Riding the Mountain This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      Mountain biking is an exciting sport, but its intensity may intimidate those who have never tried it. There’s certain equipment that is very helpful and a few things a beginner should do before hitting the trail.

If you are planning to go on a biking trip, research the equipment and trails you might be using, talk with professionals, and prepare your equipment. The most obvious piece of gear is a bike, and the more suspension it has, the better. Suspension is the system that moves the wheels to absorb bumps, making the ride more enjoyable. It also helps control your bike. Be sure to adjust the seat so that your feet just touch the ground. This will give you more power when pedaling.

Now for the rest of the equipment. The first and most important item is a helmet - get the best one you can. A good pair of gloves is also critical so your hands don’t chafe on the handle bars. Sunglasses should be used to protect your eyes from objects your tires may kick up. As for shoes, you can wear regular sneakers with regular pedals, but some pedals have clips that need special shoes which ensure that your feet won’t fall from the pedals while riding. Consider packing a water bottle or hydration pack, energy bars, and a small repair kit in case something goes wrong with your bike.

On the trail, there are techniques to use so that you won’t exert extra effort and waste energy. Some bikes have as many as 27 gears. If you are going up a hill, it’s best to be in a lower gear so pedaling is easier; you won’t have to pedal as hard, but you will pedal more. When on a flat area or going downhill, you should be in a high gear and pedal less to maintain speed.

Braking sounds easy, but there are different ways to use your bike’s brakes. If you simply need to slow down, stop pedaling and use your back brake in a series of small taps called feathering. If you’re going downhill, use the back brake by holding it down and use the front brake by feathering. Never use the front brake by holding it down because the front brake affects your front tire, which causes the bike to turn. If the tire isn’t spinning, then the tire will not turn and the bike will flip over.

At first, you may be a bit fearful of what could happen on the trail, but as time goes on, your skills and confidence will increase. Enjoy the ride!

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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