouraged, unless you are damn sure the water is fine to drink. There's nothing worse than taking a few gulps of fresh clean water only to glance up stream and see a steaming pile of poo or a dead animal in it.

Ensure you bring snack food, even if you think you're only going out for a short ride. Otherwise, you may well find yourself so hungry you're eyeing up the other riders and wondering who has the meatiest thighs. Or that might just be me?

Unless you are a wild food expert, do not snack on the local flora. Bad things can happen (and cycling while high on hallucinogenic mushrooms is inadvisable).

[part title="Avoid Angry Badgers"]


I was once chased halfway round a trail on a night ride by an angry badger. They go damn fast. True story.

However, angry badgers are thankfully relatively rare. What might be less rare are angry farmers or landowners, potentially wielding weapons. Why would they be angry? Is it because you've ventured on to their private land, perchance?

Stick to trail centres, bridle paths, or areas where you know there's open access. Venturing on to private land and getting caught at best means a frantic pedal to safety. Oh, and it's illegal.

[part title="Lycra is not Mandatory"]

The words 'aerodynamic' and 'mountain biking' are not frequent bedfellows. You do not need to try and be aero on your mountain bike. Therefore, there is no real advantage to wearing lycra - unless you really want to, of course.

The 'uniform' of the average mountain biker includes baggy shorts, a loose top, full finger gloves, socks pulled up and a helmet.

If you decide to ride downhill, you may want to get some down hill kit. Be careful when purchasing, as it is easy to confuse downhill kit with pyjamas.

[part title="Learn the Lingo"]

If you want to be a mountain biker, you must learn to talk like a mountain biker.

To communicate with others of this species, you'll need to learn some basic terms. Pick from the following, and scatter them about when chatting in the trail centre or when contemplating the view: Gnar, Loam, Wagon Wheel, Enduro, Endo, Shred, Flow, Berm, Bail.

Example: That guy did a gnarly endo through the loam in that berm!

[part title="Join a MTB Forum"]

mtb bike forum

If you thought bike forums were just places to gain advice, find people to ride with, and get the low down on new products, you are mistaken.

Visit a lot of MTB forums, and you'll see that most of them are in fact a place to voice your strongly hear personal opinion about products or riders, opine about which wheel size is best (it's the one you ride, obviously) and generally talk about how enduro you are. You do ride enduro, right?

Join one, get a suitably enduro screen name, and get ranting. Sorry, posting.

(Or if you can join the Total Women's Cycling forum if you fancy something a bundle more friendly and useful)

[part title="Got all that? Want more?"]

To progress to the next level, watch and absorb the following. Then put it into practice. Your journey begins now!