Image by richardmasoner via Flickr
Mountain bike cycling is usually done off-road, which means in the countryside, on bridleways and allotted cycle trails, and sometimes on more difficult technical trails. It's important to practice your skills first before you go on difficult technical trails though.
To improve your riding skills the best thing you can do is practice a lot. It can be helpful sometimes to watch more experienced riders to pick up tips, or even watch DVD's but the most helpful thing is definitely practice.
Before you can start practicing you obviously need a mountain bike, so deciding which one should you get is the first task. There are numerous different sorts of bikes available, varying widely in price and style. If you are just starting it's a good idea to go for a less expensive model until you gain experience and decide where you like riding the most.
Once you have your bike you'll need to get some suitable clothes to wear to ride it. Mountain bikers usually go for a fairly casual look, such as baggy shorts. You can get specialist mountain bike shorts that look like ordinary shorts but they have a padded lining for comfort on a bike.
There are several items that are essential to wear when mountain bike cycling, at all times, whatever the weather or trail. These are gloves, glasses and a helmet. They are safety equipment to protect you from flying debris, such as stones and mud, low hanging and prickly branches, and falls.
You will no doubt have some minor falls, as these are part and parcel of mountain bike cycling. However if you wear the essential protective gear you will most likely only suffer minor injuries, like bruises and grazes.
When you've got all the appropriate gear you'll have to think of where to go mountain bike cycling. There are plenty of guides to local areas available from bike shops, book shops or on the internet, and you can get really good local information from Visitor Information Centers locally. There are even some allocated mountain bike centers run by the Forestry Commission with marked bike trails for different abilities.
When you've got your bike, your safety gear and some ideas of where to cycle you are ready to go! A little knowledge of some basic mountain bike maintenance would also be an advantage but the most important thing now is to get out and enjoy the adrenalin rush you get from mountain bike cycling.
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